Writing from Apalachicola, home of the world's greatest oysters. I can verify that is true based on yesterday's experience at the "Up The Creek Raw Bar". This place knows how to do it right. In an upstairs unassuming cracker house, the things that go on in culinary arts here include the raw, the Bib-And-Paper-Towel-Podunk, and the truly gourmet. Chef Brett is a young no-nonsense true culinary master who is as adept at oil frying a chunk of gator tail as he is at preparing a delicate Florida lobster poached in butter atop a nest of Brussels sprout coleslaw in a light creamy mustard sauce (partly derived from the butter of the lobster poach) and topped with some kind of delightful crunchy onion straws. This strong appetizer offered everything anyone could ask for in the pantheon of taste, appearance, texture, color...it was absolutely glorious. As bare and homey as this place looked, the silverware was polished! Not five minutes after we entered the place (and there were a good 30 people there), we had drinks on the table and two-dozed fresh shucked Apalach Oysters (I watched these proud masters do it) laid out before us in replete "nuidity"! They were the best oysters I have ever had in my life. The fried shrimp were delicately breaded and cooked to perfection, the egg rolls were bursting with flavor and crunch, the lobster and crab bisque was off the chain, and we were visited by no less than three servers, one manager, the owner, and personally by Chef Brett. Most of Gainesville's restaurants couldn't hold a candle to this experience, and that is sad. The difference here is that before the thought of profit comes craftsmanship, pride in the work (all of it, from oyster shucking to the service to cleaning the bathrooms), and the satisfaction of knowing they have gone over and above all reasonable convention to please the customer. The chef couldn't have been older than twenty-five, but had already spend 6 years apprenticing under a number of quality chefs and at least one year under a protege of Thomas Keller, he who just happens to own one of the top restaurants in the world. All this in little ole Apalachicola. The forgotten coast will be anything but for this reviewer.
Ramblings of a Half-Hearted Ideologue