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Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille featured in New York Times Magazine

By Staff | May 19, 2010

Chef Greg Nelson, right, visits with diners at the Doc Ford's restaurant in Fort Myers Beach.

Sanibel’s famous Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille has reached another level of renown in a New York Times Magazine food feature. The dish that gets the attention is Yucatan Shrimp; fresh, boiled shrimp tossed in garlic butter with Indonesian sambal and jalapeno added. It is cut by lime and made fragrant with cilantro.

The article, written by Sam Sifton, quotes chef Greg Nelson’s recipe and taps into Doc Ford’s owner and author, Randy Wayne White as saying, “The communal act of peeling and eating the cooked shrimp leads to a sharing of the spirit of Sanibel itself, and casual, family-style dining that brings people closer to one another than they might get primly eating with a knife and fork”.

The article goes on to describe White’s activities as the author of the 17-book series of Doc Ford’s mysteries. Doc Ford is portrayed as a former government agent who has “retired” to Sanibel Island as a marine biologist. As he yearns for the contemplative life of science, he finds himself regularly involved in intrigue with crimes and miscreants.

Sifton points out that food plays a role in White’s mystery novels. Doc Ford and his off-sider, Tomlinson, frequently are found in Doc Ford’s Sanibel stilt-house cooking and talking.

“Cooking not only whets the appetite, it sharpens all our senses, which makes it the best possible time for honest talk, factual and fanciful,” according to an e-mail from White that Sifton quotes.

Not surprising then, that diners in Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille are often seen, whether on Sanibel or the establishment on nearby Fort Myers Beach, sharing stories and laughs over tropical cuisine served at White’s island eateries. Add a Doc Ford’s specialty mojito or a glass of cold draft beer, and a meal can stretch out for an afternoon or evening.

"As Sam Sifton has identified and aptly shared with thousands of readers on Sunday, the food at Doc Ford’s is where it starts," said restaurant co-owner Marty Harrity. "You’ve got to have great food, ambiance and service to deliver a memorable dining experience. At Doc Ford’s and the Beached Whale, that’s what we’re all about."

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille on Sanibel is located at the corner of Sanibel-Captiva Road and Rabbit Road near the J.N Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge entrance. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille on Fisherman’s Wharf in Fort Myers Beach is on the Fort Myers side of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, directly under the bridge.