Mullet Bay, Saint Simons Island GA

For Christmas, Marie’s dad took everybody to supper at Mullet Bay. This is one of Saint Simons Island’s biggest and best-known fried fish palaces. If you have never visited the Golden Isles, and your experience with coastal dining is based on what you see at, say, Mobile, or Panama City, or Hilton Head, then you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that the much smaller and simpler Saint Simons doesn’t have row after row of the sort of three-story amusement park-like seafood barns that are ubiquitous around other coasts.

Crab Trap and Iguanas are Mullet Bay’s main competitors in the “hey, we’re at the beach, let’s eat some fish” market, and the menu is similar to what you’ll find at, say, The Original Oyster House in Mobile, but with seating for about a tenth as many people as that arena. As befits someplace quieter and more laid-back, Mullet Bay’s decor is meant to evoke a beachside restaurant from even further south, something more like Key West than Golden Isles.

I’m always impressed when I see conscientious service from somebody who makes a mistake. The most popular order at our table was the evening’s special, Mahi in the Weeds. This is grilled mahi-mahi on a bed of creamed spinach, topped with a crab cake and a lemon caper butter sauce. The teenage girl taking care of us came back to the table red-faced and apologetic; she forgot to give the kitchen one of the three orders for this, but they were going to make it right immediately. Marie’s brother didn’t have to wait very long, I’m happy to say, and I liked that she owned the mistake. That’s good service. When we left the toddler’s sippy cup at the table, it was waiting for us at the bar when we returned ten minutes later. That’s even better.

We enjoyed good food and good family time, and the baby worked on showing off his increasingly good manners. They know how to cater to parties with younguns, by the way. Each tablecloth is a big sheet of grease-absorbing brown paper, which works perfectly well as a canvas for Crayola. The food, meanwhile, is as good and reliable as any of the other restaurants of this type, without much in the way of standouts, but no stumbles either. You know what you’re going to find here: $20 platters of pretty good fried fish and two sides. We all left perfectly satisfied and full.

I’m not posting it here because my photo came with a gigantic fluorescent glare across it, but fans might want to pop their head in and see a Jack Davis drawing on the wall near the door. It’s a caricature of former Bulldog coach Vince Dooley. After I shot what turned out to be a waste of valuable pixels, one older gentleman in the party of four locals sitting nearest it asked whether I knew that he lives on the island, and we all spoke for a few minutes about what a super artist Jack is, and how the mark of a good restaurant is one of his drawings on the wall. I’m always happy to talk about Jack. He’s one of my all-time favorite artists.

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