Friday, April 22, 2011

The Pickled Pelican: An Excellent Dining Destination On the Dock in Cedar Key

What a surprise, when visiting Cedar Key with our friend Kathy from snowy western New York, to find an on-the-dock restaurant that knocked us out. Quality food on the dock has been on the wane for some years now and we were delighted with our discovery.

Pay attention. The Pickled Pelican Bar and Eatery is happening folks. Fine fresh food in a restaurant with a million dollar view has returned to the Cedar Key dock. Our prayers have been answered.

I grew up traveling over to Cedar Key to fish on the dock or have supper or lunch with my parents overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. I have a virtual catalog of memories to revel in during the drive over [I was taught to fish by a man with a peg leg]. My family dined there often and our meals ranged from the informal hamburger or fish sandwich to many more elegant seafood dinners.

In recent years, my wife and I have grown discouraged at the drop off in quality of the food options on the dock. Now that we have discovered the Pickled Pelican, we intend to go over a lot more often.

The Pickled Pelican is located at 360A Dock Street (352-543-5654). We climbed a flight of stairs to the second floor restaurant, we were greeted at the door and, after a short wait (it is quite popular) were escorted to our table that overlooked their outside deck and the Gulf.

Our kind host provided us with a brief overview of the restaurant that was a laid back form of a mission statement. It was obvious from our his welcoming words that they have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish, a perseverance at carrying it out, and the drive to leave their customers happy and willing to return over and again. These owners were on top of their restaurant and were giving their heart and soul towards providing a quality dining experience. They cared and it showed.

Basically, nearly all the food is fresh and cooked to order. Living on "island time" is how they put it. If a fish that they feature is not available they will serve a frozen portion of that fish, but with full and complete disclosure. The term "fresh" applies to all the side dishes as well. At night, they feature steaks that are hand cut. Everything is made from scratch. The sides were all delicious.

The owner, Dustin Messer, grew up around the restaurant business since he was 5 and is clearly committed to providing quality to his customers. Family recipes developed over a long time in the biz are featured. Their menu features a full page just listing their beers (51) and they serve wine as well.

We started out with a clam appetizer served in a fragrant broth which I brought home not wanting to waste a drop. It was heavenly. We each had crisp salad with a homemade dressing that was perfect. My wife and I both ordered the fried flounder (fresh) that came out crispy and golden, obviously cooked in very clean oil at the right hot temperature. Kathy ordered the crab salad on a pita and ooo-ed and ahh-ed about it throughout.

You know a good restaurant by its clientele. The two men seated next to us were obviously locals and they began to evangelize to us about the restaurants menu options. They reveled us on their order of fried green tomatoes that looked marvelous. It spoke volumes that these local customers love the restaurant and obviously eat their often. You can fool a local once, but not twice.

All in all, we gave this restaurant a strong A!

1 comment:

MikeH said...

Where do you find all these places? Do you live on the road?

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