Today I was in the mood for some fish. There are surprisingly few places to get fish for lunch in Fort Lauderdale; but one bad thing about this place is that there are only a few public parking spots by the marina; the entire restaurant parking lot is valet only. It appeared that all of the spots were taken and I have way too much stuff in my car to valet, so I was off to somewhere else. Then I spotted an impossible to get spot right in the front. Bam, I was in.
They have a hostess, but a big sign that says "Seat Yourself for Lunch". So I'm not sure why she's there. There's nobody eating inside, and there are a bunch of servers hanging out, so the "Dockside" area is the way to go for lunch.
15th Street Fisheries
Even when it's very hot out, it's not too bad here. There's a little breeze and no direct sunlight. One thing that used to be a big thing was the Tarpon watching; and the birds.
15th Street Fisheries
They've solved the bird problem with netting, but it also affects the ambiance. I also didn't see any fish while I was here.>
15th Street Fisheries Dockside View
On the dock there's a "Do Not Feed the Pelicans" sign but I've never seen a pelican any time I've been here. I think it's some sort of joke.
I had to wait a bit for a server; finally I got a menu and ordered an iced tea. I already knew that I was ordering their signature dish, Joe's Skillet. I also ordered a cup of conch chowder as I hadn't tried theirs, and I got a caesar as the side with the skillet.
15th Street Fisheries Iced Tea
The cup of chowder came out right away; it comes in an actual cup; old school.
15th Street Fisheries Cup of Conch Chowder
Not very spicy, rubbery conch, too much corn. No potatoes, which is fine. Pretty standard fare for down here.
15th Street Fisheries Conch Chowder
They play some decent music but it was too low for me to make much of it out. Mostly 70s stuff; some Jimmy Buffet. I was waiting and waiting; thinking that it would have been useful if they brought out the salad while I was waiting. About now I was enjoying the view and thinking that this was a pretty nice place despite the high-end prices and low-end fare.
Waiting, more waiting. I saw my server and she said "I'll check on it for you". I mentioned that she could bring out the salad, which she did.>
15th Street Fisheries Caesar Salad
Your standard low-end caesar salad. Just as I dug in, the Skillet came out.
15th Street Fisheries Joe's Skillet
My first emotion was deep disappointment. Where was the fish? Tiny, too well done shrimp covered in sawdust. This looked nothing like it did in 2010. They don't even bother giving you the lemon wedge anymore. Notice the big pieces of fish and the butterflied shrimp that it used to come with? Also, it wasn't sizzling (anymore), which means that it had been sitting a while before they brought it out. The problem with these sizzling skillets is that the food gets overdone.
The canned tomatoes were ridiculous, and if there were scallops in the dish I couldn't identify them. There were a few cubes of well done fish. This was like a bad fish chowder on a plate.
Artichokes also serve no purpose in this dish; this was as big a culinary abortion as I've ever experienced in a restaurant.
Just when you think you've found a nice place in Fort Lauderdale they ruin it by bringing out the food. Don't order Joe's Skillet. You've been warned.
If you mention 15th Street Fisheries to most locals, you'll most likely get a firm response of something like "Tourist trap!". It's been around a long time, and it's one of the few places in this town that does tourist-type advertising.
It's located WAY at the end of, you guessed it, 15th street, and the video below shows you how to get there from US1 and Davie Blvd. If you're coming from the south, hop on Cordova and make a right just after the Southport Raw Bar.
They have valet parking for most of the lot; there's a limited amount of free parking along the fence. Most of the marina area is restricted, so you have almost no chance of getting a spot in season or for dinner. They valet is "complimentary", but of course you'll need to tip; and wait if it's crowded.
There's a big bar with some TVs that's a big dark, but the most of the inside of the restaurant is closed during the day. At lunch time, only the "dockside" menu is served. There's a big dock with table and a few table inside if it's really windy or raining. But outside is the place to be for the view.
View from the Dockside Seating
Service is a bit spotty; you seat yourself and wait for someone to notice. I got a menu quickly, but as usual I had pretty much decided before I left the condo that I was having steamed clams to start. I ordered those and said I needed to decide on a main course. There's a lot of misdirection on the menu; they refer to some "best burger" award; but don't be distracted.
A runner brought me the clams, which came out pretty qulckly. The presentation is pretty weak; there's nothing like a plain white plate to make you feel like you're at a top notch restaurant. You can order 1 or 2 dozen clams; I ordered 1 dozen and got 15 clams. Barely enough lemon was provided; you have to wonder why they give you a skinny sliver of lemon but enough butter for 20 dozen clams.
The clams were "ok", not rubbery but not particularly plump either. While I was finishing the clams, I realized that my server hadn't been back to take my order, which was a bit irritating. I hadn't planned on spending the whole afternoon at the place. Just as I was digging into the last few clams she appeared, and I ordered a skirt steak, medium rare (because that's the only way to order a skirt steak).
I finished the clams and noticed that a youngster dining with his parents was getting all excited about the fish, which you can see swimming around in the water. Fish don't excite me much; there are also some birds flying around on the dock that can be fun or eerie depending on your take on birds.
The steak came out pretty quickly, accompanied by yucca fries.
The steak was too rare in the thicker part; cooking skirts are a bit tricky as the skinny portion needs to be kept from getting overdone. For $16 it wasn't a very substantial portion; half a skirt and some fries is pretty measly for this price. The Chimichurri was garlicky but there was something funky about it; the parsley was barely chopped and the garlic too chunky; it reminded me of someone who tried to make the sauce without a food processor available. Better than being too vinegary. The steak didn't seem to be marinated in anything notable, so the sauce was needed.
The yucca fries were surprisingly good, particularly with ketchup. I usually sub out such things for something green, but I wanted to try these today. They're a lot like good steak fries; still with a fairly high glycemic index but not as bad as french fries. Not health food but pretty good.
Any dining experience can be summed up when the bill comes, and you decide if you got your money's worth with all things considered. $37 for lunch with no alcohol is too much for what I got here; pedestrian food with smallish portions. If you have kids who get excited about fish it may be the only good reason to come here; fish viewing is better after dark so keep that in mind.