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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
DOWN THE HATCH
Word of mouth suggested that this was a great dining spot right on an inlet just south of Daytona Beach. We had driven by it several times and the parking lot was always full.
This dinner came on a late Friday afternoon. We were in the area and decided to give it a try. The friendly staff said we could sit anywhere. They had mainly tall bar stools and tables outside but we managed to find a table right over the water.
We checked out the menu and started off with a cup of New England (creamy) clam chowder and an order of the "famous" smoked fish spread.
The menu said all soups were made from scratch and the clam chowder was good. The serving was rather on the small side but it was good. The smoked fish dip was very good and it was a huge portion. We practically stuffed ourselves on it before our main courses came.
My wife ordered a fresh fish sandwich and fries. The fish of the day that afternoon was triggerfish, one of our favorites. When we owned our own boat on the Gulf coast, we would quite often get into a mess of triggers. There are many different types of triggers in the oceans in the world but these are gray triggerfish. I ordered the fried Hatch Combo Platter along with cole slaw and garlic mashed potatoes.
My wife's sandwich was quite good and she could tell that the fish was, indeed fresh. When my platter first arrived it looked a little small. Turns out, however, there was a lot of food to plow through. It came with four huge butterflied shrimp, four suspiciously large oysters, six or seven medium sized scallops, two hush puppies and a filet of the fresh trigger. The shrimp were the biggest I've ever seen on a Florida seafood platter and they were good. The scallops were tender and delicious. The fish was fresh and nice (although the filet was on the thin side). Now about those oysters. I said I was "suspicious" because they were so large. I've never seen a Florida oyster that large! I have, on the other hand, seen 'em that big and even much bigger on the Pacific coast. I won't go so far as to suggest that these came from the Pacific coast but I've had a lot of fried Florida oysters and these were gi-normous!
The only thing that was disappointing were the garlic mashed potatoes. They were fine, nicely salted and peppered, but there was absolutely no hint of garlic whatsoever!
Overall the food was good. I wouldn't rate it was outstanding but when you add the ambience of the inlet, fresh air, shrimp boats going by, pelicans landing and taking off, this was a very nice experience and I'd recommend it to you.
Dinner without booze came to just over $40.
They have a nice web site here with directions, online menu, etc.