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🙂 I went to dinner with some friends on Saturday night – they gave me the choice of venue, so I selected the newly-opened Sea Star Cafe on Sanibel Island. It’s located where Ellington’s used to be, at the Sanibel Inn. When we first arrived, it was after 6:00 PM and there weren’t any other cars in the parking lot. We thought perhaps it was an indicator that the restaurant was not being kindly received, but later on, our waitress reminded us that it’s off season and what few tourists do make it to the island in the summer want to be on the beach as long as there’s daylight. Sunset doesn’t really occur until after 8:00 PM – and the sunsets are amazing down here in the summer time, so I don’t blame those tourists one bit for delaying the dinner hour! There’s a sample menu posted here, but it doesn’t show the wine list or mixed drinks. If memory serves, I ordered a Sanibel Iced Tea, pictured at left, but I don’t remember what was in it – clearly, something that makes it look like a sunset! It was cold and fruity and delicious.
I like the ambiance of the restaurant – exposed beams in a rotunda, lots of clean wood surfaces and just an airy feel to the place. The booths are very roomy too, but ours looked out over the garbage dumpster in the parking lot. Get one toward the back of the restaurant along the road if you want a better view.
I started my meal with the house salad and citrus vinaigrette on the side. The salad was fresh, the dressing was a little on the peppery side but overall good, and the bowl was a fail. You cannot tell from the photo, but the square salad bowl is sort of a wedge shape, with the bottom of the bowl being MUCH narrower than the opening at the top. Consequently, when you stab into your salad with your fork, lettuce and stuff erupts onto the table. Maybe if they filled the bowl a little less…??? Honestly, if I were the manager of the restaurant, I’d just ditch these bowls and get something a bit less adventurous.
ENTREES aka THE GREAT LOBSTER TAIL FAIL
Gary and I both ordered the grilled lobster tail. You will notice it was sliced in half lengthwise. This probably worked well in getting a lot of contact with the grill, but it was a fail logistically in terms of trying to pry the meat out of the shell. At some point, you have to pick the meat out with your fingers or just miss out on half your lobster tail. And honestly, if I’d wanted to pick at something with my fingers, I would have ordered an entire lobster or a crab or something. The whole point of ordering just the tail is that you can eat it with your fork and keep your hands clean. We didn’t have extra napkins or wet naps on the table, so things got messy fast. I also have to mention that the lobster tasted like steak. Oh I liked it, but it suggests that fish and meat are cooked on the same grill here. If you are allergic to seafood, then you should probably specifically mention that to the staff here so they will cook your steak separately.
Tootie ordered the shrimp basket and was overall pleased, I believe. I haven’t been over to her blog yet to see! I sampled one of her shrimp – it was a huge portion and they were pretty big shrimp, too. I love how the tail comes RIGHT off when you pull – A+ for that! Tootie said her fries were really good, too.
DESSERT and SERVICE
No, there’s nothing floating in my coffee – it’s the reflection from the overhead light fixture. But it does look like I’ve got “clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee”, doesn’t it? 😉 We did receive a fair amount of attention from the staff – probably there were two reasons for this. One, there weren’t a lot of people there so their attention was not divided much. Two, when patrons whip out cameras and start taking pictures of the food, chances are pretty good a review is on the horizon 😉 Well, maybe they didn’t notice the photo-taking, not sure. We did let the manager know about the lobster tail fail and made him pinky-swear that he would never let the chef do that again! For our trouble, we received these humongous double portions of dessert! I had to ask for a box to take half of it home (which I demolished last night after dinner – the cheesecake is totally wicked good!).
I really did like the atmosphere and the friendliness of the staff at the Sea Star Cafe. I would like to come back at some point in the future and see how they are maturing. Also noted – there’s a bar, and the place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which means this is a potential new stop on the Sunday Sanibel Bar Crawl. Well, we’ll see if we can get Gary to go back… 😉
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