After an AMAZING experience of swimming with a wild manatee, Gabriel and I found ourselves starving and in a town we knew nothing about. Our boat captain told us that Crackers is the best place around to grab lunch, so we headed straight there.
We walked through the restaurant to be seated out back, and found a huge deck with round tables and umbrellas. It had a tiki bar/casual vibe and there was even the predictable dude-with-guitar playing decent, classic rock, cover tunes.
Our waiter took our order and made a few suggestions. We started with the clam strips appetizer- one of my favorite and very rarely indulged-in snacks. We decided to share the suggested salmon and grouper sandwiches with sides of fries and a salad.
The clam strips came out quickly and looked awesome- if not kind of skimpy. They were hot, crunchy and a little bit more breaded than I like, but we polished them off so quickly that we felt a little shorted. The price was more or less fair, but the portion really could have been a bit more generous.
The sandwiches and the bread they came on were delicious. The fish was simply prepared and fresh, and the ripe tomatoes and crunchy lettuce were refreshing. The rolls were great for the first few bites, but quickly got soggy beyond holding, and ended up on the plate while we used a fork to finish the fish. The fries were exactly as requested- extra crunchy and well-done. The salad, made mostly of iceberg and croutons, left a lot to be desired. I find it especially odd when the sandwiches come with a decent lettuce like romaine, and then they skimp with a salad made of iceberg.
Overall, the setting was what made this a memorable meal. The food was pretty good- but not really noteworthy. If you’re in the area, it’s a fair choice, but I’d be inclined to explore more if I’m ever back there with some time and hunger on my hands.
I had to get my car serviced at the Ford dealer across the street, so with an hour to kill and not much else nearby, I decided to go have lunch at Waffle Stop. Yes, it’s kitchy and sort of cute with it’s Elvis memorabilia, but let’s not kid ourselves. This is the divy-est of dives around. The bathrooms are dirty and dingy and you actually have to go outside of the restaurant to get to them, similar to a gas station. The restaurant itself is dark and filled with mostly people over 70. The waitress, however, was just sweet as pie and I got the feeling that she had been working there for a long time. I bet she even served Elvis a few times since it was apparently a favorite spot of his.
In typical dive-y diner fashion, I decided to order something basic that they couldn’t really mess up too much- a grilled cheese with tomato and a side salad. The salad was very generic, down to the packet of dressing that came with it, and ingredients that are most likely intended to top sandwiches or burgers. The grilled cheese was pretty darn good with it’s buttery, junky, white bread and thick american cheese and tomatoes.
My whole meal was less than $10 (cash only by the way- there is an ATM in the front), as it should have been, and I successfully killed the right amount of time for my car to be ready when I returned. I highly doubt I’ll be back, but ya never know.
Stop #2 on my father and I’s little culinary adventure in Gulf Gate led us to Jim’s Small Batch Bakery and WOW this was the highlight of the day for me. This tiny little shop tucked away in the corner of Gulf Gate is just awesome, with a staff who clearly has a ton of integrity about what they do. Jim was on hand to chat and give us some samples of his sorbets and ice creams and I simply couldn’t resist. I ended up with a scoop of coconut sorbet and a scoop of strawberry sorbet and they were both so incredibly delicious. Smooth, creamy and very natural with nothing but the fruit, a little sugar and a binding ingredient. Some of the best sorbet I’ve ever had actually. I couldn’t help topping my cup with a lemon sand dollar cookie that was super thin, crisp and delicate. I also tasted my father’s vanilla ice cream which was equally outstanding.
The case full of treats was extremely tempting, and I’m lucky that I work pretty close by. I will absolutely be back for lunch soon- as they had a wonderful little menu of sandwiches, soups and quiches in addition to their baked goods. The almond croissant was LOUDLY calling my name and I promised it that I’d come back for it soon. The lemon bar, breads and cakes also looked amazing and I’m sure I’ll eventually try them all.
YUM. I will be back within a week, I’m sure of it. Thanks Jim!