Saturday, May 17, 2014

Simply Mad About Mad Beach Fish House

“Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called. 
” ― Jarod Kintz, This is the best book I've ever written, and it still sucks

And here I sit fishing for words to describe the indescribably delicious seafood feast I was served today at the Mad Beach Fish House on, where else but Madeira Beach. This delightful eatery is located at 13205 Gulf Boulevard. Before I blather on any further, allow me to pause and suggest that if you like "Old Florida" style seafood at affordable prices you must visit Mad. You will leave happy...I did.

Just off Gulf Boulevard, you park in front or a convenient side lot and enter in front. You have a choice of using the stairs or the elevator to get to the third floor. We were promptly greeted at the door and invited to sit where we pleased. The Belle of Ballast Point and I had arrived just ahead of the lunch crowd, so we had a choice of seating options: inside at a picture window with a view or outside on the deck with an even more spectacular view.

Katherine, our most pleasant and efficient server, presented us with menus and took our beverage orders. After returning with our drinks, she inquired if we had any questions about the menu choices. Mad Beach has a Seafood Feast listed under Buckets, and I was curious about the two sizes after a disastrous "bucket" outing last weekend at a Gulfport venue. The bucket for one for $24.95, or the bucket for two for $36.95? Katherine assured me that the bucket for one would serve me well.

I could hardly believe my eyes. That bucket was filled to the brim with succulent, perfectly cooked seafood: a nice sized crab cluster, huge shrimp, mussels, and clams, a full ear of freshly cooked corn, red taters, and all seasoned just right with an Old Bay spice. The shrimp were so tender and juicy swimming in garlic butter that dribbled down my chin and arms. This might not have been a real appetizing sight, but I enjoyed the dickens out of that bucket. And just look at that shrimp!

My bride surprised me with her order since she is not known as an aficionado of seafood. Her choice for today's feast was the Crab Cake Sandwich that was loaded with lump crab meat and topped with tomato and onions on a Kaiser roll adorned with a savory Creole mustard sauce. She declared the crab cake to be an excellent choice with more crab than breading and the meat had been picked over to remove any cartilage. The side of French fries was prepared just the way she likes them: extra crispy, s'il vous plait.

The Mad Beach Fish House was an excellent choice for lunch and with frog legs on the dinner menu, I can envision a return trip. The only ever so slight negative for my bride was that we didn't arrive a little earlier so that she could chow down on the breakfast menu treats.

We dined anonymously and paid full price for all that we consumed. With adult beverages, our bill was a trifling $40.25. We also left a greater than 20% gratuity for Katherine.

Editor's Update 6/7/2014: We were back on the beach for a wedding and decided to visit Mad again for lunch. Those frog legs were still calling to me, so I asked our server if I could order them for lunch. "Why sure," she replied.

Those legs of frog were divine: lightly breaded and cooked to tender, juicy perfection. Again, the steamed corn was just right, not raw and not cooked to death. The red beans and rice were about the best I have ever tasted. Those beans were so savory and delicious I came close to a gastronomic swoon.

I saw that my friend Tina of Not Your Momma's Kitchen also tried those red beans and was similarly impressed, "Those beans were creamy, flavored heavily with a Cajun kick, full of peppers, onions, sausage chunks in a slightly thickened broth. Tender rice underneath, I could have eaten two cups."

Well said, Tina, well said.

My only negative on this visit was the size or quantity of those frog legs. They could have been bigger, or there could have been more of them. They are just so good!

Mad Beach Fish House on Urbanspoon

For your further enjoyment, the Oracle presents a few photo outtakes.

Indoor dining area and bar.

The next two were taken by my loving bride and posted on Facebook for the world to enjoy (ridicule).


  1. "Shrimp" appears to be a serious misnomer! Putting on my list to try.

    1. I agree with you, Sweet Polly, calling that rather large crustacean a shrimp seems a tad insulting to that oh so tasty critter.

  2. I concur with Sweet Polly. Very nice review. Very funny pun on the shrimpy shrimp. We must make this a stop on one of our next outings. I applaud the BOBP for stepping outside her comfort zone and ordering the crab cake. You must be an influence in more ways than one. Your reviews are always spot on and steer us away from the less than extraordinary experience. Are you going to try the Sand Bar on Gandy? I'm thinking we might find the ultimate shucked oyster there, although a quick perusal of the menu lends to more pedestrian fare.

    1. Aw shucks and thank you for the kind words. Yes, I guess I am an influence on the Belle. I introduced this Ohio girl to real seafood and explained that Mrs. Paul's fish sticks wasn't seafood. This daughter of a Pentecostal preacher can now cuss several languages, so yes, I guess have been influential.

      We passed by the SandBar building the other day and it looked as though somebody was doing something there. I looked at the Urbanspoon listing and saw nothing on the menu that suggested oysters. Darn it all to heck! We might give it a try one day, but it isn't a high priority venue.

      It is always a pleasure Tina.

  3. So glad I stumbled upon your blog! I'm headed to Tampa for a weekend later this month, and want to get some "local color" before heading back to the right coast. In researching culinary gems, I feel as though I've found a kindred spirit or two! Cheers to you and your bride!

    1. Dear Humble Bloggess,

      I too am glad you stumbled my way. It is always a pleasure to "hear' from fellows bloggers. For additional research on culinary gems around the Tampa Bay area I can highly recommend two of my favorite local bloggers:

      Both Sweet Polly and Tina are very talented and entertaining writers. If you haven't visited them yet I think you may also find them to be kindred spirits.

      I will pass your greetings on to my lovely bride. Thanks again for writing and I hope you have a pleasant visit to the Bay area.


    2. Jon, those frog legs are just not right! Honest to goodness, I worked at a restaurant where we got frog legs by the case. I spent entire afternoons prepping them by removing the little plastic pant legs and rubber bands. My momma would have big dinner parties with frog legs (purchased from Rollande et Pierre, one of the perks of being an employee) as the featured entree. I can remember both of us prepping the legs, with a shallow pan fry, in a dusting of flour and doused with a huge dose of garlic butter. The only restaurant that has even come close to our favorite preparation has been the Crab Trap off the Southern Skyway Bridge, not the Ellenton Crab Trap II. And NO they don't taste like chicken. So happy you tried the beans and rice. Thanks for the shout out as well. I've been having a blast getting the hubby out and about. He is expanding his horizon as well as his waistband. Toodles, talk to you later, fondly Tina