The drive up the Eastern seaboard of the United States is daunting to say the least. Considering the trek from Miami to Atlanta, there is just something wrong about the idea of driving for 12-hours plus and only hitting two states. A break (or three) is required, and what better way for a foodie to chew up the monotony than with a destination worthy meal?
In preparation for that drive, the Unabomber’s Girlfriend and I spent some time perusing the internet looking for one of those hidden eateries of lore and legend. As we were in seafood central, the cuisine was seemingly selected for us. After scanning several internet sites, we were led to believe that we had found one such gem. Yes, Capt. Shrimp came with high marks from casual dinners over a bevy of websites. Unfortunately, what it delivered was a glorified alternative to Captain D’s.
Set just a short bit off the bustling causeway that is the Florida Turnpike, Capt Shrimp functions like a made-to-order fast food establishment (think Wendy’s). A rather large building in and of itself, there is no interior dining and so you’re left to fend for yourself. A handful of tables sit near the walk-up window, but judging by the maze of race lanes that serve as the drive-thru, I’d say that this food is built for walking.
Covered in beaten down canary yellow and accented by several colors that don’t really blend (shades of red and brown), the exterior of this place does little to give it a distinct personality. It is memorable for its nondescript nature, nothing more and nothing less.
Given that we somehow managed to hit up the Southern coast of the US during one of the coldest spells in some time, patrons were at a premium during our single serving visit to this outdoor snack shack. One can only postulate as to the amount of traffic this place sees in piqué season. By extension, there is just no way to know how they handle service when/if they ever see the billfold of more than a couple hungarians.
The menu reads as one might expect. Heavy on the fried foods, this captain offers samplings of shrimp, oysters, catfish, clam strips (no bellies … grrrrr), crab products, and the like. Greeted by a cheery chap behind the counter, I almost wish that the service here was a bigger part of the experience. There isn’t much to being a register monkey, but our guy was friendly, helpful, and just one heck of a pleasant dude. It should be no shock to anyone that true to form, we ignored our baser instincts and ordered some fried shrimp (with a side of fries), a handful of fried oysters, and a single crab cake just for shizzles and giggles.
Given the context, both myself and my much better looking eating companion found the food surprisingly fresh. Mind you, when you score 30-fried shrimp and a basket of fries for under $10, the bar isn’t even high jump worthy. The food was lukewarm, the crab cake reeked of frozen vegetables, and bites were consumed with the single goal of moving past the meal as fast as possible. If Capt Shrimp was looking to be the best of the worst, then they have hit that bulls eye with gold medal precision. The food is bland, the sauces are mass produced, and the only thing that makes a meal there palpable is the price point. All that food ran us just around $22.00.
Believe it or not, that’s really where this story ends. There just isn’t a lot to say about defrosted seafood that, while quite affordable, is served up a stone’s throw from the shore. As my last visit to Captain D’s (or perhaps it was Long John Silver’s) was during my formative years (which many would argue are still going on), it’s impossible for me to draw any direct comparisons. But working through my memory of those few and far between, as well as the couple of times I tossed back a Gorton’s fish stick, I’d say that’s the playpen this shrimp stand plays in.
With no real service to consider, a dumpy location, and food that is only good if your comparison chart is severely limited in scope, Capt. Shrimp is an absolute no-no for any traveler of great distances. For that matter, if it takes you more that 5-minutes to get there, I’d say you’re wasting your time. Only if you are able to ignore any possible health ramifications should this place ever really goad you into a meal.