Lee Be Fish, Marco Island, Florida

Lee Be Fish has just that: fish.  There’s a small fresh fish counter for the retail trade, and grilled or blackened fish served to eat there — or take away.  They have a cooler for soft drinks, water, and beer, and you can bring your own bottle of wine if you like.  And they have a choice of cole slaw or black beans and rice as a side.  The beans and rice come with a little salsa.  Lee Be has plastic utensils and those red plastic baskets for the food. There’s nothing fancy about Lee Be.  They just have fish, caught that day and cooked on the flat top.  And that’s enough.

And oh, is the fish ever good.  Here’s  my blackened mahi mahi basket, in progress —

lee be

The fish is fresh — whatever someone caught that morning — and it is cooked pretty close to perfection.   The small container of lumpy yellow stuff is Lee Be’s tartar sauce, which has some curry.  It’s quite good, but the fish really doesn’t need it.

What’s really remarkable is that they never seem to have more than one person working there at a time.  The first time we went it was laconic middle aged guy.  He would look at customers expectantly, saying nothing at all unless compelled to ask  “grilled or blackened?” or “cole slaw or beans?”  On our next visit there was a young guy who looked just like Matt Damon.  He had a strong blue collar Boston accent and a St. Louis t-shirt, and endless patience.  Whoever is on duty, that person takes orders and, one the order is completed, the guy grills the fish, prepares the baskets, hollers when the food is ready, and does anything else that needs doing.  Having ordered, you do your part and wait until your name is called, and then sit down at an inside tables or one of the outside tables Lee Be shares with a nice French breakfast-only place next door.

I mention endless patience because Nancy and I were behind a customer who, after standing in line for at least 10 minutes perusing the single-page menu, asked more questions than there were mathematically possible orders given that the only choices were (1) mahi mahi or grouper, (2) grilled or blackened, and (3) cole slaw or beans and rice.  He took so much time that after listening to this with no end in sight, I helped myself to a beer from the cooler and, drinking at a leisurely pace, had almost finished it by the time he completed his order.   Our order took long enough to say two mahi blackened (they were out of grouper), with beans and rice, a water, and another beer.  Make that two more.”  We sat outside and had a great meal.

A second person would help move things along more quickly, and you want to avoid peak hours, but Lee Be is a gem.  Uncut, maybe, but a gem.  Give it a try.


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