Today’s lesson: When you’re in a new place,
get advice from the locals for good places to eat.
I’m here for one reason and one reason only.
Fort Myers, Fla., is the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins (not that their spring training record means anything, but they’re 2-2 so far).
I’ve been coming here for something like seven of the past 10 years. The weather is beautiful — truly heavenly compared to Minnesota at this time of year. A sprawling retail hub, Fort Myers offers great shopping, too.
The traffic in Fort Myers is awful, but with baseball and the bonuses of sunshine and outlet malls, it doesn’t much matter.
I eat to live in this town. Chain restaurants and fast food tend to dominate the main byways. And when you’re at the ballpark, you eat hot dogs and popcorn and you drink beer. It’s not exactly haute cuisine.
Until now. We took Rachel Ray’s advice to ask around for good places to eat, and our neighbor who’s been coming here for years suggested Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille.
I don’t think we could drive there if we tried. It’s tucked under the Fort Myers Beach bridge so it requires going right when you want to end up left, and if you hesitate, you’ll end up on the wrong side of the bridge. Fortunately, we took our bikes, thus avoiding traffic, misleading stop lights and having to park at the end of an enormous parking lot.
In all the years I’ve been coming here, I can’t believe I haven’t eaten at this place. Wow. The service was amazing (and friendly), they had live music, and we enjoyed dinner outside. Among options on the menu was quinoa. Quinoa! Standard run-of-the-mill restaurants do not serve quinoa anything, and Doc Ford’s was serving a shrimp-topped quinoa salad! (Don’t know quinoa? Look it up. Healthy and delish.) Also on the menu: Island Style Shrimp and Grits. Oh, what to choose?!
In accordance with my resolution to be bold, I went with the chef’s special: Tripletail on a bed of roasted cauliflower with a honey aioli sauce. I’ve never eaten tripletail, but the waiter had me at “it’s the filet mignon of fish.” With a pearly white flesh, it’s not as flaky as tilapia and not as meaty as tuna.
The texture was wonderful, and the flavor was almost creamy. So good.
My Beloved enjoyed a pork chop — yes, a pork chop at a waterfront restaurant. Served with grits and a chunky caramelized red onion jam, it was as good as the amazing inch-and-a-half pork chops he grills at home (and that’s saying something).
Bonus fact: Doc Ford is the main character in author Randy Wayne White’s mystery novel series. White was a fishing guide at Sanibel Island for a number of years before turning to writing and, apparently, backing restaurants.
I’ll be back Doc Ford’s. And I’m recommending you to anyone who asks.