(2009) You probably know Captain Brian’s Seafood Market and Restaurant, either because it’s a regular stop when you’re in the neighborhood or because a friend told you it’s the place to go when you just want a nice piece of fresh fish with no fuss.
That’s just what the captain delivers. He casts his nets widely and produces a daily specials list that usually dwarfs the list on the standing menu. About a quarter of the place (you know, the one by the airport with the full parking lot?) is the fluorescent-lit retail market, which many regulars swear by, and the rest is a big unfussy dining room divided by a huge saltwater aquarium. The captain does not accept reservations, but there’s a short bar where you can sip a glass of wine if you have to wait for a table.
That bar is close by the salad bar, an item that once was ubiquitous and now has declined in popularity. I’m no fan of the contraption, but the captain’s included some real tomato quarters on a recent dinner visit and a cool creamy ranch dressing, too. The salad bar is included with the well-priced entrées.
Starters are well priced, too. Colette chose a special offering of three medium
Florida stone crab claws and was delighted with their perfect freshness. (Note to lollygaggers: Hurry! The stone crab season ends May 15.) The kicker is that these beauties, which she ordered chilled and which came nicely cracked and paired with the usual mustard-and-mayo dipping sauce, were priced at a pretty amazing $11.95. Excellent value for the money.
I went for the fried oysters ($7.50): big, plump, warm water babies breaded, deep-fried and served with lemon wedge and both tartar and cocktail sauces on the side. Fried oysters aren’t for everyone or every occasion, but if you have a taste for them, these definitely are worth a try.
Colette returned to the specials list for her entrée, a darn-good piece of Florida pompano, while I chose a mixed grill featuring swordfish, salmon and tuna (both specials $18.95). All the fish was fresh and firm, nicely grilled and of satisfying heft. I particularly appreciated our waitress’s offering me the option of having my tuna rare if I preferred, which I almost always do. And that’s typical of the friendly, knowledgeable service here.
Don’t look for cutting-edge at Captain Brian’s, but if the simple pleasure of good fish and shellfish well prepared and well priced is what you’re after, this place is a good choice.
Captain Brian’s Seafood Market & Restaurant
8441 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Reservations not accepted: info at (941) 351-4492
Hours: lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner 4:30-9 p.m., both Monday-Saturday
Cards: AmEx, V, MC, Discover
Handicapped accessible: yes
Parking: ample in lot