Mahi Sandwich ($12.50)
Buffalo Grouper Sandwich ($13.50)
4528 119th St. W., Cortez
Earlier this month, the community of Cortez successfully battled land developers at a marathon Manatee County Commission meeting to protect the fishing areas the locals call “The Kitchen.” One of the main places the Cortezians go to eat these catches is Cortez Kitchen, which has its fresh seafood delivered right to its docks on Sarasota Bay.
When we visited The Cortez Kitchen around 1 p.m. last Sunday, I craved a single item: The blackened Mahi Sandwich ($12.95), which I’ve probably enjoyed there at least a dozen times before. My wife decided on the Buffalo Grouper Sandwich ($13.50) that normally comes slathered in blue cheese. She ordered ranch (for her) and blue cheese dressing (for me) on the side.
By the time we were ready for a second round of libations at the laid-back, wood dining area where the waterfront breeze gets goosed by ample fans, our sandwiches arrived. Mahi-mahi should be moist and flaky and fall apart a little in your fingers and that’s just what my large filet did as I bit down through the bun, which also contained fresh tomato, crunchy iceberg lettuce and red onion. The Cortez Kitchen has a delicious blackening blend but the cooks are smart enough not to allow the potent flavor to eclipse the savory fish.
We had enjoyed The Kitchen’s Buffalo grouper bites before but never a whole sandwich, which proved delicious. It’s lightly fried with a wing-y zing – we ordered our sauce medium – that complements the fish nicely. In fact, I ate my half of the sandwich so fast and happily I totally forgot to add the blue cheese. I’ll give it a try the next time we return, which, judging by our track record, could very well be this weekend.