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Sarasota/LBK trip report

  • k

We are back from our week at Longboat Key and as promised I will give my impressions of the restaurants we ate at. I have notes from nine different places so it may take a few days to get them all posted.

Pattigeorge’s

We were seated as soon as we arrived at one of the tables by the window with a really beautiful and peaceful view. It may just be my imagination but making reservations on Open Table seems to get us a better table than calling to make the reservations. Maybe restaurants fear a bad online review there.

We each ordered a small plate to start with. I had the green curry mussels and my wife had calamari. The portions were way larger than we were expecting. I wish we had just ordered the calamari to share, in part because my mussels were not particularly good to me. The broth was delicious but the mussels themselves were a little “off” tasting. I only ate about half the serving. The calamari was very good but neither of us cared for the honey-mustard sauce they came with.

At this point we decided to share a large plate of the “Crispy Bahamian Lobster Tails”. The plate had two large fried tails, a vinegary slaw and fried potatoes. More of the same honey mustard sauce. We both liked this dish a great deal. The lobster was very well prepared and flavorful. Less enthusiastic about the accompaniments but they were certainly satisfactory.

For dessert we shared the banana bread pudding. I’m not sure if they used green bananas or some other type that I’m not familiar with. They had a mealy texture and little taste. Neither us of liked this dish at all.

I think I could really get to like this place but we seemed to have been there on a bad night. Someone was having a birthday party and taking up the whole upper level across from the bar. The live music was way too loud for which the waiter apologized. I heard several folks who appeared to be regulars complaining to management that seemed unable or unwilling to do anything about it. The response I heard was, “we asked them to turn it down.” The loud music is apparently not the norm.

We will definitely give them another try if we go back to LBK next spring.

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  1. "mussels themselves were a little “off” tasting; neither of us cared for the honey-mustard sauce ; Less enthusiastic about the accompaniments but they were certainly satisfactory; For dessert we shared the banana bread pudding. I’m not sure if they used green bananas or some other type that I’m not familiar with. They had a mealy texture and little taste. Neither us of liked this dish at all."
    And your going back????? Honestly we have a lot of very good restaurants that you should go back to, but that doesn't sound like one I would rush back to. Sure hope your other experiences were better.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mother of four

      Some better, some worse. Overall we had a pleasant experience at Pattigeorge's, that is what causes me to be willing to return to a restaurant even if all the food does not perfectly suit me.

      I would rank Pattigeorge's number three or four of the nine places we ate at. I would return to any of the nine.

    2. I'm going to post these in the order that they came so now we will get the worst place we ate at out of the way.

      The Old Salty Dog

      We decided to go here for dinner on mother’s day. The plan was to stay if we could be seated immediately and if not, get a take out pizza somewhere to eat back at the house. Had low expectations and was not disappointed.

      Got a dozen raw oysters and conch fritters to start and both were fine. I got blackened grouper and my wife had fried grouper. Both were pretty bad but edible if you happened to be as hungry as we were. The fried fish had about twice as much batter as fish and the blackened was an even thinner piece of fish. Not real Gulf grouper in my opinion which is not surprising for this type of place. As we were leaving we noted a lot of folks were eating hamburgers. Sure wish we had ordered one instead of the fish.

      I would actually go back to eat some raw oysters and a hamburger.

      Hopefully I will be forgiven the next sexist observation. They have some very cute waitresses with short shorts so stay away if you don’t care to be subjected to such as that.

      1. Half Shell Oyster House

        We started off with the baked/grilled oyster combination; a dozen oysters prepared four different ways. This was absolutely wonderful. The different preparations worked perfectly alone and together. After we ate them neither of us could pick the one we liked best. About the best baked oysters I’ve ever had.

        For our main dish I had the fried seafood platter with shrimp, oysters and a crab cake. The shrimp and oysters were excellent, the crab cake just fair. The lemon aioli it was served with was very nice. My wife had the grilled snapper. It was a nice and perfectly cooked piece of what appeared to me to be genuine gulf snapper.

        The entrees were quite good but if I had a do over I think I would have got a dozen raw oysters and the full dozen baked oysters to myself, and maybe another dozen to myself.

        I thought the room was very nice. The service was acceptable but the waiter was a little too familiar for my taste and tried to up sell a bit much also.

        10 Replies
        1. re: kengk

          Hey Kengk ...... How did you happen to pick the above two restaurants...
          Old Salty dog is terrible and Half Shell is not much better. We have so many fine restaurants here in Sarasota and I am sorry you choose a few that did not work..

          1. re: irwin

            I think in a previous post she asked for reccomendations. I thought that you liked the Half Shell??

            1. re: Mother of four

              Not that it matters but I'm a "he". Hence the previous notation about the cute girls in shorts.

              1. re: kengk

                Sorry,I thought about that and then forgot!

              2. re: Mother of four

                It appears to have gone sour recently, which tells us that what is good today can be terrible tomorrow....

                1. re: irwin

                  Too bad, was looking forward to a Chowhound dinner there when we all get back! Guess not! It doesn't seem they have been there long enough to go from good to terrible, oh well on to bigger and better.

                  1. re: Mother of four

                    I'ff find you another restaurant that you will enjoy in the fall.

                    1. re: irwin

                      Looking forward to it! Beautiful in MI,should have left sooner!

              3. re: irwin

                "How did you happen to pick the above two restaurants...
                Old Salty dog is terrible and Half Shell is not much better."

                We are rubes from Georgia? Read on.

                1. re: irwin

                  "Ate there Saturday evening....
                  Good food, good menu, nice atmosphere, great location, great pricing, but service was terrible. They staff needs lots more training. The house was packed and the wait staff was going crazy. Once this straightens out, it will be a great restaurant."

                  Irwin, this was your post about HSOB on Jan. 24. Why the change of heart? I'm in agreement with kengk that the grilled oysters there are so good, just keep eatin 'em 'til you can't.

              4. Beach Bistro

                We started off with the “Lobstercargots”, chunks of lobster cooked with garlic butter and herbs. Perfectly prepared and very delicious, I was wanting more but as it turned out I would have been sorry had I eaten more at the first course!

                We were served an amuse of bruschetta with olive tapenade and about a shot glass worth of the “Bistro Blue Tomato Soup”. This was quite good and I was happy that they offered it as an amuse because the shot glass of the soup was enough for me.

                My entrée was, I think, the best dish I have ever eaten in my life to date. The Roasted Maple Leaf Duckling “Perfect Two Ways”. It was a half a duck. The breast was still slightly pink in the middle but nicely tender, the leg confit was falling off the bone tender. The tart three berry sauce was perfect with the rich duck meat, think Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce. The duck was served with a ramekin of the richest mashed potatoes ever and asparagus with hollandaise. The asparagus was served in a glass with the hollandaise in the bottom, like flowers in a vase, which was my only complaint with the presentation. With the ramekin of potatoes and the duck it was just a little too much to deal with on the plate. This was easily solved by decanting the asparagus onto the plate.

                My wife had the surf and turf special which was a filet mignon and a large scallop. She said it was delicious but I never even tasted it. It certainly looked good.

                For dessert I had Key Lime pie and coffee. The pie was excellent and I was quite pleased to be served a tiny French press with good coffee. My wife had an ice cream Napoleon of some sort, I tasted a tiny bit and it was good.

                When we arrived the host told us that he had a table ready for us or that we could wait five minutes for a table at the window. We opted to wait and it was no more than five minutes before we were seated. In retrospect we might have preferred a table away from the window. It was a little cramped but not too bad for me and I have mild to moderate claustrophobia.

                The service as a whole was adequate. The host chased us out into the parking lot as we were getting ready to drive off and presented my wife with a long stem rose which tickled her and startled me.

                1 Reply
                1. Captain Brian’s

                  What this place lacks in ambience and location they made up for with really nice fish. We started off with an appetizer portion of the fried oysters which were plump, juicy and perfectly cooked. I guess the plate had eight or so medium size oysters. We both had the fried Grouper. We each got a nice thick filet bigger than the plate, lightly floured and fried just right. The salad bar that comes with the entree is certainly no great prize but the coleslaw was good and the spoon full of potato salad I tasted was good. I really like to eat slaw along with my fried seafood and am frequently frustrated by places that serve a tiny portion. In this case I had all I wanted.

                  I read some of the reviews at places like tripadvisor and yelp and a common complaint is that the place looks like it hasn’t changed since the 50’s or 60’s. This is bad? Not to me.

                  I’m 52 years old and my wife is 47. 95% of the other customers were older than us; again, not a downside for me.

                  Service was quite good for the type place it is.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: kengk

                    I think you captured the "essence of Capt Brian's" great simply prepared fish with the atmosphere of an old time East Coast Fish House. Personally the quality of the dish/ingredients/preparation, always trumps the "artwork on the wall". or if the place takes reservations, etc.........

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      You must admit that resavations would be quite nice there!,

                      1. re: Mother of four

                        They were at about 50% capacity when we went.

                        After I retire would love to visit the area during the "season" just to see how much different it is. December-April is my busiest time at work. We thought we hit it just right this year, the snowbirds had mostly returned north and the local schools were still in session.

                        1. re: kengk

                          Most restaurants are mobbed durning those months, so we usually don't go without a reservation. You came at a great time as long as you mind the heat and humidity.

                        2. re: Mother of four

                          In my opinion, taking reservations, would change the character of this long established local icon, would a sommeiier, valet parking, and a Chef's Table be far behind.....lol.....
                          See you in the Fall, have a nice summer.

                    2. Columbia

                      It truly pains me to write this review. The Columbia is frequently panned but we have always enjoyed it. Have eaten at the Ybor City and St. Augustine locations once and the one at St. Armands several times.

                      The bread and the 1905 salad were both as tasty as I remembered. For my main course I ordered the Snapper Alicante which I have had once or twice before. In this case the gravy/sauce was good but the fish was very poor. Soft and mushy, not in any way what a good piece of gulf snapper should be like. The yellow rice that came with it was tasty but stone cold when served.

                      My wife ordered a Grouper dish. The menu said garnished with hard boiled egg but this miserly little piece of fish looked to have two if not three chopped boiled eggs covering it. The lady did not care for it and I wouldn’t have tried it on a dare.

                      The service was acceptable but not nearly as nice as in previous visits.

                      1. Maison Blanche

                        We saved what we hoped would be the best for our last night on Longboat Key.

                        We ordered from the prix fixe menu, and both started with the mesclun salad which was a very simple but perfectly prepared and dressed and a nice sized portion. Our waiter told us that it would be no problem to add the terrine of fois gras to our three courses and we had that next. I’m a relative newcomer to the fois but this dish pleased me a great deal. We each were served what I thought was a good size portion along with toast.

                        I had the duck leg confit with white bean cassoulet for my entrée and thought it was extraordinarily delicious. My wife had the beef filet and the tiny bite she allowed me was perhaps the tastiest bit of filet I’ve ever eaten, I’m more of a rib eye person myself.

                        For dessert we had the Grand Marnier soufflé. Neither of us have ever had a “real” soufflé and this seemed like a good time to give it a whirl. We both thought it was quite tasty and I added it to my list of things to learn how to make, especially since we have our own laying hens.

                        The bread, the bread and butter was wonderful.

                        The service was of a level I have never experienced, attentive but not intrusive, friendly but not familiar.

                        We were both ambivalent about the room itself. On the one hand it is elegant and on the other maybe a little too sterile.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kengk

                          Great review. I agree on the steak, btw, I almost never order steak in a “non-steak” restaurant because it is rarely top prime. Somehow, Maison Blanch manages to get it and serves exceptional steak.

                        2. We went out to lunch twice.

                          J.R. Pho for bahn mi which were absolutely delicious. I ate two of them.

                          Star Fish Company; I had the oyster po'boy and my wife had a shrimp po'boy. We both enjoyed our sandwiches a great deal. The oysters and shrimp were cooked just right.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: kengk

                            My take on Star Fish is similiar to why I think Capt. Brian's is a top Fresh Fish House, at Star Fish they just do a few things very well, They are owned by the A.P. Bell Fish Wholesale, next door, Bell has about 60 commercial boats that unload there, you will find fish that never makes it to other restaurants, such as Yellow Edge Grouper, (a very deep water fish lives 600 ft. down in the Gulf) and, Kitty Mitchell Grouper are 2 of the "special fish" that if I keep writing maybe too many folks will start buying them!!!

                            1. re: kengk

                              I went on your review of J.R. pho for a bahn mi for lunch. That was so so good. You were accurate in the description of the food and the establishment in your prior post. The sandwich was crisp, fresh and delishious. Thanks for the tip. Hope to have you back again.

                              1. re: suzigirl

                                I would have liked to return to J.R. Pho for dinner but sadly my wife does not share my enthusiasm for Thai and Vietnamese food.

                                Based on the bahn mi I can imagine that their bun thit nuong would be very good.

                                Please post if you try other things from there.

                                1. re: kengk

                                  I will be back because you could just feel the care from the owner. Without even asking, he came over and started explaining the dishes and what was Thai and what was Vietnamese from Amy's menu. It isn't fancy but that isnt what makes good food. Passion is. Whatever I try, I will surely let you know. Fingers crossed that other people keep them in business. I am hungry, but I can only do so much. :-)