For Stone Crab and More, See the Captain
"The Captain" would be Capt. Frank's Seafood Market, an unassuming little place just off I-95 in Boynton Beach that, in an age when chain everythings swallow independent operators like a Great White with a mile-long tapeworm, refuses to be swept out with the tide.
There was, in fact, a Capt. Frank. He was the grandfather of market founder Richard Parsons, who opened the Boynton location--the sister market to the original in New York--in 1986.
Nine years later seafood-savvy New Yorker, Joey Sclafani, bought the Captain and set about turning it into one of the best fish markets in South Florida.
What sets Capt. Frank's apart from the rest is both the quality and selection of its fish and shellfish; Sclafani buys only from a handful of suppliers and directly from fishermen themselves, breaking down all product in-house. "We cut everything here," he says. "We don't buy anything pre-cut."
And unlike most markets, where the selection is usually grouper, mahi, yellowtail, farm-raised salmon, frozen shellfish and maybe some clams or mussels, Frank's gets the stuff that hard to find most anywhere else. Three kinds of clams, Chilean sea bass, Scottish salmon, Key West pink shrimp, tiny (and fresh) bay scallops, cobia, sushi-grade tuna and, if things work out, maybe live Dungeness crab, not to mention everything mentioned a few grafs up.
Of course, none of this comes cheap--no seafood worth eating really is--but for what you'll pay at Whole Foods or the reeking fish counter at Publix, you can get seafood that looks, smells and tastes like it's fresh out of the water.
BTW, the season's first batch of stone crabs are sweet and tasty (Frank's Joe's-style sauce is a good complement), and though our recent spate of hot weather left the little fellas rather sluggish, the cold front that came through earlier this week stirred them up again, raising hopes that this might be a good season for crabbers who desperately need one