Monday, January 15, 2018

The Blue Dolphin on Longboat Key: Best Breakfast

A simple blue and white presence on Longboat Key, The Blue Dolphin is a classic breakfast and lunch spot nestled in the Centre Shops of Gulf of Mexico Drive. With a long counter, spacious tables, and comfortable booths, there is a certain nostalgia and charm that makes everyone feel comfortable as soon as they walk through the doors. Warm and welcoming, the staff know the regulars by name and even casual interlopers get a cheerful 'hello' and piping hot cup of coffee. The menu runs the gamut from corned beef hash to huevos rancheros and Belgian waffles, with a very worthy eggs Benedict playing a starring role. Their omelettes, pancakes, and french toast are legendary, made from eggs brought in fresh daily direct from Sutter's Egg Farm in Sarasota. The Blue Dolphin's winning formula is quite simple: friendly staff, great service and fresh quality ingredients deliciously prepared by Culinary Institute graduates, all at a reasonable price. No wonder it's the top breakfast spot on Longboat Key.

The Blue Dolphin Café at the Centre Shops on Longboat Key

The Blue Dolphin Café is one of the most popular breakfast places on Longboat Key

Bright and colourful with a fun 1950s diner vibe, the Blue Dolphin is the most popular breakfast spot of the Key

The latest issue of the Longboat Observer is essential reading over breakfast at The Blue Dolphin

The Blue Dolphins laminated but sensational breakfast menu

Broccoli, onion, mushroom and swiss cheese omelet with fresh fruit and english muffin

Fried Eggs, sausage, home fries and whole wheat toast

Blue Dolphin Chicken Salad
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of The Blue Dolphin

2 lb chicken breast
1/8 cup finely diced celery
1/8 granny smith apple, finely diced
1/4 cup mayonnaise 
2 tbsp sour cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp onion powder

Cook the chicken breast at 325°F until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Allow the chicken to cool then chop into bite-size chunks and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped celery then the mayonnaise and sour cream. Season to taste with the celery seeds, onion powder and salt and pepper, and toss together. Serve over salad greens or as a sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Michaels on East: Sophisticated American Cuisine

One of the finest restaurants in Sarasota, Michaels on East recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in April of this year. Founded in 1987, co-proprietors Michael Klauber and Phil Mancini seem to have done everything right for the restaurant has been a treasured fixture on Sarasota’s culinary scene for over three decades now, having built an unsurpassed reputation for exceptional service and inspired cuisine on the principle that each guest should be treated the way they expect to be treated, every moment of each and every visit. "Quite a lot has changed in Sarasota since 1987 and we’ve been proud and privileged to be a part of so many evolutions in the culinary scene, festivals and community events," says Klauber. Both partners enjoy traveling the world and bringing back the very best from their adventures, whether it’s a new wine that Klauber and his wife Terri discover on a trip to South Africa or a new fad ingredient like kale that they find a unique way to utilize, the team at Michael’s are always reinventing their menu, but some classics have been there from the start and will probably never go away.

Starters such as Chef Jamil Pineda's fabulous Maine Lobster Bisque with Tempura Blue Crabmeat and my Mom's favourite Hoisin Duck and Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls with sweet-sour chile dipping sauce and pickled ginger. The steak and seafood menu at Michael's is legendary with dishes such as the delicious Pan Seared Scallops with Maine Lobster and Housemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash in sage brown butter sauce, Grilled Provimi Veal Chop with crushed red bliss potatoes and garlic scented broccoli rabe, and selection of succulent steaks from the meltingly tender Filet Mignon to Phil’s Porcini-Rubbed 14-ounce New York Strip served with roasted shiitake mushrooms, arugula and lemon-oregano fingerling potatoes. Side dishes are equally tempting with Potato Croquettes, Fresh Creamed Spinach, Royal Trumpet Wild Mushrooms and Molly’s Truffled Macaroni and Cheese with Manchego, Gruyere and Parmesan. After 30 years, Michael's on East is still food heaven.

Beautiful fountain with twinkle lights in the leafy courtyard entrance to Michael's on East in Sarasota 

The entrance to Michael's on East

The elegant interior of Michael's on East

One of the finest restaurants in Sarasota, Michael’s On East restaurant takes fine dining to another level with award-winning modern American cuisine and outstanding service

Our server aerating our bottle of 2014 Lola Pinot Noir which she then poured back into the bottle

Serving our delicious full bodied wine

Michael's freshly baked housemade breads and papadam 

2014 Lola Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in Napa

Angel Hair Onion Rings

Maine Lobster Bisque with Tempura Blue Crabmeat, Fresh Maine Lobster
and Brandied Crème Fraîche presented in the bowl, and followed by the bisque poured overtop

Intensely flavoured and wonderfully delicious Maine Lobster Bisque

Hoisin Duck and Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls with sweet and sour chile dipping sauce, pickled ginger and seaweed salad

Sautéed Pompano Casbarian topped with Gulf Shrimp and Tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, fresh herbs and crushed chili peppers, lemon beurre blanc and garlic-scented haricot verts

Pan-Roasted Bluefin Crab Cakes with Truffle Roasted Potatoes, Herbed Tartar Sauce and Roasted Asparagus

10 oz Filet Mignon

Pan Roasted Royal Trumpet Wild Mushrooms Sautéed with Garlic

Roasted Truffle Potatoes

USDA Prime New York Strip Sirloin Steak aged 25 days with roasted baby peppers and served with  Bernaise sauce

Pan-Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with Artisanal Sardinian Fregola with Maine Lobster, Fire-Roasted
Corn and Herb Roasted Tomatoes with Spiced Lobster Broth

Founded in 1987, co-proprietors Michael Klauber and Phil Mancini celebrated the 30th anniversary of Michaels in April of this year

A beautiful decorated Christmas Tree at the entrance to Michaels

Butter-Roasted Flounder with Grain Mustard Beurre Blanc
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Jamil Pineda

4 7oz pieces of flounder filets 
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste 
24 Brussels Sprouts, shaved
2 tbsp olive oil

Beurre Blanc:
2 cups white wine 
1 shallot, minced
3/4 cup champagne vinegar 
1 lb butter
2 cups heavy cream
1 pinch of sugar
1 tbsp grain mustard 
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown Butter Sauce:
1/2 lb unsalted butter
2 tbsp toasted almonds
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped

2 russet potatoes
4 cups vegetable oil
Salt to taste 

For the beurre blanc, combine the shallots, wine and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream and simmer until the cream has reduced by half. Increase the heat to medium-high, and rapidly whisk in the butter, piece, by piece until it has melted into the cream and thickened it, then remove from the heat, cover and set aside.

For the brown butter sauce, add the butter in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it starts to turn brown. Add the sage and almonds, then set aside until the dish is ready to be plated.

Wash the potatoes. Slice into 1/4-inch thick slices, then into 1/4-inch sticks. Wash thoroughly in cold water. Drain well. Deep fry in batches at 350°F until potatoes are cooked, but not brown. At serving time, increase the oil temperature to 375°F. Fry potatoes in batches, until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt.

In a non-stick sauté pan over medium high heat, sauté the sprouts with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside momentarily while the fish is prepared. In a non-stick sauté pan over high heat, add the oil. Season the flounder with salt and pepper and sear until golden brown on both sides. Set aside until the dish is ready to be plated. 

To serve, spoon the brussels sprouts in the middle of each of 4 dinner plates. Top with the fish, spoon the brown butter mix on top, then the beurre blanc across the fish. On top of each portion, garnish with the fried potato allumettes and serve immediately.

Michael's On East Mighty Murf Burger
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Jamil Pineda

Michael’s On East has cooked up a burger beyond the ordinary beef patty and cheese. Instead, they have devised a healthy blended creation, marrying meat with mushrooms in the Mighty Murf Burger, named after Michael’s On East Proprietor Michael Klauber’s father. Robust and juicy, the burger triumphantly stands, waiting for the first bite. 

2 lb ground bison sirloin
1 lb Spanish chorizo
1 lb beech mushrooms
4 oz olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add the oil and mushrooms. Cook for about 4 minutes or until the mushrooms are thoroughly cooked. Season with salt and black pepper. Place the mushrooms in a food processor for 45 seconds and set aside to cool down. In a mixing bowl, add the bison, chorizo and processed mushrooms and combine well. Portion into balls about 8 oz each and form into burger patties. Place patties in the refrigerator for one hour to allow all the ingredients to settle.

Porcini Rub:
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
7 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup porcini powder
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and set.

Onion Relish:
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
2 tbsp roasted red pepper
20 oz extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp sugar
2 oz olive oil

In a sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the onions with olive oil until they begin to brown. Add the sugar and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Once browned, set aside and allow to cool for one hour. Transfer the onions to a small bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well for assembly.

Creole Mayonnaise:
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 tbsp green onions, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp sweet pickle relish
2 tsp coarse-grained mustard
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well and set aside for until the dish is ready to be plated.

Trumpet Mushrooms:
6 large Trumpet mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 oz olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

On a large sauté pan over medium high heat, sauté the mushrooms with oil, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are semi-crispy. Set aside until the dish is ready to be plated.

To Finish & Plate:
6 brioche burger buns or your favorite buns
6 burger patties
6 tbsp porcini rub
6 slices Monterey spicy jack cheese
Sautéed trumpet mushrooms
1 large tomato, cut into 6 thin slices
6 tbsp onion relish
6 leaves baby romaine lettuce
6 tbsp Creole mayonnaise

Heat the grill on high for about ten minutes. Place the burger patties on the grill and sear for 2 minutes on both sides. After cooking the patties initial four minutes at 2 minutes on each side, keep flipping every 40 seconds until you reach your desired temperature. For medium-rare, Chef Jamil suggests three 40 second flips after the initial 2 minutes on both sides. Add one tablespoon of porcini rub on all the patties and let cook for 30 seconds. Add the cheese and allow it to melt. Remove the patties and grill the buns for one minute. Place the buns on a large assembling platter, add the patties on the button part of the bun. Divide the trumpet mushrooms on each patty, top with one tablespoon of onion relish, one sliced tomato, lettuce and mayo on each burger.  Place the top of the bun to finish the “Mighty Mushroom Burger” and serve!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Crow's Nest: Waterside Dining in Venice

A Venice waterfront landmark since 1976 with views overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, The Crow's Nest Marina Restaurant is one of the area restaurants that has been attracting a steady clientele since it opened almost 40 years ago. Originally a small seafood spot on the second floor of the Tarpon Centre Marina, The Crow's Nest took over the marina in 1982 and renamed it The Crow's Nest Marina. Serving a casual menu of local seafood and traditional Florida favourites, such as Seafood Bisque, Jumbo Crab Meat Cakes, Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna, fresh Florida Stone Crab, Seafood Pot Pie and the ever popular Florida Grouper Sandwich to a selection of salads, burgers, cheese and charcuturie, The Crow's Nest offers relaxed casual Floridean fare at reasonable prices with a waterfront view that's hard to beat.

Originally a small seafood spot on the second floor of the Tarpon Centre Marina, The Crow's Nest took over the marina in 1982 and renamed it The Crow's Nest Marina

The Crow's Nest Marina offers overnight dockage, boat rentals, fuel and supplies, as well as hot Grouper Sandwiches on demand

A touch of Christmas

Nautical stained glass window at the Crow's Nest in Venice, Florida

Crow's Nest Creamy New England Clam Chowder

Grouper Sandwich with frites

Florida Stone Crab Claws

Grouper Key Largo with Gulf shrimp, sea scallops, mushrooms, and hollandaise sauce

Key Lime Pie

The Crow’s Nest Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
Serves 4

3 lbs jumbo lump crabmeat
1 fl oz Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp ground Coleman’s mustard
2 tbsp minced Italian parsley
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
10 oz cracker meal
1/2 fl oz lemon juice

Mustard Crème Fraiche:
1 cup crème fraiche
1/2 cups Creole mustard
1/2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning

For the sauce, mix everything together, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. For the crab cakes, mix everything except crab and cracker meal in a large bowl. Gently fold in the crab, being careful not to break up the lumps, then mix in the cracker meal until the mixture is combined and just holds together. Using your hands, form the crab mixture into 4-ounce cakes, and sauté in heavy pan over medium heat with some olive oil and butter until they are nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes per side. Serve warm with bowl of mustard crème fraiche on the side.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bridge Street Bistro on Bradenton Breach

Bridge Street Bistro on Bradenton Beach, at the north end of Longboat Key, offers spectacular views of the emerald green water and gorgeous sugar-white sands of the Gulf of Mexico. The atmosphere is relaxed yet refined and the attire is resort casual. Dine al fresco on the third floor terrace and enjoy the amazing sunsets while relaxing with tropical breezes and sounds of the surf, or enjoy the elegant indoor dining room for a more sophisticated setting with candlelight and folded linen napkins. Owners Bill Herlihy and chef Keith Daum have created a lovely Floriddean menu including appetizer sampler platters, lobster bisque, seafood gumbo, and specialty salads. For entrées, they are known for the potato-crusted grouper, seafood risotto and famous lobster bisque, with all of their fish brought in fresh daily by local fishermen. A good wine and cocktail list compliments the menu of chef Daum's selection of continental classics, for an evening of delicious dining serenaded by the sound of the surf and glow of glorious sunsets.

With spectacular views of the beach and Gulf of Mexico from its third floor dining room, the Bridge Street Bistro is known for their potato-crusted grouper, seafood risotto and famous lobster bisque

Arriving for a festive dinner with friends before the holidays, the napkins were folded in the shape of Christmas trees

The menu highlights a variety of fresh seafood dishes and house specialties

A basket of warm fresh baked bread

Hendriks Gin and Tonic with lemon

Gin Martini with an olive

Lovely candlelight sconces in the middle of each table

Caprese Salad with fresh Bufala Mozzarella and Tomatoes with basil pesto and olive oil balsamic vinaigrette

Caesar Salad with crisp romaine lettuce, garlic croutons and parmesan cheese

Lobster Bisque

2015 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio

2015 Caves d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé 

Pan Seared Scallops Oscar with jumbo lump crab meat and asparagus with a sweet Tequila Hollandaise Sauce

Seafood Aurora with shrimp, scallops, mussels and lobster with linguine in a pink tomato sauce

Risotto di Mare with shrimp, scallops, lobster meat, calamari and mussels 
in a creamy saffron risotto

A lovely fresh Christmas tree with ornaments and presents added a wonderful festive feel to the dining room

Oysters Bienville
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Chef Keith Daum

A traditional New Orleans-style preparation — oysters topped with a béchamel with bacon, shrimp, scallions and seasonings.

6-8 fresh oysters
3 tbsp butter
5 oz flour
4 sprigs green onion, chopped greens only
3 oz cooked bacon, chopped
1 cup cooked shrimp, chopped
3/4 quart heavy cream

Preheat over to 350°F. Melt butter in a hot pan and mix in the lour to make a roux. Add bacon, shrimp and green onions to the pan. Gradually add heavy cream while stirring continuously until thick. Remove the pan from the heat and allow stuffing to cool. After the stuffing has cooled, stir back in the butter until it rises to the top, then add 2-3 tablespoons of stuffing onto the oysters. Line the stuffed oysters in a baking pan and cook at 350-400°F for 10-12 minutes until the topping has very lightly browned. Serve immediately.