Tag Archives: shrimp

Shore Diner: 465 John Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL

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shore beet salad with grilled shrimpThis is definitely the most awesome atmosphere in St. Armands Circle for a drink and a meal. A young, hip crowd, healthy, interesting menu, and really cool decor make this feel like a true gem in the area. When you walk up the shell-covered stairs, the first thing you see is the green, living wall with the name of the restaurant and a giant set of utensils centered in stainless steel. This roof top restaurant has a retractable roof on one side, a covered middle and an open air front. Waitstaff is attractive and dressed in trendy attire, and very attentive.

We were just there for a light lunch, being that I’m getting married (!!!) in less than a week and didn’t want anything too indulgent. That said, there were plenty of choices to suit my tastes and I happily ordered a salad with beets, pistachios, grapefruit and goat cheese with the optional addition of grilled shrimp. It came out soon after we ordered, and was lovely to look at and to taste. The flavors all worked so well together, and it was exactly the light, refreshing, delicious lunch I was hoping for. I will be sure to tell all of my friends who are visiting from afar next weekend that this is a great place to visit in between wedding events! Fantastic! 

 

 

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

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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!

Drunken Poet Cafe: 1572 Main St. Sarasota, FL

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soup seaweed salad drunken poet shrimp entree

 

I was supposed to meet my father at Pho Cali, one of my favorite downtown Sarasota Restaurants, but it was closed- as it often is when I attempt to go. Their hours and days are sort of weird and never seem to coincide with my cravings. Grrrr. We decided to give Drunken Poet a try since it’s a couple of doors away, had a menu that sounded good, and neither of us had been there before.

We sat at an outside menu and looked at the menu. They had Japanese and Thai lunch specials to choose from and we both ended up picking Thai. I ordered the Shrimp Pad Pak: Shrimp with assorted vegetables in oyster sauce. We also shared a seaweed salad. My entree came with a chicken/rice soup that came out first in a chipped bowl. I was going to take a picture of my father’s soup instead, but his bowl was also chipped. The soup itself was not good. It was very salty and the flavor was just off. I left it aside after having 2 spoonfuls. The seaweed salad was standard and we both enjoyed it. Nothing special, but I always love seaweed salad and this time was no different. My entree was enjoyable. There wasn’t a ton of shrimp in it, but the shrimp that was there was cooked well, flavored lightly and fresh. The veggies were also light and fresh. This tasted like a healthy meal to me, without a ton of oil, or unnecessary chemicals or seasonings.

Overall, this was a lovely lunch- not the best Thai I’ve had, but not bad. I’m not sure if I’d go back, but If you’re in the area and want a reasonable priced Asian lunch I would recommend it.

 

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!

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

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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.

Ping’s Chinese Cuisine: 5445 Fruitville Rd Sarasota, FL

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I met my dad and my honey here for dinner a few nights ago at my father’s suggestion and was pleasantly surprised. When I first walked in, I found a totally unexciting atmosphere in a strip mall. It looked like a run-of-the-mill coffee shop inside, but did have a very friendly hostess/waitress to show me to my seat.

We sat in a booth and were immediately served ice water and a bowl of VERY crunchy noodles with duck sauce. I find these very hard to resist and must admit that I ate more than I should have. We looked over the menu and decided to share a seafood with mixed vegetables dish and a shrimp with lobster sauce dish. I also tasted a bit of my dad’s wonton soup– and must say that it was better than average. Not too salty, fresh and definitely homemade. The entrees were also very fresh and full of large pieces of lobster, shrimp, scallops and a great assortment of vegetables.

The service was super friendly and fast and had the feel of eating in someone’s home- where they really put attention and love into what they cook. This, along with a few other experiences I have had so far in the area, has already changed my preconceived thoughts about eating ethnic foods in Sarasota. It DOES exist, it does NOT make me miss living in NYC, and it IS a great value and worth a visit.

 

Pacific Rim: 1859 Hillview St. Sarasota, FL

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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.

Lee Roy Selmon’s: 8253 Cooper Creek Blvd Sarasota, FL

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Gabriel and I enjoyed a fun dinner with another couple here last night. Although I’m not really a sports bar kind of person, this restaurant feels much classier and less sporty than I expected based on the reviews I’d read ahead of time. Yes, there are tons of TVs playing various games, but the feel is more upscale and less rowdy that I would have guessed.

Luckily, our friends had a couple of great tips for us. The first was that if you check-in on four square, you get a free fried-green tomatoes appetizer. Cool! We jumped on that. The other VERY important tip is that the amazing bbq-butter-topped rolls, which do NOT come automatically, ARE free and available and absolutely worth asking for. YUM.

I ordered a frozen strawberry margarita to sip and it was delicious; refreshing, sweet- but not overly so, and the perfect amount of alcohol that didn’t totally overpower the drink. The fried green tomatos were a bit slow to come out, but when they finally did we gobbled them right up. They came with a tangy ranch dressing to dip in, and the slices were thick cut and super crunchy.

For my entree, I ordered the shrimp and grits- something I would not normally choose but it sounded interesting. I also ordered a side of green beans and thought it was odd that it did not automatically come with a vegetable when just about all of the other entrees did. The grits were unreal. Super cheesy and with generous bits of bacon, it was NOT at all a light dish. I still can’t believe I ate the whole thing- it was so rich and filling, but tasted so amazing that I couldn’t stop myself. The shrimp were a bit too sauce-covered, and I think they could have used half the amount instead of drowning them in sugary flavoring that they really didn’t need. I thought my meal was excellent, but really felt that the menu was lacking. I would have ordered a healthier shrimp option if there had been one- but the choices were basically salads or super indulgent entrees and sandwiches.

The meal ended with the waiter bringing over hot washcloths to wash our hands with…Nice touch! I thought the prices were totally reasonable and I would definitely consider going back…next time, I will plan to be more mentally prepared to indulge than I was this time.

 

Cafe Baci: 4001 S. Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL

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From the street, Cafe Baci looks like it’s from 1960. The sign as well as the outside of the restaurant is dated and falling apart, and does nothing at all to represent the excellence that happens inside.

We were welcomed very warmly by the hostess and quickly led to our table. We saw right away that the clientele of this establishment is pretty much the over 65 crowd, and we felt slightly out of place and underdressed. The hostess assured us that people come in wearing just-off-the-beach clothes sometimes and that we were totally fine. Our waiter came over with menus and ice water and went over the specials, all of which sounded great. Shortly later, he brought over a basket of foccacia, delicious garlicy/parmesan breadsticks and some herbed olive oil. You see from my picture that we had all dived into those before I remembered to take a photo, and the basket is already partially empty.

This restaurant came very highly recommended by my friend and duo partner Mike (please visit mikesolomusic.com and careyyaruss.com com for more info ) and one of the things he mentioned to me was how accommodating they are to their patron’s requests. Knowing that, I asked if it would be possibly to add some grilled shrimp to the cappellini primavera, to which the waiter happily agreed.

When my entree came out, I was very excited for my first taste. It was loaded with huge, gorgeous, grilled shrimp, tons of fresh vegetables and homemade cappellini with a creamy, tomato sauce. It was seriously delicious, rich and indulgent. I was totally happy with it, even though I was expecting a nice, light pasta dinner and it was definitely on the heavy side. The portion was extremely generous and I happily shared it with Gabriel and my mom and step-father, who all agree that it was super tasty.

For dessert, we decided to order one tiramisu for everyone to share. When it arrived with an old looking strawberry on top, we assumed it must have been made much earlier and was just sitting in the fridge waiting for someone to order it. It was covered in a 2 inch thick layer of whipped cream on top and the espresso soaked cake was kind of overwhelmed by that. The flavor was good and if there had been less whipped cream I think we all would have really enjoyed it, but as it were, I pretty much was the only one who ended up eating it.

Overall, I was very impressed with Cafe Baci and would definitely go back. I would love to see some younger people in there, but unless they update the outside and make it look a big livelier and hipper, I doubt anyone under 40 will be going in anytime soon. With nearly full tables, it seems like their business isn’t suffering because of that, and maybe that’s really the crowd that they are aiming to attract. With it’s rustic, Italian interior, it has a classic feel that’s sure to please an older (and wealthier) clientele. The food is really top quality and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a hearty meal. Enjoy!

Harry’s Continental Kitchen: 525 Saint Judes Drive, Longboat Key, FL

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As a ‘Welcome to Florida’ gift, my generous father sent Gabriel and I for a celebratory dinner at Harry’s. What a wonderful treat it was! Great service, a romantic setting, excellent food and a truly special place that we probably wouldn’t have come across on our own. As a favorite of my father’s, he wanted to make sure we got a chance to try it. By sending us there as a gift, he ensured that we’d be able to see what was so lovely about the experience.

When we arrived, we were asked where we wanted to sit. We chose the corner table outside, surrounded by lit-up palm trees and flowers. It is such a cute restaurant, as you can see in the pic of Gabriel. It has a casual feel outside, and the inside room is a bit more formal. This is a combo I really love. A super casual and low-key atmosphere but with a high-end, fancy menu. This is the perfect juxtaposition for someone new to the Florida lifestyle…Someone who is really not missing the ‘suit and tie’ necessity of a NYC restaurant with a similar menu.

Our waitress was excellent right from the start. She went over the specials and brought out water and some warm bread served with butter and roasted garlic cloves (YUM). The menu made for a difficult decision. Just about everything on it appealed to me and I kept changing my mind about what to order. In the end, I decided to take my father’s recommendation which was to have the caesar salad and the duck. Duck is not normally something I order, but given his very strong feelings about it, I thought it was a great opportunity to branch out from the foods I generally gravitate towards.

The salad came out  quickly. It wasn’t the lettuce, parmesan and croutons simplicity of a typical caeser and instead was enhanced with wonderful with ripe tomatoes, anchovies and crumbled blue cheese. The caesar dressing was perfect and I was very happy with this as my appetizer. It also went beautifully with my glass of Pinot Grigio. Gabriel had the macadamia-crusted scallops in a citrus sauce, which I happily had a taste of. I thought the crust and sauce were both awesome- as did Gabriel who ended up using the leftover bread to sop up the sauce after the scallops were gone. The scallops, however, were a bit overcooked. They were tougher and drier than they should have been. That said, they were full of flavor and tasted quite good anyway.

Our entrees came out and looked incredible. My duck had a super crisp and crunchy skin and the tender meat was rich and succulent. It came in a maple/berry sauce that complimented it perfectly and I polished it off. I guess I love duck now, at least the way they prepare it here. It came with a side of squash and zucchini that lighted it up a bit. The vegetables were simply steamed and I thought they went very nicely with the duck meat without competing at all with the flavor. It also came with a side of wild rice that seemed to be undercooked. It had some very crunchy pieces that were so hard I thought I might chip a tooth on it. I liked the flavor of it very much, but the under-doneness of it was rather off-putting.

Gabriel ordered the pasta with grouper, shrimp and scallops, and the seafood on it was all amazing. The perfectly cooked scallops clarified that the scallops we’d had earlier were definitely overcooked because these were tender, moist and so full of delicate flavor. The shrimp were enormous and tasted wonderful in the light sauce. The grouper was also cooked just right, tender, flakey and light. The pasta itself was cooked more than I like it- I strongly prefer my pasta al dente and this was kind of on the mushy side. That said, the highlight of the dish was clearly the seafood and the plentiful amount of pasta was almost unnecessary.

For dessert, I ordered the key lime pie with meringue topping. It was plated beautifully and tasted SO delicious after my heavy meal. The thick meringue topping was fluffy and light with it’s wonderful crisp top. The filling was limey, springy and bright and just sweet enough. I gobbled it up and was left feeling incredible satisfied with the whole meal.

The service was really exquisite. Our waitress checked on us just enough without being overbearing. She made sure we had topped off water glasses and were happy with everything we were served. The maitre d’ also came by to check on us and we felt like we were treated with respect and courtesy, and that they really cared about how we were enjoying our evening.

I would strongly recommend Harry’s to anyone looking for a special evening out. I would love to return for brunch or lunch someday since there was so much on the menu that sounded awesome. Since it’s a bit out of my normal budget, it was really such a great gift from my father and I thank him, as well as the staff at Harry’s, for such a warm welcome to Florida.