Stan’s’ Idle Hour is not the only great place to eat in the small fishing village of Goodland. Right next door is Little Bar, which has a little bar and a couple of larger seating areas overlooking the water.
Little Bar has a much more extensive menu than Stan’s — mainly seafood, but you can also get a steak or frog legs or liver and onions or kielbasa with sauerkraut. Little Bar has white table cloths and it costs more than Stan’s, although not really all that much, and they have a not-bad wine list with very good prices.
This is not to say that Little Bar is staid or stuffy. Often a band squeezes into the bar area. The last time Nancy and I were in the bar area, there was no band yet, but an effervescent customer from Chicago kept everyone entertained with jokes while Nancy and I (actually I) had a pre-dinner drink, and then another drink that the guy bought for me while Nancy starved — jokes like one about the Irishman who fell into a vat of Guinness and drowned. (The wife, upon being told: “Oh, please, did he at least go quickly?” “Actually, he got out to pee three times.”) He had a million of them, and it was really fun. More for me than for long- and patiently-suffering Nancy, but fun.
Little Bar, like Stan’s, has wonderfully fresh fish. They do not have oysters, but they have stone crabs, either as an appetizer or entrée. These stone crabs are local. They thrive in the shallow mangrove area near Goodland. Stone crabs just don’t get any fresher, and freshness is everything with crabs. We get them chilled (as opposed to hot) with a nice slightly mustardy sauce. They come with the shells thoroughly cracked — don’t even bother trying to crack stone crab shells yourself — so that the meat is readily accessible. Very nice.
That picture, of course, was from the Internet, but then I sacrifice a lot of “before” opportunities to eagerness. Those claws are not even cracked. Here’s a real-life “after” picture —
It looks like a city after a major earthquake, doesn’t it?
The stone crab appetizer (7 claws, or about a pound) at Little Bar costs $21 or so, and the dinner (also seven claws, with a salad and potato or mystery vegetable) is available for a few dollars more. That’s a very good price; it’s enough to share as an appetizer. You can order stone crabs from Joe’s in Miami and get two pounds of uncracked crabs shipped for $128 and change. You’ll also need to order a table vise from Home Depot in order to crack the shells. Stone crabs also are available at the various Joe’s locations, including one in DC (for the dread Market Price); but then, like they say, you don’t know where they’ve been — or how long it took then to find their way to DC.
There are a couple of other places in Goodland to which we haven’t been, but between Stan’s and Little Bar, we may never get to them. We’ll probably get to Kirk’s Seafood, which sells stone crabs, shrimp, and local fish (and also salmon, because there apparently is a law that everyone who sells fish has to sell salmon). Kirk’s warns that they may not have fish “if the weather’s bad, or a boat breaks down, or a fisherman is not able to go.” That tells me it’s a great place to get seafood.
If you are ever in or near Marco Island, you should go to Little Bar at least once. Have a drink at the bar, and then order a bottle of wine, the stone crabs, and the grouper. You’ll love it.
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