Archive for the ‘Grouper Sandwich’ Category

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Yet another venue suggested to us before we drove down to Key West – The Square Grouper, apparently they do one of the best Grouper Sandwiches in the keys. Having been underwhelmed by the last couple of Grouper Sandwiches that I’ve had the misfortune to ingest, I was looking forward to something… well, vaguely tasting like Grouper and not just fried fish generally. Thankfully I had come to an establishment that takes their fish, but not themselves, seriously.

Square grouper I have been reliably informed, is slang for a big square hessian bag full of the weed some people enjoy recreationally. Apparently if the, shall we say, “importer” is tipped off that the transport ship is about to be searched by the authorities, they instruct the crew of the to throw the cargo overboard. When it washes up on shore, people say they’ve caught a square grouper.

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Anyway, enough about the name of the place – let’s talk food. Katie and I had just driven 22 miles north of Key west and by the time we got there we were rather hungry. We actually arrived late in afternoon – which was probably a good thing as the crowds were starting to disperse and we didn’t have to wait long for a table. I had planned to get the grouper sandwich – but there was so much on the menu that looked good. I stuck to my guns on the sandwich front, though we decided to get the coconut shrimp to begin. My sweet lord, these crispy morsels were so fresh and delicious – 6 big prawns as I would call them, in a fairly light coconut batter, paired with a sweet mango dipping sauce. A great way to take the edge off the hunger pains.

Once finished with the appetisers (which didn’t take long) we were on to our sandwiches – Katied had opted for the fish of the day BLT – served blackened, with apple wood smoked bacon and I opted for the grouper sandwich. I have to admit I had plate envy just looking across the table, The BLT looked the business – that was until  tasted my sandwich.

The grouper sandwich was served with lightly fried onion rings and key lime tartar sauce. The fish itself was so fresh I would have believed that had just caught and filleted it moments before arriving on my plate. This was a grouper sandwich with the emphasis on the grouper. Lightly pan fried – the fish was cooked perfectly, it was the dominate force in the sandwich – nicely accompanied by the light house made key lime tartar sauce and the sweet and crunchy onion rings. This wasn’t the type of grouper sandwich I’ve come to expect in Florida – no lettuce or tomato – but I didn’t care – this was a fantastic sandwich. Katie though her sandwich was just as good. I’d highly recommend stoping off here if you are in the keys – I’m certainly glad we went for a drive to this place!

The Square Grouper Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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My fondest Grouper Sandwich memory is from Berts Bar & Grill in Matlacha. A couple of years ago on the trip back from Bokeelia going up to Kathy and Mac’s in Deland, Katie and I stopped in Matlacha – which is this quaint little fishing town on an island between Pine island and the mainland. There’s a bunch of eccentric little boutiques and galleries, a few ice cream places, a couple of restaurants, and Berts. Berts is located on the water – it’s a Bar that has a deck out back, usually with some live music playing, a great spot to stop for some refreshments. They also serve pretty simple yet tasty, unpretentious food. The kind that usually comes in a basket or on disposable plates. Anyway, I just remember the Grouper Sandwich I had that time, the freshest Grouper, cooked to perfection – it’s the Grouper sandwich I hope to get every time I order a Grouper sandwich…

So, on the drive back from our little trip out to Fort Myers today, I had the opportunity to once again sample the food at Berts. An afternoon wondering around the Ford and Edison estate and getting my fill of history in the museums, had worked up a fair appetite. After an order of cool refreshing beverages (It was pretty hot – 94F I think today), we ordered our meals. Katie and I ordered the Beach bread with Shrimp for the appetizer and then I got a Grouper sandwich – fried, and Katie got the Philly Cheese steak. I had flip flopped about getting the burger, which looked really good, but at the end of the day, how could I go past the Grouper sandwich?? Anyway, so the Beach Bread came out quickly – not bad. Cheesey bread with shrimp meat added on top, you can’t really go wrong, but a bit pricey at just over 10 bucks with tax – probably should have gone the wings… Well anyway, we wolfed that down quick smart and then my wait for the Grouper Sandwich of legend began. I’m sure the lovely waitress refilled our soda’s 5 times, I was drinking them about as fast as she could refill them!

After what seemed like hours (But was probably 10 minutes max) the moment arrived – and I almost wish it hadn’t. From the moment I saw the sandwich I knew it wouldn’t come close to the sandwich from my memories. The bun was a little doughy and probably not the freshest, ok, but just felt like it had come out of a bag from the supermarket after sitting on the shelf for a couple of days.

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The Grouper was over cooked and again not the freshest fish I’ve had this trip, even the lettuce and tomato had seen better days – and the Tarter sauce had started to split a little… Oh the disappointment. Katie’s meal was great, and my house made chips were good. The Grouper Sandwich? Not so great, in fact I’d say the bottom of the bunch I’ve had this trip. Such a disappointment because I had really looked forward to Berts pretty much the entire trip. Oh well – what is it they say? C’est la vie…

Berts Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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Another Grouper Sandwich in paradise – my life really sucks… Yep, I can feel your pity. Anyway, so we “forgot” to bring the steaks from home to cook for dinner down at Kathy and Macs condo in Bokeelia on Pine Island Florida. What a shame… As a consequence, we had to walk around the corner to the local, a sea shanty style place called Lazy Flamingo. I’ve been here a few times before, so I know the place is pretty good value. Decided I’d shout the in-laws dinner, nice move since this place is cheap 😉 Ok, in comparison to Australia EVERYWHERE is cheap, so it’s always a win.

We were all pretty hungry after the 4 and half hour drive from Deland to Bokeelia so it was no surprise when Mac ordered a full size plate of fried oysters to start, along with some smoked fish dip. I’ll leave any kind of smoked fish dip alone (Not my thing), so we can move on from that one. And I was skeptical about the fried oyster idea, however the big pile of golden oyster nuggets that came out on a bed of delicious fries lasted all of about 5 minutes. We demolished those tasty little gems. The fried oysters were breaded in a lightly spicy coating, which still allowed for a very subtle oyster flavour to come though, dipped in cocktail sauce or Tartar sauce – just lovely. Definitely getting these again.

But lets talk about the mains –  I toyed with the idea of getting a burger, however, since I had indulged in a five guys burger for lunch, I felt I could probably go with out a burger for dinner. Instead, I went way out of my comfort zone and got a Grouper Sandwich… Ok, so not the most creative choice, but I know they make them good here so, you know… Anyway, the Grouper Sandwich came out hot and fresh. I like they way they set it up, with the lettuce, Vidalia onions and pickles skewered to the top part of the bun and one large fried slab of Grouper on the bottom side ready to combine burger style. I also really like the fact that both halves of the bun were generously “buttered” with Tartar sauce. The bun was a really soft, a bit like what we would call a damper roll back home – it worked really well with the hot fried Grouper, compressing around all the elements and holding everything together. This was a quality Grouper Sandwich – well prepared, good quality ingredients. Very good. The only downside was that the Grouper probably wasn’t the best quality Grouper I’ve ever had. Overall though – I’d give this place a highly recommended.

Lazy Flamingo 3 Incorporated on Urbanspoon

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One of the first things that I really need every time I come to Florida is a Grouper Sandwich. For those of you from back home, this is not a sandwich as any Australian would imagine it, but more what we would call a Fish Burger. I’ve been on a Grouper Sandwich hunt before and Oceans in New Smyrna Beach is the benchmark by which all other Grouper Sandwiches are measured. Probably due to the fact that this was the first Grouper Sandwich I ever had. I still recall that first sandwich, oh what a magical moment… The first bite, what a sensational experience – the realisation that I had just experienced a culinary life changing moment. Of course, the one downside with my first Grouper Sandwich being from Oceans is that it’s a pretty high benchmark, of which many sandwiches (Although not all) have since fallen short.

So what to do on my second full day in DeLand Florida? Drive to Oceans in New Smyrna and get myself a Grouper Sandwich before hitting the beach for a swim that’s what. The Grouper Sandwich is usually a fairly simple affair. You get the bun, the fish which is normally breaded and fried, cos lettuce (Which I think they call Romaine), tomato, Vidalia onion rings and Tartar and Cocktail sauce on the side. Some come with a pickle. The sandwich usually comes open, and you put it together yourself. It’s simple, but it works.

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Oceans has got theirs down to a fine art. The bun is a generous size, a white bread, slightly sweet like all American breads, soft on the inside, with a slightly crunchy crust – not toasted. As you can see from the photo, they serve theirs open and you put it together yourself. I added a generous amount of Tartar sauce to the bottom bun beneath the fish – of which I got two fairly large pieces, I then topped it with the onion rings, tomato and lettuce.

20140624_041552[1]What, makes this burger is the fish – Grouper works so well because it stays together – it doesn’t flake apart, and yet it has a lovely soft texture and a slightly sweet subtle fish flavour. Oceans does their Grouper in a really nice breading, more like a fried chicken kinda crumb, and their fish is fresh and cooked to perfection. The simple toppings allow the fish to star, and the overall experience is just heaven in a bun. Oh, and a side note on Vidalia onions – these are sweet onions, which still have the texture of a normal onion, but lack the punch in the face onion hit. The result being that you get a nice mellow onion note in the background which complements the fish, instead of drowning it out. Price wise the Grouper is always the more expensive option to put in the sandwich – at Oceans you get a side of Fries and the Sandwich for $12.49 – almost double the price of a normal Fish sandwich, but it’s worth it. No other fish really does the dish justice like the Grouper, so don’t be tight – splash out on the Grouper and you wont regret it.

 

Oceans Seafood on Urbanspoon