By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
ORMOND BEACH - You don't have to go fishing to find the freshest seafood in Volusia County. Hull's Seafood Restaurant on Granada Boulevard offers just that.
Located on the intersection of West Granada Boulevard and Ridgewood Avenue just a block away from the Granada Bridge, Hull's is the destination of choice for those who aren't experienced fishermen but want to know what a fresh and locally caught fish tastes like.
Hull's opened in 2004 as a takeout restaurant that spun off from the neighboring Hull's Seafood Market, which has offered fresh fish in the community for more than 30 years.
And owner Jimmy Hull knows what makes a fresh fish. That's because he catches some of the fish served at the restaurant from his commercial fishing boat, sometimes venturing out seven days a week.
Upon walking into Hull's Seafood Restaurant for the first time, I noticed a clear undersea theme based on the paintings of ocean scenes that hang from the walls, as well as the mural that faces the kitchen depicting Mr. Hull's fishing boat out in the open sea. The restaurant has an inviting atmosphere and friendly staff, and is more spacious than it appears from the outside with plenty of tables for indoor dining and a few picnic tables outside for outdoor dining. While the dining area and kitchen were only built for takeout service, it has since expanded to a full-service restaurant - but except for the addition of a new fryer, the kitchen is still the same as it was when the restaurant first opened.
As my guest and I sat at our table, restaurant manager Eileen McGill greeted us and spoke about how the restaurant prides itself on fresh seafood.
"You'd have to get your feet wet to get it any fresher," Ms. McGill said.
The menu offers a wide selection of seafood prepared many different ways, whether it's grilled or blackened, or on a platter or in a sandwich. There's also a "Lil' Mates" menu for lighter portions, as well as a "Land Lovers" menu for those who prefer beef, chicken or pork.
The local catches vary by the season. What's in season in the summer includes grouper, sea bass, wahoo and albacore tuna. Farm fish such as salmon and tilapia are not local, Ms. McGill said.
Just because something is sold in the seafood market next door doesn't necessarily mean it's also offered at the restaurant. But, for an additional fee, guests can have the kitchen staff prepare fish purchased at the market for them.
"We're not in the 'no' business," Ms. McGill said about the variety of options offered. "We see ourselves as our own little entity, a unique jewel in the community."
To taste the variety offered on the menu, my guest and I decided to split a broiled platter ($29.99) that includes shrimp, scallops and a Maine lobster tail, and a fried platter ($25.99) that includes clam strips, oysters, shrimp and a crab cake. Ms. McGill also recommended we try the blackened grouper and sea bass fillets. Each dish comes with a side of two homemade hush puppies, which go well with the restaurant's signature remoulade sauce.
But that wasn't all. We also decided to try an order of conch fritters, as well as a "fan favorite" appetizer, the smoked fish dip, a dip containing a mix of smoked mahi and whitefish served with crackers.
My guest and I agreed it was the best seafood we've ever had. The blackened sea bass was excellent, highly recommended for someone who's not into fish, with a taste and texture more like steak. The broiled lobster tail was another highlight, as were the fried oysters. But we were highly impressed by the fried shrimp, which at first glance doesn't look like the typical fried shrimp because it's light on the batter, yet still had that taste you would expect from a fried food, without all the grease.
We also agreed we ordered too much food for two people, Needless to say, both of us returned home with a box filled with leftovers in tow.
If you're craving fresh-tasting fish but want to leave the rod and reel in the garage, Hull's Seafood Restaurant is the place for you.
Hull's Seafood Restaurant is located at 111 West Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach.
Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Phone: (386) 673-8888. Parking is available in front of and behind the restaurant.