Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche
On a recent trip to the Gulf coast, my husband and I made it our mission to consume as much fresh seafood as possible in a three-day period. Living in far West Texas, the chance to eat shrimp fresh off the boat or fish that had been swimming earlier in the day is something we miss living in the beautiful Davis Mountains.
Port Aransas, just a short nine-hour drive from Fort Davis, enticed us with a siren call to leave the West Texas cold and enjoy warm salty air filled with the squawks of seagulls. “Port A” as it’s affectionately called by anyone who’s ever been there, is the only town on Mustang Island. Besides beachcombing, fishing, birding and relaxing, there are plenty of festivals and concerts to keep your island-time filled with fun. I prefer the beachcombing, relaxing and eating as my main forms of entertainment.
Entering into my internet search, “Best Place to Eat in Port Aransas,” we were led to an unassuming little restaurant called Beach & Station Street Grill. The reviews were glowing, with many people stating it was the best food they’d eaten on the island while others claimed to eat there every time they came to visit. Those are the reviews I like to follow.
Open for about 17 years now, Beach & Station Street Grill is a place where locals and visitors alike come to enjoy fresh seafood prepared with a gourmet touch – with a nice beer and wine selection, too. It’s not fancy, but it is fun, and you can eat outside if the weather permits. The place was packed, but we only had to wait about 10 minutes to be seated. We overheard a waitress telling her patrons what her favorite dishes were, and we ordered accordingly.
As soon as we sat down, we were served a fresh-baked baguette with real butter. We started with seafood gumbo and the soup of the day, New England-style clam chowder. Completely different in flavor, both were savory and delicious.
Don’t look at the messy rim of the cup of gumbo… look at the crawfish tail! The clam chowder was loaded with clams, too…
The gumbo was spicy and contained shrimp, crawfish tails and Andouille sausage atop rice. Unlike most seafood gumbos I’m accustomed to, there was not a hint of okra in it – which got extra points with my anti-okra husband.
The clam chowder was creamy and loaded with chunks of potatoes and rich clams in every bite. We passed our cups back and forth. And the meal only got tastier from there…
I ordered a flounder filet stuffed with Blue Crab meat, served with rice pilaf and grilled vegetables. One bite of the stuffed flounder, and I about melted. How could fish taste so mild, yet so flavorful at once? Fresh Gulf-caught, that’s how.
Here’s a peek at the inside of my stuffed flounder… a-may-zing!!!
My husband’s Blue Crab stuffed Gulf shrimp were huge and prepared to perfection. Served with a house-recipe coleslaw atop a bed of mixed greens with French fries on the side, it exceeded any stuffed-shrimp expectations he had before that first bite. Cajun tartar sauce and cocktail sauce were house-made as well.
If you find yourself down in Port A, do yourself a favor and visit Beach & Station Street Grill, located at 235 Beach Avenue, open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 5-10 p.m. They specialize in serving the highest quality steaks and seafood, and they do it well.
Southern Seafood Gumbo
(don’t be discouraged by the ingredients list – this recipe comes together easily!)
1/4 cup oil
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups white onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon chicken base (I use Better Than Bouillon brand)
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 cup dried parsley
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
2 tablespoons soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil, and oregano or 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes
4 cups sliced Andouille sausage
4 cups cut okra (fresh or frozen – or omit if you are anti-okra)
2 cups oysters and liquor
1/2 pound crabmeat
At least 2 pounds fresh peeled shrimp
In a large pot combine oil and flour. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the roux has browned to a light chocolate color. Add onion, pepper, celery and garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add chicken broth, and chicken base, stirring as you go. Add water, bay leaves, thyme, basil, parsley, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, soy sauce and tomatoes. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch pieces. Add to pot along with okra. Cover pot and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add oysters, crabmeat and shrimp. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Serve over hot buttered rice. Sprinkle with file powder on top of bowl and stir in. (Note: Adding file into the pot will make the gumbo too thick as File powder acts as a thickening agent, so add it to individual bowls.)