Prefishing at Blue Gator

Prefishing is s term used by anglers to describe the time spent fishing in preparation for a tournament. These fishermen look for all the best spots on the water in hopes of a winning effort in the tournament.

This is not what I mean by prefishing. Instead, prefishing describes the eating of fish at a restaurant on the water prior to going fishing. Not tournament fishing, just throwing in a line in hopes of reeling in a lunker.

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Last night we went prefishing at Blue Gator on the Withlacoochee River, a new place for me. Sitting on the patio, listening to live music, eating a little grouper made for a pleasant experience.

No complaints about the food. Large portions of fish, fries, hush puppies, and slaw. John must have been confused about the purpose of the trip to Blue Gator since he ordered a cheeseburger. He was pleased with his meal as well, but I’m afraid failure to order fish set our course for the evening.

On our after dinner fishing trip, gators serenaded us while otters splashed around the boat. Turtles, herons, anhingas, and sandhill cranes watched as we threw our Zoom Vibes – blackberry and watermelon seed red – along the weed lines and stumps without much success.

A couple of bites, a small bass that threw the hook as I brought it to the boat, and one just shy of the 14″ keeper size for John. Not a successful evening a fishing, but a great time on the water and a rainbow over the Rainbow River…not bad.

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The Turtle Shack

A day trip driving north on A1A naturally led to a search for another perfect cheeseburger. This time we found Turtle Shack in Flagler Beach.

IMG_6904Located on A1A, just across from the beach, diners can choose to sit inside in the air-conditioned portion of the restaurant, outside in the salt air, or on the open air porch. With the dark clouds rolling in, we decided against eating outdoors and took a seat at one of the picnic tables on the porch…a good decision since we fought the rain blowing in shortly after being seated.

We ordered the homemade potato chips so we could take a little time to peruse the menu.

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It offered a variety of salads and sandwiches, but we had our mind set on a burger so a burger it was. Since it was after 2:00 when we arrived, and we had plans to go out for dinner later that evening, we split the 3/4 pound burger and onion rings. The burger was terrific, but the onion rings rank among the best I’ve eaten.

IMG_6910The next time you’re in Flagler Beach, my suggestion:

  1. Go to Turtle Shack.
  2. Sit outside or by the window.
  3. Order the homemade potato chips for an appetizer (and a drink if you won’t be driving).
  4. Enjoy the view of the ocean.
  5. Order a burger and onion rings.
  6. Get your spouse, child, or friend to order one of the seafood options.
  7. Split the two meals.
  8. Take your time eating and enjoy the view of the ocean.
  9. When you leave the Turtle Shack, go for a walk on the beach.

 

Cheeseburger in Paradise

We seriously considered driving to Fernadina Beach after work Wednesday so we could eat a cheeseburger at Tasty’s to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day, but after some thought decided that a five hour round trip drive for a cheeseburger was a bit extravagant.

Instead we did a little burger research trying to locate the best local cheeseburger. Starting with a little online research I was disappointed to find 5 Guys, Hardees, Krystal, Wendy’s, and Sonic listed among the top cheeseburger destinations in town. We weren’t looking to have a burger at a fast food chain.

Urban Spoon listed Blue Gator in Dunnellon as a top choice for a cheeseburger, but upon closer inspection, the reviews all referred to fish and shrimp dishes, not cheeseburgers. We’ll save Blue Gator for another time.

We surveyed friends and co-workers and got some good suggestions:

  • Terry’s Place – Their cheeseburgers are good, but we’re hoping to find something new and even better.
  • Ruby Tuesday – Again, we’re trying to stay away from a chain restaurant. Surely, there’s a local place we can try.
  • Tres Chic – That’s more like it…but, they aren’t open for dinner…and have they reopened after being closed all summer? Not an option this time.
  • The Lunch Box – Another place only open for breakfast and lunch, so we can’t try it this time.
  • The Dugout – Local, open for dinner, made the list of burgers of distinction in a recent article in the Star Banner.
  • 110th Street Grille – Local, open for dinner, named by more than one person as having good, different cheeseburgers.

We settled on the 110th Street Grille in Belleview to satisfy our cheeseburger craving, and we weren’t disappointed. I ordered the Cheeseburger in Paradise and just like in the Jimmy Buffet song, it comes with lettuce, tomato, Heinz 57, and topped with french fried potato straws with a big kosher pickle on the side. To be honest, I don’t need potato straws or Heinz 57 on my burger, but I wanted to try the cheeseburger Jimmy sings about, and it was a good choice.

John ordered the 100th St. cheeseburger which comes with bacon, lettuce, and tomato; another good choice.

I would have liked the burger better if served on the fresh baked hamburger buns from Terry’s Place, but overall I was pleased and will return for another cheeseburger. Although, I must admit, the grouper sandwiches served at the next table caught my eye. The next trip may be in search of the best local grouper sandwich. 110th St. Grille looks like a contender!