Drum ribs a Baffin Bay hit

By Craig Nyhus

Lone Star Outdoor News

Photo by Craig Alexander

After a cool, windy day of wade-fishing in Baffin Bay, angler Gil Esquivel of Bishop made a suggestion for lunch.

“Let’s go get some drum ribs,” he said.

He received a puzzled look and a question from his fishing companion.

“What are drum ribs?”

It turns out black drum ribs are the specialty at Baffin Bay Seafood Co., owned by Craig Alexander, that sits by the water with a large patio and view of the bay.

“They got famous down here at the Baffin Bay Café,” Alexander said.

Alexander purchased the business after the café’s owner, Bruce Kraatz, died in 2013, and reopened it as Baffin Bay Seafood Co. in November of 2015.

“As far as I know, Kraatz started selling drum ribs in 2000 when he opened the restaurant,” Alexander said. “My original menu did not include drum ribs, but I soon found out I wouldn’t survive out here without them. I had requests for them on the first day we opened.”

The black drum served at the restaurant, all caught locally, are super fresh and supplied three times per week.

“When I opened, all I would get was the drum fillets, but everyone asked for the fish ribs,” Alexander said. “There’s a bunch of commercial fishermen here, and I get the drum from Baffin Fishermen in Riviera, a fish market that purchases drum from the commercial guys. They fillet the drum and send me the full fillet with the ribs. I cut them out and sell them separately.”

On Fridays, the fish ribs are the special; all you can eat for $9.99.

“We sell out of them first,” Alexander said. “That’s why they are on the menu as ‘when available.”’

The recipe is nothing fancy, as the restaurant uses the same breading and seasoning as in its other fried offerings. But there is something about them that keeps the customers coming back.

“They are kind of a pain to eat,” Alexander said as his customers picked meat from the bones. “But people like them.”

Alexander wasn’t surprised his new customer had never heard of drum ribs.

“As far as I know, there isn’t anyone else on the coast that sells them,” he said.