Conch fritters, those fried doughy balls accented by bits of tooth-teasing conch, reminded us of the attempts at any one of numerous Keys restaurants. Not startling in taste, they were nonetheless a decent, dependable version of a common starter.
Still, the fritters were merely a warm-up pitch compared to the restaurant's fried calamari. It's tough to maintain the tenderness of calamari in the deep fryer; the Marlin, which opened this past April, has succeeded where other, more experienced kitchens have failed. We fought over these lovely crisp rings, neglecting even our beers in favor of grabbing our fair share of the amazingly light-battered squid.
In the northern part of Dade, where the bay is a view as well as a source of food, seafood shacks are common; here in the Gables, despite the restaurant's culinary difficulties, it seems a welcome A or at least convenient A addition to this area. (Any restaurant, actually, is assured of at least a lunchtime rush on this stretch of road.) Though we joked about the desolate, isolated atmosphere of the Marlin Seafood Grill, we parked as close as possible to the restaurant's doorway and were in reality a bit nervous. The Grill appeared to be the only open business on Bird; and the crowd, to put it mildly, was not large. Once seated, we felt fairly comfortable, although the location still seemed odd for an outdoor cafe. And with the additions of the Cuban influences and the retro-look diner, the stale seafood and the tremendous television, we found it difficult to reconcile the idea of dining here with the grim foreground music of the Marlins losing their fifth game in a row.