Grouper Reuben, $14.25
Grouper Sandwich, $13.25
Rod and Reel Pier Restaurant
875 N Shore Dr, Anna Maria
Walking the wood planks of the Rod and Reel Pier on a blue-sky Sunday afternoon, we spotted a couple of dolphins a few hundred yards to the east gliding through the wake of a boat. We were excited to see our favorite sea creatures, but not surprised. During our many visits to the Rod and Reel Pier Restaurant we have seen numerous dolphins, a manatee, a variety of fish – some on the end of a hook – and a loggerhead turtle about the size of a Prius.
But the Old Florida charm and amazing views are just and added bonus when visiting the Rod and Reel, which dates back to 1947. The main reason we drive to this restaurant on the northern tip of Anna Maria Island is for the seafood. It’s flip-flop dining at its finest.
We took our normal seats around the downstairs bar Sunday and started our meal with a couple of beers (drafts cost a mere $1.50). I asked our friendly and informative server for a sandwich suggestion and without pause she said, “The Grouper Reuben is real good.”
Now, I love grouper and I love corned beef-filled reubens, but had always been unsure of the unnatural pairing of fish and sauerkraut, fearing it would result in me forever disdaining both delectable items. But everything I’ve ever eaten at Rod and Reel has been an edible joy so I figured it was time to go and finally try this sandwich mutation that could have only come from Florida. My amazing wife Kristin agreed to have the standard Grouper Sandwich, blackened.
I fell in love at first bite with my Grouper Reuben. The fresh, moist flakes of white fish felt and tasted just right wedged between melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, 1,000 Island dressing and nicely pressed, buttered rye bread. Yep, I devoured the first half of my Grouper Reuben before even offering a bite to my wife.
When we finally traded sandwich halves, I found her large, lightly blackened slice of grouper fitted with lettuce, tomato and tauter sauce to be equally, straight-from-the-Gulf fresh and tasty, just in a more traditional way.
Final verdict? You can’t go wrong with a fish sandwich from Rod and Reel but if you’re feeling funky, try the Grouper Reuben. We’ll be returning for another one, or two, ASAP.