thinking of warmer times

It’s February, and although I live in Florida, it’s cold. And I am so over it. We Floridians crave the first cold night of the season, the first opportunity to wear a sweater and jeans, the rare occasion to turn on the gas fireplace, being able to turn off the air conditioner for once. But this cold snap has gone on too long. By Valentine’s Day weekend, I was ready for to put my sandals on again.

My husband and I took a brief reprieve from the cold this year – a week-long trip to Maui. And I must confess that, while the purpose of the trip was for a work conference, we mostly played. And it was fabulous.
keawakapu beach

We had some really nice dining experiences, and we spent way too much money on food. I’m not sure it’s even possible to NOT spend too much money on food in Maui. It was not uncommon to see a fish entree on a restaurant menu for $40 to $50. We went to one really standout restaurant, the Lahaina Grill, that blew our minds and won our hearts. The restaurant was elegant and classy, the service was thoughtful and attentive, and each course was carefully prepared, presented artfully, and tasted, well, delicious. In fact, when each dish was sat down before us, the only thing we could talk about was how wonderful it all tasted.
Lahaina Grill

It got me thinking about the other two meals we ate on Maui that were around the same price point (i.e., expensive). One of the dinners was at Mama’s Fish House, a classic Hawaiian restaurant that’s one of Maui’s most famous. The other dinner was at a restaurant so memorable that I’ve forgotten it’s name. Our bill at Mama’s Fish House was almost identical to our bill at Lahaina Grill, but we were not as blown away by the quality. Mama’s has atmosphere. Situated on an ocean cove, the 37-year old restaurant opens out onto a white sand beach. With tropical breezes flowing through the restaurant, we couldn’t help but relax and enjoy ourselves.
shrimp wontons

The meal was very good, but we left the restaurant feeling like we spent a lot of money simply to eat on a beach. The quality of the food didn’t quite match the level of quality we experienced at Lahaina Grill.
dinner at mama's fish house

And back to the third restaurant, the forgettable one. We felt like we may as well be eating at Red Lobster. Or, maybe Red Lobster is better than that – I’m not sure since I’ve not been to the RL for many years. This restaurant was in the touristy part of Maui, so it’s very possible, and most likely, that we were just getting the usual tourist rip-off. We regretted the $100 meal, especially after we realized we could have eaten at Lahaina Grill one last time for just a tad more.

My husband and I have had lots of great dining experiences over the last several years, and it’s been an educational experience. I’ve learned that quality of ingredients – including freshness and seasonality – are vitally important. But even the freshest, seasonal fish can be ruined by an uninspired and overworked chef. Creativity, passion, respect for food – these are the ingredients that draw us in and keep us coming back.

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12 Responses to “flagler beach, florida: flagler fish company”

  1. Renee (Kudos Kitchen) — August 21, 2010 @ 11:15 am

    You are making my mouth water with all these wonderful pictures. *drool*

  2. Gail — August 21, 2010 @ 11:22 am

    I’m waiting for Jennifer Perillo’s ricotta to finish draining so I can have it for breakfast. In the meantime, I now want fish tacos. Or shrimp & grits. Great travelogue, MJ!

  3. Kath — August 21, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    Wow! We’re blessed with a lot of great places to eat seafood in Seattle, but I don’t think we have anything like Flager Fish Company. It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Monica — August 21, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

    YUM! I really need to try to make that–love shrimp, love grits, combo sounds like heaven! I am also a huge fan of fish tacos after thinking they were gross for far too many years. I finally tried them once and was hooked. Pretty popular out here on the west coast.

  5. Frank — August 22, 2010 @ 9:46 am

    Florida really does have wonderful seafood… My folks spend their winters on the West Coast and when we go down to visit I always look forward to it!

  6. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle — August 22, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    Your vacation stories have me yearning to visit the Southeast coast; I’ve not missed NC and SC quite as much til I’ve followed them. I recall so fondly the shrimp fisherman who would cook up a big bunch of their catch on the dock and offer them to anyone nearby, the low country restaurants with all of the latest catch and yes, the grits.

    We moved from a suburb of St Louis to NC and though our household goods were moved, we drove our cars and pets and it was a rainy, stressful and exhausting trip.

    Our first warm breakfast in three days was just in a Holiday Inn, but I’ll never forget wondering, “What are these?” and these were grits. Reminded me a bit of cream of wheat but I came to love them too; good thing, I do believe they were served on the side of every breakfast I ever ate out; whether ordered or not; it was a staple like toast.

    And now I’m craving the beach, the shrimp and the grits! Lovely memories, thanks.

  7. Brian @ A Thought For Food — August 23, 2010 @ 9:34 am

    This place looks incredible! I can’t get enough fresh fish, and their variety is just remarkable.

  8. claudia lamascolo — November 2, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

    I absolutely love St Augustine area, and the resturants are fabulous, your foods are making me want to drive there now love that area…not too far here in Melbourne~ Need to take a road trip to this wonderful resturant!

  9. Aggie — November 9, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

    I grew up in Flagler and being such a small town was so happy to see a post on it! I have yet to try Flagler Fish Co but have heard great things. My parent’s have a pizza place within walking distance from there…will have to bring home some seafood with me next time I visit! 🙂

    Great post! Found it on Foodbuzz!

  10. Rinehart Video Productions — December 20, 2010 @ 7:45 am

    I am a very big fan of Flagler Beach. Love visiting from Sarasota every chance I get. I shoot marketing and travel videos for myself and business websites all over Florida. And Flagler Pier will be featured in my next video very soon. Just an excellent blog with lots of great photos of the food. I will definitely be stopping at Flagler Fish Company for the shrimp and grits on my next visit. The food looks fantastic. All the best.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — December 20th, 2010 @ 10:25 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  11. Beth — February 20, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    I’ve never eaten there, and I live 10 minutes away..was just at Flagler Beach today! Will have to give it a try sometime..

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