With an empty stomach and a heart full of hope, we headed to Frenchy's Rockaway Grill in Clearwater Beach, Florida on the recommendation of a local on our quest to find the ultimate grouper sandwich.
After a dip in the Gulf of Mexico, which is only about the length of a football field away from the beachside restaurant, we sat down on the bar's patio and ordered a couple drinks, some fried clams (another regional specialty), she crab soup, and a "Super Grouper sandwich.
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While the clams and she crab soup were perfect foodie foreplay, we were drooling at the thought of the main event -- and it arrived in all its touristy splendor, complete with a little toothpick flag proclaiming, "Positively Super Grouper!" (FYI: we ordered it fried and not grilled, because we hail from Texas, and if it ain't fried, it doesn't count.)
The first bite was as good as we'd anticipated. Steaming, translucent flakes of moist, mild grouper flesh covered in a crispy, light and seasoned batter on the toasted onion bun were enough to make us stop and simply say, "Shit, that's good." It was a phrase that would be repeated several times throughout the experience.
The tartar sauce was tangy, creamy and acted as the grouper sandwich glue keeping the beautifully ruby red tomato slice in its place. Strangely, there was a slice of cheese on top, but didn't do much for or against the sandwich, so it was generally unnecessary. The true star was the artfully fried grouper filet -- as it should be.
According to Frenchy's website, they own the production dock and fishing boats that provide all the seafood for their 5 Tampa area restaurants -- and none of it is ever frozen. We're guessing that has a little something to do with the Super Grouper they've got in Clearwater at Rockaway Grill, because, shit, it really is that good.