I went on an adventure down to Englewood, FL (near Venice, FL for those of you not familiar with the area) a few weeks ago. My grandparents bought a condo down there a few years back where they spend their winters and it seemed like the perfect excuse to get out of the cold to visit them.
Upon me booking the trip, My Poppop immediately started to brainstorm on his favorite foodie places to take me on my visit. He not only is more in tuned to social media than some people my age I know but also, he and my Mommom are huge supporters of my blog endeavor. They religiously read my posts, send me ideas, and provide great feedback. He was on a mission to find me a great place to try out and review. Well, he did not just take me to 1 favorite…he took me to 2. They were both outstanding and I am excited to share these dining experiences with all of you.
Our first excursion was to Farlow’s on the Water. The restaurant features a fusion of Caribbean and southern comfort offerings (The owners are married and merged their hometown cuisines together). My grandparents were in such a rush to get there at 5PM. In all honesty I just thought this rush was for time preference to get in before the crowds. I soon noticed, while it was to get in ahead of crowds, there was already a long line of patrons waiting for a table. It was clear before even sitting down that Farlow’s had quite a following.
Once we were seated we poured over the large amount options the restaurant had to offer. They had everything ranging from their house specialty of coconut shrimp, local catches like grouper and stone crab all the way to southern specialties like Kentucky hot brown dish and fried green tomatoes.
We decided to go with the appetizer tower to start so we could pick and choose (you could select up to 3) from the starter options. We went with the famous coconut shrimp, conch fritters, and crab meat stuffed portabella mushroom. The conch fritters were something I have not seen on any menus near me so it was exciting to try. All three were fantastic. The seafood tasted fresh and they were all bursting with flavor.
I ordered a special for my main course, the Stone Crab. It is a local favorite and it came in fresh that morning, as the waitress announced to us on our arrival. I do have to admit that I did not order mine the way it is truly intended to be consumed in this region (cold with a mustard sauce). Because of my dislike for mustard I went with their secondary option of being served hot with drawn butter. And boy was it good! I’m still drooling over that dish. I paired it with a sweet potato with a mango rum butter and WOW is all I can say.
We all ordered off the specials menu…My boyfriend got the Stone Crab cold, my grandfather went for the Jamaican Jerk Swordfish and my grandmother got an Island Lemon Snapper dish. Everyone was beyond pleased and VERY full at the end of our meal. But, we couldn’t resist desserts after our server told us they were house made.
We shared the Key Lime Ice Cream Pie and the Kentucky Chocolate Pecan Pie. They were to die for.
We left Farlows in our induced food comas, very happy. The service and staff were great. They were friendly and attentive. An all-around 10 experience. The only downside…I can’t go back to this place on the regular!
For all you travelers, or FL natives, this is a stop you don’t want to miss. Check out Farlow’s on the Water at: http://www.farlowsonthewater.com
Our second outing was not as involved as the first. On our last day of the visit my grandfather drove us out to another one of his favorite stops for lunch in Venice, FL-Sharky’s on the Pier. It is another waterfront property and it was flocked with people. We went on a rainy afternoon, after the lunch rush hour, and still found a 25 minute wait. We wandered out onto the boardwalk pier while we waited and just took in the view.
The food fare was mainly focused around seafood. They featured many different types of cuisine that highlighted local fishes, shrimp, and crab. We put our order in and then the manager paid a visit to chat about their establishment.
Jeff Enos (I promised a shout out to him for all his help and for being an ex MTV Asia VJ!) took the time to speak with me about the allure of their restaurant, some fun facts about the property, and some accolades that Sharky’s proudly has attained (It was once voted into Yahoo Travel’s Top 10 Best Bars). Sharky’s started as a hotdog hut and expanded over its 27 years to become a local favorite as well as a tourist destination. Their fish is delivered daily and the diner favorites are typically their grouper and Mahi Mahi. The one fun fact I thought was very interesting is their location is known for being one of the biggest “graveyards” for fossilized shark’s teeth in the world. It is also not unusual, according to Jeff, for anywhere from 15-20 sharks of various sizes to be caught A DAY off their pier. (I will not be going in the waters off that beach anytime soon!!)
Our meals were delivered and we enjoyed our quick casual dishes. I went with the Shrimp Bruschetta which was served warm with mushrooms and spinach over garlic bread. The other dishes we tried out were Fish Tacos, a Thai style salad (Ko Pao) with Shrimp, and the Cajun grouper sandwich. All of us were impressed with our selections. They were all simple meals but the freshness of the ingredients stood out.
Check out Sharkys on the Pier at: http://sharkysonthepier.com/
Englewood, FL may not be at the top of everyone’s travel to-do list but it is definitely close enough to some of the other great beach destinations in Florida. It’s worth the small trip for both of these restaurants!
…all for the love of the dish