BEST CONCH FRITTER - 2003
Captain Jim's Seafood
Most conch fritters should be called "conch-flavored fritters," so little actual shellfish is represented. In fact, calling them conch-flavored would even be stretching it since the main taste impressions most of these deep-fried balls leave are: 1) traditional leaden cornmeal batter, no doubt invaluable in Florida's pioneer days when fritters doubled as cannonballs to knock out the Spanish armada; 2) too much too-old grease; and 3) too many chili peppers to mask the taste of too-old grease. At Captain Jim's fish market/eatery, in contrast, the fritter batter is fried puffy-light (like a Spanish churro, Italian zeppole, Seminole fry bread, or AnyStateFairUSA fried dough) in oil almost as fresh as the place's fish. And that is saying something. There are indeed jalape?os for heat, as well as sweet green peppers for crunch, but never enough to overwhelm each fritter's generous haul of big, chewy-yet-tender conch chunks. Each order comes with six fritters, and the only sane reason to not get two or three orders is that you want to save room for Captain Jim's simple but superb shrimp scampi.