After our disappointing meal at Frigate’s, we turned to an old friend. Many of you will remember that Nancy and I went to Captain Charlie’s with our friends, Joyce Deroy and Willie King back in November, before the Florida season was in full swing. We were able to saunter right in and get a table for four.
Nancy and I went back in February. We strolled in about 5:45 pm, hard on the heels of a downpour, and were told that there was a 90-minute wait for a table for two — longer for a larger party. That’s the difference between Palm Beach County in season and out of season.
I asked about the routine for seats at the bar — leave our names or hover behind a couple, coughing. Their response: Don’t hover, leave your name and the bar seats will become available faster than a table, and meanwhile, go a couple of doors down to their lunch place to get a drink while you wait. We dutifully went a couple of doors down, stuck our heads in and saw that the place was packed. I managed to snag a couple of glasses of wine, and we lucked into two stools without even hinting at a communicable disease.
We got the call that our seats, or rather our bar stools, were ready, so we plopped ourselves down. Well, I plopped, Nancy swanned onto hers with accustomed grace.
Water, a quite nice wine, and the slaw that Willie liked so much appeared before us as if by magic, and we perused the menu. I saw smoked fish dip and, savoring the memory of the dip at the Havana Cabana in Key West, ordered some.
That’s a fresh jalapeño “mash”. it adds a nice bite to the saltines, and also is good with the fish dip, which is great. I’ll get it every time we return.
We both ordered the grouper. I’ll flirt with hog fish and yellow tail, especially at Salute on the Beach in Key West, but you can’t beat a really fresh piece of grouper Here’s Nancy’s (with yellow rice) —
and here’s mine with black beans and yellow rice, and, like Nancy’s, with the steamed vegetables that seem to be ubiquitous in Palm Beach County (here lightly steamed).
Just look at that. Have you ever seen a fish so perfectly cooked? If you have, tell me where, please.
I usually don’t do second-visit reviews of restaurants, especially so hard on the heels of a first review. But I just can’t shut up about Captain Charlie’s. It is a great place, well worthy of the Top Places tag. It’s well worth the wait in season — that from someone who developed a revulsion to standing in line while in the Army. The opportunity to have a drink and make some new friends palliates the wait. And at the end of the rainbow, there’s pure gold. Go there and see for yourself.
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