It’s a place where the food speaks for itself.
It’s certainly not a ‘fancy’ restaurant. There’s no valet parking, plush menus or upholstered chairs. A neon Budweiser sign greets you as you walk up to the entrance and curly tailed lizards scamper around the outdoor seating.
There’s no sign at the road for the restaurant, which is located behind a tall sea grape hedge in the parking lot of the Fort Pierce Marina. You have to know what you’re looking for.
He grew up in Fort Pierce and it’s been great seeing all the sites he’s told me about since I was a kid. Today, we planned to visit the historical society’s museum. We decided a visit to 12A Buoy was required since it was on the way to the museum.
Usually we’ve waited for a table at 12A Buoy, but it’s Good Friday and we were early. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. I’ve enjoyed sitting outside under an umbrella, feeling the breeze coming in from the Fort Pierce inlet.
The waitress handed me the 2-sided paper menu. The entire first page was filled with appetizers large enough to be a full meal. I scanned it: Conch chowder, clam chowder, lobster mac and cheese, ahi tuna, sashimi tuna, fried and steamed mussels, fresh catch, crab cakes, shrimp…. Goodness. It all looks so good.
I finally made the difficult decision to order the crab cakes with a cup of clam chowder. My dad ordered the steamed mussels and a conch/clam chowder blend that they call ‘Miami Vice’.
Like the restaurant, the chowder isn’t much to look at. It arrived in a plain 8-ounce coffee cup.
My dad and I had been chatting, but I couldn’t talk. I closed my eyes as I let my taste buds savor the creamy deliciousness of the chowder. I tasted parsley, onions, soft potatoes and clams cloaked in buttery, creamy goodness. It was ridiculously good. I was glad it was only a cup–it was very filling and a bowl would have been more than enough for lunch.
Like the restaurant and the clam chowder, they looked simple on the outside. After my first bite, I realized they were much more than they appeared. Seasoned with lemon and a hint of horseradish and covered by a cornmeal crust, these cakes had just the right amount of spicy bite and crunch. A creamy cole slaw accompanied the cakes and complemented them well.
And that’s what they were… a big bowlful of simple, fresh steamed mussels in a lovely savory broth served with crusty bread and lemon.
You won’t be disappointed if you take the time to visit next time you’re in town….if you can find it!