APALACHICOLA, Fla. — The back porch of Boss Oyster restaurant, with tables covered in worn-out plastic cloths, is deserted. But the menu seems to have what we’re after: fish, more fish, and cold beer. Out it comes on old Melmac plates: a giant griddled crabcake that has so little filler it falls into large, deliciously sweet flakes with the touch of a fork; grilled redfish with a hint of rosemary; smooth, cheesy, delicious grits; and golden balls of hush puppies.
We drove a long way for this simple, perfect meal. Boss was hard to find. Not geographically difficult, but hard because you would think a place like this exists at every curve of the Gulf Coast. We are in search of the Old South and though it’s here, you really have to dig to get to it. We’re on a road trip from New Orleans to Charleston, S.C., driving from Louisiana, through Mississippi, Alabama, then across the Panhandle to this stop in Apalachicola, a region Florida calls its Forgotten Coast, going east to Gainesville, then St. Augustine to Florida’s First Coast (yes, they’ve named them all), Savannah, Ga., and finally Charleston for the flight home. One thousand miles in one week. We should have taken one month.