I enjoyed both of these island cafes during the first week of July. Skipping the traditional dogs and burgers for fried green tomatoes on the island of Venice, and roast suckling pig on Siesta Key. Both tropical paradises are on the southwest coast of Florida. Both have that flip-flop vibe of old Florida with a modern twist on taste.
Blu Island Bistro
Fried Green Tomatoes Photo: Brenda C. Hill
A fellow food-loving friend, Matt, who shares my appreciation of small, unpretentious neighborhood cafes, introduced me to blu Island Bistro, near Venice beach and in the heart of town, for a tasty lunch yesterday. I may return today for a unique BLT breakfast. Chef Alan combines pecan smoked bacon, fried green tomatoes and arugula with basil garlic aioli, served on sour dough with fresh fruit. The juicy melon at is fresh and ripe. My mouth waters for more of the tangy fried green tomatoes with a house made remoulade. The side portion was so generous that I took two tomatoes home. They were still crunchy last night.
I felt at home at blu the minute I entered the convivial surroundings. Chef-Owner Alan was at the door to greet us. Later he popped by our table to check on our choices. Matt’s fish taco’s were as good as Baja Mexico’s, where I will be next week. Note the big wedges of avocado’s, Baja California style, in the fresh fish tacos.
Chef Alan Laskowski
Fish Tacos Photo: Brenda C. Hill
625 S. Tamiami Trail
Venice, FL 34285
No wonder Chef Alan won “Best of Philly,” with his whole wheat banana French toast. He was also a chef at one of my families favorite hotels during the 1980’s, the Chalfonte, in Cape May, NJ. Chef Alan has also appeared on the Food Network. I look forward to another eclectic dining experience at this local “beachy” bistro. Maralyn and I sample eggs Benedict wherever we travel in the world. Chef Alan adds a twist of smoked salmon, tomato/spinach and crab with asparagus with his house made hollandaise.
Island Blu Que Grill
Suckling Pig Photo: Brenda C. Hill
Another island food destination happens on Siesta Key every Sunday at bluQue, near the famous white sand beach in the heart of the village. Sunday is also the Siesta Farm Market, so this becomes a day long food fest.
At the Que, happy hour begins at 12 noon. By then sun is warm and the roast pig is sizzling hot as he crackles on the aromatic hardwood coals. I chill my thirst with a choice of ice cold Longboard Larger, Sam Adams Seasonal, Kona or Stella. The band begins playing and the aromas of slow smoked juicy grilled pork fill the sea air. This is a Sunday ritual, however all the dishes I have devoured are unique and tasty. The generous crunchy iceberg lettuce wedge has the twist of bacon, tomato and croutons, with house Blu cheese vinaigrette. This a cooling beach lunch, although it is hard to resist the authentic low country shrimp & grits or hand cut, fire grilled steak and back bean chili with an all day happy hour margarita.
Owner, Ken is out front before noon stoking the coals under the suckling pig and greeting old friends. The best pig roast I ever ate was in Madrid, until I discovered Que. Why fly to Spain when I can ride my bike to the 2011 winner of “Best Beach in the Country?”
|149 Avenida Messina • Sarasota, FL 34242