We had time for one last meal in Clearwater Beach. I wanted to eat grouper because apparently grouper is the thing to eat when you’re in Clearwater Beach. So, we went to Frenchy’s because I heard they have a really good grouper sandwich. And I love regional foods.
The weird thing about Frenchy’s is that there like five of them. They’re not franchises. Each one is slightly different than the last. But they’re all called Frenchy’s. When people talked about watching the world series at Frenchy’s earlier that week, others in the conversation would ask, “which one?”
The groom of the wedding we were attending would then reply, “The one behind the hotel.”
This stands in contradistinction to the Frenchy’s that was across the street from the hotel and visible from our hotel room window. I am pretty sure that I also heard that the Clearsky Beachside Cafe is also owned by Frenchy. Clearwater Beach is a weird place.
When we got to the restaurant, we walked past a booth selling Frenchy’s/Florida souvenirs and a booth for takeout orders to get to the hostess station. There were like four of them standing there, which struck me as odd. One of them was dressed like a sexy cop or maybe a sexy biker chick. It was Halloween, after all.
We got seated at a table outside, which was nice. Frenchy’s is actually on the beach, which provides for great views and brazen sea birds. I am pretty sure I stepped on a pigeon scrounging for breadcrumbs at one point.
When we sat down, the menu did not disappoint. There were at least five different kinds of grouper dishes one could try (and even one fried conch dish!). My wife ordered the grouper nugget basket. When it came out, it looked delicious. Nice and crispy, and the fish was moist and flaky. Grouper is a delicious fish, for sure. But I had tried grouper nuggets at the Brown Boxer for lunch the day before, so I wasn’t going to order that twice.
Incidentally, the Brown Boxer must have some sort of Philadelphia connection. Among other things, they have a philly cheese steak on the menu. And after one of my lunch companions tried it, it only reaffirmed my staunch belief that, if you want to call it a “cheese steak,” it must be made in New York, New Jersey, or Philadelphia (preferably in the Philadelphia region). Otherwise, it is just a beef and cheese sandwich. If the United States were to ever consider federal regulation of protected geographical statuses for food, cheese steak would be reason number 1.
Also, but likely less popular under this proposed regime, would be my second suggestion that Chicago-style pizza be legally required to be sold as Pizza-style Chicago Casserole. What they call deep dish over here is as close to pizza as my taco pie is to authentic mexican cuisine.
My third suggestion would be to legally require Chicago-style hot dogs to be called Chicago-style hot dog sandwiches. I mean. Come. On. Tomatoes? Sport Peppers! Grr.
Fourth, I would protect the Italian Beef sandwich as a Chicagoland Area-only sandwich. If it’s not within the radius that Metra reaches, it’s not an Italian Beef. This would likely be the easiest nome d’appellation for people to adopt. Generally, once your out of the Chicagoland area, it’s called (and tastes like) a roast beef au jus, anyway.
I’ve got a whole list of this stuff. But I digress.
At Frenchy’s, I ordered the grouper sandwich. They had about five different options for it. But I went for the original. Fried. For an extra dollar, you could substitute out fries for chips. I can’t see why anyone would want chips with a sandwich like this.
The grouper sandwich was nice. Nicely fried. And served with iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato, and tartar sauce. The bun was nice and puffy, too. I really like the flavor and texture of grouper. It’s a little bit fatty, is flaky yet dense, and fries up great. It reminded me a lot of the red snapper we ate that time I went deep sea fishing. If I lived in an area where grouper was plentiful, I think I would eat it all the time.