On the Menu: Feel at home at cozy Kretch's, where every meal is made from scratch

The other night I stopped by Kretch's restaurant to get a nice homemade dinner. Kretch's has been an island landmark for 30 years. It used to be in Old Marco in between the Old Marco Inn and Café De Marco. They moved to their current location in 1994 and have been cranking out hundreds of luncheons and dinners ever since.

Bruce Kretschmer is the chef owner and is in the kitchen every day they are open along with a staff of many others. His wife Ellen runs the front of the house and makes sure everyone is happy. I remember when I worked at the Old Marco Inn in the 80s, I would take a short break in the afternoon and slip on over to Jack's Lookout and grab a quick beer and Ellen was a bartender there.

The fresh Canadian lake perch is served in the 'Francese' style at Kretch's restaurant. If you're having a party and dont' feel like cooking, Kretch's always caters.

Special to the Islander

The fresh Canadian lake perch is served in the "Francese" style at Kretch's restaurant. If you're having a party and dont' feel like cooking, Kretch's always caters.

Now she and Bruce have a thriving landmark restaurant with an all scratch ingredient menu. If you have never tried it, put it on your list of things to do while you're visiting Marco.

The menu is very reasonably priced compared to a lot of other restaurants that sometimes you get sticker shock from. There is nothing really fancy about the food but it's not simple either. This is really good food in a cozy atmosphere with good prices and service.

I sat in the bar area because there were no seats available in the dining room. They were very busy, but I know I popped in at the peak rush hour it was 7:30 p.m.

Ellen was behind the bar in between grabbing wine for many tables in the dining area. When she was busy doing something else another server would magically appear behind the bar to take your order.

My server Linda, who has been there forever, was quick to hand me my menu.

I had a quick Caesar salad with fresh whole anchovies and bacon bits on it — what a great flavor, a little different but absolutely delicious. I sopped up some dressing with the homemade warm rye bread that they serve. They make all their own rolls and bread.

Then I ordered a half-sized seafood strudel with lobster sauce. This is the most popular entrée on the menu but they offer it as an appetizer also. It's homemade and chucked full of fresh creamy seafood, wrapped in strudel dough and baked crispy, then placed on a pool of lobster sauce. They could serve this sauce as a lobster bisque it was that good ($7.75).

There was an insert in the dinner menu that had seven specials on it from $16.95 to $24.95. These included the broiled seafood platter, fresh hog snapper almondine, a couple of steaks with homemade fried onion strings, and my choice; fresh beer-battered Canadian lake perch, This is my personal favorite fresh water fish.

Seafood strudel is served as either an appetizer or a main course at Kretch's restaurant on Marco Island. Special to the Islander

Special to the Islander

Seafood strudel is served as either an appetizer or a main course at Kretch's restaurant on Marco Island. Special to the Islander

They call them yellow belly's up north. When I was the chef at the Chippewa hotel on Mackinac Island in the summer's years ago we would sell white fish and perch like you couldn't believe. Perch is good no mater how you do it. My personal favorite way is to make them "Francese" that is to dip them in seasoned flour then beaten egg and sauté them. I like to skin them when I do this and they come out larger than when they went into the sauté pan because of the egg batter on them.

The beer batter was nice and light and the perch was nice and moist on the inside. Bruce said that he buys perch when ever he can because of his northern clientele in the season, they really eat them up.

I had au gratin potatoes and brazed red cabbage for sides. For dessert I had a nice hot cherry strudel with freshly whipped cream for only $3.50. What a deal! If you go for dinner they have all kinds of USDA prime steaks, seafood, salads, a fresh grouper sandwich an 8-ounce sirloin burger, pastas and much more, and its all reasonably priced. Prices range from $3.50 for soup to $31.95 for lobster, but mostly all of them are around $20.

They always change their specials and have something different all the time.

They also do a lot of catering as many locals know. So if your having a group and don't want to cook give them a call at 394 3433 or stop by they are located at 527 Bald Eagle Drive.

Tiki Tip

• Don't be afraid of trying Francese at home. I dip fresh perch in seasoned flour then beaten egg and sauté them. I like to skin them when I do this and they come out larger than when they went into the sauté pan because of the egg batter on them. Just think of making French toast it's that simple. Take your thin product and dredge it in seasoned flour then beaten egg and sauté in clarified butter. Make sure your oil is hot enough or the egg won't adhere to your fish, chicken or veal. I like to put a lemon butter brown sauce on the perch. It is delicious.

Tiki Tim, a 1969 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has been a chef all over the country and has lived in Southwest Florida for 20 years. Tim has a raw bar a Jack's Lookout during season. E-mail him at tikitim3@marcocable.com.

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