Monday, October 21, 2013

Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL

Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL | Taste As You Go
Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL

In early September, Stephen and I traveled down to Florida for my sister-in-law's baby shower. To take full advantage of the trip, we extended the trip by a few days so we could spend some time relaxing on the beach in belated celebration of our wedding anniversary. After we landed in Tampa, we decided to stop for lunch on our way to our resort. We wanted a meal by the water, so we drove to Anna Maria and squeezed our rental car in the small dirt parking lot for the Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant.


Despite arriving after the peak rush, the restaurant was still relatively full with people soaking in the view and enjoying a leisurely lunch. We opted to sit out on the deck so the Florida sunshine could start working its magic on us.

Grouper Cheeks - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL | Taste As You Go
Grouper Cheeks - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL

Grouper Cheeks - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL | Taste As You Go
Grouper Cheeks - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL

The menu featured the typical seafood shack items like peel-and-eat shrimp, crab cake sandwiches, and fish and chips, but it was the items on the specials board that caught our attention. Now, I'll be honest here... I ordered the Grouper Cheeks ($8.95) simply because I became obsessed with saying the words "grouper cheeks". When my meal arrived, I was surprised by the generous portion of cheeks that were breaded and fried to a crispy golden brown and served with French fries and coleslaw. While the fish was moist on the inside, it suffered from the lack of that finishing sprinkle of salt after coming out of the fryer.

Coleslaw - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL | Taste As You Go
Coleslaw - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL

Since I don't normally eat it, I usually ask my server to "hold the coleslaw" when putting my order in with the kitchen. But in the spirit of vacation, I decided to try a little bit of it. Turns out, the coleslaw at Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant is pretty tasty, and I appreciated that it wasn't swimming in a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing. Am I a coleslaw-convert now? No. But I am glad I opened myself up to the dish again.

Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL | Taste As You Go
Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich - Rod & Reel Pier Resetaurant - Anna Maria, FL

Stephen ordered the Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich ($10.50), which was also served with a side of French fries and coleslaw. While he seemed to really enjoy the sandwich, I thought the flavor of the fish was completely lost beneath the heavy layer of Cajun seasoning.

Key Lime Pie - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL | Taste As You Go
Key Lime Pie - Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria, FL

To close the meal, we split a piece of the Key Lime Pie ($3.95). All the reviews I read online suggested that this was the must-order dessert, and I'm relieved to report that the pie did not disappoint. The pie was creamy and tart and actually pretty refreshing after having eaten a meal consisting primarily of fried foods.

Rod & Reel Pier - Anna Maria, FL | Taste As You Go
Rod & Reel Pier - Anna Maria, FL

As the afternoon passed, small groups of people arrived to pick up bait (at the shop below the restaurant) and do some fishing off the pier. We didn't witness any impressive catches while we were there, though. During the short walk back to the car, I looked down and noticed names carved into the wooden planks. Too bad I didn't spot them earlier... I would have asked our server about their significance.

The Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant doesn't look like much at first glance, but they'll serve you a simple, no-frills seafood meal without charging you an arm and a leg for it. Plus the laid-back atmosphere and tranquil views of the water are worth the drive and the wait for a table.

(While I was finishing the draft of this blog post, I learned that the Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant suffered from a kitchen fire nearly a month after Stephen and I dined there. No one was hurt, but the restaurant has been closed so repairs to the damage can be made. However, it's anticipated that the restaurant will only be closed for a couple of months.) 

Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant
875 North Shore Drive
Anna Maria, FL 34216
(941) 778-1885 | Map

Rod & Reel Pier on Urbanspoon

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