Saturday, January 9, 2010

DeLand Fish House

De Land Fish House
310 Int'l. Speedway Blvd.
De Land, FL 32724

My friend Kelly and I went looking for a restaurant in De Land yesterday and had no luck in finding it. We wanted to go to a place I had heard about called Coach Val's Cafe, however, I wonder if I had the right name or not, because we were not able to find anything remotely like this. Even when we stopped to ask people, they thought we were crazy. I remember the map for it I saw in the paper previously, but still no luck. It just goes to show you how quickly a restaurant can open and close in today's economy. The first article I read about this place was probably four months ago. That is plenty of time for a place to figure out they are not going to make it, even though the reviews were good.

After driving around for an hour or so, we decided to take it back towards Daytona Beach and hit the De Land Fish House. Man, I am glad that we did.

The De Land Fish House is a small building that sits next to a 7/11 on Int'l. Speedway Boulevard in De Land. When you go in you are immediately faced with the fish market offerings and you will notice it is really more spacious than you think from the outside appearance. We were told we could sit wherever we want and were handed menus by the young lady near the door. As we sat down, I noticed that the interior of the restaurant was simply decorated, the tables didn't have tablecloths and the floor was just a plain floor with no carpet. These things really don't matter to me as long as the food is good. Quite honestly, I would rather a restaurant spend their money on fresh food and good employees than aesthetics that don't really mean a whole lot. That is the case with the De Land Fish House.

Because we had been driving around for so long, we missed the regular lunch rush. There was about five tables occupied when we got there. A few more filled-up while we were eating. We both ordered sweet tea for our drinks. Kelly ordered a salad and I got clam chowder to start. For our meals, Kelly ordered the shrimp roll and I went after the blackened grouper sandwich. This is where things got funny.

I asked our waitress, Donna, if she liked her fish blackened? I did this as many places say they serve blackened food, but it is really not spicy blackened the way I expect blackened to be. She said she didn't eat fish. I asked her if she ate chicken? She said yes and I told her, OK we are getting to the root of my question. I then asked her would she order blackened chicken at this restaurant. She assured me she would and asked if I was going to be mad at her if I didn't like my sandwich. I assured her I wouldn't and ordered the blackened grouper. She was really nice and funny, so I felt there wasn't going to be a problem.

Shortly after ordering, Kelly's salad comes out with my clam chowder. At first, I was a bit jammed-up about the clam chowder being served in a black, Styrofoam bowl, but once I took my first spoon full all doubts were put away. The chowder was extremely hot, like I like it, full of tender potatoes, tender clams and a savory broth. This is great clam chowder. I crushed up all the crackers that were given to me and enjoyed every spoon full. Kelly said her salad was good as well.

Our sandwiches showed up at just the right time. The menu states that their bread is baked fresh every day, which I am usually skeptical about, but this was the honest truth here. My blackened grouper came on a very soft, fresh, toasted roll that was simply incredible. The grouper was tasty, tender and well-cooked. My fries were hot and plentiful as well. Kelly said her shrimp roll was awesome and was excited that it came with cole slaw and a remoulade sauce on the sandwich.

We were both blown away with how good our food was and happy we decided to check this place out. This will definitely be a place that I will return to in the future. They have a vast menu with a lot of good fish and shellfish dishes available. My guess is there is something for everyone here that likes seafood.

For our visit yesterday to the De Land Fish House, I have to give them four and a half Stiffy's. You have to stop by this great little place for some seafood the next time you are on the mood.

Eat, drink and be merry!



lvkag said...

Man - I was starving by the time I finished reading your review - next time I am in Florida - I am so there!!!!!!!

Stiff Competition said...

Glad you enjoyed it. You are definitely going to enjoy a visit here. I can't wait to go back.

Lydell said...

Coach Val's Cafe is not on the "main drag" (US 17/92 or International Speedway Blvd). The restaurant is located at the corner of SR 44 (New York Ave.) and Stone Street. If you're coming from I-4, Use the 2nd DeLand exit (SR 44), go west, and stay on SR 44 until you pass downtown. Coach Val's will be on your left about 3 miles past downtown.

LMorland said...

I'm a native of DeLand, who left for California as soon as I was old enough. Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for my entire adult life, I never thought I'd have a good word to say about any restaurant in my old hometown.

But the DeLand Fish House blew me away when I happened across it three years ago (in their old location -- a funky shack behind Lowe's).

After the first feelings of pleasure, my main reaction was chagrin that I'd been coming home to DeLand for visits twice a year and NO ONE had told me about the Fish House!

I echo everything "Stiff Competition" has written. The Fish House is truly a jewel of DeLand. (And if you live around here, it's the best source of locally and Gulf-caught fish and seafood for home cooking.)