Tag Archives: Caesar salad

Anna Maria Oyster Bar: 1525 51st Ave E Ellenton, FL

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yucky tomato saladana maria oyster bar lobster bisqueburger fries pickle cole slawanna maria oyster viewshrimp and gritsceasercuc dill salmon

If you look at the heading of my blog, you will see that one of my mottos is “I will try anything twice”. Anna Maria Oyster bar proves that point. Gabriel and I had a pretty poor experience the first time we went. As regular blood donors, we were given a $25 gift certificate to A.M.O.B and went to check it out for the first time about 2 months ago. We arrived to find a totally dated and tacky atmosphere, and a crowd of patrons whose average age was probably around 75. We sat in a booth with plastic-y, pastel cushions in the back, and noted the weird painted mural on the walls, the horrible lighting and the feeling that we were in 1967.

We ordered a small salad (mixed greens with tomatoes, toasted almonds, strawberries, blue cheese and raspberry vinaigrette), a bowl of lobster bisque, and a cheeseburger with fries, a pickle and coleslaw. Our salad consisted of slimy strawberries, tomatoes that were wrinkled and shriveling on their way to rotten, lettuce that was browning and the most overly-sweet, jelly-like raspberry dressing I’ve ever had. Gross. We immediately alerted the waiter to our total disappointment about the salad, asked for a new one with different dressing, and moved on to the soup. The bisque is raved about on the website and described as award winning on their menu. It was not good. It was so salty, I really couldn’t eat it. It was mostly cream and salt and just enough lobster (or maybe lobster juice) to make it pink. Really not good. Definitely not about to win any awards in my book. The burger was fine. I know it’s weird to order a burger in seafood place, but having just donated blood we needed an iron fix. It was ok, not bad, not great. The fries were pretty darn good, as is just about anything when it’s deep-fried to a crispy golden color. The floppy pickle and over-mayo’d coleslaw wasn’t really worth finishing.

The meal was really just a total let-down and we let the waiter know. Maybe the tables packed with elderly folk have tastebuds that don’t really discriminate food like this, but we don’t pretend it’s good when it’s not. The manager came over shortly after and said the whole meal was on him. He told us to please keep our $25 gift certificate and come back another time. Well, ok. It definitely wasn’t something I would have done otherwise, but a free meal and deep apology warrants chance #2.

So, a couple of months later, the opportunity to go back presented itself when we were in that neighborhood again. We took a deep breath, parked in the lot with as open a mind as possible, and asked for a table outside. We were led to the side of the building and a choice table facing the lake. It was a gorgeous day, with a lovely view and already this experience was way better than the first. A very friendly waitress named Delilah told us the specials, and her description of the grilled shrimp with cheesy grits sounded too good to pass up. We ordered that to start with, plus a Caesar salad, and salmon with dill sauce, french fries and green beans. The app came out fast and looked amazing. The grits were ok but the shrimp were incredibly salted. Gabriel agreed, but ate them anyway, but I really couldn’t manage them. I worried that this meal was going to be worse than the first. The salad and the salmon, thankfully, were actually very good. The dressing was homemade and just fishy enough, the salmon was fresh, cooked well and it’s dill sauce was creamy and delicious. The green beans were fresh and not overcooked- there is nothing worse than mushy green beans, and the fries- like last time, were great. The view definitely made everything taste a little better, and the avoidance of the inside of the restaurant helped to change the feel of our experience to a more positive one.

Overall, I am glad we gave it a second try. It was still not outstanding, but had our first experience been like the second one, we might have gone back by choice and not because we got our meal comped and had a gift certificate to use. I’m still not sure I’ll ever return…but in all fairness, I probably should go back one more time to have the oysters. After all, it’s what they do and what they are named for…and I DO love oysters. Maybe the third time will be the charm. What do you think?

Club A Steakhouse: 240 E. 58th St. New York NY

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My friend and I had a prix fix dinner deal for 2 from Living Social that we finally got to use tonight. It was $69 and included 2 apps, 2 sides, 2 entrees and 2 desserts. What a great deal! I walked in and was greeted by B, sitting at the bar, sipping a glass of red wine. It was a beautiful atmosphere to walk into with an abundance of warm red fabrics, candlelit tables and red roses. The host asked if we’d like to be seated downstairs or upstairs, and told us that upstairs had banquets instead of tables. Wanting the cozy warmth of a booth, we opted to go up. What a great decision. As soon as we got up there we noticed the red quilted ceiling and the huge window looking out on twinkling, white, Christmas lights in the trees outside. We settled into our seats and I ordered myself a glass of Malbec, my favorite red wine.

A basket of lovely rosemary bread, onion bread, and breadsticks were brought out along with butter and ice water. The waiter brought us our menus a few minutes later. We had about 6 choices in each section- better than most prix fixes I’ve seen, and just about everything sounded appealing. B and I are EXCELLENT at sharing and we always seem to agree on the same dishes which, along with a easy, lively conversation, makes us perfect dining partners. We opted to share everything.

We started with the caesar salad and the fried calamari. The salad was covered in delicious shavings of parmesan. The homemade dressing that came with it was perfect with just enough anchovies to give it great flavor- but not totally too many which can be overpowering. The calamari was ok- a little too breaded for my taste, but nice and crunchy and accompanied by an awesome spicy marinara.

Next we shared the hanger steak and the filet mignon and both were cooked to absolute perfection. The filet was SO buttery and tender and actually had a lot of flavor. We expected that of the hanger but not the filet which I often find is sort of flavorless but a great consistency, so that was a pleasant surprise. The hanger was our favorite though. It was still very tender but also extremely juicy and flavorful. It was cooked to the exact specification that we requested, medium rare. For our sides we asked for the mashed potatoes and the truffle infused creamed spinach and were delighted when they surprised us with the mac and cheese as an additional side. Yes, surely a nice, light dinner. Haha. The dishes were all so generous that I was able to bring home some of everything to enjoy the following day. All of the sides arrived in their own little crocks, an adorable presentation of delicious and hearty food. What a great meal for a cold, winter night with a dear friend.

Our desserts were pretty good but not outstanding. Then again, that might have just been because we were already stuffed to the brim. The tiramisu was fine, but not terribly exciting. The cream puffs were tasty, but boring, simply filled with cream and covered in more cream. It definitely could have used some berries to brighten it up a bit. Those were the only 2 choices for dessert and I was pretty unimpressed with them considering the quality of everything else. No chocolate option? No ice cream, sorbet, pie or fruit option? That was the only part of the meal that wasn’t awesome.

The only other thing that I think is worth a mention is the service. Although they were very professional, polite and friendly, they were slow as mud. We didn’t really mind since we wanted to chat and they didn’t seem to care if we lingered for hours, but it would have been nice if they checked in on us a few times during our meal and in between courses. We literally sat for an hour sipping the end of our glasses of wine waiting for the check and eventually flagged someone down to bring it over. Again, I’m not sure that this is a negative…just something worth mentioning.

Overall, I really liked Club A. I thought the atmosphere was incredibly romantic and sexy and would be a great place for a date on Valentines’ Day or another romantic occasion. I will certainly consider a repeat visit…especially if they run another fantastic deal like this one!

ADDENDUM!!

Gabriel and I returned to Club A to celebrate Valentine’s Day and WOW, what a special evening it was. 

There was SO much food we practically rolled out of there at the end of the night, but the overindulgence was worth every single calorie and  I can’t possibly say enough good things about the way we were treated and the food we consumed.

We were treated like absolute royalty by the staff and Bruno, the owner. First, a bottle of champagne and a basket of bread was brought over. Next a complimentary bottle of wonderful red wine was elaborately decanted for us.

Two of the largest shrimp cocktail were our next surprise, YUM!

We shared a caeser salad and a garden salad and I must rave for a moment about the outstanding caeser dressing. It was thick and creamy, with a lovely anchovy flavor and a hint of parmesan. One of the best caesers I’ve ever had.

We were then surprised yet again with a treat of lobster ravoili. The chunks of lobster inside were so decadent and fresh, this might have been my favorite part of the meal. At this point, we already felt SO full, but there was still a ton of food coming so we prepared ourselves. I began thinking that my skintight pencil dress might not have been the best choice for my outfit.

Out came our hanger steak and NY strip, cooked to perfection with the perfect amount of pink in the center. The outside was crisp and had so much flavor and juice inside…we were in meaty heaven. We also shared 2 wonderful sides of truffle oil creamed spinach and amazing mashed potatoes. We took some of the steak home and began thinking that perhaps we’d opt to take our desserts home too… Just then, out they arrived before we even ordered them! A PLATTER of sweets for us to squeeze into our bellies. It’s funny how there always seems to be just a little more room when you absolutely need it. We shared a gorgeous array of chocolate heart-sharped cake, cream puffs AND tiramisu and were blown away by the beautiful presentation of fruit that arrived  shortly after. WOW.

This was seriously the most food I’ve put away in one sitting. I was still full the next morning! Thank you SO much to Arben, Bruno and the whole staff at Club A. This was a night we will cherish in our memories forever.