Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fishbusterz

Find your way down Front Street on Stock Island and before you reach the gates of the power plant stop! And eat fish. There is plenty of parking on the dead end, light industrial street, even though some important people get their own spaces:I was in town for my weekly class at the college, my wife got a proper lunch break today (the girls were looking for Santa at the airport I believe) and we went off for lunch. "The new place!" my wife announced her choice and so it was. Actually the fish market opened a while ago, even though the eatery part is a bit newer. This is no frills cuisine, with fresh fish on offer up front for take away as it were:Yesterday they had shrimp and scallops and a few of these guys on offer, fresh off the boat:It is not a piece of hyperbole to say "fresh off the boat" even though it's used so much by so many restaurants it is a phrase that has become a cliche. Not here; these are the docks:And here's the boat, ready to tie up and unload your lunch:And if you want to know which boat your lunch did come off, why, here's a list:Which if my math is any good spells something like 106,500 pounds of Key West pink shrimp landed yesterday. Which is probably more than most people could eat at one sitting. However if one happened to order a $14 shrimp and lobster Philly sandwich it might come to the outdoor table looking something like this:An outdoor table you say, in December? Well yes it is rough following in the wake of a particularly cold front that blew through. Though the sun was out in force and afternoon temperatures were up in the mid seventies (25C). The interior of Fishbusterz is all business, and the business is that of landing and preparing fish for market not offering frou frou seating arrangements for diners. This is the real thing, a fish house :This is the restaurant business no frills style:And if the dude taking the order looks more like a fisherman than a maitre d' that's more than likely because he is:Dining with attitude:I hate the word "authentic" because every time I see it used it's a synonym for "fake" but at Fishbusterz you are eating fish among fishermen and this is their land. The picnic tables are outside on the dock:And there's a constant stream of burly men in white rubber boots trundling back and forth doing manly seaman like things with hoses and buckets and all things fishy:Fishbusterz is a bit of a local miracle. A fish house owner got it together to buy this corner of Safe Harbor and provide dockage for fishing boats, an ice house and an outlet for the fish, both wholesale and retail. This is supposed to be a working waterfront that will be here forever, and even though forever is a very long time it seems likely that as long as there are commercial fishermen this small corner will be here for them in a world that has been changing too fast to support their industry. Even if the food was crap that would be reason enough to come and shop at Fishbusterz. However the food is exquisite which is an absurd adjective for a place as rough-and-ready as this, but I know what we will have next time we drop in:They don't just chase the fish and cook it when caught, they have someone on staff who can paint with a piece of chalk. Pretty amazing really. And the views are pleasing on a hot winter afternoon:It's been a rough week one way and another, with a colleague committing suicide and a memorial service to deal with tomorrow, but sitting on the dock watching life go on in the Keys, as basic and true as ever, it's a healthy reminder that there is a lot to live for, and taking pleasure in something as simple as a plate of fish, be it ever so cliched, is a fine thing. I wish Keith were around for me to encourage him to go and try Fishbusterz, because it is well worth it.Really. Sit, eat and contemplate, and may your thoughts be more cheerful than mine at the moment.