Food & Wine: Pattigeorge's and Eat Here
Pattigeorge’s has been around a good while but underwent a major menu makeover a few years ago, giving it a global feel that works very well without resorting to the once trendy fusion label. That and its enviable location overlooking Sarasota Bay from Longboat Key explain why Tommy Klauber’s signature restaurant is enjoying a renaissance.
The split-level dining rooms are as pretty as the view, featuring well-spaced tables dressed in creamy linens and attentive, informed service. The bar gets a share of the view and is a popular venue for cocktails or grazing on small plates as the sun goes down. A hanging garden of orchids by the door and little stands of black-stemmed bamboo help to provide a lovely island-style welcome.
The restaurant describes its food as fine coastal cuisine, meaning a largely ocean-sourced menu with Italian, Asian, Caribbean and Latin-American influences that blend harmoniously as well as offering some surprises.
One of the latter is the tuna tartare wonton tacos ($10.50), which serve up minced raw tuna in crisp little wonton taco shells and sauce the fish in spicy wasabi caviar and sakimole, a twist on guacamole spiked with sake. Messy but tasty. More manageable but just as good is the panko-crusted Longboat roll ($9.25), which wraps cooked shrimp and daikon radish in sushi rice and nori (seaweed) with a ponzu dipping sauce on the side. We found these both to be generously portioned appetizers; in the near future we’ll drop by the bar and share them, maybe with crackling five spice calamari with orange blossom honey dipping sauce and Thai green curry mussels, all under the small plates heading. If we arrive after 8 p.m., we’ll get our grazing done for half price.
At table, we moved on to the large plates and discovered they live up to the name. Portions are bountiful across the board. Colette sampled the Thai green curry grouper (yes, we’re green curry freaks), which for $29.95 combined a beautifully grilled slab of fresh fish over wok-tossed crisp veggies accented with the tropical flavors of kaffir lime and lemongrass. It was a felicitous marriage.
I initially had my eye on the Myakka Ranch steak, a locally sourced one-pound bruiser with Pattigeorge’s own house steak sauce, which our waiter recommended with gusto, but I stuck with the briny deep theme and opted for the “sustainable fish” dinner ($24.50), which proved to be a toothsome grilled mahi mahi filet (that fish is on the list of species that can be sustainably harvested owing to healthy populations) finished Portofino style with olives, capers, tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. Mmmm.
Had we known how much food was on its way we might not have ordered the white truffle and Parmesan French fries ($9.25). We barely put a dent in the overflowing basket, but we were delighted with them. The fries themselves were beauties, golden and yummy, and the rich flavors of truffles and Parmesan gilded the lily to perfection. (We almost ordered the hashed Brussels sprouts with lemon and poppy instead, but I dug in my heels and threatened a tantrum.)
Despite the doggie bags stacking up our table, we ordered desserts. Colette found the coconut ice cream ($6) tasty but surprisingly chewy, owing to a bit too much coarsely shredded coconut, while I dispatched a serving of tiramisu ($8) with pleasure, even though it was a tad short on espresso for my taste.
The wine list is nicely selected, but instead of ordering a bottle of something we opted to try four different wines by the glass, ranging in price from $9 to $14, and were happy that we did. More and more, we find that what we really crave in both food and drink is a series of exquisite tastes rather than a whole lot of one thing. Mix and match the small plates and wines by the glass at Pattigeorge’s and thrill your tastebuds as your eyes drink in the lovely water views.
At Pattigeorge’s, culinary influences from around the world put a fresh new spin on seafood and meats in a beautiful setting overlooking Sarasota Bay.
4120 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key
Reservations (recommended): (941) 383-5111
Bar: full bar and good wine list
Hours: The bar opens at 5:30 p.m. and the dining rooms at 6 p.m. every evening; closing time varies
Cards: all major
Handicapped accessible: yes
Parking: ample in lot
Eat Up at Eat Here
Eat Here. The name says it all and nicely encapsulates our enthusiastic recommendation.
You’ll find this brainchild of irrepressible restaurateur Sean Murphy in a downtown Holmes Beach storefront with a signboard out front declaring its fare to be the “second-best food on the island.” The best, we are to understand, is to be found at Murphy’s flagship Beach Bistro not far away.
Eat Here is more casual than its award-winning older sibling but owes the core of its menu to the exceptional bar noshes out on the beach. Beach Bistro’s bar has become increasingly popular with those who don’t want to spend a couple of hours at table in the dining room but who do want something delicious to accompany a glass of good wine.
Eat Here actually is more a bistro than Beach Bistro is. Its menu is compact but varied, offering tempting variations on comfort food and concentrating its potables not on a full bar and extensive cellar but on well-priced wines by the glass and a superior list of beers and ales. It has proven to be such a winning combination that Murphy plans to open a second location on Sarasota’s Main Street this fall.
We started out sharing orders of “bedevilling eggs” ($5), tasty deviled eggs with a touch of Asian
spice, and of housemade potato chips ($5), which were crisp, spiked with a bit of garlic butter and wonderfully addictive. We liked them so much we nearly ordered a second batch, but we had already ordered main dishes and so forebore.
Friends of ours had raved about the lobster tacos ($14) and the grouper cakes ($10), and they sound great, but we were in a carnivorous state of mind.
Colette chose a nice twist on bangers and mash ($12) that encases housemade lamb and tenderloin sausage in a crispy spring-roll-like Thai wrap, pairs up with excellent mashed potatoes and finishes the treat in a swoony demi glace. (Did I mention that the chef’s name is Gator? It’s true, but his sophistication roams far afield of the Florida swamps.)
I zeroed in on my French bistro favorite, steak frites, which here goes by the name “best sirloin short steak” ($17). The flavorful cut of beef, less expensive and less tender than some but unbeatable for meaty bravado, comes with a port demi glace, truffle butter and superior fries.
I had a glass of hearty malbec ($7) with my steak, while Colette cleverly chose a pint of a little miracle of the brewer’s art called Ruination IPA ($8) to go with the bangers and mash.
We couldn’t resist dessert and so sampled a pretty and fruit-forward Key lime cheesecake ($6) and what proved to be at least a quart of warm apple crisp ($6), the bulk of which went home with us and made a yummy breakfast the next day.
5315 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach (Anna Maria Island)
Phone (no reservations): (941) 778-0411
Bar: excellent wine and beer lists
Hours: from 5 p.m. daily; closing time varies
Cards: all major
Handicapped accessible: yes
Parking: ample in lot