Tag Archives: Lettuce

Walt’s Fish Market & Restaurant: 4144 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL

Standard

walts smoked mulletwalts saladwalts veggies walts scampi

 

 

Things I love about Walt’s:

1. It’s literally across the street from my favorite 6:30pm Tuesday night candlelight power yoga class at Family Tree Yoga.

2. The market is full of super fresh, reasonably priced choices.

3. There’s pretty much always a place to sit in their outdoor section- which is open and airy. Even though it’s view is of a parking lot, it still somehow feels sort of beachy, and there is often live acoustic music.

4. Huge cups of ice cold water. (Too bad they are in environmentally unfriendly styrofoam)

5. A reasonably priced menu with tons of options that sound appealing.

6. The yummy, complimentary, smoked mullet starter they bring with loads of saltines.

7. Their blue cheese dressing is AMAZING. Huge chunks of cheese and seriously just so so so so good.

Things I don’t really love about Walt’s:

1. The food is so- so. Although everything is fresh, it’s boring and uncreative. They love to fry stuff and/or drown it in unnecessary amounts of butter and oil. The salads are mostly comprised of iceberg lettuce (boo). The veggies on the side are usually overcooked and mushy, and again, just boring boring boring. I wish they would get a little creative with what they offer, but the couple of times I’ve been there, I’ve ended up feeling like I really should have just bought seafood in their market and taken it home to cook it myself.

2. The waitstaff, though they are friendly, are super slow. It is not a place I advise dining at if you’re in a hurry.

3. Even though the prices seem fair at first glance, it still ends up costing more than it should in the end.

The moral of the story is that I have been there twice, and kind of doubt I’ll go again. If I do, it will just be for the market, which really does have some seafood worth buying. I will learn my lesson this time and next time will be my own chef.

 

 

 

 

Saigon Hibachi: 935 N Beneva Rd. Suite 701. Sarasota, FL

Standard

saigon hibachi2 saigon hibachi3 saigon hibachi5 saigon hibachi4 saigon hibachi6

 

Saigon Hibachi was another ‘Pho Cali was closed so we looked elsewhere’ kind of discovery for Gabriel and I. We happen to live 2 minutes away, and when we found some good reviews online, we thought it was surely worth a try. What a totally pleasant surprise to find another very good Japanese/Vietnamese restaurant in Sarasota– and this one is easy to get into with normal hours and no wait times! Awesome.

We were both rather hungry and decided to order a bunch of things to try. We assumed we’d eat half of everything and take the rest home for lunch or dinner on the following day. What we didn’t expect was to find everything so tasty that we finished it all right then and there.

We started with a small salad that came with the Hibachi Special. The salad was the only part of our whole meal that wasn’t impressive. It was just boring iceberg lettuce with some shredded carrots and a couple of slices of cucumber. The dressing was very nice and light though- and we ended up holding on to it to use with other parts of our meal.

Next, the waitress brought out the fresh cilantro, sprouts, scallions, lime and jalapeno for us to add as we pleased to our Clear Soup with Shrimp. The soup was wonderful. It was flavorful and had beautiful, large shrimp floating in it along with mushrooms and lots of rice noodles.

Our Saigon Pancake came out next. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting, but it was also very tasty. A huge rice flour crepe was stuffed with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, onions and lettuce. It also came with a delicious dipping sauce, but we found that using each of the different sauces with each bite made it even more interesting.

Our Hibachi special came with lots of sides including fried rice, noodles, and mixed vegetables. The chicken, steak and shrimp were all really excellent. All were cooked perfectly and in very generous portions. There were two sauces for dipping. One was a white, creamy sauce called ‘yum yum’ and the other was a more typical ginger Hibachi sauce. Both were delicious and we enjoyed seeing which was better with each item. I personally liked mixing both together.

Overall, this was a great ‘stumble-upon’ meal for a very fair price. The amount of food we got (and finished!) was an excellent value and great quality. The service was friendly and fast and the location is super convenient. We will most definitely be back soon!

G’s Pizzaria: 7119 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL

Standard

This is another one of those “I am a NY pizza snob” type posts where I go to a restaurant to try a slice from a place that claims to be owned by a NYer. I’m always pretty skeptical when I go on these little adventures but am willing to give it a fair shot. When I first walked in and found out the the owner is actually from WAY upstate NY and not the city, I got pretty worried.

I sat down and ordered a plain slice and a side salad with blue cheese dressing on the side. The salad came out and (good first impression) was NOT iceberg lettuce! It was a mesclun mix with beautiful, thick, red tomato slices, black olives, onions and fresh mushrooms on top. The dressing was pretty darn good too. So far, so good.

A few minutes later, the owner brought my slice over, piping hot from the oven and looking an awful lot like a NY slice. BIG, flat, bubbly top, and the right ratio of cheese to sauce to crust. Hmmmm. Could it be? I took a bite. WOW. Ok. I am impressed. This IS a NY slice after all. Is it the best slice ever? Well, no, but let’s be realistic. The truth is that the classic NY slice has a lot to do with the water there, and no one outside of NYC will really ever be able to duplicate that. But this was definitely the closest to NY I’ve had since I moved here a few months ago. Ah. Good enough to evoke nostalgia. The crust was the right mix of crunchy and chewy, the flavor of the sauce was spot-on; not too sweet, the right amount, and the cheese was exactly right. I added my sprinkling of oregano and parmesan- which was on the table like it should be, and it made for a VERY satisfying lunch. BRAVO to you G’s! Bonus that it’s about 1/4 mile from where I work. I will absolutely be back. YAY!

 

Peppermill Eatery: 7246 55th Ave East, Bradenton, FL

Standard

I had a coupon for $10 0ff $30 at Peppermill Eatery that was expiring soon so after reading a bunch of good reviews online, Gabriel and I decided to go there for dinner last night. What a totally pleasant surprise when our waiter came over to take our order and it was someone I know as a client from my day job at Bear Creek Veterinary Alternatives. (www.bearcreeksarasota.com)

After chatting with him a bit about his awesome pack of dogs, I asked him what his recommendations were and he emphatically suggested a dish that I had already been leaning toward. Well, that made for a very easy decision indeed! I ordered the shrimp and ‘Lobstah’ pasta and a small side salad with blue cheese dressing and Gabriel ordered the stuffed shrimp.

Our salads came out quickly, along with some bread (which was the ONLY thing that wasn’t great as it was served cold. If it had been warm it would have been worlds better) It was, however, served with a brown sugar, apricot, whipped butter that was SO delicious that I didn’t even really care about the cold bread anymore. Craig, our fantastic waiter, was nice enough to bring me a little cup of it to take home that I can’t wait to put on waffles or pancakes this weekend. The salad was simple, but good- and I’m always happy to find restaurants who do NOT serve boring iceberg lettuce. This was romaine, red onions, cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes with a side of creamy blue cheese that was fine- but not particularly remarkable. I personally love a good blue cheese with big chunks, but this one was smooth.

After finishing my salad, it was just a few more minutes before the entrees arrived. WOW! What an impressive presentation! From the looks of the outside of this restaurant which is totally nondescript located in a strip mall, I would have assumed the food inside would be generic, unexciting and maybe one step above edible. I was VERY happy to be proven dead wrong. The food was presented as if it was in a MUCH classier place (the interior could definitely use a bit of sprucing up so that it matches the quality of the dishes). The shrimp and very generous chunks of lobster were super tasty and fresh, and the peas and mushrooms that decorated the linguine were cooked perfectly and the perfect touches to this creamy, buttery, parmesan-y meal. I ate until I was stuffed and STILL had plenty to take home for lunch the next day. I also tasted Gabriel’s stuffed shrimp which were equally impressive.

When we received the check, it was almost laughably low for what we’d just eaten. After our $10 discount, we paid UNDER $20 for the 2 of us. We will most certainly be back.

Matsuri Sushi: 8209 Nature’s Way #111 Bradenton, FL

Standard

On a quest to find out if there’s anywhere else worthwhile, (aside from Ichiban’s awesome all-you-can-eat sushi for $20)  Gabriel and I decided to have dinner at Matsuri a few nights ago. It’s literally one mile from our condo- which is pretty darn convenient, and because of that, paired with the fact that there were lots of good reviews online, we thought we’d check it out. I should mention that we’d stopped in once before when we were heading to a wine tasting across from the restaurant, but we left because it had a very off-putting smell of sulphur. Staying true to my “I’ll try anything twice” motto, we gave it a second chance and were pleased to walk in this time and find no such returning offensive odor.

We sat immediately in a comfortable booth and the waitress brought our menus and water. We ordered a salad to share, a steamed gyoza appetizer, some assorted rolls and my standard, tamago sushi. In a sushi class I took a long time ago, I was taught that one of the true marks of a good sushi chef is well-cooked tamago. This basically means that there are no brown striations through it, and that it is fluffy and seasoned just right. In the same way that I choose a plain slice of pizza when I sample a new pizza place, or a pad thai when I try a new Thai place, I always get tamago when I go for sushi.

The salad and gyoza were both about average. The salad was not just a pile of boring iceberg lettuce, but actually nice dark mixed greens and other veggies. The dressing was not the classic ginger/carrot one that usually comes at Japanese restaurants, but a more unusual sweet and tangy vinegar based one. The gyoza was super fresh and really delicious, filled with fresh meat and veggies- it was different than what restaurants often serve, presumably right out of the freezer.

The rolls were pretty good but nothing to write home about. While the ingredients did seem fresh, the seaweed didn’t have the tell-tale fresh snap to it, and the rice seemed a bit too compressed and overcooked. The tamago, however, was awesome and done perfectly. I could have eaten about 4 more of those.

This was a decent amount of food for a decent price- but when it comes down to it, unless it’s blow-me-away good quality, I will have a hard time letting anything win out over Ichiban’s amazing deal. $20 for all you can eat AND the choices are creative, varied and numerous. Yup. That’s still the local winner for me.

 

Brasserie Belge: 1990 Main St. Sarasota, FL

Standard

When we lived in NYC, Gabriel and I used to use Groupon-type deals ALL the time. It was a way that we could go out to try new restaurants without spending a fortune- and the opportunities were endless as we got new offers at least daily from Groupon, living social, yelp deals, buy with me, KGB deals etc. When we moved to Florida, it was one of the things I knew I’d miss- in fact, we even included it on our ‘will miss’ list on our blog: byebyeny.wordpress.com . The offers here are few and far between, and usually for activities and spa services as opposed to dining.

Imagine my excitement when, after our first month of living here, we finally received a Groupon offer for a restaurant we’d been wanting to try called Brasserie Belge in downtown Sarasota. Most of the offers I see are up near Tampa or St. Petersburg, so I was really happy to get a local one, for a great deal, just 20 minutes from where we live. I jumped on it and called for a reservation. My father, who had strongly recommended the mussels here, also gave us a great tip that if you sign up for emails on their website, you can print out a coupon for a free crepe dessert. Score!

We went for date night last Saturday and were seated right away outside, as requested. Our waiter came out right away to offer sparkling or flat water, tell us the specials and take our drink orders. I decided on a ‘Hot and Dirty Martini‘ which was absolut peppar vodka, dry vermouth, olive juice and blue cheese stuffed olives and hot peppers (which were AMAZING) I loved my cocktail and could probably have really spoiled my dinner with a few more of those delicious olives. Fresh, soft bread and butter was brought to us soon after. It was fine- but nothing special and fairly unremarkable. This was actually a good thing since we had lots of food coming and I’ve definitely been known to fill up on bread before the meal arrives.

For our apps, we shared the Salade Brussels; Iceberg lettuce, shredded parmesan cheese, hard-boiled egg, croutons, Caesar dressing. I was fairly disappointed with it, but it was really my own fault for not noticed the ‘iceberg lettuce’ part. I was expecting a classic Caesar, but it was really boring. The dressing had almost no flavor, and the personality-less lettuce didn’t help things at all. The thinly shaved parmesan was plentiful, but couldn’t really support the rest of the salad. Even the croutons were sadly bland and I really would have really liked some anchovies or lemon to make it come alive. Oh well. Our other app totally made up for the first one. We ordered the special which was sauteed calamari and shrimp with olives in a creamy tomato sauce. It was outstanding. The shrimp were huge and cooked perfectly and the calamari was fresh and not at all chewy as it often is. The kalamata olives still had a nice bite to them and the sauce was creamy and warm and served as mature comfort food. Total winner.

For our entrees, we shared the Mussels Tomate and the Meatballs “simmered in a sweet liège sauce of reduced fresh apples and pears”. It, like the mussels, were served with Belgian fries. The fries were served with a mayo-y sauce that was delicious and the twice-fried fries were awesome- super crunchy and just the right amount of salt. The meatballs were amazing- the sweet sauce they were served in reminded me a bit of Swedish meatballs– but were uniquely seasoned in way that was both sweet and savory. The mussels were fresh and cooked perfectly- and the portion was very generous. It’s understandable why most of the menu consists of different flavors of mussels and meatballs- they know what they do well and have made a great niche for themselves doing it.

For our complimentary crepe dessert, we were brought a thin, hot crepe topped with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. It was tasty, but kind of boring. The chocolate that topped it was fantastic though- a dark, semisweet chocolate that was obviously of very high quality

Overall, I really enjoyed my meal. Our waiter was friendly, knowledgeable and very attentive. The prices were reasonable, made even more so by our Groupon and our free dessert. The atmosphere, including a talented pianist/vocalist, was lovely  and sophisticated. We’ll definitely plan to go back!

 

Pacific Rim: 1859 Hillview St. Sarasota, FL

Standard

Gabriel and I celebrated our one year anniversary on Thursday so we decided to go have sushi for dinner, in honor of our first date which was also for sushi. There are only a few sushi places in the area that get great reviews, so we decided to try Pacific Rim since it was often talked about as having the best atmosphere of all of them. It is said that you eat with your eyes first, which I absolutely agree with, but beautiful presentation and a nice atmosphere does not make for a great meal in my book, and the food here was definitely lacking. I should also mention, even though I don’t like to judge people if I can help it, that the clientele here were on the tacky/Miami side. Many of them dressed in midriff-baring tops, way-too-tight pants and sky-high heels. Definitely not the type that Gabriel and I really like to hang with. Sorry. Maybe not very nice, but I’m just being honest.

We were seated, as requested, outside on the pretty side porch. It was really cool later when it started storming and little trickles of water came down the walls like a mini waterfall. Inside was very air conditioned and loud, so we were happy to be outside. The chairs were unusually low but the friendly waitress happily brought out a couple of pillows for us and that made a big difference.

We looked over the menus and ordered some edamame, shrimp lettuce wraps and a bottle of unfiltered Nigori sake to start. I must comment that this was the FIRST sake I’ve ever liked. It was much sweeter than those I have tasted in the past and I was surprised to find that It was very enjoyable for me. The lettuce wraps and edamame came out soon and we noticed the big clump of salt centered on our edamame. The waitress explained that we were to use the extra bowl to cover them and shake them up, but even after doing that it was hard to get the salt to evenly coat the other pods. The lettuce wraps were plated beautifully, but totally over-sauced and the flavor and texture of the shrimp, pear and mushrooms kind of just mushed up together.

For our sushi we chose an assortment including; tempura spicy tuna in shitake caps, scallop and avocado handrolls, tamago, shrimp, eel/ cucumber/avocado rolls, salmon sashimi and salmon roe. The tamago, roe and salmon sashimi were  excellent but aside from that, I thought the quality was very mediocre and quite pricey. This restaurant clearly goes for appearances first and taste second and as far as I’m concerned, that’s not enough to impress me. For 1/4 of the total price we could have gone back to Ichiban for all-you-can-eat sushi and next time, that’s most definitely what we will do.