We start our trek north today, intending to stop at Mr. Fish in Myrtle Beach for lunch. We had a wonderful meal there 4 years ago at the end of a road trip. We do know that the business has become very successful and has expanded considerably. I hope the food is still good.
After a pleasant mostly rural drive with plenty to look at, we pull into Myrtle Beach. The noon sun is blazing hot. The town is busy with last minute vacationers leaving or squeezing in the last bit of summer before returning to school and work.
Mr. Fish has become a veritable empire, with a fresh fish restaurant supply business and a new restaurant that has easily tripled in size and so has the parking lot, which is half full. We head in just having missed a rush. The new resto is nothing like before but the homey touches are still there with framed clippings about the place and children’s drawings on the wall. Ted Hammerman, Mr. Fish is there, seating people. He is always here, our waitress says.
We order something new, coconut mahi mahi bites and two favs from our last visit, shrimp and grits and a shrimp po’boy. Fresh, really well made hushpuppies and butter are plunked on the table. These are the most evil freebie and will spoil your meal. I had to force myself to stop eating them.
The mahi mahi “bites” must be two whole fillets cut into halves, battered in an excellent coconut heavy batter and expertly fried. No scraps of fish or shredded fish formed into fingers here. Served with an orange marmalade horseradish sauce. Total yum.
My shrimp and grits arrive, an overly generous potion (should have opted for the appy size). The grits are much as I remember them from 4 years ago, creamy with a rich low country sauce, but this time there is fresh diced tomato on top and large pieces of onion and well cooked sweet green bell pepper within that I do not recall but are an excellent addition.
Rob’s sandwich had all the hallmarks of a great po’boy. Simple, with expertly fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and a mayo-based tartar sauce on a soft, fresh bun. They were served with home-made, Old Bay spiced kettle chip and a great slaw which was a perfect foil to the rest.
Mr. Fish’s was a great idea for lunch. While I’m happy for Ted’s obvious success, I do mourn a bit for the tiny place that was Mr. Fish’s four yeas ago when we sat and chatted with Ted and locals reading the paper. Four years ago we were the only tourists eating lunch that day. Today, the place has retained it’s quality food but the atmosphere is all tourist. I think it is probably the only way to survive in the food business in Myrtle Beach.