We got lucky again on Saturday when we drove down to check out YachtSea Grille on the Manatee River in Bradenton. While the restaurant was not quite as "riverfront" as we were expecting (it overlooks the parking lot of Riverfront Park with more glimpses of highway than river, although there's a smidge of a water view), we still enjoyed the scrupulously clean and nautically-themed (surprise, RIGHT?) outdoor dining area as the last vestiges of any "spring breezes" we are likely to experience for quite some time enhanced our al fresco dining experience.
While I sipped a lovely glass of La Crema Chardonnay, Underdog went rogue and ordered a Mojito...and what a fine Mojito it was! Long and tall with gently muddled mint, it was clearly crafted by a higher power. UD had to have two, despite the fact that rum is not generally his poison of choice. Beautiful!
YachtSea's Smoked Fish Spread is some of the best I've ever tried (and I've probably tried hundreds). Perhaps second only to the version cranked out by Waltz Fish Shak on Madeira Beach, this was a very meaty and lightly-smoked (in-house, I learned) rendition with a nice kick of heat at the back end. Unlike its highly homogenized counterparts you find in so many seafood restos in West Central Florida, you won't forget you're eating fresh fish when you order this one. It was perfectly seasoned with minimal mayo binder and the hot-from-the-oven flour tortilla chip carriers offered a refreshing variation on the usual Captain's Wafers (or, God forbid, Saltines).
Clam Chowder was off the chain. The owner (or manager) was super-visible and involved with the patrons on our visit, and he let us know that it was an award-winning recipe (which came as no surprise after tasting it) lovingly hand-made with fresh clams and rendered bacon...just as God intended. This was a really, REALLY good clam chowder. Creamy without being overly thickened with roux, gently seasoned and liberally crammed with tender clam bits...Clam Chowder doesn't get much better than this.
Having battled Bubonic Plague (or some similar shiznit) for the past 10 days, my appetite is still not up to par and I found myself slowing down after the starters. An appetizer order of Grouper Bites in light tempura breading with a zippy dipping sauce seemed to be about as much as I could handle, and I was ultimately defeated even by that. The nibbles I took were sweet and tasty, however.
We both loved the spousal unit's selection of Pale Ale Haddock Sandwich. You just don't see haddock on the menu often enough in Florida and this mild, medium textured slab of fish was served beautifully beer-battered and fried atop a soft pretzel roll.
Someone was feeling his sweet tooth and zeroed in on YachtSea's highly respectable version of Southern Pecan Pie (and this Tennessee Gurl can be a harsh critic of said dish) with its flaky crust and loads of large pecan halves. For a $3 upcharge, we got a generous vanilla ice cream topper.
We had a great experience at YachtSea....both food and service (thank you, Ray!) were well above average, especially for the price. It's rare for us to enjoy a late lunch like this with drinks and so many menu tastings for less than $100 before gratuity, but we did it here. $88 well spent!
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.