Tribute to Owen's Fish Camp & Old Bay Cod with Kale...I have to start this post with some background. I was recently in Sarasota FL on a work trip and I had one of the most memorable meals of my life. Okay, I know this is clearly memorable right now because it was only 3 weeks ago, but I feel quite sure this is being filed in a special part of my brain as "fantastic meals to remember forever" and will be there 15 years from now. Anywho, I was tipped off by a coworker about this hidden gem and boy was I glad. The place is called Owen's Fish Camp and it is located in a little old house, almost down a back alley covered with trees in a quiet part of downtown Sarasota.
Besides the fact that the decor is adorable and homey, the menu options were almost too much to bare. I was sad to be dining alone and thus unable to order one of everything and share with a crowd - I WILL be back and let me tell you I'll be back with a group so I can do just that. I took recommendations from the waitress and went with the Grilled Caesar to start (I can't get enough grilled romaine, that's a fact) which came with crispy little shrimp. For the main course I also took her recommendation to try their famous "Naked Fish". Here you could choose your fish and how it's cooked up along with two sides. I went with the option which she deemed "similar to grouper but even better" and chose blackened. Side note, every time I come down here for work I get blackened grouper at multiple meals, that is an absolute fav. I also went with her recommendations for sides, the collard greens and the garlic pasta.
The meal came and it took all of my might not to finish every last bite on that plate. The fish was exactly what she said, similar to grouper but even better - blackened to perfection. It had a little kick and came with a drizzle of lemon caper sauce atop which added the perfect bit of acidity. The sides were also unparalleled. The pasta, while extremely simple was a perfect starch - angel hair dressed in olive oil and crispy garlic nuzzled right next to the star of the show - the collards. I truly can't describe it, but my mouth is watering thinking about them. When I probed her after the meal, the waitress said that the collards are cooked in a mixture of bacon, vinegar, and cholula. Honestly perfection.
I finished the meal off with key lime pie smothered in homemade whipped cream (a serious weakness) and then drove back to the hotel wishing I was staying another night to come back for more.
Anyways, last night I had that meal on my mind and while I knew I would NEVER be able to recreate even one iota of that delectable experience, I made my own mild little version.
I sprinkled a fat piece of cod with old bay seasoning, lemon juice and olive oil before wrapping it in a foil packet and popping it in the oven for 20 min at 400 degrees.
At that point my little red potatoes had been roasting in there for about 25 minutes (they need a total of about 45 minutes) until they are golden and Dahlicious.
Lastly I served it up with kale which I sauteed in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, a dash of old bay seasoning, and a sprinkle of red wine vinegar.
It was healthful and satisfying but it was no Owen's that's for sure. One day maybe I can hone in on my blackening skills and even learn that collards recipe... but until then I'll need to schedule more work trips down to Sarasota!