Monday, March 31, 2014

The Clam Factory - Bradenton

Hubby was hankering for Clams on the Half Shell - a Raw Bar - something that was readily accessible when we lived in NYC. But down here in sunny Florida they are hard to find as most establishments feature only Oysters on the menu. So a quick internet search led him to The Clam Factory in Bradenton. Now don't be fooled by the rather dull and sad looking exterior you see in this photo
as believe me you can't judge a book by its cover. Located near the historic Cortez Fishing Village, The Clam features live music, great seafood and house smoked barbecue. It's run by co-owner John Medico who greeted us warmly and told us not to be fooled by the decor - he and his partner came from a fine dining background and the food would be great. And it was!
Sorry I didn't get a photo of the dozen clams served on a bed of ice (chilled and appetizing as they should be) - you see we laid into them so quickly they were gone in a flash. You'll have to go see for yourself. We lucked out by arriving on Steak Night at The Clam - a confusing concept to find steak in a seafood place...but these guys do it right. With a gigantic smoker grill set up outside the restaurant, you park your car and are immediately assaulted by the most appetizing grilled meat aromas. They offer Prime NY Strip from Bradenton's own Chop Shop - a 12-14 oz. steak with baked potato and salad for only $15.00.
Half our group went for it and the meat was absolutely delicious. One even stated that it was the best steak he'd had since he moved to Florida - wow.
There's music almost every night and the band was just setting up when we were leaving - the crowd looked ready for the fun night ahead. Alas loud music isn't our cup of tea any more but that didn't mean the night was over for us. It was back to our house for coffee and dessert and a lively round of our favorite new game - Guesstures, a Charades game that we've had so much fun playing lately. A nice way to end the evening with lots of laughs and frankly some light exercise as we run around the living room gesticulating wildly in an effort to get our teammates to guess right. And yes the girls won AGAIN. But we were all winners for this Great Escape and you can bet we will be going back to The Clam Factory very soon!
The Clam Factory on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Libby's Sarasota

Notice anything about Libby's Logo? Check back on my previous post for O'Bricks in Bradenton and you'll note that the logos are almost identical. either they are owned by the same corporation, or they've used the same graphic designer. Take what you will from that - perhaps I'll investigate further.
Our Escape this month led us to Libby's where we enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and each others company. It must be stated that whether the restaurant is a hit or a miss - our company is always a hit. This Sarasota neighborhood is lively and filled with restaurants and bars clustered within a few short blocks. I'm always delighted to discover these pockets of cool, hip eateries. Libby's is a large beautiful place with additional sidewalk seating where you can dine alfresco even on a cool evening as they are equipped with some futuristic groovy furnace towers.
We were able to get a round table which is always our preference as it promotes conversation for all. I had my once-in-a-blue moon Lemon Drop Martini and as we got there before happy hour ended at 7 pm we scored. The menu is varied and interesting, including a whole section of Gluten Free options - a growing concern for many people these days including two of our group members. So it was nice to be able to accommodate their needs while not compromising the needs of the rest of us. Taking your group's dietary concerns into account can make it challenging to find a restaurant that will please all. Libby's did it beautifully.
I had a flat-iron entree spinach salad, hubby a flat-iron steak with pomme frittes. Two of our group had the special - meatloaf made with beef, veal and pork and topped with a fried egg, a generous portion accompanied by green beans. The food earned high points from everyone, even though it was pricy. Be prepared to spend but know that you'll enjoy the food. (Hey that's why we do this splurge only once a month!)