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Monday, October 12, 2009

Lunch Report: Fudpuckers in Destin, Fl

You are probably familiar with the hamburger place with the funny name, Fuddruckersgood burgers but overpriced for my tastes - but in Destin and Ft Walton Beach, there are two restaurants with a similar name called Fudpuckers. Go ahead; take a moment or two to play with the pronunciation of the name and you’ll get the little joke. Very good.
So we crossed the Mid-Bay Bridge with the idea of going to a place called the Crab Trap (recommended via teleconference by my daughter who had been stationed briefly at nearby Eglin AFB) when my son saw Fudpuckers and said he had been wanting to try it out for some time. In we pulled and it was a good thing. We were both famished having driven from just outside Tampa for the previous 7 or so hours with only a cup of coffee and sausage biscuit.

Fudpuckers is a big restaurant full of lots to look at including the obligatory Sharpie markings of tourists eager to let future diners know they were there. They have some live alligators swimming around in the children's play area just to keep you entertained while you wait roughly 20 minutes to be seated, and there is the usual signage that I enjoy to keep me occupied as I dine.
There are multiple dining and bar areas, and the ones we saw all had several TV’s. They have one channel playing that is dedicated to playing music video interrupted only by occasional commercials made by Father Fud, I assume the owner of the place. He hawks Margaritas big enough for two people, T-shirts, and generally tells you throughout your meal that if you aren’t happy, to let someone know about it.Our server, Michael was an older guy (well, at least my age I assume), and he was good, though apparently overworked with tables. We would find later that this was to our benefit. Michael took our drink order then brought us out a plate of complimentary hush puppies with some sort of dipping sauce. It was awesome! The hush puppies were really good but I noticed they tended to stick to my teeth. Must be some sort of paste they use to keep them together.After taking our orders, and shortly after bringing us our salads, Michael showed up with another set of complimentary appetizers, this time some fried mushrooms and a small bowl of fried pickles. My son and I looked at each other and thought that perhaps because we had both ordered the all you can eat seafood platter, this was their way of making it worth the $19.99 each. In fact, my son even suggested that it was all a ploy to get us stuffed before we even tasted any seafood, thereby lessening the chance that we would eat them out of house and home. The fried mushrooms were simply delicious, though the fried pickles could have used a little seasoning.

The way they work the all you can eat seafood deal is, you order up four types of fish selected from fried fish, grilled fish, popcorn shrimp, fried shrimp, grilled shrimp, calamari, and something else – maybe scallops or something. Then you select two sides (we both ordered house salads, I had a baked potato and my son had fries). When you have cleaned your plate, you can then select two more types of seafood from the list. If you eat all the sides and the complimentary appetizers they bring out, and then you order up another platter of fish after polishing off the plate they bring out, you are one seriously hungry bastard.
For the purposes of comparison to say, Texas Roadhouse, the salad was disappointing. But for an all you can eat seafood situation, I could live with it. The croutons were hard and lacked flavor, so I picked at the salad and basically ate maybe half of it.

When we finished the second set of complimentary appetizers (the mushrooms and the fried pickles), I was already worried that I wouldn’t even make it through half my seafood.
My son ordered the grilled fish, the grilled shrimp, the fried shrimp and I’m guessing some fried fish. I ordered the calamari, fried shrimp, grilled shrimp and fried fish. They came with a host of dipping sauces including some sort of honey thing, some cocktail sauce that was just awful, some tartar sauce and something else. We both agreed that the grilled and fried shrimp were both very good. His grilled fish was also good. They loaded up my platter with calamari, and like any calamari, while it is still steaming hot, it was good. But I only ate less than half of it. The fried fish had a good taste, but the batter it was fried in had that same sticky texture to it, and in fact, it was reminiscent of Mr. Cod. It was impossible to cut with just my fork, and that is not good. My baked potato came with butter and sour cream, but given the circumstances, it was only worth picking at.

Our waiter came out to see if we were ready for a second serving of fish and as you can guess, we weren’t even close to joining the Clean Plate Club. He seemed genuinely shocked that we would order the all you can eat fish and only have one serving. But, in looking at the menu, we had figured out ahead of time that the fish and shrimp platter was the same price as the all you could eat. By ordering the all you can eat, we got to try more than just the fish and shrimp. And of course, they gave us all those free appetizers.
Oh. And then there was the free appetizer thing. As it turns out, Michael really was stretched a little thin what with being the only server in our part of the restaurant, and he got the tables mixed up. There was a couple seated behind us who were pissed off that they did not receive their complimentary appetizers that they seemed to have a coupon for. Oops! Michael apologized profusely to them and of course, did not charge us for the inadvertent appetizers. Yay!
In the end, it was all good. Considering the amount of food we put down, the price (before tip) was under $50.00 was reasonable, especially for the atmosphere of the place. We were able to watch the second half of the Cowboys – Kansas City game on a big TV in one of the outer bars before heading for the Ft Walton Beach airport.
If you are looking for a cool place to take the family – especially kids who’d like to play around live alligators, or if perhaps you wanted to sit at one of the many bars and watch a game, this would be a nice place during your vacation. If you are looking for real quality seafood dining and not much more, you could probably do better at one of the many other places to eat in Destin.


KristinTubeck said...

Fudpuckers is such a fun place! I took my little sister there when she visited me in Tallahassee. Next time you should try to crab balls! They are wonderful!

Dave said...

Crab balls... Those aren't like Mountain Oysters, are they?

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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