A week of great food finds.

By Judi Gallagher 

Forgive me if this blog seems like a scattered buffet; actually that has been what the last week has been like, but in a good sense. Not that kind of “all you can eat” buffet; my week has been more like an array of delicious finds. On that note, I find the best way to describe my experiences is to just lay it out on the table, so to speak…
First Find: Mar Vista, Longboat Key
With a new chef, new menu and new roof, Mar Vista had my nod of approval for an old Florida feel with some pretty impressive dishes. Tuna Fusion is worthy of any fine dining table, with an excellent blend of ahi tuna diced and marinated in soy sauce and purple onion. Let’s just say the plate just works, especially with the creaminess of the guacamole and the crisp Thai chili slaw.

Seriously good is the Bud & Old Bay Shrimp Bowl. Large shell-on shrimp steamed with the aforementioned and finished with garlic butter—I had my shirt covered in saucy sweet goodness, especially when I started dipping the pineapple coconut bread right into the sauce. Pass on the crab cakes—much too much filler—but the miso sea bass brought the dinner back to a happy place. And of course, to finish it off, the peacocks gently strolled by as if on cue with the serving of Key lime pie and a full moon rising over the bay.


My eating buddies were first to suggest dipping coconut bread into that bowl of shrimp. 


Tuna Fusion at Mar Vista.

Second Find: The brand-new Outback Steakhouse on South Tamiami TrailI

I could hardly keep up with fellow blogger (Gen X) Hannah Wallace and her boyfriend (well known as CCB) as we jumped into the famed bloomin’ onion. Operating partner Tim Wong gave us an actual bloomin’ onion demo before we sampled an array of tastings from grilled lamb chops to roast sirloin (my favorite). The new restaurant is chic and worthy of a spot in SoHo, but thank goodness, all this style still offers the loaded baked potato!

 Quick, grab that bloomin' onion!

Third Find: Andrea

Ivo has retired, and one of my favorite chefs, until recently of Divino fame, can now be found creating Italian masterpieces at his newly opened Andrea Restaurant in Ivo’s former space. Can I just say the pasta is worthy of a toast, but when Andrea approaches the table with his prized truffles and shaves them right over your dish—well, there is much more to describe, so stay tuned for next week’s blog.

 Truffle me, baby!

Fourth Find: Selby Gardens Tea Room

Selby Gardens is now home to Local Coffee and Tea’s tasting room. It’s located in the Carriage House, where you can nibble on free samples while tea toasting to one of the most beautiful botanical gardens. Now that’s what I call cool beans.