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

THE OLD FISH HOUSE
COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA

During a visit to the Space Coast one Sunday, we chose to dine here for lunch based on word of mouth, reviews we had read in travel books and on comments left on the excellent web site "Trip Advisor Dot Com."  We were looking forward to a great meal.  We didn't get it, however.

The restaurant is tucked away in a strip mall near the famous Ron Jon's surf shop.  Once inside, it's bigger than you'd think it would be.  It has funky decorations and a decidedly fun atmosphere.

Our waitress could not have been any nicer or more accommodating.  She was quick with a tradition at seafood houses around this part of Florida, fried corn fritters dusted in powdered sugar.


Corn Fritters With Powdered Sugar

We passed on appetizers since my wife and I both decided to get the "Fried Feast" platter for two.  It consisted of two filets of unidentified fish, a handful of peel and eat shrimp, probably from Asia, some local rock peel and eat shrimp, fried shrimp, and fried clam strips.  When brought to the table, it came in an odd looking platter with pockets for each seafood item.


 The "Feast" - L-R clockwise:  Red Potatoes, Fried Shrimp, Steamed Rock & Regular Shrimp, Fish and Fried Clam Strips in the Center

Okay--we'll take everything one by one.  The corn fritters were very good and piping hot.  The fish filets were okay but the color of the fish was a little weird, kind of gray.  It tasted okay.  I'd bet it probably came from Asia.  A lot of seafood houses are now passing off such fish as basa from Asia as grouper, etc.  The fried shrimp were very tiny and overcooked although there were a lot of them.  The fried clam strips (similar to what Howard Johnson used to serve when they still had restaurants) were good although I did get one fishy one.  They were typical of what you get down here.  The "regular" peel and eat shrimp were okay.  A little on the smallish side and no doubt from Asia.  The one thing that I was looking forward to the most was a real disappointment---rock shrimp.

When we lived in Florida in 1979, it was hard to get anybody to buy rock shrimp because they were very hard to peel with a shell almost as hard as a lobster.  I'd often see them in stores for a buck a pound.  A few years ago while still living in Michigan, I saw them packaged as "rock prawns" and priced at $8 a pound!

They were served steamed here with some seasoning kind of like Old Bay.  But they were very disappointing.  One was pretty good.  The others had been in the freezer too long.  Some meat was practically falling apart.  Our excellent server offered some drawn butter for the rock shrimp and we took her up on that because when fresh, rock shrimp compare favorably with lobster in taste and texture.  The drawn butter tasted like melted margarine although it was clear.  I still think it was something other than butter.

At noon on Sunday, there were only 4 other tables occupied.  Two by elderly parties that were either coming from or going to church.  The other tables had families.

While this wasn't an awful meal, do yourself a favor and pass on this one.  There are other good restaurants not far away including the noteworthy Dixie Crossroads Seafood Restaurant in nearby Titusville although it is much more on the pricey side and on many weekends, you'll be in for a lengthy wait.

Lunch for two with no booze came to about $34.

Maybe we just had a bad experience here but I doubt it.  Quality is quality and I didn't see it here, especially with the much anticipated rock shrimp.

My wife and I both burped up nasty fishy stuff for hours after this meal.  The more we talked about, the more we agreed that it wasn't very good -- at all.

The Old Fish House has a web site here complete with a tempting looking menu, etc.