Old Florida at its finest: Star Fish Company in Cortez fishing village near Bradenton

August 5, 2012 

Many people, even true Floridians, don't believe in eating outdoors here in the summer.

At least not for lunch when the temperature stays around 90 degrees.

I disagree.

Especially if seated along the water, in the shade, with a pleasant breeze blowing in from the Gulf.

At an Old Florida jewel like the Star Fish Company in Cortez.

At the cash-only counter, I had placed an order for two "highliner" dishes:

Sea scallops ($12.50) and blackened grouper ($12.95).

Plus a couple drinks.

Total came to about 30 bucks.

The woman gave me a big grin when I stuffed five ones and change into the tip jar.

Located at the end of 123rd Street Court West off Cortez Road, Star Fish is the perfect place to enjoy fresh Sunshine State cuisine.

In shorts and flip-flops.

The delectable seafood mostly comes from the A.P. Bell Fish Company next door.

The giant garage of fish packing and distribution that opened in 1940 has supplied food to restaurants around the world.

From our wooden picnic table at Star Fish last Sunday afternoon, we gazed at the strong, rugged commercial fishing vessels that line both sides of the dock.

In the distance, there's what looks like a gray doghouse in the water.

Or maybe a playpen for dolphins.

Actually, it's the "Net Camp."

Fishermen used it to dry their nets, I was told while on assignment for the Herald several years ago, before monofilament fishing line replaced linen.

An island sanctuary covered with mangroves can be spotted a little farther out to sea.

Above, nothing but blue skies.

Our food came just as I ordered a second round of beverages.

Delicious.

My sea scallops were unseasoned except for a

squeeze of lemon.

They tasted like the ocean with a touch of citrus.

Ate them with crisp, slightly sweet hush puppies and wonderfully rich cheese grits.

The grouper tasted terrific, too.

We ate slowly.

Soaking up the view and the delightfully funky dock-side ambiance.

And discussed what we would order on our next visit.

Which will be soon.

Information: Star Fish Company Dockside Restaurant, 12306 46th Ave W., Cortez, 941-794-1243 or www.starfishcompany.com.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057.

Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.

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