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What makes a great American seafood restaurant?
I specify ‘American seafood’ to distinguish from the many great seafood offerings from specific cuisines such as Chinese and Japanese that have their own outposts in the US.
My three criteria:
- Menu must not specialize in deep frying. It can be a minor part of the menu but not the default preparation.
- Menu must not specialize in only one thing, such as lobster rolls, without much else on offer.
- Must be distinctively American, which is open to wide interpretation.
With my wife a seafood lover I have learned to plan whole trips around seafood. Maine lobster shack trips have become an annual tradition even though I am allergic. We try the high and low. Generally the high-end places that typically have a raw bar and overpriced fish filet entrees don’t do much for us. Neither the deep fry only style of place found along the Eastern seaboard.
We can’t possibly sample all so claiming one to be best is ridiculous, however here’s my new nominee: Winter Park Fish Co in Winter Park, Orlando.
It is an upper-end seafood shack in a tony suburb. Everything is fresh. What impresses most is the many preparations, 16 just for fresh fish, and garnishes. The wait staff know their stuff and don’t hold back opinions.
The sides, in the tradition of Southern ‘meat and three’ places, are American traditions and done to a superb level. Below you see the mac & cheese and Parmesan tomatoes with my fish filet.
There are creative dishes on the menu such as the starter of PEI mussels, clams and & boiled peanuts that we wolfed down and nearly guzzled the garlic broth. The boiled peanuts are a beautiful touch of Americana.