Eat This Now

Where and What to Eat This Week - 2/15/17

This week: homemade pretzels, whole fish, noodle bowls and more.

By Eat Beat Team February 15, 2017

Screen shot 2017 02 15 at 11.06.09 am zemdln

The Amish Baking Company is known for its massive, pillowy yeast doughnuts, but Sadie Peachey and crew turn out a damn fine pretzel, too. Flavors vary from week to week; this time it's jalapeno and cheddar, with the creaminess of the cheese and the spice from the jalapenos combining with the soft dough to make an irresistible treat that's, no joke, as big as your head. Find the Amish Baking Company truck at Phillippi Farmhouse Market on Wednesday or Central Sarasota Farmer's Market on Saturdays; for more locations, follow along on Instagram

Late last month, Gulf Gate's Vizen Japanese Cuisine started slinging lunch for the first time, serving up a half-dozen noodle bowls at prices that start at a Hamilton. The broth in the tonkotsu ($12) cooks for 12 hours, and you can taste the patience and devotion in every spoonful. The liquid is dense and creamy, and the flavor is punched up by slices of tender pork, a halved hardboiled egg, a handful of bean sprouts and a smattering of corn kernels. The one thing it needs? Some spice. Ask your server for some heat and she'll return with a homemade blend, a wonderful maroon-brown sauce stored inside a Tupperware box. But watch yourself. Two teaspoons were enough to set our Jacuzzi-sized bowl of soup on fire.

The rack of lamb at Alday's BBQ is one of our go-tos when it comes to takeout: the smoky flavor takes away any gamey taste and melds perfectly with the tender flavor of the meat. And the perfect seasoning sends the whole thing over the top. This dish makes us fall in love with barbecue all over again. ($14 for a half rack; $28 for a full rack.) 

If you're not averse to having your meal smile at you while you consume it, consider the Thai-style whole fried fish at Veronica Fish & Oyster. The species and the price tag vary, depending on what's available, but this past weekend Veronica was offering a whole yellowtail snapper for $34. It's caveman-basic. The fish is just gutted and then deep-fried skin-on till it's ultra-crispy, and it comes to the table alongside lettuce, mint and cilantro, some pickled items and a small bowl of sweet, pungent nuoc cham. Our server suggested we make lettuce wraps with everything on the plate, but we couldn't resist eating the fish all by its lonesome, tearing soft flesh from bone while staring into the fryer-crusted eyes of our dinner companion. We named him Jordan.

Real grouper doesn’t come cheap. Just ask Karen Bell, a co-owner of Cortez’s A.P. Bell Fish Company and the owner of Star Fish Company, the next-door dockside market and restaurant. In her experience, if you’re paying less than $12 for a grouper sandwich, there’s no way you’re eating actual grouper. So while Star Fish’s grouper sandwich will set you back $12.95, you can rest easy you are getting the real deal. And the sandwich is delicious. The fish’s pearly flesh is stitched with black marks from the grill and cooked to the exact point when the flesh solidifies all the way through.

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