Island Fish Market serves fresh-off-the-boat seafood

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Big Water Fish Market is rated #3 of the 843 Restaurants in Sarasota by Trip Advisor

Lobster rolls and Hogfish Tacos with mango salsa
Lobster rolls and Hogfish Tacos with mango salsa

By Alan Cannestra

We have all seen new businesses and especially restaurants come and go as it is a competitive corporate world these days. Although we cheer and support them, small business owners who are lucky enough to stay in business for two years often never see the day they will become a profitable and established operation. Supposedly a three year anniversary is a landmark for many businesses and a sign that they might actually make it.

Well the 4th year anniversary of the Big Water Fish Market quietly passed in November. As I sit here in the small market waiting to interview owner Scott Dolan it has become obvious to me that this is one small business that has made a huge impact on the Siesta Key community. The door continues to open and close while customers come and go all day long. They are happy to be here and the staff is just as happy to see them. As you listen to the customers speak among themselves you get the feeling that not only is BWFM the seafood restaurant everyone is seeking all the while they are earning a great reputation as travelers spread the word. All you have to do is read the reviews on Trip Advisor to find out how respected this business has become. It appears that not only is the Fish Market here to stay but my observation is that this popular shop is well on its way to being a Siesta Key Icon.

When asked why they didn’t celebrate their 4th anniversary Dolan replied, “We did, we just did it quietly. The fourth year felt a lot like an 18th birthday. You already got your driver’s license but you’re not old enough to drink yet. I think we will celebrate every 5 years as we plan to operate on the Key for a long time to come.”

BWFM is a retail Fish Market and a Casual dining restaurant. Dolan says that "BWFM specializes in fresh local seafood. We make an honest effort to offer Siesta Key the freshest fish available in a clean market concept. We carry Mahi, Snapper, Grouper and many other fresh fish and local shellfish on a daily basis caught straight from Florida's Big Waters." I assume when he speaks about Big

Scott's Seafood Tower
Scott's Seafood Tower
Waters he is talking about the Gulf and Atlantic Oceans.

Dolan went on to say “I credit the Market’s success to the quality of our food and a great staff who cares about the shop our patrons and our Island. We care about every entrée we plate and we back every piece of retail seafood that we sell. We don't claim to be the best chefs in town but we are proud of the quality of our food we put on your tables.”

In September Dolan signed a long term lease and the crew did a major remodel of their kitchen in order to keep up with the high demand for a dinner service. Why did Dolan choose this location? “ Despite discouragement over my location choice from a lot respected people, I felt like this was the right concept at the right time and the location was perfect. The shopping center was struggling at the time as we were in a recession, so the rent was right. Yet I saw no decline in Siesta Key Tourism nor did I have an answer for the locals and our visitors who were looking for a good place to get good seafood without leaving the Island. Now I do, Dolan replied.”

With the major remodel of the kitchen, BWFM is now open until 9 p.m., Monday through Friday for a casual seafood dining experience. Saturday and Sunday they will remain as a lunch and retail service only. Manager Aaron Mobley say's that “we have a hard time accommodating big parties since the shop only seats 22 at a time but we will gladly take reservations for big parties and private events on Saturday nights.”

BWFM has a new menu. It is a collaboration of many of America's seafood traditions. Dolan often travels to major U.S. cities for inspiration and new food ideas. New Orleans, New York and Boston have influenced new menu items such as Po' Boys Fried or grilled Shrimp $13, Scallop $16, Oyster $14 or Blackened Fish $15 served on a French bread with Cajun sauce, homemade spicy pickles, romaine lettuce, tomato and onion, Grouper Sandwiches, Crab Cakes, Fish Tacos, Seafood Steam pots, and daily specials such as a Grouper Reuben on Wednesdays, which is my favorite and their Lobster Rolls on Thursdays is my wife’s favorite. She never forgets Thursdays.  All new menu items have been introduced, just in time for the upcoming season.

“Our most popular menu item by far is the Fish Tacos; Two grilled fish or shrimp tacos on flour tortillas with homemade Key lime slaw, Pico de Gallo salsa, fresh cilantro, avocado, lime juice and garlic aiolo sauce. You must try

Guess who's coming for dinner?
Guess who's coming for dinner?
this one, Dolan said with a Big Water smile.”

Big Water Fish is rated #3 of the 843 Restaurants in Sarasota by Trip Advisor, here’s what people are saying about their visit.

“Fresh seafood!”

This is a perfect hidden gem on a Siesta Key! If you love a little dive joint, you'll love this one. Small space with picnic tables and a counter full of fresh seafood to choose from, you can purchase seafood, eat in or take out. There are daily specials and a regular menu to choose from all prepared fresh. You see them cut the fish for your sandwich! Love this little spot! Try it! 

“Rustic with delicious fish”

On vacation here and visited after reading TA reviews. Not disappointed. Great choice of fresh fish with friendly and helpful service. No alcohol is served but you can bring your own. Finished with key lime pie baked on the premises. A real gem.

“Big water, big value!”

Went there for lunch and found a fish market with picnic tables and a deli case full of caught today fish…menu very good, with entrees as well as sandwich offerings and apps. Wife had Tuna poke, with the homemade poke sauce on a bed of greens, onions etc.–normally has seared tuna, but found out she now likes sushi! I had the blackened grouper sandwich with a tomato/cucumber side salad–absolutely excellent, followed by a slice of homemade key lime pie….very impressed with this locally owned and operated business and my advise is to search it out and get in there when in the Siesta Key area.

“Date night!”

So great to be back! New menu is excellent and as usual the staff is outstanding! Such a great place to relax and enjoy the best the Gulf can offer.

“Freshest Seafood”

We bought fresh grouper here on a couple of occasions and I must say it was the freshest grouper I ever tasted. We also bought stone crabs which are always very expensive but delicious. They cracked them for us which worked out great. We walked to the fish market from Hyatt Residence Club.

6641 Midnight Pass Rd, Siesta Key

(941) 554-8101

Siesta Sand
Author: Siesta Sand

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