A south Sarasota restaurant does fresh New England-style seafood, and great ice cream in Gulf Gate.
By Judi Gallagher
For many, this week brings the start of school (and hopefully not a hurricane) and what some like to say is the end of summer. Humbug- not if we are waiting until November to turn off the air conditioning and even consider wearing longer sleeves. So I have found a way to cure those summertime blues with an ongoing “foodie staycation”.
First stop- and it is a haul for Sarasota residents, (however much less than a plane fare and rental car to get REAL Maine seafood), head down U.S. 41 to Bit of Boston in South Venice, and I mean south. Not to worry though, once you try the lobster rolls (REAL DEAL) and fresh whole belly fried clams that literally taste salty from the ocean-with a burst of clam juice with each bite- you are sold. I am a New Englander, I take my fried clams, “chowda” and onion rings seriously.
Bit of Boston takes New England fare seriously.
Our kitchen designers, Margaret and Ron Cook, got us hooked on Bit of Boston and you will be, too- the service is sweet and VERY New England, down to the accent. Heads up, though, they close often on holiday weekends to head back North, so call ahead to make sure they are open; and like in a little roadside lobster roll stand in Maine, don’t expect décor- in fact, that would probably take away from the authentic taste and feel.
Strickland's Ice Cream in Gulf Gate has been in the biz since the 1930s.
Next, head over to Strickland’s Ice Cream in Gulf Gate on the side of Books a Million, that faces the Tamiami Trail. Holy creamery is what I have to say- this incredible frozen custard beats Rita’s by a mile. The flagship store in Ohio has been making frozen custard since the 1930s.
A cone from Strickland's is a sweet treat.
A few years ago, the owners figured out a way to reinvent the original ice cream machines that produce the creamiest ice cream I have ever had. Thus, the Strickland brand is sweeping the country, or at least our neighborhood. I remember as a child having frozen custard with my Nana on a hot summer day at Palisades Amusement Park. Nana raised me right- go for the highest butterfat content in life and fresh ingredients and you will be happy. Good thing they have a sugar-free flavor (we tried fresh banana- amazing).
They make six types of ice cream fresh daily and the freezer case is filled with luscious summertime flavors like mango (which my neighbor described as awesome when we brought her a quart) and black raspberry. But trust me on this one- try the vanilla- sometimes purity is the best tastebud pleaser in the world.