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Restaurant lunch highlights:

Cedar River Seafood

Cedar River Seafood

Fried seafood brings out devil in me

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

CedarRiverSFAfter a quick look at the Cedar River lunch menu, I was happy I was eating alone this day.

We all have personal struggles in our lives we battle every day:

zzGLOBbullet An early morning exercise routine missed more than not.
zzGLOBbullet Getting to bed at a reasonable hour to be renewed for the next day.
zzGLOBbullet Trying to quit a bad habit that has its own ideas about what you should do.

The angry, red devil that sits on my shoulder coercing me to the dark side of eating is fried food. There is nothing better than the crunch of a lighter than air crust enveloping morsels of tender, juicy, anything. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face.

With an early afternoon appointment in the Hunters Crossing area of NW 43rd St. I had an excellent opportunity to try Cedar River Seafood's version of fried protein heaven.

CRappetizerCedar River Seafood and the GLOB Master go way back in Hogtown history to when this fried seafood spot was opened for business on the corner of SW 16th Ave and 13th St. Now firmly entrenched in another corner location, this fried seafood mecca sends out a "Now open for lunch" signal that has seafood lovers waiting in line for another plate of the 'Sea Rover Combo' or their favorite 'Captain's Seafood Combo Basket.'

I was disappointed when I walked in Cedar River's front door, however -- the restaurant was full with seven or eight customers in front of me waiting for a table.

While I contemplated waiting for lunch, the red devil on my shoulder whispered "You're not going anywhere else" and waved his pitchfork. Just like that, customers started leaving after paying for their lunch, and the folks in front of me were seated quickly.

Surely that was a sign from the 100 per cent vegetable oil gods or maybe the Deep-Fried Anything Council, and before I knew it I was seated at my convenience with a large diet soda.

cedarriversLOGO2Like Willy Wonka at the Chocolate Factory I was on my way to bliss without anyone at the table saying, "Do you have any idea how bad that saturated fat is for you?" Or, "There's enough cholesterol on your plate for ten people."

OK. I get it. I fully understand the ramifications of enjoying my guilty pleasure of delicious deep fried seafood proteins. And Cedar River feeds my lifelong addiction to ocean, brine, and any and all white, yummy, seafood protein.

You have to chuckle that the Cedar River menu also includes some non-ocean choices like Pasta Alfredo, Buccaneer Baby Back Ribs, a Garden Salad with Fried or Charbroiled Chicken, and a New York Strip Steak. I have never heard those entrees ordered or seen them on an adjacent lunchtime table.

Come on, I mean really? Folks go to Cedar River for the flounder, trout, catfish, red snapper, grouper, shrimp, oysters, and any combination thereof.

Cedar River has a standing Daily Special that has been on its menu board since time began of fried flounder, fried shrimp, hushpuppies, and choice of two side items.

 

SpecialOkra

That is a very fine deal for a fabulous plate of lunch time delight. Keeping with my mission of reliving my southern heritage I selected the Mac & Cheese and Fried Okra to accompany the heart stopping tastiness of my fried flounder.

My fried okra was delightful with a crunch and the unique flavor of this special green veggie that makes me grin wondering, "There are some people who don't like okra?"

There is a Cedar River Restaurant menu link at the bottom of this page

This restaurant knows how to move lunch outers in and out the door in an expeditious manner. My soda was delivered immediately, and my lunch was not too far behind.

My Mac & Cheese was good. Hot, with melted cheese, and large pieces of pasta allowing me to think about the wonderfulness of this hearty, down home essential, and how a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese can make almost anyone happy.

SpecialHushPuppy

Of course The Cedar Rver Hush Puppies are extraordinarily, wonderfully delicious and a perfect two, or three bite size. Once again -- the crunch on the outside and the soft inside scores an A+ on the GLOB Master's palette.

Eating alone can allow for deep thought, and my mind turned to who made the first hush puppies. According to the Serious Eats website there are many stories about this important culinary event including the most common explanation -- that people on fishing trips would begin cooking their catch, and their hounds would howl and yap in anticipation. Why they had hound dogs with them on a fishing trip isn't explained, but the cooks would fry bits of dough in the fryer and throw it to them to the puppies to hush them.

 

Special600horoizontal

Now about that Cedar River Flounder/Shrimp Special. My lunch arrived quickly with three very crisp and steaming pieces of flakey, white flounder filets. The fish was hot and delicious, screaming out for lemon juice and some tart and tangy tartar sauce. Wow, did this flounder find my flavor sweet spot.

The shrimp were crunchy and flavorful albeit on the small side. I grew up in Brevard county and experienced fresh shrimp off the boats in Port Canaveral , so I am prejudice toward fresh, plump, shrimp that are six to a pound. I'm thinking the shrimp I was enjoying probably came 15 to 20 to a pound. That's a big difference to this eating professional.

This lunch was just what the little Devil in me needed.

So I did have a certain amount of guilt afterwards. That said I am pretty sure I can handle my personal struggle with the good, the bad, and the ugly of what I eat.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Cedar River Seafood.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

 

CriverTOPPER

Unremarkable seafood entrees disappoint

By Allison

Editor's Note: A well known Gainesville food professional and Chef has decided the GLOB needed a more seasoned perspective on the finer points of cuisine preparation. Allison has created this alias to protect the writer from potential UFOs -- Uncleaned Flying Objects, like eating utensils.

The GLOB Master and I headed to Cedar River at their location on the corner of NW 53rd Ave. and 43rd St. This lunch stop is across from Hunter's Crossing Shopping Center.  My thinking was the GLOB Master needed to see an objective, constructive critique of a popular lunch stop.

Cedar river has had been open for many years, in many different parts of Gainesville. This popular seafood restaurant started out on the corner of SW 16th Ave. and SW 13th St. in what is now one of three CV big box drugstores in our city. As Cedar River's popularity grew the restaurant opened at other locations including the shopping center at the Tower Rd., and Archer Rd. intersection and near the corner of NW 16th Blvd. and NW 43rd St. as well as a restaurant in Starke.

CRdiningInside the front doors of our Cedar River lunch visit is a moderate sized room with the requisite marine décor.

We were quickly seated in wooded captain's chairs at a table with a formica tabletop. Everything was clean and fresh around us and at our table. Mary, our waitress, did an excellent job of attending to our needs.

We started with an order of the stuffed mushrooms. Amazingly, they were the best thing we ate at this popular fried food lunch stop. I never would have ordered the mushrooms. Score that one to the GLOB Master, and I was very surprised at what I expected to be a pre-packaged product.

I thought the rest of the meal was so-so, middle-of-the-road ordinary.

A blackened Mahi Sandwich was the fish sandwich special this lunch hour, but it had absolutely no spice at all, perhaps a 'pass by' with paprika. Really! I thought blackened meant spicy. The sandwich was otherwise OK though; it did include a reasonably sized filet of fish.

 

CRlunch

The sandwich special came with a large order of thick potato French fries -- see photo. I ALWAYS order my fries well done. It is amazing to me how few times they arrive that way. No exception at Cedar River. The fries were pale and lifeless. I didn't send them back, but I should have.

To continue the ho-humness of my lunch, the cheese grits were dull, and the fried okra was over battered. I often wonder why customers allow this casual attitude toward preparation to go on. I'm OK with this criticism.  A good chef would want to know about these unsatisfactory kitchen results.

To continue, I requested real butter for the grits, only to be told they did not have any butter. I didn't believe Mary. How can any decent restaurant not have butter in the house? I passed on the grits. I passed on the fried okra after 2 bites. I passed on the French fries, and it broke my heart.

Our other lunch option, the seafood platter (shrimp and catfish) was enough to feed 2 people: 10 to 12 crisply battered large shrimp and 2 catfish filets filled the plate along with hush puppies.

 

CRlunchFISH

The catfish was quite good; the shrimp were OK, but a tad overcooked. I requested lemons from Mary and they were quickly delivered, and our extremely large glasses of water were kept filled very nicely, thank you.

Overall, I would have to say it was an average lunch outing. My guess is everything in this restaurant comes frozen, right out of the box.

Kudos to Cedar River for providing a complete set of condiments on the table, including my favorite green sauce. Trinidad hot sauce was also a welcome edition, but I think CR should include the HOT Trindad hot sauce for future customers. No small side servings here.

It's nice the GLOB Master thinks he has to be the lunchtime entertainment, but I became tired of him after a while . . .

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Cedar River Seafood.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

Last modified onTuesday, 05 December 2017 04:57

Additional Info

  • Phone Number: 376-0351
  • Address: 5141 NW 43rd St, Gainesville, FL
  • Urban GLOB Location: Millhopper Area
  • Latitude: 29.70186
  • Longitude: -82.3881059
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7 comments

  • Ron Schmidt
    Ron Schmidt Monday, 05 September 2016 11:19 Comment Link

    I love the Lima Beans (or maybe they are Butter Beans.. I get confused) at Cedar River.. Best I have tasted. Seafood is variable, but usually filling.. I like Northwest Grill better for seafood and they do have vegetarian dishes for my wife (something lacking at Cedar River).

  • Brenda Woods
    Brenda Woods Tuesday, 30 August 2016 09:08 Comment Link

    Last time we were there I think our seafood came from the bottom of the fryer, most of it was unrecognizable and swimming in grease. Never again, save yourself a trip there and go to Northwest Grill.

  • Pamela
    Pamela Thursday, 08 August 2013 10:54 Comment Link

    Allison's slight of Glob Master not appreciated ~ Fork set to fling

  • EC
    EC Tuesday, 11 September 2012 12:03 Comment Link

    We eat at CR on an occasional basis and have for a number of years across locations. Current location is clean and well-suited to accommodating diners, much better than those of the past. The restaurant specializes is fried seafood, and does an excellent job of providing just that, with portions adequate for sharing. The establishment has a great reputation with the senior citizens, so if you go in the early evening (4;30 till 6:30) expect a crowd. Service is not consistent, however--especially after the "rush." (read 6:30 PM). Evening diners might expect very poor service once the waitstaff gets into windown mode.

  • Clammy
    Clammy Friday, 09 September 2011 21:15 Comment Link

    I've eaten there twice. First time was at the future drug store. I had to jump up and run to the bathroom, pushing a man out of the way of the door to avoid an explosion. I made it in time. Culprit was fried clams, I assume.

    Next time was over 5 years later, at another now closed store. Underwhelmed would be an overstatement.

  • Pam H.
    Pam H. Thursday, 08 September 2011 18:36 Comment Link

    Went to CR today with my husband and mother. Mike had the fried shrimp and pollock platter along with cheese grits and sweet potato souffle. Mother had the fried shrimp and oysters with cole slaw and souffle. I had the shrimp scampi with collard greens and cheese grits. The food was EXCELLENT and nothing was left on our plates. The service was extra prompt and our drinks were kept filled throughout our meal. We've followed CR all over Gainesville and will continue to be customers for as long as they're open. We LOVE CR!!!

  • Bubba Scott
    Bubba Scott Wednesday, 06 October 2010 21:07 Comment Link

    In the process of looking for great seafood for a friend of mine whose having a birthday tomorrow, I narrowed my selection down to Cedar River Seafood. She knows what good seafood should taste like and this will be the test. I'll be working in the area and wanted a place to go that wouldn't be out of my way. Thanks for the selections and the map. The great thing about trying something new is being able to share the experience.

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