Monday, July 29, 2013

Keegan's: Not Flavor Town

While Sister Foodie was visiting last week during her Summer Couch-surfing Tour of 2013, we ventured to the beach to get some soft-shell crabs at Keegan's Seafood Grille. The few meals I've had at this relaxed seafood standby in Indian Rocks Beach have left a good taste in my mouth (heh..heh). Too bad this visit had to be the exception.

On a hot and sunny beach day, we entered the weathered, nautical-themed seaside dive that shares a shopping plaza with a salon and a few other businesses. The odor of bleach permeated the air as we sat ourselves in an empty restaurant at the height of lunch hour. I'm glad the place was clean, but I can do without the chlorine vapor at mealtime. Save for a couple of other tables, we were the lone diners. Perplexing. I've always been wait-listed here.

My usual order is the soft-shell crab dinner, which features two fried soft crabs, coleslaw and corn. A seriously reasonable $15.99, the crabs are decent size, carry a light crust and, upon the initial chomp, produce the requisite squirt of crabby nectar. Although I usually sauté them in butter after a dredge in Old Bay-seasoned flour, I don't mind a deep-fried soft crab every now and then. Much to my disappointment, Keegan's had 86'd the soft crabs the day of our lunch visit due to a sellout the previous evening.

Yes fans, hanging on the wall is a poster of Guy "Never Met a Dish I Didn't Like " Fieri

As I tried to erase the image of Guy Fieri grinning -- creepily -- at me from the wall opposite our table, I perused the menu in search of Plan B. With that autographed picture threatening to ruin my appetite, I debated between the blackened grouper sandwich (a favorite of Son of Hubs) or the grouper cheek po' boy (on the specials list). I got neither. Sister and I decided to share an appetizer of fried grouper bites, a plate of steamed shrimp and an order of mussels.

Served with lifeless tartar sauce overwhelmed by mayo, the fried grouper bites were piping hot, moist and tender but the batter was just plain bland. Grouper may be a great fish but it still needs a smack of seasoning. A slice of lemon and a scoop of mayo aren't going to tickle any taste buds. A missed opportunity.

As Sister tossed the mussel shells aside, she shook her head at the tasteless, watery broth in which the plump Prince Edward Island mollusks were swimming. Served with a big hunk of garlic bread intended for a soak in the shellfish pool, the mussel dish failed to bring forth any dipping motion from Foodie's hand. Where, oh where, was the white wine, shallots, butter and garlic bath that normally enriches a bowl of steamed mussels? Those ingredients may have been in the kitchen but they weren't enhancing this dish. Neither was the cup of melted butter in the bull's-eye of the plate (above).

The steamed shrimp were served hot (as ordered) but were led down the same ho-hum path. Although fairly large and fresh, the shrimp needed a flavor boost. True to their menu description, they had only a touch of seasoning. They would have been so much better with a wallop of Old Bay followed by a steam bath in beer, but the saving grace was the cocktail sauce, which packed some horseradish punch.

We also got a side of french fries, which did not deviate from the emerging pattern of acceptable but uninspired cooking.

Service was friendly and I loved the fact that our server didn't rush us to order entrees when we requested the appetizer and a couple of beers. She knew we were there to relax. Then again, only a handful of folks were in the place, so why would she care how long we lingered?

Keegan's is a reasonably priced and hospitable place that serves fresh seafood, but it is in no way Flavor Town USA. By the way, if my research is correct, Guy "Donkey Sauce" Fieri filmed his "Triple D" segment here several years ago before the restaurant changed ownership.

Verdict: Needs seasoning.

Keegan's Seafood Grille on Urbanspoon


  1. Keegan's is one of my and the hub-unit's go-to staples when we're at our beach place on Indian Shores, but I agree that it occasionally lacks consistency. It has its spikes of quality, but is nonetheless a bit of a shadow of its former self (under the previous owner).

  2. You obviously know nothing about grouper.....

  3. @Anonymous-Lived on Sanibel Island and caught them myself. Actually, it's my favorite fish. :)

  4. I was a 'regular' at Keegans for many years, from its infancy to becoming a "must go to' restaurant. With new ownership now, sadly, it's not the former from scratch, creative kitchen that produced incredible seafood specialties along side a wonderful menu. Guy Fieri wouldn't bother with the place in its present state. Thaw it out, warm it up and serve it on leaf lettuce doesn't get it and is not worthy of the well deserved reputation of the original 'Keegans'. It now is what it is and that's the best I can say about it.