Saturday, June 7, 2014

Far from the Madding Crowd, Mad Beach Fish House is Beachy Keen

After a relaxing bit of pampering (manicure/pedicure for moi and pedicure for the ever so ticklish Mister) our tummies were protesting the abnormal length of time spent soaking our toes in bubbly hot lemon scented mineral water.  Our coupled thoughts were bubbling to the surface about our long delayed lunch.  The gossip and chit-chat with Angie had centered around those crazy pedicures where the small fish attack the soaking feet and nibble away the flesh of your toughened callused feet.  Hmm, hot steamy water and nibbling fish, excuse me, I mean nibbling ON fish...sounds like a steamed seafood bucket to me.

Didn't the esteemed Jon of the SOG City Oracle mention a nice seafood establishment in Madeira Beach? Hmm, this may take a bit of conniving to get the Mister to go along for this ride. After choosing a bright boiled lobster red nail polish (foreshadowing my desire perhaps a bit too literally) for my buffed and sanded seemed only natural to head to Mad Beach Fish House for a well deserved lunch. After all, one of my favorite bloggers had already done the reconnaissance for us. The Mister had tolerated his pedicure with a minimum of squirming and kicking.  I did not have to tip extra for the hazard of cleaning his toes.  Thankfully, this time no one took a karate kick to the chin for a foot massage.  Plus, Mad Beach Fish House fit the Notyourmomma rules of good eats...a) it is not a chain, b) it is someplace new to us, c) we were halfway there, eliminating the bellyaching from the Mister about being too far away, d) gorgeous day, convertible, Madeira beach, easy as ABC 123.Mad Beach Fish House on Urbanspoon

It was bordering on the super-late lunch time or hyper-early early bird, that in-between time that can leave a hungry diner looking anxiously for their absent server on a break or busy with sidework for the next shift. This was not the case at Mad Beach, our server was very attentive and her cheerful attitude only added to the pleasure of our lunch.  Gratefully for this Notyourmomma there is an elevator to reach the top level of the restaurant.  Hey, no cracks about the elevator not going all the way to the top, I know who you are.  This old lady is happy for easy access and no stairs to climb.   We had our choice of tables and picked a lovely bench seat overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.
 The benches were reminiscent of Adirondack seating and painted a lovely distressed pale teal blue.  The walls were decorated with typical beach murals, sand tastefully done.  The owners had just purchased the restaurant last October. They have been rehabbing and adding a large Tiki style bar to the bar and patio. There are plans to have a seafood market in the near future.  All of this bodes well to enjoy a well made seafood feast.

After ordering the requisite light beer for the Mister and the tall Vodka and tonic for me, we quickly chose our appetizers while perusing the rest of the menu for our main courses.  The Mister's six advertised Key West Oysters were actually nine per serving due to the smaller size of the oysters. The oysters were topped crab & parmesan, then broiled.  He scarfed them down quickly.  I was offered nary a bite.
 Well, then!  I couldn't resist the lure of fried lobster.  I received light battered nuggets of sweet lobster.  Not greasy, hot, tender and just yummy.  It may be sacrilegious to fry a lobster, but it was way better than the ubiquitous gator or conch nugget.

The Mister was an easy sell on the lobster grilled cheese with tomato and grilled onions on sourdough.  He chose some excellent hand cut fries as his side and a disappointingly small cup of sad slaw.  (Note to chef...fix the slaw, give it a beauty makeover with red cabbage, carrot shreds and a bright tart dressing, lemon/mustard/honey/mayo combo or a chipotle mayo and slivered green onions?)  His sandwich was phenomenal looking and just as drool worthy as the picture.  He was in sandwich nirvana.

Okay, I contemplate the aforementioned bucket for one as my meal, but my appetite was whetted by the fried lobster to try a nibbler lunch approach.  I chose a cup of the conch chowder, a side of red beans and rice, plus a half pound of the peel and eat shrimp in Old Bay shake.  With a bit of a misstep with the conch chowder, I was a very happy beach bum.

The conch chowder lacked some serious heat, both in temperature and in seasoning.  The little pieces of conch were chewy and it tasted as if it had possibly scorched on the steam table, but it was not steaming hot.  Not worth a re-fire, I'll just chalk it up to the lateness of the lunch and it has suffered at the end of shift.  There was a heavy tomato presence and only a slight hint of heat. (Note to chef...lose the super sweet tomato base, add some heat, develop a deep roux and you'll make that limp cup better by far).

Boy, oh boy did the red beans and rice make up for every spoonful of disappointment in the chowder.  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.  Seriously, they were that good.  Unctuous, tender to the tooth, rich, it needed not a drop of hot sauce, although I would offer a bottle alongside for those who care to incinerate their taste buds.  Or a bit of pepper vinegar would be a nice tableside addition.

The size of the peel-n-eat shrimp were unbelievable.  Talk about a perfect depiction of an oxymoron.  Jumbo Shrimp does not do justice to the size of these behemoth crustaceans.  They were perfectly cooked.  I gladly ruined my freshly done manicure, peeling and dunking these beauties.  I definitely needed a nail brush to clean the Old Bay debris from under my nails.  Oh, yes, baby, we will meet again.  I would dearly love to see those paper thin squares that barely qualified as a napkin to be replaced with a much better quality serviette.  A wet nap after a finger staining, shrimp deveining, munch fest would be a lovely offering.

It was beyond cruel to offer us dessert after such a feast.  We toddled our buffed and puffed selves to the mid-life crisis vehicle and took a slow ride home.  I certainly look forward to visiting MB again to tackle one of those seafood buckets. I'm tempted to see their rendition of shrimp and yellow grits, after savoring those Cajun beans.
So good they get a second shot of fame!
The promise of a lobster roll sings a siren's song. Yes, this is a worthy rinse and repeat restaurant.   With a couple of tweaks to the slaw and conch chowder, napkin issue and an offer of hot sauce or peppered vinegar, what is good now could be better.
Note:  Breakfast is offered on the weekends.  As well as a Bloody Mary Bar!  I love a pickled salad in my drink.  Our ample meal, two beers, two drinks with tax and well-deserved tip came to $83.00.

In a former life time I was known as "Tina, the Tourguide."  Maybe I gained my nickname because of my penchant for telling 'people where to go' or maybe not.   My former employ as a resort front desk manager allowed me to indulge in tasting, trying and then recommending restaurants for our diverse base of guests. It was the favorite part of my job....investigating what was new, what was popular and what would be a good fit for the diner.  I was not compensated then or now for my dining choices, it is purely my personal opinion on finding the best tasting restaurants, value or splurge, family or intimate, to recommend to either guests or friends.  That being said, I do have a personal bias to the old St. Pete establishments as a life long resident of the city I love.  I am drawn to visit and review the places that have been re-vitalized into something new from my recollections.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tina,

    Thanks for the "shout out" and right back at you. The Belle and I went back to Mad this Saturday. I didn't do another blog review, I just updated the last one. I definitely agree with you on those red beans.