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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

JACKIE'S SEAFOOD
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA

This review actually dates back to 1979 during our first gig in Jacksonville.  We found a great little place for fresh seafood and all-you-can-eat fried mullet.  It was called Panama's Seafood Kitchen and it was in a section of town known as Panama.

I talked with a life long resident of Jacksonville and asked him if he was familiar with Panama's Seafood Kitchen and he nodded "yes" but said it was gone.  He said it might have transformed into a place called Jackie's Seafood right on the Trout River.  So one Saturday we ventured over there and gave it a try.


Looks Nice But It's A Lot More "Rustic" Inside - Believe Me

The neighborhood was interesting.  A mix of "normalcy" and strangeness.  I can't put my finger on it.  Let's just say it has seen more prosperous times. The place sits right on the water and looks as though it has been there for years.  We dropped in at 12:30pm and there was only one other table occupied.  Not a good sign.


A Lot Of Empty Tables - ALL Tables Empty As We Left

Like most restaurants around here, this place brags about the freshest of seafood.  However like most places around here, I suspect that most if not all of the seafood served here is straight out of the freezer.  Not that it's a bad thing.  Frozen seafood done right can be wonderful.  Obviously you can't fake fresh oysters on the half shell or cherrystone clams.  But shrimp, fish, scallops and clams -- most wouldn't notice the difference and especially if they were fried.


Rustic!  Concrete Floors

We checked out the menu and my wife chose a fresh fish sandwich.  She asked about the type of fish and was told that it was whiting.  Whiting is a common fish not found on too many restaurant menus that is often caught off piers and by surf fishermen.  I like it.  And she started with a cup of New England clam chowder.

I ordered a "mini-platter" of seafood and it was a lot of food.  It came with shrimp, oysters, scallops, fish filets, a deviled crab and hush puppies.  As with most seafood platters in northern Florida cole slaw was a given and for my other side I chose red beans and rice.

My wife's chowder was thick but she proclaimed that it was probably out of a can.  I sampled a bite and it was okay but nothing more.  Her fish sandwich was good and yes, the fish did appear to be whiting and not some invader from Asia, which you find all too commonly down here.


That's The Trout River Outside

As I mentioned, my seafood platter contained a lot of food.  The fish, apparently whiting, was very good.  The scallops were pretty good.  The clam strips were excellent and large.  Too many places give you skinny little strands of clams.  The shrimp were okay at best, some of the smallest and least flavorful I've had down here.  The oysters were very good.  Big, plump and juicy.  The deviled crab was good.  The onion rings were way over battered and so-so.  And my one general complaint about my entire meal was that it wasn't really piping hot.  Last and least, I should stop ordering red beans and rice down here.  We used to live in New Orleans where they know how to do it right and every time I see 'em on the menu I hearken for the Big Easy days and order them.  And I'm always disappointed with Florida's rendition.  These consisted of, from what I could tell, white rice, red beans and a watery and fairly flavorless broth.

I hope you won't have to use the restrooms here.  They were dark, pretty dirty and down a long and sinister looking corridor.

We asked the waitress if this used to be Panama's Seafood Kitchen years ago and she didn't know. She said it has been Jackie's for many years (maybe 12 to 14) and that prior to that it was a steak joint.  Looking at a seafood market and bait shop next door, I think that was probably the old Panama's Seafood Kitchen from way back.  My memory gave me little twitches!

Over all this wasn't a bad experience.  But with so many good seafood houses in the Jacksonville area, I'd probably not bother with Jackie's.

Lunch for two with sodas came to $31 with tip, or something like that.

They used to have a website but no more.  Just Google them for directions.