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

PARSONS SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FLORIDA

We were doing a little exploring just inland the other day just a few blocks from the main roads right next to the beach when we ran across this interesting looking place.  It's obviously not a tourist trap, that's for sure.  You have to know about this place because of its out of the way location.  The place has also been here for a long time.  Add the two up and we figured it had to be good.  And it was!


Pleasant, Modest Decor

Our first of many more meals to come here came just after they opened at 11am on a Sunday afternoon.   Even before we walked in the door there was an aroma of wonderful seafood in the air.  I love that!  There was only one other couple seated in the whole place. 

We checked out the menu and my wife noticed a fish on the menu called swai.  My antenna immediately went up figuring it was a visitor from the far east -- cheap, imported fish from Asia!  The waitress swore up and down that it was a local fish.  I highly suspected that this wasn't the case.  In any event, my wife went ahead and ordered the "fresh" swai ranchero style.  For her two sides she chose broccoli and cole slaw.  I ordered the Mariner's Platter fried.

My wife's swai came with a tomato based sauce and loaded and I mean loaded with jalapenos.  She said it was very good and offered me a taste.  The fish was good but American?  More on that later.


Swai - Ranchero Style

My seafood platter at $14.95 was stupendously good and a lot of food!  It came with twelve large, perfectly fried shrimp (I suspect local and at the very least from the U.S.), four of the best, freshest fried oysters I've ever had, four jumbo scallops, a nice deviled crab served in a blue crab shell and made with real crab and not artificial krab, a large perfectly cooked grouper filet, and some nice, large fried clam strips.  Many places in Florida serve string thin, rubbery clam strips.  These were nice and big, tender and sweet.  I chose cole slaw and a baked potato for my sides.  I've got to say it's one of the best seafood platters I've had in his part of Florida if not the best.  I was so full I couldn't eat more than one bite of the three large, elongated hush puppies that came with the meal.  And the poor baked potato went untouched!


The Hefty Mariner's Platter - A Lot Of Great Food

Now back to that swai -- U.S. or foreigner?  Foreigner -- probably although it may have been farmed raised in the U.S.  We got on the internet when we got home and found that it's a catfish type species raised largely in Southeast Asia.  I hate the fact that we are just a few miles from the Atlantic and yet it's still cheaper to ship fish all across the Pacific to our restaurants rather than use local product.  But I must admit, that fish traveled well and was delicious if it came from Asia or if it came from a fish farm somewhere in the U.S.  Here's one site with info on our friend, the swai.

My only other complaint was a very lonely, sad looking little live fish in a teeny-tiny glass in the window above our table.  The waitress said it required only a small amount of space.  But come on....


The Prisoner - They Should Free This Poor Little Guy (Hard To Make Out But The Fish Is The Blue Thing In The Tiny Bowl)

Lunch for two with two Diet Cokes came to about $34.00.  Considering all the food we got, this was a bargain!

Based on our first but not last experience here, we highly recommend Parsons to you.  It's definitely off the beaten path but just a few blocks away from the hot beach zone.  Complete info including menu, vectors, and so forth at their web site here.