Star Fish Company, located in Cortez, Florida, strives to serve simple seafood prepared in the simplest of ways. Most items are either fried, grilled, blackened or sauteed. Sides are kept simple, with cole slaw, cheese grits, french fries and hush puppies. The view from Star's dock is incredible. It includes mangrove islands, Jewfish Key, Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach. Add to that the local commercial fishing fleet and you've got one of the most scenic places found on Florida's Gulf coast.
December 2011: It was a bit cloudy this Saturday, so we decided to drive out towards Bradenton and visit the Aquarium. Keith was really craving some stone crab claws for lunch, so after a quick search on his phone, we drove to nearby Cortez to find a dockside restaurant called Star Fish. I admit, I am one for adventure and trying the "off-the-beaten-path" places, but I was a bit skeptical when we pulled up here. Attached to a local fish market, parking is scarce, but we managed to find a spot after circling around a few times. Keith jumped out and headed towards the door, while I was distracted by the local fishermen wearing their rubber boots who were hosing off. He said "Follow the sign!", and sure enough you turn the corner and are greeted by this charming dockside restaurant.
There is a small bar window area with chalkboard signs of the daily specials, where you place your order. You take a seat at any of the picnic tables and check out the amazing view as you wait for them to bring you the food. Watch the seagulls fly by or the fat lazy cats soak up the sun. Prices are phenomenally reasonable and the seafood guaranteed fresh. This no-frills place tends to get packed during the peak season, but it was perfect for us. The sides included in the lunch boxes were amazing - creamy, cheesy grits; crunchy cole slaw; and little hush puppies. I was a little disappointed with the fish chowder that I ordered. Although it had nice chunks of fish and crawfish in it, the soup itself tasted like Campbell's soup from a can. The conch fritters were light, full of flavor, and totally filling. Overall, Star Fish is a great place to try when looking for fresh Florida seafood and I would definitely come back again on my next trip. It must be noted that as we were leaving, we noticed a couple high-end cars pull up. So this place might not be much of a secret after all.
April 2013: We returned for lunch during our weekend trip back to Anna Maria Island. This time it was much more crowded - a line had already formed and people were stalking the picnic tables for an open seat. Stone crabs were in season again, although the harvest this year was small thus driving prices up. Keith still had to have them and ordered the lunch box again with an extra side of hush puppies. I chose the grilled grouper sandwich and substituted fries with creamy grits. The fish was uh.may.zing. Super fresh and nice and meaty. I am happy I ordered it grilled as opposed to the popular fried version, because it allowed the fish to truly shine. Our return visit to Star Fish was just as great as the first and is definitely a must eat destination.