Fishing runs in owner's family
Third-generation fisherman Brad Aplin learned from the best and now he feeds his fish to thousands at his family's restaurant, Blue Water Seafood, which has three Houston locations.
"I've been involved in seafood my whole life," Aplin said.
The first restaurant opened in the Champions area off FM 1960 in 1996, followed by another on FM 2920 in Spring in 1999, and the third at Hwy. 290 and FM 1960 in 2010. Aplin had some remodeling to do—the first restaurant was an old chicken place, he said. The second was an old barbecue joint, and the third served Mexican food. But the business of seafood seems to be faring well, and Aplin has a hook in two more potential areas—Katy and FM 1488.
Aplin is originally from Florida, but as a boy his family moved around a fair bit between Texas and Louisiana as his father followed the seafood trade.
"He taught me a lot," Aplin said.
Aplin has crabbed all the waters in Texas, most of the waters in Louisiana and part of the waters in Florida. Eventually, Aplin wanted to cast his line a little deeper, so the fisherman became a restaurateur.
Aplin's fishing background also translated into the design of his family's restaurant. The establishment is casual but reminds diners of being on vacation in a coastal town, with its wooden interiors and nautical decorations on the walls.
Although Aplin has fished most of his life, catching the goods is one thing, preparing them another. And if it is not done properly, Aplin said, crawfish will not please the palate.
"We put a lot of effort into our crawfish," he said. "It's a process with several steps to get it just right."
The secret, Aplin said, is in the seasoning and the soaking. The taste of succulent shrimp begins in the water before they are even caught. What shrimp eat in its natural environment determines how it will taste on the plate.
"It makes a world of difference," Aplin said. "It really does."
Blue Water Seafood offers several boiled and grilled specials that include crawfish. Tina's Special ($18.99) features a pound of crawfish, 10 boiled shrimp and snow crab. The crawfish dinner ($12.99) is served with fries and hushpuppies. Diners can also order pounds of crawfish for a market rate price.
Several po boy sandwich variations ($8.99–$9.99) are made to order, ranging from tilapia to red snapper to catfish. They are served on a French roll with lettuce, tomatoes, cocktail sauce and tartar sauce, along with a side of french fries.
In addition to seafood, the menu offers Monterrey chicken, hamburgers, salad, cheese sticks, Buffalo wings, quesadillas and salad. Blue Water also has an appetizer of fried alligator ($7.99) for those who prefer scales to fins or shells.
Aplin said most of the dishes on the menu at Blue Water Seafood are family recipes that have been tweaked over the years.
"We want to cook it here just like we did at home," he said.
Speaking of home, Aplin points out that Blue Water Seafood is truly a family owned and operated business. He and his wife Ping oversee operations, his mother Irene Snellgrove manages the FM 2920 location, and his daughter, Britney, and son-in-law, Joel, help with administration, planning and marketing.
- The Fisherman's Platter: Includes fried shrimp, oysters, fish, crawfish and a crab cake ($18.99)
- Blue Water Boil: Half a king crab, one pound of snow crab, one pound of shrimp, one pound of crawfish and half a pound of sausage ($44.99)
- Crawfish: Whether it is boiled or fried, Blue Water Seafood has a variety of options sold market price (prices vary)
- Dungeness Crab: Diners crack open the shell to eat the meat from this crab, which is served with corn and potatoes ($18.99)
- Monday - Raw Oysters
- Tuesday - Boiled Crawfish
- Wednesday - Grilled Oysters
- Thursday - All You Can Eat Catfish
Blue Water Seafood, 12914 FM 1960 W.. Houston, 281-894-9221, 6107 FM 1960 W.. Houston, 281-895-9222, www.bluewaterseafoodonline.com
- Mon.–Thu. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.
- Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
- Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m.