While you may not immediately associate Ruskin with the phrase "foodie destination", The Fish House is an adorably kitschy, old-Florida-style, ZERO frills roadside eatery that's just enough fun to warrant a short drive down I-75 South.
UD and I stopped for lunch today while en route to the TECO Manatee Viewing Station in Apollo Beach (also worth the drive). There's outdoor seating only, no alcohol and you order at the window and relax at one of the communal picnic tables while you wait for your number to be called (which doesn't take nearly as long as you expect it might). I don't know if I'd be able to brave it in the summer, but this sunny, 70 degree December day was ideal for dining alfresco. Okay, maybe classifying it as "dining" is a stretch, but it was damned tasty nonetheless.
Everything here is deep fried (a fact that set my Tennessee Gurl heart to fluttering)...so if you're not down with that, you'd best keep driving. Fried shrimp, fried grouper, fried oysters, fried clams, fried scallops, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, etc., dominate the menu (are you catching my drift?). Apparently, all of this frying practice makes perfect as every item we ordered was ethereally-lightly breaded/browned and devoid of residual oil.
We shared a cup of Rock Bisque while we waited for our troughs of crisp, golden goodness to be prepared. Boasting a surprisingly sophisticated flavor (especially considering the venue), it had a silken texture and was laced with sherry and bits of shrimp, crab and lobster. A certain Bad Dog sloshed it while racing to the table with it.
Now, on to our troughs. Our deliciously artery-clogging banquet included fried clam strips, fried okra and (yes) a fried corn dog for Underdog along with a tender and fresh-tasting grouper sandwich on a soft bun for moi. UD's side of coleslaw was pleasingly crunchy (limp coleslaw makes me go all "She-Hulk") with a nice, slightly sweet, mayo-based dressing and my cheese grits were generously topped with real cheddar. We likey.
House-made pies (key lime and coconut cream) did not disappoint. The key lime was tangy and pleasingly flecked with lime zest and the coconut cream boasted a thick, flaky crust, a luxurious creamy filling and a cloud of fresh meringue.
It was a delightful experience, caloric consequences notwithstanding. It's official...I'm now a manatee.
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.