Tag Archives: sangria

Owen’s Fish Camp: 516 Burns Ct, Sarasota, FL

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I would like to suggest to all of my fellow cohabitating couples, go on dates. It’s lovely. It’s important. It’s a few hours that remind you of the beginning of your relationship when dates were still super romantic and before bills and cleaning and cooking dinner took some of that newness away. Sometimes a little bickering will bring these dates on, and that is just fine. Whatever the reason, do it.

Gabriel took me on a date to Owen’s a few nights ago and it was a wonderful night out. We sat outside under the fans, and even though it was a little too hot to eat out there, it was a better option than inside which was kind of on the noisy/crowded side. We had a very friendly and patient waitress who had no issues with the fact that we turned her away about 5 times before we finally stopped talking and looked at our menus. We started with some garlic/cheese bread (which later proved to be redundant since many of the dishes we ordered came with the same thing) and I ordered a southern sangria (fresh fruit, sprite and peach juice if I remember right) that was incredibly light and refreshing. It was a bit odd that the only drink choices were sangria, wine or beer as I really woud have enjoyed a cocktail. A mojito perhaps, or something else summery- and outdoor friendly.

We decided that rather than get entrees, we’d share a bunch of smaller plates. There were many appealing options on the menu so that enabled us to try more of them. We started with a dozen Texas oysters (HUGE and seriously delicious. My first experience with oysters from Texas in fact, and certainly not my last) and a couple of salads. One was served with awesome fried green tomatoes topped with goat cheese (YUM) and the other with pecans (good, but nothing particularly exciting about it- and if we’d known it was the same as the other one minus the tomatoes and plus the pecans, we wouldn’t haven’t bothered with it..I guess we should have asked.)

We then ordered the grilled shrimp and the escargot. The shrimp were enormous and grilled perfectly. Seasoned with a little kick to them, but nothing over powering. Just fresh, hot, wonderful seafood simplicity. The escargot were served over cheesy grits in a dark, woodsy, rich gravy. I’d never had escargot prepared in anyway except the traditional parsley/butter combo, and this proved to take them to a different level. The gravy was very sop-up-able and I was glad we had all of the extra bread that came with it, with our salads, and in our basket. Suddenly the redundancy of the same bread wasn’t such an issue anymore.

Even though we were pretty stuffed after all of those apps, we found the dessert option of fresh, homemade mini blackberry pies (which were really little empanadas) with homemade vanilla ice cream to be totally irresistible. Resist we did not. When it came out, I am pretty sure a little pie gnome came out from under the table because everything was gone in nanoseconds. Hm. We better come back for more of that soon.

GREAT meal overall. Sweet, low-key, casual atmosphere. Very friendly waitstaff. Fair prices. Awesome menu choices. Bravo Owen’s, we’ll be back soon!

Columbia Restaurant: 411 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, FL

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Sometimes I think atmosphere is equally important to food for a dining experience. In the case of a gorgeous day and wanting to eat outside, this was one of those times. Gabriel and I were walking around the lovely St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota when we found ourselves ravenously hungry for lunch. Having been to Columbia Restaurant before with my mother a few years ago, I remembered having a good lunch salad here and suggested we try to get a table outside for lunch.

We went to the hostess who told us it would be 5-15 minutes for a table and that they’d call our names when they were ready. 5 minutes later, a waiter came and started leading us to an indoor table. When I stopped him and told him we’d requested outside, he took us back to the hostess and informed her of the mistake. She told us that  it would be another 5 minutes or so for an outdoor table. 10 minutes later, an outside table opened up and we noticed it being cleared, presumably for us. Two women walked in, went up to the hostess and were immediately seated at that table. Confused, we went up to the hostess to ask why people who’d just waltzed in got seated before us since we’d been waiting. She was a bit nasty, explaining that she just takes the names and doesn’t choose who sits where. We made our aggravation clear and a few short moments later a waiter asked us if we wouldn’t mind one of the umbrella tables. Being that those are also outside, we answered that sure, that was just fine. Hmmmm. So far, not impressed with the service here.

A few minutes later the waiter came over with water and menus and some warm bread and butter. He was sort of gruff in his explanation of the specials and I noted his name tag, Sandor. I ordered the gazpacho to start and the Mahi Mahi with rice and plantains for my entree. When he came over with my cup of soup and the platter of chopped veggies to top it with, I opted to have a little of each added. I asked for just a few croutons and he, again rather snottily, said ‘Well, I can only fit a few anyway’. Hmmm again. Gabriel and I exchanged a look wondering what we’d done to be treated so rudely. I know it doesn’t sound so bad, but it was his tone and attitude and the way he ordered me to ‘please enjoy the food.’. I wish I could capture the sarcastic tone better in my writing.

My soup was actually pretty good. I enjoyed the very garlicy flavor and the fresh vegetables. The crunchy croutons on top were a nice textural addition and I finished my cup in just a couple of minutes.

My entree arrived shortly after. The plate was half filled with rice- way too much as far as I’m concerned, but the fish in a citrusy sauce was tasty- even though it was smothered in far too many onions. My fried plantains were both greasy and mushy, and I happily gave most of them away to Gabriel. Sandor didn’t check on us once during our entree, even though we noticed him checking on the table next to us (seated with 3 attractive women) more than a few times.

When we were clearly done, he asked if we were ready for the check. Ok. I guess dessert was not an option. (even though the menu made it clear that it was).

We did not hesitate in tipping 15%. We tip 20% pretty much everywhere we eat, so that was pretty indicative of how we felt. I will not be returning. There are plenty of other options in the area for outdoor eating minus the nasty service.