This is part five of the Sarasota Wiki Vacation series. This trip to the Sarasota barrier islands yielded a large number of pictures which I’ve added to various Wikipedia articles. The unusually-long post I wrote became too long and unfocused. It is about 90 pages long. I am now breaking it up into specific posts by location and theme.
This one is about restaurants we we stumbled upon in this trip. I loved them, and their food. In the order we visited them: Mar Vista, Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar and Ophelia’s on the Bay.
Patrons came by boats and dock at the pier. Some came in jet skis. We drove to Mar Vista. Yet others just walked in.
We gorged on the famed Florida stone crab. It was so good that we actually came back the day after to have the same again. We were told that stone crabs were declawed and returned to the sea to regrow their claws. And that’s why only claws are served.
Some new folks sat down at the empty table next to us, shown in the picture above. And one of them handed his credit card to the waiter to forestall his friends from paying for the lunch. I heard him, and yelled, “hey, put our lunch on his tap, too, please.” An adjacent table called out the same joking request. It turned out that our good guy James the retired-physician now-cowboy had then instructed the waiter to do exactly that. We were most surprised and humbled when I asked our waitress for our bill.
We then moved our chairs over and crashed their lunch. We had a jovial conversation about us liberal Yankees and the rural conservative cowboys. I did not know being cowboy was a thing still, in Florida. I’d been now learned. Had our trip been longer we would have taken up James’ invitation to corral his cows with him, on horses. Maybe one day.
It seemed like James’ friends managed to pay for his lunch after all, in the midst of the confusion about our bill, and us crashing their lunch and engaging him in a long conversation. I guess we will just have to “pay it forward” like these good folks did.
Phillippi Creek Village Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Another restaurant our friend recommended was Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar.
While waiting for a table at the bar, we asked the bartender what to order. He unconditionally recommended the Creek Combo Pot for 2 people.
Years of shucking raw oysters at home paid off. I honestly did not think I would have to shuck these steamed oysters, before they brought that pot to me. After all, steamed clams opened up as they screamed bloody hell and got cooked alive. But these steamed oysters were determined to make life difficult for gourmet dinners. I happened to know how to shuck oysters without stabbing my own hand, but I was sure that this place saw its fair share of tourists that ordered steamed pots, and then looked at these dead but recalcitrant oysters in shock.
I thought the waitress was exaggerating when she brought us a big plastic bucket earlier.
But she knew what she was doing.
Ophelia’s on the Bay
We found ourselves near Turtle Beach on Siesta Key at sunset. We stumbled upon a restaurant with a great menu and an excellent view of the sheltered Little Sarasota Bay between the Key and main land: Ophelia’s on the Bay. This place sports a newly-printed menu with different courses every day.
As we were dinning, something in the far distance caught my eye. It was an osprey returning to its nest to feed its young. I grabbed the phone and fortunately got a few usable shots.