Vol 6 No. 37 - June 7, 2006

Fish is fresh and tasty at Star Fish Company

The restaurant is located behind the fish market in Cortez.

By Liza Morrow
sun staff writer

‘Wish my date last night was this interesting," Jane Green said, slumping on the table in mock frustration. It was girls’ night out at The Star Fish Co., a gritty seafood shack in Cortez, and the subject at hand was not this 42-year-old attorney’s love life (though that would come), but crab cakes with flavors so soulfully deep that she was savoring each bite.

Seafood restaurants have proliferated on our Gulf coast for years but there aren’t many perched on a dock with their very own fish market attached. If you want to be sure your fish is fresh, just check out the sparkling display case in the adjacent shop or ask the fisherman, who is bringing it off his boat and through the back door, when he sits down next to you to order lunch and a cold one. Diners looking for an outside dining and drinking spot with a funky old Florida style and really good food will find it all at this place.

Star Fish is definitely for those who want the pleasure of fresh seafood. Never mind fancy sauces, creative flourishes, snazzy service or china, as each order comes in a paper box from AP Bell Wholesale Fish Market down the block. Diners sit at picnic tables and orders are delivered by a cook in an apron asking "Who ordered the blackened grouper?"

Jane’s crab cakes elicited a "Wow!" response from each one of us that tried it at my table. The crispy, chubby discs were hot and crispy at the edges and tasted as fresh as the sea within. Two pieces, as big as the top tier of a wedding cake are served with two choices from the side dish selections of cole slaw, cheese grits, French fries or hush puppies. The cakes could not have been better and at $7.95 for one or 11.95 for two it is a remarkable value. Line cook Jim Gowett calls this dish, "A pure crab cake, not three bites crab and 5 bites green pepper, onions and celery. Served with a creamy Dijon sauce, the same sauce we serve with crab claws, it is a no-brainer. You can buy all the ingredients in the market and we’ll tell you how to make them. Easy. But for those that don’t want to be bothered we also sell the crab cakes pre-made in the market for less than 5 bucks each. Make it yourself and you’ll get more than double the amount at the same price."

When friends come for dinner we tend to cook what we know. There is no sense attempting fresh river eel napoleons when crab cakes and cole slaw have proven to be crowd pleasers. Seafood is a near perfect food. High in protein, low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals it fits the bill for many health-conscious diners who also savor its delicious flavors. It is the food that signifies youth, beauty and health and it is hard to think of fish as anything other than wholesome. Red meat consumption is down and seafood demand is spiraling off the charts. When we cook a filet mignon, we know we am succumbing to nothing more than luxury. When we cook seafood, we feel like the benefactor of good things, no matter how much butter and cream it is cooked in or served with! And cook you must. At this time of year, when the air is as humid as a downed cumulous cloud and the barbeque smokes before you even light the coals a quick sauté is the most we want to muster.

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