That Food Guy
Monday, July 29, 2013
  The Bear Den – Haines, Alaska 10/14/2012

The Bear Den – Haines, Alaska 10/14/12

8 Main St  Haines, AK 99827
(907) 766-2117 http://www.alaskabearden.com/

I was in Haines, Alaska waiting for the Alaska State Ferry. The ferry would be my ride to the Lower Forty Eight States; my destination, Bellingham, Washington. It was after the regular tourist season and only the viewing of the gathering of eagles along nearby Chilkat River a bit later in the month was left before the city would close shop for the winter. The last of the season’s cruise ships was long gone and it would be weeks before the air, ferry and road passengers would arrive for the viewing of the eagles festival, the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. I had several days to wait before the ferry so I had an opportunity to sight see the tiny community and sample some of the food at the local shops that cater to the tourist trade; all in uncrowded conditions.
Just up the street from the RV park where I was staying is the Bear Den. And up the street here has two meanings, both direction and elevation. It is located on a very steep slope of road going from the main town level to the much lower waterfront.  I had passed it several times on my walking tours of the city. Each time I read over the large menus poste in the window and wondered just what a bear-ritto was like. Early one morning, a blustery morning where the rain could turn to snow at any time, I decided a hearty breakfast was needed to steel me for the day’s adventures.  It was a three minute walk to the Bear Den. It is sort of eerie to be the only customer. The young lady took my order for a Classic Breakfast Bear-itto ($9.95 Bacon, home fries, eggs and cheese smothered in country gravy) and I took a seat. It was a rather lengthy wait; I suppose they don’t precook a lot when the business is so slow. I took the patient view that cooking from scratch was better and would make for a better bear-itto. The store is very clean, very neat, decorated in an amusing combination of southwestern and Alaskana kitsch.

At last the young lady brought me my order in a Styrofoam to-go container inside a brown paper bag. When I picked it up I was almost startled by the weight. It seemed to weigh several pounds. I hurried back to the RV to enjoy my breakfast. I opened the container and saw a very large, very full burrito-style tortilla wrap. Once I could have eaten the entirety of the lumberjack portion without problem. These days a lower activity level, despite the calories for the cold weather, meant that I would split it, half today and half tomorrow. Actually, that’s not bad as I got effect of two bear-ittos for the price of one.
Cutting it open I found the tortilla wrapper full of the promised bacon, home fries, eggs and cheese. There was a goodly portion of country gravy, a sawmill type with large chunks of meat, possibly sausage. I ate the first half for breakfast. It was very good – a bacon, egg and fried potato breakfast with country gravy. In this case it was wrapped in a flour tortilla with some cheese. It all went together very well, the tortilla making a flavor and texture addition to the already familiar contents. By the time I had finished the first portion I was sure that I had made a good decision for the day’s breakfast.  I put the remainder in the ‘fridge for tomorrow’s breakfast.

The next morning, while the coffee was perking, I eagerly reheated the remainder of my bear-itto in the microwave. When I opened the container, I saw the rest of my bear-itto but it looked different somehow. It was drier, the moister in the gravy having been absorbed by the potatoes and flour tortilla. That also changed the texture. I started out and it tasted pretty good, very much like it did yesterday. By the time I finished, however, it had become tiresome and I ended thinking it was just okay at best.  I though it sad that such a good and filling meal couldn’t maintain its vibrancy overnight. The choices would eat it all now or share. Sharing would be a good option but in this instance I was traveling alone. I am glad I had this bear-itto. The question is whether I would do it again; all things being equal, probably not. But, it has occurred to me that if I asked for a small side of gravy to slather the left over portion the next day it might coalesce the ingredients that had become disjointed overnight, returning the remaining bear-itto to its original state. I don’t know for sure but it is food for thought.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013
  Sonny's Barbecue - A Changed Perspective



Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q (my local store)
3650 Tyrone Blvd N, St Petersburg, FL 33710
(727) 341-2990 http://www.sonnysbbq.com/


A few weeks ago if you asked me about Sonny’s Barbecue I would have said, “Yes. I have eaten there a couple of times quite a long time ago.” My first visit was in January of 2007. I would have added that I thought the meat was fine but that I really didn’t care for the barbecue sauce, the vinegary Carolina style (and I did try all of the sauces provided in a table rack of cruets). I would have concluded my comments with I wasn’t at all interested in going back for a third visit to Sonny’s; not that it was bad, it just wasn’t to my tastes.

To anyone who grew up in California in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Loves Barbecue and the jingle, “When you’re in Love’s the whole world’s delicious” are well known. I think most of us have eaten at Loves at least once. That of course would set the bench mark for which all future barbecue encounters would be judged. Their sauce was thick and clingy, tomato based and slightly sweet. When paired with their excellently prepared beef, pork and chicken it was a defiant statement; this is barbecue! Alas, Loves is no more. The once thriving chain has fallen victim to corporate infighting and franchise disputes. They have a web site that offers their barbecue sauce and I am thinking that I will order some just to see.

Unfortunately for Sonny’s, my memories of Love’s were strong and Sonny’s fare did not measure up to what I expected or remembered; the benchmark set by Love’s. In all likely hoods the meat fresh from the smoker at both places would have been comparable; the conflict was simply in the sauce. That is the way it would have remained had it not been for a chance encounter with a Sonny’s product I had never sampled before. It was sort of a blind taste test. My amateur radio club, SPARC, was participating in the National ARRL Field Day, a marathon of radio communications for twenty-four hours. The club provided the evening meal: barbecued ribs in a thick sweet sauce, macaroni and cheese in a succulent thick cheese sauce, barbecued beans that were scrumptious, a wonderful coleslaw and a magnificent cornbread (descriptions may reflect that I was very hungry at the time). Kidding aside, it was a delicious meal. I asked around, curious about this new barbecue place with the excellent food. I was, to say the least, flabbergasted when I learned it was Sonny’s.

The wife and I agreed that one day, when we had been busy and time was short for dinner, we would order out from Sonny’s, an outing of rediscovery. That night was tonight. We telephoned in our order; Ribs for Two ($21.97 Enjoy an overflowing plate of our Sweet & Smokey or Classic Dry Rub Ribs served with your choice of three Sidekicks and Garlic Bread or Homemade Cornbread. Not available at all locations.) Ribs For Two was available at the Tyrone store. We selected our sidekicks; (Sidekicks: Crinkle Cut French Fries, Baked Potato - Not available at all locations, Baked Sweet Potato, Homemade Macaroni & Cheese, Corn on the Cob, Original Recipe Bar-B-Q Beans, Fresh Made Coleslaw, Vegetables - Varies by locations, Backyard Garden Salad - Varies by locations, Loaded Mashed Potatoes - Not available at all locations, and Cinnamon Apples - Not available at all locations). Our first choices were macaroni and cheese, barbecued beans and cinnamon apples. The cinnamon apples were not available at the Tyrone store so we then chose vegetables. There was an additional choice of either steamed green beans or broccoli. We chose the broccoli. We also selected the garlic bread.

The on-line menu is not all that easy to read. The to-go section lists a family of four selection and under ribs and specialties it list the ribs for two but they are available to go – you basically have to read all the menu to find your choices.

Ordering over the phone went smoothly. In spite of the receptionist being in a high noise area, we didn’t have to repeat ourselves and the read back of the order was correct. She was polite and helpful and on request totaled the order for us. Our name given, she said the order would be ready on-call, just ask for Andersen, at the take-out window in about ten minutes.

On arrival we opened the packages and surveyed our purchase. At first I thought the side orders were a bit on the small side. But considering the size of the barbecued ribs portion it was indeed a meal for two. Enough a meal for two that we split one portion of the ribs and saved the other for the next night. All we would need would be a side made at home to make the meal complete.

The ribs, two portions of what I would guess you call a half-rack of ribs, were meaty, cooked to fall off the bone tender. They were very flavorful. The order came with a selection of sauces; mild and sweet were our favorites. The barbecue beans were tender and flavorful, an excellent side. The macaroni and cheese was very good but not as creamy as I remembered from the SPARC Field Day meal. Nonetheless, it too was an excellent side dish and the blandness of the mac and cheese made a nice contrast to the spiciness of the ribs in barbecue sauce. The broccoli was steamed tender, not overcooked, and with the slightest sprinkle of salt or salt substitute, very tasty. The toast was mildly garlic but toasted just right. We set the table with a roll of paper towels instead of the usual soft paper napkins. That was a good idea; the barbecue sauce is sticky and seems to migrate everywhere on your face and chin. A damp washcloth would have been even better.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the catering menu. The cost per person of the food serve at the Field Day was about $10.99. That pits the catered meal on a par with our meal, a dinner for two at $21.97 (you know, with tax and all that stuff). Considering the entrée, the ribs, will last us through two meals, even with adding a home cooked side, the cost per meal for our at home meal will be just a bit over six dollars, pretty reasonable for an excellent, satisfying meal.

I don’t know if the ribs were on the Sonny’s menu before. They may very well have been there but as I mentioned, the menu isn’t all that easy to read; an unusual grouping at least on the online version. From this I have learned to read the entire menu even if I have already decided what I want to order. Otherwise I might just miss something better. In this case happenstance reintroduced me to a restaurant I would have otherwise ignored. Now, if someone asks me about Sonny’s, I will say, “Yes! I have eaten there and they have some wonderful things that call for another visit one day soon.”
 

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Friday, July 26, 2013
  Albertson's Supermarket Deli - Pocatello, Idaho


Albertson’s Deli - Pocatello, ID  June 23, 2012
330 E Benton St - Pocatello, ID 83201
(208) 233-0455 http://www.albertsons.com/#2


 Our earliest ancestors, the hunter-gatherers of caveman lore, knew it. Food is where you find it. Thankfully conditions have changed since then; as a rule no lions tigers or bears to contend with. However, food is still where you find it even today. Sometimes in surprising places, sometimes in places you may have overlooked before.

We have all seen the deli section in the local supermarkets; in fact may have bought one or two items for a dinner or a lunch. But normally we don’t buy the entire meal across the supermarket deli counter.  My sister, Pattie Sue, and I did just that one late afternoon after a busy day. We were tired, it was getting late and we were hungry. We wanted dinner ready, in a bag, ready to eat when we got home but we didn’t really want something form the local fast food emporiums. On a capricious whim we tried the Albertson’s deli and found the food we wanted (or at least settle for).

Albertson’s offers several varieties of potato salad. We chose the one that looked like it had the least vinegar. The label promised a creamy salad. The counter server was polite and helpful, saying that she did not believe the salad was vinegary.  We ordered a pint. The chicken tenders looked pretty good and we ordered a couple each. The seasoned green beans looked pretty good and we took a half pint of those. Food we found in hand we rushed home to sit down and eat and talk about the grand adventures of the day.

The chicken was tasty; the coating had a nice combination of spices and it tasted very good.  The coating was still crispy but beginning to get soft. The meat was just a bit tough but I would attribute that to being in the deli display for some extended time. Although the chicken was not significantly better than a frozen chicken tender you would heat and eat at home, it certainly wasn’t worse.

My sister and I grew up knowing that a good potato salad was a mixture of potatoes, celery, Bell peppers, green onions, hard boiled eggs and lots of crumbled bacon. It was slathered with a mixture of mayonnaise and mustard and seasoned with a mixture celery seed, paprika, some sweet pickle relish, seasoned salt and pepper (among other things). Albertson’s potato salad was not the potato salad of our youth. Albertson’s version had lots of potatoes, was dressed in a nice thick clinging sauce, and yes, it did have a splash of vinegar. Alas, apparently all deli potato salads have added vinegar. I can only guess that it is to raise the acidity and prolong the shelf life. To my palate, very much used to something else, this was a typical deli potato salad with minimal added goodies if any. Its only saving grace was that it wasn’t quite as vinegary as the others. For persons that have grown up learning to like deli potato salad, I am sorry at their loss of the opportunity to know what a real potato salad tastes like.

The green beans were not seasoned as far as I could tell – just green beans and undercooked at that. Slightly squeaky when chewed they tasted like green beans that needed a good sprinkle of salt. Had they a bit more tender they would have made an excellent vegetable to go with the meat and starch. Yes, you can be al dente and still be tender. As they were tough,  they were more of a distraction rather than a compliment to the meal.

Given the same circumstance, tired and short of time, would I order the same again? Not exactly. The chicken was okay and was satisfactory. I would go with the chicken again. As for the potato salad I would do it differently. That is a lesson that I keep relearning. Deli potato salad is just that, deli potato salad and it won’t get better.  Instead I would try escalloped potatoes or maybe the mac and cheese. For a while I was thinking it wouldn’t take too long to put the beans in the steamer and tenderize them. But if I was going to all that work, it would be better to start with fresh beans and go from there.

In rereading this is sounds much like a pan of the Albertson’s deli. It wasn’t intended to be that, but my personal tastes got in the way. There was nothing wrong with the food we found there and I am sure it was quite wholesome. I would go back to Albertson’s, to the deli counter, and see what else I could find that I might like better.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013
  Kissin Cuzzins - St. Petersburg, Florida a 2013 Revisit

KissinCuzzins 2013

951 34th St N
St Petersburg, FL 33733
Neighborhood: Tyrone

(727) 323-3915 

Mon-Fri 7a – 2p  Sat-Sun 7a – 3p


 



On the very first journey to Florida to meet the soon to be in-laws, they just had to take me to one of their favorite places to go for a breakfast out. As they grew older, mother and father in-law cooked and ate in less and ate out more often; often enough that they were known by the serving staff on a first name basis. Back then there were three Kissin Cuzzins, long established casual family eateries. Over the years the neighborhood demographics changed and more and more fast food servers moved into the neighborhood.  One family restaurant, all brand new with shiny chrome, set up shop only two blocks down the street. Such intense competition had severe consequences for Kissin Cuzzins. The two other stores closed some years ago and only the 34th St store, the flagship store, remained open. In a well thought out move, Cuzzins went lean and mean paring down hours, closing in the midafternoon, concentrating on their forte, breakfast and lunch. Cuzzins has survived and is still here as well as the fast food emporiums that abound all along 34th Street. However, the upstart that opened just two blocks down the street closed a year or so ago, fenced off and looking forlorn, weeds poking up through the parking lot, it has long been up for sale.
The in-laws have passed on. But in their tradition, that visitors to the Jones house must partake of a breakfast at the Kissin Cuzzins, lives on. After a morning of busy sightseeing activity, I took our California house guest, Jeri, to lunch. The Cuzzins was moderately busy and we had to park in the overflow lot. However, we got immediate seating in a booth on the north side. As is usual for the Cuzzins, the hostess and the servers we quick and courteous.
Sipping on our already arrived beverages, we studied the menu. Jeri chose The Rueben ($7.49 Corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss on grilled rye). I was about to go with my usual standby, the cheeseburger, when the Philly-Style Hoagie ($7.99 Thinly sliced beef, onions, peppers, mushrooms and Mozzarella cheese on a toasted sun roll) caught my eye. I had recently had a Philly sub from another restaurant and on impulse I decided to compare the two.
 

Jeri’s sandwich had an attractive plating, the light rye bread toasted to a “pretty as a picture’ golden brown. It was a large sandwich with the corned beef spilling out over the sides of the bread. It came with a dill pickle spear and a small bowl of coleslaw. She said the sandwich was excellent, very tasty. The preparation was well practiced, not too much dressing to make it wet nor too little and make it dry; just right. The bread was crispy toasted on the outside, soft, tender and hot bread spreading a wonderful rye smell. The meat was tender and tasty. In spite of being a large sandwich, she managed to finish her meal. The slaw was of green cabbage, fresh and crisp with a mild, favorable dressing. A thoroughly filling and enjoyable meal.
 

My Philly sub was a plateful. With that kind of sandwich I suppose it is hard to be artistic in plating. However, all the good filling in the sandwiches and the pile of French fries with a dill spear garnish looked very food to me. “The proof…” they say, “is in the eating.” The crinkle cut fries were done to a nice golden brown, fresh out of the fryer, hot and crispy. With a sprinkle of salt, they were excellent. I ate the pickle, it was crisp, but I don’t remember much about it as I was very much preoccupied with the sandwich.  First off, when you make a sandwich like this, cutting through and leaving a bit of crust for a hinge, the bread has to be fresh. If the bread is not fresh it will fall apart on the first bite spilling the contents onto the plate or your lap. In this instance the bread was very fresh, the crust a nice elastic; slightly chewy. The bread folded over the ample filling making a nice easy to eat bundle. There was lots of beef, grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers all slathered with stringy melted Mozzarella cheese. What’s not to like? It was indeed an excellent sandwich and made for a filling meal. I will, in all probability, order the Philly sub  if ever I make it back to Kissin Cuzzins again.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013
  The Bake Shop - Girdwood, Alaska Revisit July 13, 2012

The Bake Shop – Girdwood, Alaska  
On my very first trip to Alaska the Bake Shop in Girdwood was a stop on a sightseeing bus tour. It has been a favorite place since then and it is one of the places that I have to take first time visitors to Alaska. It is a small store in the oldest Alyeska Ski Resort building. It certainly isn’t fancy or even spacious. During the busy ski season the customers are lined up waiting to get in and those with food are taking seats at the outdoor picnic tables. Most of my visits have been during the off season, the summer time, and usually only a short wait is needed.

The usual cloudy, overcast and often rainy skies cast a gray pall over Girdwood in the summer.  To counter the gloom the Bake Shop decorates with flowers. Large planters overflow with vibrant red, pink, white, gold and yellow blooms making a cheery sight. Considering the size of the planters at least a lift gate truck would be needed to move the planter boxes to greenhouse winter storage and back; all in all a significant effort.

As its name would imply, the Bake Shop makes bread and other baked goods. The giant-sized sweet roll and the sourdough buns are the best examples. The sourdough, the buns and the take-home bread, are famous. The sourdough starter dates back almost a hundred years. The buns, like little round sheepherder breads, have a tough crispy crust with fragrant sourdough bread on the inside. When hot from the oven, sliced and slathered with butter and then paired with the soup of the day it is a meal to be to be desired.

During the summer of 2012 I had the pleasure of hosting my sister, Pattie Sue and her son, Ron. Sister has been to Alaska several times and knows the ropes, seen most of the sights. This was nephew Ron’s first visit and, among other things, it called for a trip to the Bake Shop in Girdwood, Alaska. It was to be an auto sightseeing tour day, covering great distances, but we planned it to be in Girdwood come lunch time. It all worked out well; hunger and destination converged.

The parking lot was moderately full. That was not surprising as summer sight-seeing tourists and winter time ski fans alike all frequent the Bake Shop; even tour busses stop there.  The menu is in very large print on the wall. You place your order at the counter and then look for a place to sit. Luck was with us and a table was vacant and we took seats on the pew benches to await our order. When your order is ready, they call your name and you pick it up at the counter.

Sister Pattie Sue ordered the grilled cheese on sourdough bread ($5.75 She selected Havarti from a choice of Cheddar, Swiss and Havarti). The sandwich was made with nice thick slices of freshly baked sourdough bread, well toasted to a golden brown and filled with a copious amount of cheese. The sandwich is served with an orange slice twist and some dill pickle chips. Pattie said the sandwich was excellent, the cheese hot and melted, the bread delicious sourdough.  That may be a bit of a biased appraisal as she has learned to love the sourdough bread from the bake shop.  The starter used in the Bake Shop is about 100 years old. If you bring in a suitable container and ask nicely, they will give you a sample of the starter to take home and make your own sourdough mix. On each trip to Alaska she has procured a sample of the sourdough to take back to Idaho. Small batches of starter used in home bread baking can change in flavor over time and Pattie takes advantage of the Bake Shop’s generosity to renew her supply and guarantee that Bake Shop flavor at home.

Nephew Ron and I both ordered the same thing, the soup of the day and bun and butter. (Soup $6.25, Bun and butter $2.50) The soup of the day was clam chowder.  The serving was a nice big bowl garnished with some fresh chopped parsley. The broth was thick and creamy with lots of clams and potatoes; a hearty soup with great flavor. At $6.60 a bowl the price may seem high but remember this is Alaska and Girdwood is halfway to the end of the road. However, although it doesn’t say it anywhere on the menu, the policy of the Bake Shop is to refill your bowl without charge in which case the cost per bowl is less than in the Lower Forty Eight States.

The bun is more like a small loaf of round bread, about 4-inches in diameter. The Bake Shop heats them, slices them through and slathers them with butter.  The skin is tough as with most sourdough but the bread inside is tender with a wonderful sourdough aroma and a distinctive Girdwood flavor. A couple of bowls of soup (and the soup of the day changes every day) and a buttered bun are a filling and hearty meal and you feel prepared to tackle the rest of the day even in cold, overcast and rainy weather. It is no wonder why it is such a popular place during the ski season. Should you be fortunate enough to be in Girdwood during any season, take the time to have a meal at the Bake Shop. You will be glad that you did.

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Saturday, July 06, 2013
  Sea Hags - St Pete Beach, Florida 7/2/2013


Sea Hags Bar and Grill

9555 Blind Pas Rd, St Pete Beach, Florida 33706

Open daily 11AM - Midnight   (727) 360-2800  www.seahagsbarandgrill.com
 
 It was birthday time for Aunt Effie.  Cousin Allan wanted to take his Mom and Dad out to lunch to celebrate. We were lucky enough to be included in the invitation.  Alan chose a place in St Pete Beach he had heard about from friends. It is the Sea Hags. It is a sandwich, steak and seafood casual dining waterfront café that evokes the spirit of the beach shack gathering places of fifty years ago. The rear window and patio open on the marina overlooking the docks and many pleasure boats. Some of the slips are reserved for the sail-in boater to tie up and visit the cafe. I suppose that would be the equivalent of the sport pilot’s $100 hamburger.

The Sea Hags is a fairly new incarnation in a building that has housed many other cafes. After a refit and some sprucing up, the Sea Hags opened with a menu that features appetizers, soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches, buckets of clam strips, shrimp and haddock. In addition to a good selection of dinner entrees, the Sea Hags also offers quesadillas and pizzas; pretty much something for everyone.

We all arrived about noon, shortly after opening. The restaurant wasn’t crowded and seating was immediate in a booth that was spacious enough to seat the six of us comfortably. The server was quickly there to take our beverage orders. Alan also ordered some appetizers for us. He selected a house signature dish, Hag Shrimp ($7.99 lightly fried and drizzled with a spicy, creamy Hag sauce), and Onion Rings (Homemade Onion Rings $6.99 – Nothing more to say). The appetizer order arrive in short order and it was dive in even before I could break out the trusty camera. The onion rings were real rings of onion, battered and fried, almost tempura. The coating was crispy and the onion just cooked through. They were attractive, tasty morsels. The Hag shrimp was very good. Shrimp is a very mild and delicate flavor. One of my pet peeves is when someone does something to the shrimp that totally eclipses the flavor of the shrimp; why bother with the shrimp – go with a glob of tofu. However, the Hag shrimp are very flavorful, the sauce giving a distinctive little zing while enjoying the flavor of the shrimp.  Well done, a good munchable.

Our meals came shortly after. Birthday girl Effie and Gil both ordered the same thing. I have noted that they often will order the same thing when we go out to eat. Perhaps there is a bit of ESP at work. They ordered the Po Boy Special ($8.99 Shrimp, scallops and oysters topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Sandwiches are served with a choice of fries, coleslaw, cup of soup or a small salad). The chose a cup of soup; the soup of the day was Caribbean chowder. The sandwich was served in a tissue lined basket; remember this is a beach shack café. The sandwich was filled over flowing and that made eating with a knife and fork a viable option.  It was a big sandwich and a big cup of soup. To their credit Effie and Gill finished their meals and for that take their word that the sandwich and the soup were good eats.

Kyla ordered a pizza (Specialty Foot Long Pizzas – Served all day. Pepperoni and cheese $10.99). When I first noted the pizza on the menu I guessed from the foot long description that it was perhaps made on a bread roll. I was therefore surprised when it turned out to be a conventional round, flat bread pizza. I would have never guessed they had a pizza oven in the back, in the seafood kitchen.  The pizza pretty much filled the serving plate. It was done well; the crust crispy golden brown, the cheese just starting to brown. It appeared that there was a good serving of cheese. There was a ring of slice pepperoni. The crust was browned nicely on the bottom, a bit between a thin and a thick crust pizza. Kyla said it was very good and was happy with her choice. Try as she may, however, it was a big serving and she had to leave a few bites of crust behind.

Alan chose the Fresh Florida Grouper Sandwich. After all, one of the reasons he picked Sea Hags was because of the seafood.  Grouper Sandwich (Market Price. Grilled, fried or blackened. Sandwiches served with a choice of fries, coleslaw, a cup of soup or a small salad.) Alan selected the fried grouper and the soup. The soup was thick with lots of bits of sea food and some vegetables in a tomato broth – sort of Manhattan seafood chowder. He said it has a nice hearty flavor. The bread was grilled and came with lettuce, tomato and pickle.  The fish was nicely cooked with a golden brown color. It was much larger than the bread overhanging all around by a good margin; it certainly was not your fast food restaurant filet of fish sandwich. He said it was very good, the fish having a good flavor and it being of more than an adequate serving.

Sitting at opposite ends of the booth and across from one another, the wife and I independently selected the same thing. We both chose the Fried Shrimp Bucket ($8.99 Choice of fried clam strips, fried shrimp or haddock – served all day. All buckets are served with fries and slaw, no substitutions.) The presentation is really a bucket. A small galvanized bucket is lying on its side in the serving basket spilling out its contents much like a cornucopia. As cute as the serving is, eating your meal is easier if you slide the bucket out from the basket. No need to keep reaching into the recesses of the bucket to get your fries. It is a large serving of seasoned fries. I’m not sure of just what they are using but it is reminiscent of the fries served down the street at Woody’s Waterfront.
They taste just fine, are slightly crispy and served hot out of the fryer. As good as they are, if I were to eat them regularly I think I would prefer regular fries instead. There was a nice side of coleslaw; mostly green cabbage with a few shreds of carrots for color. It was a pedestrian salad; a nice satisfying side dish, good but not outstanding. There was a nice serving of shrimp, about a dozen pieces of large (about 31/40 size) that were nicely breaded and fried a deep golden brown.  The breading was crispy but the shrimp inside was not overcooked nor was it soft and mushy. The breading was mild in flavor so the flavor of the shrimp was predominating. It was filling meal, quite sufficient although the shrimp were good enough that I would have easily eaten some more.

For the most part the service was quite good. The server made several  table visits to check on us and refill beverage glasses. While we were eating the noon crown filled the restaurant and the serving staff was in busy motion. It took a moment or two to catch their attention to get the bill but other than that service was excellent.

The restaurant does have a cocktail lounge and a selection of wines is available. Some al fresco patio dining is available and there is an entertainment schedule. I was quite satisfied with the Sea Hag experience. Although the experience was enhanced and fondly memorable by family close at hand in celebration, the Sea Hag experience can stand alone. If I were asked to go to the Sea Hag again I certainly would say yes. The next time I think I’ll try the Marina burger – sautéed mushrooms, bacon, cheese and grilled onions.

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