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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
SEAFOOD & GRILL
East where? It's a nice little historical town to the south and west of Jacksonville right on the St. John's river and is part of the "greater" Palatka area! Some in north Florida will recognize the town for its annual blue crab festival. But onto the eats!
We had passed this place several times in the mid-morning but it was never open. Then one Sunday while doing a little exploring, we saw a ton of cars in the parking lot and stopped by.
From the clientele, it's apparent that this place has been around for quite some time. Many were elderly. Several other tables were occupied by families. Many of the men wore suits or sport coats and ties, obviously they had attended church. And good for them!
The menu looked very familiar and many of the pictures on the walls were from St. Augustine. The menu was very similar to what we've found in St. Augustine at places like Barnacle Bill's and Schooner's. I wondered if the places were related but our server said no. I still think she could be wrong. Nonetheless, the food was really, really good -- just like at the St. Augustine places I mentioned.
We started off with an order of conch fritters. Nice and crisp on the outside and tender and moist inside with those unmistakable chunks of chewy conch--just as they should be. The dipping sauce was some sort of honey mayo or something like that.
My wife chose catfish filets for her main course and they came with two sides. She chose green beans and marinated carrots. The fish was a perfect ten. I can't remember when my wife buzzed through her meal so quickly. The carrots looked awful (brownish) but she said they had a cinnamon flavor and were good. The green beans appeared to come directly out of a can.
I chose a fried seafood combo for my main meal with two choices from the following----fish, shrimp, oysters, and or clam strips. I went with the shrimp and oysters and ordered a baked potato and steamed cabbage for my sides. The shrimp and oysters were terrific. Lightly battered and fried perfectly golden brown. And the shrimp were some of the biggest I've had at a place like this. Plus, they tasted like Atlantic or Gulf shrimp although most shrimp do come from Vietnam, India, Thailand or other faraway places nowadays because the cost of raising them is so cheap over there.
There was a long line of people waiting to get a table when we left. Not that we get to Palatka let alone East Palatka (that's a joke) very often, but if you should ever find yourself in this part of North Florida, we highly recommend a meal at Musselwhite's! Prices are reasonable. As I recall, my wife's catfish was about $12 and my seafood combo was $14. The big daddy seafood platter was only $16.50, several dollars cheaper than offerings at similar restaurants in North Florida.
They're located on 125 South Highway 17 in East Palatka. Phone number is (386) 326-9111. As far as I can tell, they don't have a web site but you can see what others are saying at TripAdvisor here.