Taste-testing a new North Myrtle Beach fish house

For Weekly SurgeSeptember 18, 2013 

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    Flounder’s Fish House is at 203 Sea Mountain Highway in North Myrtle Beach, and the number is 249-0133. It’s open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Setting the Table

Never mind that it is the first and only Flounder’s Fish House, and it has been open only a few weeks – the owners decided to proclaim it Flounder’s World Famous Fish House on the sign and menus.

Well then, the food should be fantastic.

Flounder’s lists Bill Griste as its general manager. He is the registered agent of Grand Strand Dining Group LLC, which also owns three local locations of Duffy Street Seafood Shack and Hot Diggity Diner.

The remodeling job on the restaurant at 203 Sea Mountain Highway in North Myrtle Beach, which is across the street from the ocean, was extensive. It has a rustic beach fish camp appearance inside and out.

The main dining room has two four-top cocktail tables made out of wood barrels and two booths constructed to look like rowboats – one seats eight and the other seats 10. There’s also a bar with a few backless stools facing an exposition kitchen.

Outside is a screen porch inches from Sea Mountain Highway furnished with wood picnic tables. Vintage black and white photos of the beach and fishing life are hung in a few places, and the menu features more old photos

We asked to be seated inside and were placed at the end of the 10-top booth.

Down the Hatch

The menu is lengthy, and it starts with “The Bait.” These appetizers are $7-$13, and most are $9. A few choices are steamed or raw select oysters, crab quesadilla, fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, wings, garlic mussels and crab dip.

I tried Cherry Grove Inlet Crab Balls, which are oddly prepared with skinny capellini pasta covering their exteriors before they’re deep-fried. The result is three racquetball-size fried balls bristling with hard and tough pasta strands. The interiors contained a small amount of lump crabmeat and a lot of mushy filler.

Flounder’s also serves flounder chowder (World Famous of course) – creamy or tomato based – and a third soup that’s described as “Our Family Recipe, a Low Country Specialty.”

Salads ($13) feature flounder, chicken or shrimp. My husband had a blackened flounder salad that was supposed to include “red onion, green onion, grape tomatoes, asparagus, bacon bites, fried onions, croutons, Cheddar cheese and a pickled okra.” The bacon was raw and flabby, there was one halved grape tomato, the flounder was tough and the “wedge of cornbread” that came with it was tiny four-bite triangle.

Eight sandwiches ($8-$10, comes with fries or slaw) include fried shrimp, crab cake, chicken, cheeseburger and flounder.

Then there are the platters – two dozen of them – priced $15 to $25, except for the catch of the day, which is market price. They come with fries or slaw, and a few also get another side dish and hushpuppies. Entrée choices include blackened seafood burrito, shrimp and grits, teriyaki fish tacos, chicken fingers, fried oysters, fried shrimp, stuffed flounder, filet mignon, chopped steak and chicken capellini.

I opted for the “World Famous Whole Deep Fried Flounder & Mango Chutney.” The fish had a crispy scored exterior but the flesh was not firm, as if it wasn’t fresh. The “chutney” was a thick glaze of marmalade put on the fish after it was fried, and I thought it was much too sweet. My side dish - hushpuppies - were hard tasteless pellets.

I ate a few bites of fish, the server asked how I liked it, I said I didn’t, and he removed it and did not charge me for it.

A good friend and restaurant owner said she tried the mango chutney flounder a few days before I did and enjoyed it, but her fish tasted fresh and it had only a light coating of chutney. Her husband tried the crab cake and did not care for it; he had the same observation as I regarding the crab balls – too much filler.

Check, please

Children can have flounder, chicken, cheeseburger sliders (2) or shrimp for $8, and the meals come with fries. For dessert ($7-$8) there is mud pie, Key Lime pie and deep-fried apple pie a la mode.

Flounder’s has a full bar with scores of fruity margaritas, fruity vodka drinks, fruity rum drinks (available in a cup or in a container shaped like a fishbowl), fruity smoothies that can contain alcohol or not, and fruity coladas and daiquiris topped with tall crowns of whipped cream.

Flounder’s left us with the impression of a restaurant designed for tourists, with tourist prices.

Becky Billingsley serves up fresh news daily at MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com.

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