Saturday, August 15, 2009
Blow Fly Inn - Gulfport
On Saturday night the wife and I dinned at a Gulf Coast landmark - The Blow Fly Inn. For years I have heard about the Blow Fly Inn. In the last year it has been featured by Guy Fieri on Food Network's Dinners, Drive-ins and Dives.
Without question the location and setting of the Blow Fly Inn on the banks of Bayou Benard is one of the most picturesque locations of any dinning establishment on the Gulf Coast. As we arrived the sun was just setting over the bayou and it was a beautiful sight.
The restaurant was packed, we had to wait a little while to be seated (about 10 min.). The hostess was polite and within a couple of minutes of being seated a server was there to take drink orders. Our server on this visit was very nice, professional and attentive.
We began our meal with an order of onion rings. I don't recall Guy making a big deal out of the rings on the show, but they are something to write home about.
A huge helping of hand cut, wet battered onion rings cooked at the perfect temperature. They used a dredge of mainly flour with just a little corn-meal mixed in, seasoned to near perfection with a blend of cajun spices. The last ring on the bottom of the pile was as crispy as the first ones off the top - that's a rare find. Most of the time the grease drips down the pile and the last few are soggy and inedible. I am sure that at some point I've had better onion rings than these, but for the life of me I can't remember where or when.
Our server was polite enough not to serve the side salads along with the appetizers, a few minutes after the rings arrived she brought out the salads.
Pretty standard fare of lettuce, tomato, cucumber a few red onions with some boxed croutons. A pleasant surprise was that my blue cheese and my wife's ranch dressings were house made and better than average. Honestly, with that big plate of rings on the table, far from empty, I didn't wast much time on the salad.
I kind of had my mind made up that I was going to try the stuffed flounder that was featured on Triple-D, but they did have three weekend-specials that were very tempting. This weekend they featured a grilled Amberjack, a broiled redfish fillet and a fried grouper fillet served over rice, topped with a crawfish and shirmp etouffee.
I fought the urge to try one of the specials and ordered the stuffed flounder. Flounder is in my opinion the most under appreciated of our native near-shore species. The flavor is mild, delicate and is one of the easiest fish to clean and prepare due to it's unique skeletal structure.
The flounder was served whole (headless), it was bisected down the midline and the fillets were pulled back. Inside the chef packed the flounder with a generous amount of lump crab meat stuffing. The entire fish, stuffing and all, was flame broiled to near perfection.
The flounder was well seasoned on the outside with a cajun blend that also covered the suffing, it was garnished with lemon slices and parsley. The flounder was flaky and the texture of the slighty chared skin was compliment to the stuffing. The stuffing had plenty of crab meat and only way that this dish could have really been improved, in my opinion, is to use a slightly smaller amount of bell pepper in the stuffing. It sort of grabbed you instead of melding with the onions, celery and spices.
This is one of the better seafood dishes that I have encountered on the Gulf Coast since Katrina.
This portion of the review is provided mainly Mrs. Food Blogger. This was a unique interpretation for grouper. Grouper is also somewhat of an under appreciated local fare. It's usually found filleted, fried and stuffed in between a po-boy bun. This is one of Mrs. Food Bloggers favorite off-shore fish because of it's mild flavor and firm flaky texture.
The grouper was battered in a mix similar to that the onion rings were dredged in, but had more texture, maybe added egg whites? The breading was seasoned nicely. The fillet was served over a large bed of rice, and garnished with steamed whole green beans, carrots and what we believe to have been parsnip.
Over the entire dish was poured a better than average crawfish and shrimp etouffee. The combination of flavor was nice, the fillet had a little too much batter and may have been slightly over-cooked. Had the dish had more of the etouffee and a little less rice it would have garnered a better review.
We each sampled the others entree, and both agreed that the grouper dish was slightly above average, but the flounder was very good. In all it was a fine dinner, the service was well above average, the meal as a whole was very good, and the setting on Bayou Benard is second to none.