The one-time fishing village of Gulfport, Florida over the years has become an eclectic and quirky haven for artists, free thinkers, and innovative restaurateurs. It is the latter that intrigues me the most and every time I visit this burg I am thrilled to see new dining venues that seem to cry out to me.
Fish Bar and Grille at 3038 Beach Boulevard is housed in a 1930's vintage bungalow that fits in perfectly on this beautiful tree-lined street. There is indoor and outdoor seating with a fabulously kitschy decor with a nautical bent.
Our party of four wandered in around two in the afternoon for a late lunch or an early dinner. We were greeted by Angelique who guided us to our requested table. We chose to sit indoors to avoid the sultry afternoon that was devoid of anything resembling a breeze.
Fish has a full bar but our table chose to wash away the road dust with beers and an Angry Orchard. As we sipped our beverages we discussed appetizers and entrees that we could share.
The Crispy Spring Rolls with ground turkey, cabbage, carrots, beans sprouts, and scallions come with the diner's choice of a spicy garlic vinaigrette or sweet chili sauce. The spring rolls were very good with a bit of a bite from the chili sauce. For the smaller appetite this was a very filling dish.
The Joe Island Clams from the Raw Bar are locally grown and harvested steamers swimming in a savory white lemon garlic sauce. That broth simply demanded a hunk of toasty bread for sopping.
The New England Clam Chowder served in sourdough bowl was a flavorful dish with a thicker than expected consistency - more like a porridge. Also, Fish was out of sourdough bowls so a regular bowl was substituted.
The Local Style Ahi Poke consists of cubed sushi grade tuna with sweet onions and scallions with a citrus ponzu sauce served with a seaweed salad and jasmine rice. This presentation strays from the traditional Hawaiian style, but even in the islands chefs are incorporating a wide array of styles and ingredients. Poke (meaning to slice or cut) is normally served chilled. The warm tuna in this dish was a bit off-putting.
In keeping with the aloha spirit the Loco Moco was a must-have. This is a great dish to order if you can't decide if a greasy American breakfast or salty Asian lunch would help your hangover the most after a night of one lama pa'ipa'i too many. Quite often SPAM is the protein, but in this version jasmine rice was topped with a juicy hamburger patty and a fried egg in a pool of mushroom brown gravy.
The Seafood Basket with fried shrimp served with fries and coleslaw was the least favorite dish of this visit. There was no gastronomic WOW! factor. The shrimp gave no hint of their Key West origin and the fries did not present as fresh cut.
One in our party decided that after the spring rolls there was little room for another large dish so a wedgie was ordered. This Wedge Salad with tomatoes (a few were a little wrinkled), applewood bacon, blue cheese crumbles, and ranch dressing was a monster and delicious.
There were hits and misses on this visit to Fish Bar and Grille but it would be gauche to complain about the prices. For all of the food and several beverage re-orders the total bill for four came to a pleasing $114. The Fish is relatively new so it is not inconceivable that there may be several kinks to be worked out. I would recommend giving them a try.