“In the hands of an able cook, fish can become an inexhaustible source of perpetual delight.”
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
After our recent visit to Big Water Fish Market, we can vouch that J-A was spot-on in that observation, made a couple of centuries ago!
Scott Dolan, owner of this absolute gem of a restaurant/seafood market, opened the doors in November 2011, at 11:00 am. (11/11 at 11:00) with every intentions of filling a much needed role as Siesta Key’s freshest seafood market. And that’s exactly what he did . . . at first. . .
However, over time, visitors to Big Water Fish Market let Scott know they wanted more than a retail store, they wanted a place to sit back and enjoy all that fresh-from-this-morning’s-Gulf-water catch. So now, Big Water Fish Market is about 50% fish market and 50% laid back, flip flops inspired eating space. So thank heavens (and the Gulf of Mexico) for that!
I’d like to think that I have honed my sense of when a place just “feels right”, and this is one of those places. From the look, the energy, and in this case the added bonus of the aromas that make me feel like I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay.
One look into the deli case, and it was obvious we couldn’t go wrong, not matter what we’d be ordering. We are looking at a magnificent sight of freshly filleted fish that was swimming in the Gulf just a few hours ago. (Tip: Take Scott’s word for it, “if it’s in the case, it’s fresh!”)
We decided to go to town from there. For starters, we ordered the house made mahi-mahi and amberjack smoked fish dip. Incredible! Another customer asked us about it, whereupon Jill offered up a taste, aaand…Sold! This is now officially on the list of things to take to the next party we’re invited to!
Next up was “Jack’s Famous Fish Stew” loaded with fresh local fish and veggies, beautifully presented with a steamed clam, scallop, and gulf shrimp. Sounds simple enough, right? Up until you taste how delicate, yet rich, balanced and satisfying a bowlful it is. Absolutely classic, and absolutely GONE!
I’ve probably mentioned more than a handful of times that if I had to pick a last meal on earth, it would be from the sea, as in a blackened grouper sandwich and a cold beer. Now while Big Water Fish Market doesn’t sell adult beverages, two doors away it’s Siesta Spirits to the rescue. Just bring it back, and Big Water will even provide a chilled beer mug or wine glass. Nice touch!
The sandwich arrives, and Jill has to slap my hand away in order to take a picture (not for the first time of course.) Perfectly seasoned and cooked, it is stacked with lettuce, tomato, and slathered with a homemade tartar sauce. One bite, and it’s obvious why the menu states that is was voted best fish sandwich on the island. Add in my vote for whenever the next vote is. So loaded with juiciness, this is easily a four napkin deal! Nothing I like better than a messy, punch you in the face, #tastebudsdancing , delicious sandwich.
And the coleslaw? Clean, cool, crisp and (naturally) freshly prepared, it really doesn’t come any better than this.
Upon Scott’s suggestion that most people believe Big Water Fish Market’s fish tacos are the best around, we forge ahead – with pleasure.
While “best this” and “best that” are at best subjective, these beauties are definitely worth writing (home) about! The keys here are the fresh (duh!) grilled fish, served on top of soft, fresh flour tortillas, with the divine addition of key lime coleslaw, pico salsa, and an aioli sauce served with rice. Did I miss anything? No, but you will if you don’t make a date to savor these.
This place was everything I had hoped for and then some! Can somebody please get the word out to Guy Fieri and Triple D that they are missing out and need to get back to SRQ, PDQ?
I know we’re officially hooked!