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Other fish to fry

You can't really call Julie's Waterfront a fish camp. It's on Lake Jennie Jewel, not some swampy, gator-ridden river. In fact, there's no gator at all, particularly on the menu. You can get pitchers of beer, but most folks seem to be drinking Heineken or New Castle Brown Ale. The deep-fried battered fish and clam strips are here, but so are tabouli salad and couscous.

So maybe a fish bistro? Fish boite? Vegetarian fish cafe? Now, don't get the impression that Julie's is faux-fish. Sitting right on the edge of South Orange Avenue, it is too far from downtown to ever be considered trendy. You're probably just as likely to drop in to escape traffic from the airport as head out on a date, and the decor wouldn't fit in near Church Street anyway. But whatever you want to call it, the plastic chairs and back-deck eating belie the fact that there's some good cookin' going on here.

So it's not a fish-bearing lake. The fish is still good, even if it arrived via truck rather than under its own power. And seafood is definitely a speciality. Appetizers like conch fritters and lobster nuggets ($4.49 an order, each) are breaded and fried, brown on the outside and pleasantly tender within. And the crab cakes ($7.99) are more chunk meat than stuffing, which is always a good sign in my book.

Yes, like many fish camps, you can order an assortment of platters, either grilled or fried, of shrimp, scallops, grouper or catfish, which range from $8.99 to $13.99. The fried calamari rings, like the conch, are nicely tender with just the right amount of batter. I was especially pleased by the salmon platter ($13.99), a very large piece of fish, grilled well, yet not to the point of dryness. The servings are large, and if you get the grilled platter it arrives with seasoned stir-fried vegetables alongside.

Now, here's where the path takes a decided diversion. Not too many camps have grilled chicken or vegetarian quesadillas on their menus. And I don't recall running into "veggie wraps" ($6.99) of sautéed mushrooms, broccoli, squash and carrots with cucumber-dill sauce stuffed in a tortilla over by the Intra-coastal.

Sandwiches, of which there are many, come with fresh fruit on the side. There's an entire "heart-healthy" selection, including couscous, hummus and tabouli, and either garden (veggie) or Boca (grain) burgers.

Not exactly the leaden, grease-soaked meals one would find in a place with a bait freezer, and a damn sight tastier.

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