Hhhmm… That could be a tough choice. I know that every guy is just dying to shop for faucets and sinks. We’re just really great at keeping those feelings bottled up inside. You know how guys can be.
So, it was decided (or, shall I say suggested), basketball out, shower heads in. But, what fact finding mission couldn’t benefit from a stop at a local restaurant for a little fueling up. I “eagerly” agree to go with the understanding that I get to scout out a new Sarasota restaurant after the porcelain showroom tour.
There have been bunches of new places opening around town the past several months, so there were lots of options. My choice for today’s outing, Trader Vic’s Island Bar and Grill. Legend has it that they invented the Mai Tai way back in 1944.
Located off of Fruitville and Cattlemen Roads, Trader Vic’s has taken up residence in what was formerly R.J. Gator’s and Leverock’s. It may have even been several other things at some point. Newly remodeled and ready for prime time, the building has taken on a comfortable, relaxed, island atmosphere. Now, it’s not “islandy” like SKOB, O’Leary’s or the Casey Key Fish House, but, it’s about the best you can do twenty minutes from the nearest large body of water or beach.
A rainy Sunday afternoon is not the busiest time for Trader Vic’s, so we had no problem getting the table of our choosing. Hey, I could even see the TV’s in the bar area, so, I got to check out a little basketball from a far. Hostess pleasant, server nice. Great start.
Vic’s has a pretty large menu with lots of choices. Today we decided to try out some of the appetizers. With over a dozen options, we figured we could get a good sampling by choosing the Signature Island-Tizer. It says “enough to share” right on the menu! It seemed like a good choice. It was highlighted in green and had a picture of a palm tree next to it, so, it screamed “TRY ME”!
This is what the Island-Tizer has in store for you. Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Coconut Chicken Fingers, Ragin Cajun Shrimp and Veggie Pot Stickers. We added a Bucket of Fries and of course I had to have some soup. I went with the Barbados Chicken Soup on my servers suggestion.
Here’s how it went down. The Barbados Chicken Soup was out first. It was great. People who know me know that I like soup and this one hit the mark. It actually tasted a lot like chili. Nicely spiced, the dollop of sour cream was a great touch.
Next came the main event. I’ll just start by saying there is no problem with the quantity of food served. There’s more than enough on the platter for two people. Things get a little more complicated from there. The pot stickers were good, not chewy like some of them can be. The filling was nice and they weren’t overcooked. When I saw Ragin’ Cajun Shrimp as one of the items included on the platter I expected something with a little zip to it. Not here, these shrimp were pretty zipless. Fried, not really recognizable as shrimp and bland. Nothing Ragin’ about them.
The last two items were the Coconut Chicken Fingers and the Spinach Artichoke Dip. I can say with a high degree of certainty that I am not a connoisseur of chicken fingers. When it comes to this task, you would probably be better off enlisting the help of an eight year old. They should be well qualified to render a worthwhile opinion. I tried one, they were tasty. A crispy coconut breading and big pieces of chicken. They would probably rate high on the chicken finger scale.
For me, the highlight of the Island-Tizer platter was the Spinach Artichoke dip. Fantastic! Hot, creamy, great full flavor. I probably should have been a little embarrassed about licking the bowl. My server shot me one of those, “are you kidding me” looks. I’m not intimidated, it was good.
The bottom line: The new Trader Vic’s Island Bar & Grill is a nice addition to the Sarasota dining scene. Everyone around us seemed to be enjoying their meals, the friendly service and casual atmosphere. It’s a great place to take a family. There are lots of choices for people of all ages. Kids can order those Coconut Chicken Fingers off the “real” menu and feel like a grown up.
If you’re looking for more Trader Vic’s food photos from that afternoon, you can see some by clicking HERE.
341 N. Cattlemen Rd.
Sarasota, FL 34232