Howevah...if you're looking for a higher-end steak and seafood experience, Middle Grounds Grill is about half as expensive as Salt Rock and almost twice as good. The interior offers a sleek and sophisticated coastal theme that is very pleasing. You're reminded that you're at the beach, but you needn't fear any kitschy fishing nets draped across the walls or Key West directional signs...it actually exudes a bit of an upscale SW Florida vibe.
Underdog, being the accountant that he is, quickly seized on the Deal Of The Century wine offering which was presented in the form of a frisky (as in "high alcohol content"), mineral intense and citrusy bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc priced at $22. Retailing at around $14, $8 was a wine markup we could feel good about!
The Prince Edward Mussels (and there must've been 30 of them) were a delight. This veritable mountain of mollusks was presented piled high atop a bowl of garlic and white wine butter sauce. Sheer perfection, it could've been a $10 meal in itself.
Sauteed Escargot and Mushrooms in Herb Butter with Asagio Toast Points also ratcheted up my heart rate. I've been trying to dial down my carbs in a futile effort to combat my middle-age muffin top...but who am I kidding? Even Cher can't Turn Back Time...so I snorted the toast points like the Mayan Calendar is the One True Prophecy.
My Maple Butternut Squash Bisque was the stuff dreams are made of. Its subtle sweetness and velvety texture screamed "AUTUMN" in an October-Trip-To-Gatlinburg kinda way, only way more refined and sans any risk of being trapped amidst a broad slow-moving and mouth-breathing swathe of humanity. Of course, you don't get the benefit of fall foliage, either...but it seems like a fair trade-off overall. Luxuriously creamy and almost dessert-like, this shiznit could easily double as a bread pudding topping. Simply. Amazing. It made me want to fill my jacuzzi with it.
Underdog's Harvest Salad was also a thing of beauty. Fresh greens were presented topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, sliced apple and dried cranberry accents, along with bleu cheese crumbles. A light, sweet and tangy vinaigrette tied everything together nicely.
Entree time! Middle Grounds offers wet-aged Angus beef steaks along with their substantial seafood offerings, and my resident caveman could not resist the lure of the 18 oz. Bone-In Cowboy Ribeye. Perfectly cooked to his medium-rare specs, this incredibly flavorful slab of juicy bovine flesh was presented with Roasted Baby Potatoes and topped with a generous pile of addictive crispy and spicy Gunpowder Onion Rings. Somebody please get us on the waiting list for "The Biggest Loser" right now. It's only a matter of time.
Being the dainty eater that I am, I went low-cal and ordered seafood. And, yes...I'm being ironic. My Mango Nut Crusted Grouper (a fresh and flaky slab of "God's own Fish" crusted with a ground nut mixture, pan fried and presented with mango sauce and coconut rice), pretty much set the bar for any future grouper offerings I might enjoy. Insanely good.
Last pic...dessert. We couldn't NOT order one at this point in the game, even though food was coming out our ears. Honestly, cheesecake does not generally get my pulse racing...but Underdog seemed to have his heart set on the Warm Fried Cheesecake with Berry Sauce. My first bite of this mellow, Rice Krispy-blanketed and deep-fried concoction served with fresh fruit and vanilla ice cream almost made me forget the existence of Bread Pudding. I think Satan might've had a hand in creating this.
This fabulous meal, coupled with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and two glasses of whatever red wine the spousal unit was enjoying on this particular occasion (I was too busy cheerfully slurping away to take note), set us back a grand total of $125 before tip. Trust me...you want to to be here. Foodie-worthy, affordable and on the beach...what more could anyone ask for?