Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fun Playing With Florida Food - 2010 Destin Part 1 (of 3)

We are returned to Cleveland after two and one half blissful weeks in Destin Florida, located upon the Panhandle, between Panama City and Pensacola. It was a bit chillier than usual, but the sunshine made up for that - it snowed in Cleveland virtually every day that we were down there!

As per usual - a bit of disclaimer is appropriate. Any professional restaurant reviewer makes multiple visits before passing judgment on a food service establishment. We go to Destin once a year. Some places are consistently excellent, others have varied. I am not a professional food critic and I don't play one on TV. While I feel that I need to be honest to preserve my own credibility, please bear in mind as you read my comments that we usually only visit a place once per trip - therefore an imperfect experience has to be taken with the proverbial "grain of salt." So please remember these ground rules when evaluating my evaluations!

One aspect of dining out that really struck us this year was the repeatedly poor service we experienced in several venues. One would think that this time of year especially, which is the "off" season in Destin and environs, servers would be concerned about their incomes and would offer great, or at least, attentive, service. For the first time in eight years, this was not our experience at too many places. Also, it was well nigh impossible to get truly fresh shrimp, and the quality of bread being served was almost uniformly bad. But more on that later.

Our adventure began on February 11, when we flew into Fort Walton Beach's Valparaiso Airport. For most of the past seven years, we would begin with a meal at Harbor Docks, 538 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 32541-2328, (850) 837-2506 (; website seems to be down at the moment). Our last meal at Harbor Docks in 2009 had not been great - I was served crabmeat that was downright spoiled not once, but twice in one evening. Searching for updated info on and tripadvisor, as well as my "go to" for local restaurant info,, I read a lot of reviews suggesting that the new chef who started at Harbor Docks in February 2009 (during our visit) was not doing well. Still - old habits die hard, and so we couldn't resist giving the old faithful a try for our first dinner in Destin.

Things started well. We saw some servers who we recognized, and learned that our friend Sunshine was still serving there. And Yoshi, the dean of Panhandle Sushi, was present at the sushi bar - all reasons to hope! Still - there were changes. Gone were the white boards (which surely had replaced blackboards) that hung strategically throughout the place, that listed all of the many varieties of fish and seafood available. The daily specials were now presented on a mimeographed sheet, and the choices were much fewer than we were accustomed to. The small variety was a theme we'd see repeated over and over during our visit. The water was served from recycled wine bottles. Before I had a chance to ask our server what was up with that - I heard another server boasting to her table that the new Chef had improved everything - and that they were now "filtering" their water through the beverage tap system. That might explain why the smell and taste of it were so hideous - even Bob couldn't drink it. Anyone who's ever been involved in a restaurant bankruptcy knows that soda taps can be pretty gruesome - filtering your drinking water through it is nothing to brag about.

This amuse, however, was a promising start - a taste of the Smoked Tuna Dip, which was fresh and delicious, with a nice kick of fresh black pepper. And Harbor Docks had never offered such a thing as an amuse! The dip was served with a few packets of the crackers that are a ubiquitous accompaniment to meals in this town.


We decided to try the featured appetizer - Sesame Fried Grouper Cheeks. Another delicious choice. Honestly, once it's fried - can we really be sure it is cheek meat? Didn't matter - taste and texture were spot on.

Sweet-Hot Chili Dipping Sauce

Tarter Sauce

The mains were preceded by the return of the "Harbor Docks Salad" - half the size it used to be. (Readers of this blog may recall that last year, we ordered dinner expecting salads, only to learn after waiting a while for any food to arrive that the salad was no longer included with the meal.) I don't need to fill up on a huge plate of salad - but given Harbor Docks's price points ($22-28 per entree, most $24 and up), I would expect something more than this for my dinner:

Sesame Fried Grouper Dinner with Fries and Hush Puppies

Bob liked the appetizer so much, he ordered the Grouper fillet prepared the same way for his dinner. Bob's dinner plate included hushpuppies (used to be only served at lunch) and his choice of potato or rice (he got fries). No vegetation of any kind.
The Hushpuppies Were Tasty

I was intrigued by the availability of Bluefin Tuna. While I know that Bluefin is being overfished to the point of extinction, our server insisted that what they were serving was local, so I decided to try it. I asked for it rare - to be cooked only as much as the chef thought appropriate. My first mistake.

The dish, Special No. 1 that night, came with "fresh" shrimp and scallops. It was a disaster in every way.

As you can see (and as we would see again during our second and last visit to Harbor Docks this trip) - the tuna steak was cut in half to maximize the yield, resulting in an abnormally thin steak. This specimen had been cooked past the last inch of its life, and was dry and tough. Neither the shrimp nor the scallop impressed - while I fully expected the scallop to some out of a (hopefully drypacked) food service package, the shrimp had always been pristine before at Harbor Docks. This stuff tasted and smelled of Sysco - or worse. The only decent thing on the plate was the Ginger Rice, which used to lack profundity, but which had retained the improvement we noted in it last year.

Without even mentioning the disappointing seafood aspects of the dish, I asked the server to have it remade with the fish cooked to something less than shoe leather, and received the following:

You can see the pink ribbon down the middle of the tuna, and the lovely crust seared onto the outside. Curious then, that this piece of fish was almost cold by the time I received it, and I received it very quickly after sending the first plate back. All I can figure it that the fish was pre-cooked, to have such a great sear, but be ice cold so quickly. And they re-fired the same lame, smelly seafood to put on top of it. The embarrassed server suggested that I try something else (this time I did mention the mediocre seafood), so I went for the grilled grouper plate.


This plate was much better - more like the quality I expected from Harbor Docks. But $27 dollars worth?


Though a nice dinner - $27 seemed a little steep for this plate. We were very sad to accept how our favorite local place had fallen. I do hope they see this message and get their shit back together!!!!!!

We awoke Friday morning too late to make the Silver Sands breakfast at Harbor Docks, so we decided to give The Donut Hole in Destin another try. Donut Hole Bakery Cafe, 635 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 32541-2456, (850) 837-8824 (no website). We'd had a so-so breakfast there a couple of years ago, but really loved the donuts we took out last year. We grabbed a table with our friend Fraser, who happened to bop into the place moments after we did.

Table Condiments 1

 Table Condiments 2

I adore a selection of table condiments like this!

Fraser grabbed a donut from the counter, and ordered a vegetable omelet which he happily devoured - no photos!

Bob's Burger

While not a B Spot burger by any means - I have to confess that I enjoyed my bite of Bob's meal! I'd  walked in to Donut Hole planning to order "breakfast" food rather than fish or seafood, but . . .

Crab Biscuit Hollandaise

Our server claimed that local crab was used for this dish (made into a crabcake), so I could not resist trying it. While not outstanding, it was very tasty and satisfying. Though neither the cheese grits nor the biscuit could touch the versions served at Silver Sands - I enjoyed this meal.

Also as per usual, Friday marked the commencement of the local Mensa Group's Regional Gathering (or "RG"), which is what had brought us to Destin 8 years ago in the first place. Since I took lots of photos of the similar food at last year's RG, I did not take any of the food this year. The RG fed us a lovely dinner on Friday (Mary Ann prepared Mabel's Jambalaya and it was delcious), and though they had food available on Saturday, we decided to go out for lunch.

We visited the Boathouse Oyster Bar, which had captured my attention in 2008 when we visited the soon-to-be-defunct Boiling Point next door (which became the now-defunct Woody's Pizza). We had a lovely lunch!

Yeah, the dollar bill theme is a little old. But how can you not love it with the addition of the blow-up doll? This place has lots and lots of character!

Seafood Gumbo


Bob and I started by sharing a bowl of this lovely gumbo. As you might surmise, given the cold and snow throughout the country this winter, Destin was 10-20 degrees below normal the entire time that we were there. This cost us a visit to Dewey Destin's (it was simply not "eat on the dock" weather), and caused us to order a bit more soup than usual. This specimen was served a little colder than we'd have liked, but it was incredibly tasty. We especially appreciated the crab claws. Yum!

Fried Oyster Basket

Bob's Appalachiacola Oysters were pristine and expertly fried!

Fried Shrimp Sandwich

Though the texture of the shrimp said "frozen" - there was not an off smell or chemically taste to be found. A very satisfying lunch. Though I really noticed the poor quality of bread being used by many of the places that we ate, especially for sandwiches, which doesn't have to be. I bought a lot of bread products from Sysco last July - and they have better than the items we were fed this trip.

Our next culinary stop was with the Plant City truck farmers, who purvey their wares from the parking lot of Beall's on Route 98 (15003 Emerald Coast Pkwy # B, Destin, FL 32541, (850) 650-2304‎) - they are located here Friday and Saturday all through the winter - and worth a visit, though the bad weather has hurt them, too. We bought strawberries, which smelled lovely, but were picked a bit prematurely and just didn't taste as wonderful as usual. We returned two weeks later and bought Valencia oranges and Florida grapefruit to take home to Cleveland.

Valencia Orange from the Plant City Truck Farmers

Plant City Truck Farmers' Grapefruit


The local supermarket chain, Publix, advertised "Plant City" strawberries etc. during the time we were there. Well, we visited the local Publix right before we purchased the above fruit and discovered the following - you can get California Navel Oranges (painted yellow and treated with preservatives) for $1/pound; we paid about $4 a pound for the Florida fruits. Though Florida citrus was available at Publix, is was almost the same price, and had color and preservatives. These might have also had color and/or preservatives. But the flavor is amazing! Even the oranges, which are really juice oranges more than eating oranges, are worth the effort to eat raw.

Saturday, February 13, was, as we say in Hebrew,  "erev" (the eve of) Chinese or Lunar New Year. For the first time in years, we'd be in Destin during the entire Lunar New Year celebration, which usually extends about 2 weeks. No Lion Dance was to be found, but several locals recommended the relatively new Lin's Asian Cuisine for dinner. I called to confirm that they'd be serving some special dishes for New Year's - and we headed out with friends hoping for an auspicious dinner. We'd have probably gone to Harbor Docks had the first meal there not been so poor.

Lin's is clearly doing it's best to serve the locals well made American-Chinese food at friendly price points. Though they were very busy this Saturday night, service was brisk and the food was good, if not as authentic as I usually seek. There was a white board with Chinese New Year Specials. Given their very modest price points, I didn't really expect much of the fish or seafood to be fresh, and I was right. That was so unfortunate.

Hot & Sour Soup


Baby Clams with Black Bean Sauce

We hit the jackpot with the clams, which were a New Year's special and one of the few fresh seafood items - the clams were tender, tasty, and caressed in a lovely Black Bean Sauce. The dumplings were also nice, as was the soup. Clams are of course an Asian New Year item due to their round shape, which emulates coins.

Lucky Rice Cakes (Ningko) with Pork and Vegetables

My entree also came from the New Year's Specials menu - it was a nice treatment of this dish, (using frozen Ningko) but I can get freshly made rice cakes at Wonton Gourmet in Cleveland (and they do this very dish all year around) - Lin's made this a New Year dish because the rice cakes have that round "money" shape.

Garlic Eggplant with Beef

Betsy's entree was lovely - perfectly cooked Chinese Eggplant with tender beef and a touch of spice.

General Tao's Chicken

We thought this was an original presentation for the classic Chinese-American dish, and it tasted lovely too.

I am sorry - I don't remember what Stormie's dish was. I recall that we all liked it.  We  were particularly intrigued with the sweet potato garnish on a number of plates; another Lunar New Year touch.

Bob ordered this duck dish from the regular menu (no one else wanted to splurge for the Peking Duck, which  was a New Year special). This dish isn't on the on-line menu, so I can't tell you exactly what it was. And  since they had Peking Duck as a special, we hoped it meant that all of the duck dishes would be delicious. But there was an off flavor to this dish that we couldn't place - a shame.  If we hadn't been with a group, we'd have sent it back. But there was plenty of yummy food on the table, so no harm was done.

After I spoke a bit of Mandarin with some of the servers, one asked if we lived there - I sensed that they knew that I was hoping for  more authentic food that probably doesn't sell well in this neighborhood, and that they wanted to offer it if I'd be in the neighborhood again. Alas, that was not to be. Lin's is a fine choice for Americanized Chinese food, and I suspect that they can deliver more if they are confident that authentic is what you want. However, they have no fresh fish or seafood.

The RG ended Sunday, and about 15 of us headed to Harbor Docks for lunch, which has become a post-RG tradition. Sadly, Harbor Docks did nothing to improve on my earlier review of dinner there. Terri called to let them know we'd be descending, and they said they could only accomodate our group on the outside deck. Even though it was below-average chilly, it was also nice and sunny out, and we didn't think it would be a problem. We spread out over two large tables.

Once we all got comfy, our server took drink orders. A few folks asked about separate checks - the server announced the "policy" of no separate checks for groups of more than 6 (we've been there with simlilarly sized groups in the past and splitting the bill has never been a problem). Even though we occupied two full tables - she assured us she'd have no problem accepting separate payments at the end. Uh-huh. She didn't even at least split the two tables into two checks - how hard could that have been?

The first round of beverages included a couple of folks who wanted Bloody Mary's. No vegetation at all in their glasses - though subsequent rounds had some lovely looking celery. When they could get them, as service was practically non-existent.

It was fun on the deck, for a while. Then the while dragged on. And on. And no one came to check on us or to refill our glasses (or, more importantly, the hot drinks that were making this bearable). No biscuits (a lunch staple at Harbor Docks for years), or even crackers, appeared to take the edge off. And it got cold. Very cold.

This Intrepid Member of our Group Brought Out the Snuggie and Hoodie From Her Car to Keep Warm

Yes, I know this was Valentine's Day, and yes, I appreciate that they were busy - but we waited for well over an hour without a bite of food coming to the tables (except for the repeat Bloody Mary drinkers), who got celery).  Finally - tepid meals were served:

Vera's "Tuna Special" with Ginger Rice, Black Eyes Peas and Salsa

I know that the angle isn't great - but I noticed that Vera's  Yellowfin tuna steak had, like my Bluefin the prior Friday, been halved across the equator so it looked bigger than it was.  Truthfully, they've always done that at lunch, and for a lunch portion at a lunch price, it isn't really offensive. But seeing it reminded me that they'd served the exact same portion size for a dinner costing over $10 more. Vera enjoyed her lunch. 

"Caribbean" Fried Amberjack Special
Bob's lunch was mostly good - except for the cole slaw, which was beyond bad tasting - it tasted and smelled spoiled and I actually spit it out. But there was no help to be found to remedy that situation. We couldn't discern any "Caribbean" flavors in the breading, either.

For my lunch, I requested the Amberjack blackened, but served with the "fried" lunch sides (cheese grits, hushpuppies, cole slaw). Usually, grilled or blackened entrees are served with Ginger Rice and Cucumber Salad, but I almost always get my fish not fried, but served with the fried sides.  When the plate appeared, I asked the server about the missing cole slaw, and she said I hadn't asked for it. Oh. Once I tasted Bob's, I was glad they'd left it off.

The amberjack was delicious, though, and this almost made up for the horrible service were were enduring. Almost.

The entire lunch process (prior to settlement and payment of the check) took well over 2 hours, because the sushi that some people ordered took even longer than the one hour to serve (everyone else was finished by the time the sushi came to the tables). When we finally tried to cash out - it turned into a circus - some of our group had retreated inside because of the cold, where they discovered that the bill for 15 people had been mushed together so thoroughly that separation was almost impossible. After the rest of us wandered inside - the server ultimately separated all of the checks as needed, which took about a half hour (and by now - the restaurant was mostly empty, since is was well between lunch and dinner service). Adding insult to injury - Harbor Docks added a 20% gratuity to the checks, despite the pitiful service we'd received. Bob crossed it out and wrote in a smaller tip - we'll see what happens when the credit card bill comes in.

The problems we'd had over lunch faded away once we were seated for Valentine's Day dinner at our favorite Destin-area restaurant - Cafe Tango. Chef Walter Sanchez and his wife Paja create simply beautiful food at this 8 table restaurant set in a house. 14 Vicki Street (just off 30A), Santa Rosa Beach, (850) 267-0054 (no website). We were thrilled to share Cafe Tango with yet another friend - Betsy, who would spend the evening as our guest at our condo also. As always, the food and service were fantastic. We were again seated in the "front porch" area - unfortunately for me, not well lit enough for my point-and-shoot to be as effective as I'd like.

Olive Oil, Herbs, Cheese

Cafe Tango is one of the few places that serves bread worthy of such a dip. The bread tastes and feels like it is made in-house.

Our first request was, of course, Tuna Mojama. Air dried, Salt Cured Bluefin Tuna is marinated in Olive Oil and eats like Salumi. As last year, it was served warm with Greens and Warm Crostinis, and some lovely bits of sweet red pepper and large fresh capers.

Mojama is an amazing dish - if you enjoy salumi, imagine pristine tuna salted and dried such that the flavors are concentrated and the texture made a bit chewy. Yum.

Oh, and this year's version was also accompanied by "garlic chips" - pictured above. Whole garlic cloves were fried to light deliciousness.

Fresh Caper Berry

When it was time for salad (which is included with dinner), I commented about how I always seem to get the same house-made dressing - the Habanaro Honey Mustard- and how I should really try another, but I love this one so! Our wonderful server responded by bringing this plate to the table:


Clockwise from 12 o'clock - we sampled all five of the house-made dressings: Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, Toasted Pecan Blue Cheese, Parmesan Ranch, Honey Mustard Habenaro and Ginger Soy Vinaigrette. All were freshly prepared and tasted fabulous. We tasted these dressings, of course, with the house salad:

Next up came the entrees.

The Dancing Fish

Betsy opted for one of my Cafe Tango Favorites - Fresh Sauteed Grouper topped with Shrimp, Lump Crabmeat, Grilled Diver Scallop, and Spinach in Jalapeno Cream Sauce. She loved it. Bob and I both ordered a new preparation for our main - fish Basque Style (I had grouper, he had snapper):

The fish was sauteed in the style of Northern Spain, topped with shrimp in a White Fabada Bean Sauce accented by lovely Morcilla and Chorizo sausages. We agreed on the perfection of the bean sauce and how it played against the spicy sausage. I have to truthfully say that I liked the quality of the snapper better than the grouper, and the shrimp weren't as wonderful as usual.

Whipped Potatoes

Sauteed Vegetables with Goat Cheese

This combination of Asian flavors and cheese shouldn't work - but it does!


Though we were wonderfully full, Paja was concerned that I hadn't totally loved my dinner (I had left a lot of food on my plate) and so she insisted on treating us to dessert, which we shared and really enjoyed.

Chocolate Pot Du Creme in Pastry

Poundcake "French Toast" with Caramelized Bananas, Ice Cream, Caramel, Creme Fraiche

We liked the pot de creme - but we loved the poundcake French Toast. The poundcake was made in-house, then dredged in egg and fried, and plated as you can see. An amazingly sweet and tasty end to a sweet Valentine's Day!

And when the check came, my entree was not on it. This is the difference between a great restaurant and a not great restaurant. First - service was so attentive that the FOH knew immediately that my meal wasn't perfect - I didn't have to flag anyone down to report anything (and I wasn't going to anyway, because I'd eaten enough by then). Then, FOH acted on that info without any drama or stress - dessert came to the table, and the imperfect dish came off the check. And I can continue to say that Cafe Tango is my favorite restaurant in Florida, period. I was hoping we'd get back for another meal, but my health conspired against me, so that didn't happen. If you are in the neighborhood - check out Cafe Tango - Walter and Paja will make you feel like family!

Monday morning would be our first of three visits to the best breakfast in town: Silver Sands Breakfast at Harbor Docks.

At one time, Silver Sands had its own premises, but they burned down and were turned into condos years ago. And so, this stalwarth band of middle-aged+ ladies and their kitchen staff take over the Harbor Docks restaurant every morning, turning out the best biscuits in the world and other tasty, reasonably priced goodies with a large dose of genuine Southern Hospitality.

Two Eggs, Sausage, Grits and Biscuits Breakfast (Biscuits not Pictured)

Betsy loved her breakfast; great fuel for the road and she had a long drive ahead of her!

Two Eggs Over Easy, Bacon, Cheese Grits and Biscuits Breakfast

Bob was a happy man.

My Usual - Bowl of Cheese Grits, Biscuits and Gravy

Best. Biscuits. On the planet. Period. Made by 84-year-old Mister Ship (no, I will not publish his photo, because he wouldn't like that and I love him!). 

For dinner, we decided to try a newer local place that several folks had recommended - LaFamilgia Italian Restaurant. Even though this was Presidents' Day, I didn't expect it to be so crowded on a Monday night. Still, we were promptly seated. Service was a little strange - though our Italian-accented server was pleasant enough (and steared me away from the Grouper, which was a good thing), he seamed more interested in his other, larger tables, and no one else helped him to serve. I had a lot of time to peruse the menu, and the room.

When bread service finally arrived - the wonderfully complex dipping oil was accompanied by mediocre food-service bread. At least they'd had the good sense to toast it!

Calamari Appetizer

Love Them Tentacles!

Though made from frozen squid, this dish was simply wonderful, and it whetted my appetite for the mixed seafood entree I'd ordered. Little did we know! After the server warned me off the Grouper, I had asked about the seafood. Was it fresh/local? He said yes. He lied.

But first - the salad course:

This was again a high-quality item, with house-made dressing, that left us very hopeful about our entrees.

Spicy Whole Shrimp over Pasta Special 

The sodium polytriphosphate in this shrimp was apparent the moment Bob's plate came to the table. I fared  no better.

Chef's Choice Mixed Seafood Over Pasta

The only edible seafood on this plate were the clams, which were wonderful. I expect that the squid was ok (the same squid we'd just eaten  for appetizer, which is why I didn't dig into it in my entree). But the rest of the seafood smelled of chemistry or worse, and the chunks of fish in the dish were old and smelly. Even the mussels were lacking! Those bad smells infected the otherwise lovely broth caressing the pasta. I should have sent it back, but I just didn't feel like it. So we paid our check and left. A real shame, because the diners consuming non-seafood/fish items seemed to really be enjoying their food - perhaps we chose poorly. Oh well.

Our next meal would be lunch on Tuesday. After the disappointing dinner the night before, we determined to try Shorty's Topside, which took over the space formerly occupied by D&K's Cafe in Grayton Beach, and has been getting rave reviews. The downstairs space has turned into a bright and friendly bar, and the upstairs has likewise been freshened and brightened. And upstairs still has those awesome Gulf views!

Service was polished and energetic. Our server raved about the shrimp and grouper ceviche, so this was our first item ordered.

This lovely presentation was reminiscent of the Shrimp and Seafood Cocktail served at D&K, which seemed very appropriate. The tastes were lovely.


We each ordered a sandwich for lunch; both dishes came with a side of choice.

The Shrimp Po Boy was tasty, though the smell of sodium polytriphosphate was certainly in evidence if your nose got too close to the shrimp. The breading on the shrimp had great flavors and the fry job was perfect. Bob noted that the bread wasn't a real Po Boy roll (yet another bread disconnect).

Still, the fries were outstanding and Bob enjoyed his lunch.


My grilled grouper had that wonderful smokey flavor I remembered from the grilled fish at D&K, and was accompanied by a delicious baked mac and cheese. The tarter tasted light and fresh. The only weak link was again the bread holding the sandwich.

Overall, we enjoyed our lunch at Shorty's and look forward to visiting them again next year.

Having gone from Chinese New Year to Valentine's Day to Presidents' Day to Fat Tuesday in such short order, we pondered where to go for dinner. We decided to try the recently relocated Harry T's at Emerald Grande (the hideous-looking new condo development at the foot of the Brooks Bridge). We'd never been to the original Harry T's, but I'd heard some buzz that despite the location, Harry T's was a locals place. The Harborwalk in the Emerald Grande property was supposed to have some fun happenings for Fat Tuesday, and Commander's Palace was doling out free Red Beans and Rice, so we thought we'd give it a whirl.

By the time we got there, the music at the pavillion was between sets. Though we saw where the red beans and rice were being served, we decided to make a beeline for HarryT's - it was COLD out there! Harry T's borders on too much kitsch, in fact, when this display first met us near the door, I almost did an about-face.

But the warmth of the place won me over quickly!

The bar looked friendly.

And the outside patio had plastic covering and plentiful space heaters to keep us warm.

The thing that brought us back to Harry T's two more times - more than anything else - was the great service we received each time. The food was fresh and well prepared, though not extraordinary. That's ok - I love fresh, well prepared food.

We started with a bowl of the Gumbo to share. N.B. - though the menu doesn't offer soup by the cup, we saw others with what looked like cups of soup during our visits.

The gumbo, which could have been served at a hotter temperature, was nevertheless so delicious that we scarfed it up before we could even discuss sending it back. Thickened with okra, the soup was chock full of fresh seafood. The only other odd thing about it was that the rice was pre-mixed into it, rather than served in a scoop on the top. We loved it anyway.

This condiment enhanced the flavors of everything it touched!

There was no separate bread service at dinner. We each received a [food service] dinner roll on our dinner plate. We each ordered a different preparation of Grouper, which our server recommended as the best fish choice.

Herb-Crusted Grouper with Citrus Aoli

This lovely plate featured "Caribbean" spices (which were rather muted), over a fresh and tasty piece of fish, side of choice (fries) and freshly steamed broccoli.

Grouper with Balsamic Honey Glaze, Roasted Red Peppers and Onions, and Fresh Spinach

I ordered mine with rice, and it also came with broccoli. I really liked the glaze, and I'm not a big sweets eater.The red peppers were beautifully caramelized.

I was very impressed with how well prepared the fish was - even the skin was crispy and delicious! And the portion was so large, I could not finish it all (except for the fish - none of that went to waste!).

Crispy Grouper Skin is a Good and Tasty Thing

The price points on HarryT's regular menu are very close to those at Harbor Docks. However, HarryT's offered a modest discount to all on its "Winter Menu" (about 10% off the regular prices) on everything. Moreover, our server Seth, intrigued by my camera, brought the manager over, who was delighted with us, and gave us the "locals discount" (another 10%). At a net price of about $20 per plate, and since our plates had plenty of vegetables and large portions of everything else, I did not miss the salad at all. Moreover, HarryT's felt younger and more fun - and the upstairs bar was rocking with a live band! We left smiling and sated, with beads around our necks and happy tummies. Seth had told us that the Sunday brunch was wonderful; though I had a couple of other places I really wanted to hit on our only free Sunday, we would wind up returning to HarryT's. But that will await the next blog post! Stay tuned . . . .


  1. My goodness, if you can't get pristine fish that close to the ocean, what hope do we have in less nautical areas have of getting a good piece of fish?

    Excellent write up. I really could feel the timeline of the progression of your meals.

  2. Sorry to hear that this trip was full of culinary disappointments but glad to hear that your favorite spot, Cafe Tango, didn't disappoint.

  3. Reading your post this morning has my hunger up for a bowl of those cheesy grits, flaky biscuits and that juicy grapefruit - what a feast!