Grouper with capers

A Diamond in the Gulf

Recently I was fortunate enough to take a break from the cold and rainy weather here in Kentucky and travel to Florida to see my parents.  My parents rented a lovely house, not far from Anna Marie Island and Longboat Key.  It was such an easy trip to get there with Allegiant airlines.

I usually travel to the Atlantic side when I visit Florida.  I have a lot of friends there and I like the action (and of course shopping)!   But, I have to say that the other side of Florida has it going on!  The views are gorgeous, there’s not nearly as much traffic, great beaches, and the towns are really lovely.  Whether you visit Sarasota, Long Boat Key, Tampa or Bradenton that side of Florida has a lot to offer!

Sarasota skyline
Sarasota is a vibrant city on the gulf

As you drive into Longboat Key/Holmes Beach you see the beautiful houses overlooking the water.  It’s a lovely area.  Long Boat Key is nestled between Sarasota and Bradenton, right on the gulf, and you’ll know when you get there.  It’s definitely one of the highest rent districts in central Florida, and you can tell.  It’s a very quaint town, not far from St. Armands Circle, which is a tourist destination in Sarasota.

Longboat Key bridge
Lovely view on Long Boat Key

I should have known that the Beach Bistro was going to be fabulous.   The only reservation that I could get was on a Wednesday at 5:45pm, for the entire week.  I realize that it’s high season, and people may eat earlier in Florida, but the only available openings were 9:45 and 10:00pm.  That’s late for anywhere, other than maybe Vegas or New York!

We pulled up to the restaurant and I’m not sure what I had envisioned, but I thought we were at the wrong spot.  It looked like a typical Florida beach restaurant, complete with a little hotel in the front.  I’m sure you can picture a little motel with 2 floors and a pool in the middle.  Old school Florida for sure!  But they did offer valet parking, which was nice.  The restaurant has been in business for 32 years, so they must be doing something right!

The Beach Bistro is located right on Holmes Beach.  You can sit outside and dine or have a cocktail at tables nestled in the sand with tiki torches or you can sit inside and gaze onto the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s a lovely view, and even though our reservation was early, we were able to watch a gorgeous sunset from a front row view!  It was a lovely experience.

Dine on the beach or in the dining room while you experience a lovely sunset! Photo courtesy of Beach Bistro

The restaurant has a low ceiling, with a fabric canopy.  The dining room is warm and inviting.  It’s a great place for special occasions or a lovely date night.  The dining room was full with diners who were able to carry conversations.  It seems so many restaurants are so loud these days, the Beach Bistro was a great place for dining and discussions!

Beach Bistro Dining Room
Cozy and beautiful!

We sat down and the server brought us a complimentary cocktail to try.  It was small, basically a little shot of vodka, lemon juice, St. Germain and topped with champagne.  They were definitely talking my language!  All part of the Beach Bistro experience.

I love a restaurant that has an amuse bouche.  For those of you who may not know what that is, an amuse bouche is a little taste of deliciousness that the chef has prepared before the meal.  It’s a complimentary treat that is supposed to highlight that meal that is yet to come.  Traditional amuse bouche is supposed to be one bite.  It’s old school, you don’t find many places that offer this anymore. Needless to say, I was super excited because the amuse was delightful!

Beach Bistro amuse bouche
Amuse Bouche is a taste of what is yet to come!

The service at the Beach Bistro is outstanding.  Our server knew exactly how to describe each meal, had great wine knowledge, and even offered off-menu selections.  The service was outstanding!

The restaurant is very unique in its presentations, even with the water that is served at the table.  The rosemary and lemon garnish in the water was very refreshing.  I’m definitely using that trick this summer when I have an abundance of rosemary! Very fancy!

Rosemary and lemon water
Rosemary and lemon in water adds a sophisticated touch

Of course, the menu is heavy on fish and seafood.  Fresh grouper was highlighted on the menu, but so was lamb, duck and prime beef.  There was something for everyone.  But, of course, if I’m traveling to Florida, I’m going to have the seafood!  I don’t get the opportunity to have fresh seafood straight off the fishing boat very often.  Grouper it was!

The grouper was served pan seared and topped with a lobster tail.  The dish was served with aurora cream.  I did Google aurora cream sauce.  The sauce contains heavy cream, garlic, and butter.  What’s not to like!!

Beach Bistro Grouper and Lobster Tail
Grouper with lobster tail and aurora cream sauce

My mother ordered the Lobstercargots, which was a house specialty.  The lobster was prepared and served like traditional escargot, with garlic and butter.  They were delicious!

Lobster prepared like escargot
Lobster prepared like Escargot is a house speciality

The server recommended an off-menu entre for Dad.  He doesn’t really like heavy sauces on his fish.  The server recommended his favorite dish which was grouper prepared with a key lime butter sauce with capers.  Wow!

Grouper with capers
Fresh grouper with capers and key lime sauce

Dessert time is often my favorite part of any meal.  If dessert was as good as any part of the meal that I had, I was definately excited!

There were so many tempting dessert options, including homemade pralines, interesting twists on creme brulee, traditional key lime pie, and apple bread pudding.  I chose the chocolate truffle terrine dessert.  The menu described it as “intense and award-winning”.  Sounds right up my alley!

Beach Bistro dessert menu
So many decisions!

Prior to the dessert presentation, our server arrived with another complimentary cocktail for the table.  This time it was a small glass of champagne and a take-home truffle for the ladies to celebrate the end of the meal.  It’s these little touches that make this restaurant stand above many other fine dining options in the area!

Beach Bistro dessert presentation
Champagne and a treat for the ladies

Needless to say, the chocolate dessert was awesome! As if the chocolate wasn’t enough, there was also a scoop of ginger ice cream.  I wish I could describe to you how wonderful this dish was. It was definitely a party in my mouth!

Chocolate Dessert
Best. Dessert. Ever!

The Beach Bistro takes fine dining to another level.  The ambiance, the service, the food presentation, and the extras make this an entire dining experience!  There’s a reason why they the Beach Bistro has been written up by the LA Times, The New York Times and Food and Wine magazine.  When you are in the area you should visit, but be sure to make reservations in advance.  You won’t be sorry!

Until next time xoxox!



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