Monthly Archives: October 2012

Country Pancake House & Restaurant: 8205 Nature’s Way. Suite 119. Lakewood Ranch, FL

Standard

I find it rather odd that we’ve lived about a mile from Country Pancake House for the last 6 months and we only just tried it today. I also find it odd that there are so many negative reviews out there complaining about the vast number of options on the menu or the huge quantities of food. I, as opposed to a lot of the complainers, do not find large portions at a fair price to be wasteful. I find them to make an excellent second meal out of take-home leftovers which is perfectly acceptable to me.

The entire first page is covered in pancake choices. Wow. I suppose it was a bit overwhelming, but they all sounded amazing. I decided that this kind of carb overload would need to be a reward for a 6 mile run, and not just a normal Sunday morning breakfast. Note to self: make sure to go back after a 6 mile run and order the chocolate chip cherry short stack. Drool.

We ordered coffees with honey and skim (our normal way) and they also brought out a complimentary basket of homemade cornbread….because obviously mile high plates of pancakes isn’t enough bread for one meal. Ummm. Anyway, since I’d selected from the many omelette options and told them that I wanted to forego the pancakes and home fries that normally come with them, I figured I’d indulge in some cornbread. I remembered to take the pic only after I’d already eaten one and half pieces of the ones that had chocolate chips on top. Sorry Gabriel…I did not share those very well at all.

Our meals came out soon after and my omelette was HUGE. I had the farmer’s omelette stuffed with peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, ham and cheese (both of which I asked them to go light on and still got plenty). I am pretty sure that was at least a 5 egg omelette – it was so thick and covered my plate. I was stuffed after a bit less than half and happily had it boxed up to go home. It will make a great breakfast tomorrow after I re-saute it for a few minutes to heat it back up. Gabriel’s shrimp, asparagus and Monterey Jack was quite delicious. The shrimp were large and cooked perfectly and nicely complemented by the other ingredients much to my surprise. His pancakes were fluffy and beautiful and dusted with a little confectioner’s sugar. They were so tasty that they really didn’t even need maple syrup on top. His home fries were crunchy and delicious and I’m glad he had ordered them so I could at least have tastes.

I also ordered a strawberry/peach/orange juice because the page of fresh squeezed juices sounded way too good to skip. It was sweet, fresh, and somehow a little creamy. I verified with the waitress that no sugar or milk was added and she confirmed that it was purely fruit and a great juicer machine. I would have preferred it to be chilled, it was slightly warm or at best, room temperature. It had wonderful flavor, but at $3.75 I doubt I’ll do that again.

Our enormous breakfast came out to $26 total, and will absolutely feed us for another 2 meals. I really enjoyed our morning here, along with the 1.5 mile walk each way to burn some of it off. It’s really a country-bumpkin feeling place with warm staff and an eager crowd who seemed to enjoy themselves as much as we did. Now that we now how pleasant it is, we will surely return more often.

 

 

Advertisements

Mozaic: 1377 Main St. Sarasota, FL

Standard

It’s pretty awesome that Groupon/Living Social type deals are not something we left behind in NYC as I’d guessed we would. They are actually pretty common around Sarasota and you can bet that Gabriel and I jump on them as often as we can. We had a $40 for $20 deal to Mozaic, which I had heard from multiple people was excellent. After spending the afternoon hunting around for wedding venues, we found ourselves very hungry so we gave them a call to see if they’d be able to seat us with short notice. We were told that they had a small table in the bar area for us and off we went to grab it.

We arrived soon after and were seated at a table for 2 that was perfectly comfortable. It’s a trendy, bold, colorful restaurant, and the decor and menu choices definitely had a hip/modern feel. Our friendly and highly knowledgeable waiter Jeff went over the specials and his personal favorites (at my request) and we took a few minutes to decide. It happened to be an evening with an offer of a $22 deal for an app and an entree ($27 if you are combining the deal with the Living Social coupon) and after we compared those numbers to the ‘regular’ menu, we decided it was definitely the way to go. We made our choices and ordered, and a lovely, little, refreshing, gazpacho amuse-bouche was brought out for each of us. We also quickly devoured the wonderful, warm, fresh rolls served with olive oil and balsamic. The waiter tempted us with another one for each of us and we couldn’t say no. There is just something about fresh-baked bread that is relatively impossible to refuse.

Our appetizers were next and we’d decided to share. I started with the butternut squash soup which was creamy, savory, and beautiful with it’s topping of sage pesto and walnut date crumble. I ate my half and then traded with Gabriel for his escargot with fingerling potatoes- which ended up being the only dish of the evening that neither of us were impressed by. The snails were not the chewy consistency that makes them such a fun and different delicacy. I’m not sure if they were overcooked or just not as fresh as they could have been, but they were on the mushy side and really lacking flavor in general. The potatoes were flavored with tarragon and dijon mustard, but considering that fact, they were still pretty lifeless and boring. Oh well, they can’t all be fabulous and in reality, everything else was.

Our entrees arrived soon after they cleared our appetizer plates and the presentation was very appealing. I’ve read some other reviews complaining about the sides that come with entrees all being the same, but I really have no problem with that as long as they compliment the dishes well, which they did. I had the delicious snapper served with carrot-ginger coulis and various roasted vegetables – the roasted beets and tomatoes were the standouts, fresh and cooked perfectly. Gabriel had the roast hen which was also cooked beautifully without tons of flavors covering up the meat unnecessarily. Both of our dishes were outstanding and we completely cleaned our plates.

When Jeff arrived again to tell us the desserts, we asked if he had any strong suggestions. He asked what our preferences were and I told him that we pretty much love everything. With that comment, he took our menus away with flair and asked us to trust the chef to make us something special. How exciting! I loved that and couldn’t wait to see what would be brought out for us to try. A short while passed and Gabriel’s port wine and my yummy, foamy, cappuccino came out along with a gorgeous dessert plate for us! We had mentioned that we were newly engaged, but did NOT expect such an incredible special treat with compliments of the chef. The chocolate lava molten cake was one of the best ones I’ve ever had, topped with a light berry sorbet. It was somehow light and rich at the same time. Next to it was a complex pear and walnut cake with vanilla ice cream on top. Decorating the dish were adorable chocolate hearts with centers of mango and strawberry (or maybe raspberry) coulis and a ‘congratulations’ written beautifully in chocolate. As ANOTHER treat afterwards, 2 small but incredible pieces of homemade rosewater chocolate were brought out to melt decadently in our mouths as the perfect completion to an outstanding meal.

Our evening at Mozaic was quite a special one. Everything from the last minute accommodation, to the superior service, to the exquisite food and thoughtful desserts made it a wonderful evening for both of us. I would strongly recommend a visit for a special occasion. Enjoy!

 

Captain Brian’s Seafood Market and Restaurant: 8441 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL

Standard

My parents told me about Captain Brian’s a long time ago as the place to get the best (and most reasonably priced) lobster around. After picking up Gabriel’s brand new car at Honda nearby in Bradenton, and before going to spend a fun day at the Ringling Museum, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to try it out for lunch. We parked and went in to find a restaurant and fish market with very dated decor. There is a great, big, fish tank smack in the middle of the room, dark wood tables and chairs and light peach tablecloths and booths.  The rest of the patrons were mostly 70+ years old, and seemed to all be regulars. We were seated in a booth right away and the very warm and welcoming waitress brought us ice water and menus.

We looked over the menus which were filled with great sounding lunch options for around $8-$13 each. Most of them come with a side or two, and I was happy to find out that one of them could be the salad bar. I LOVE salad bars. I easily made my choice of a lobster roll which came with steak fries and cole slaw, and I went up to get my salad. The salad bar was small, but full of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, chick peas, potato salad, pasta salad, cole slaw, beets, olives, and more. I could probably have made a lunch of that pretty easily but saved room for my highly anticipated lobster roll. It came out soon after I finished my salad and was bursting at the seams with huge chunks of lobster. I’m used to paying far too much for a skimpy rolled filled with more mayo than seafood and this was a VERY pleasant surprise. The lobster itself was amazing. Sweet, perfectly cooked, and lightly dressed with mayo. The roll fell apart almost immediately, but ‘too much lobster’ is really not a reason to fault a falling-apart roll in my book. The thick cut steak fries were a great side, along with the fresh cole slaw.

After we polished off our rolls, we decided to split the banana split pie, mostly because I’m a sucker for a dessert I’ve never had before- and especially when it includes fudge and ice cream in a chocolate cookie crust. It had very thin layers of sliced bananas on top of the crust, then 3 flavors of ice cream, then a thin layer of ooey, gooey, sticky, delicious fudge, and then whipped cream on top with chocolate shavings to complete the deliciousness. YUM. We cleaned our plate super fast with this one.

I must say again that our waitress was really friendly, sweet and warm. I felt like a regular even though this was our first visit. With service like that, it’s no wonder that people return over and over again. I’m sure we’ll be back soon, certainly not for the old-age home type decor, but absolutely for the great service, fair prices and wonderfully fresh seafood.