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Sarasota Strip Mall Sushi

6 Dec

You can find some pretty tasty sushi in a cookie cutter Florida strip mall, if you don’t mind some pretty bland decor. Actually, “bland” might be a nice way of putting it – I can just imagine Gordon Ramsay trying to redecorate a place like Ahi Sushi: “damn, what a shame, what a shame….”  Such great food, but such horrendous decor. It’s like suburban banquet hall meets roadside discount store, with a sad aquarium and plenty of fake plants. (The squeaky-clean bathrooms had more character).

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Luckily, the food made up for the ambiance. My husband and I showed up for a very late weekday lunch, and ordered a ton of sushi, including salmon, fatty salmon, tuna, and yellowtail nigiri sushi, and the namesake Ahi maki roll (middle roll at the top). The Ahi roll was my favorite of the maki rolls we ordered, but they were all fresh, and yummy.
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Great fish-to-rice ratio!
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I’m guessing most couples don’t drop about $90 on a lunch for two (Ahi offers $10 lunch specials….) so the chef brought us some complimentary blue fin tuna sushi!Blue fin tuna sushi

All in all Ahi Sushi is a nice spot for a meal if you’re craving good-quality sushi. Keep your eyes on the food and try to ignore the drab scenery around you  – this is not a date-night place! 4 stars for food, 2 stars for ambiance.

 Info: Ahi Sushi, 3440 Clark Road, Sarasota, FL,32431 USA
Ahi Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Unique Steak Experience: Bern’s, Tampa

26 Apr

From the outside, Bern’s Steak House is a plain white building with few windows, marked by a plain sign. However, its size hints at the gastronomic adventure to come. Inside, the many dining rooms of the Steak House are bustling; we sat at the end of the long Rhone Room.

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We kicked off our meal with steak tartare and heart-shaped toasts. The regular portion is large enough for 2-3 people to share.

Bern's Steakhouse: steak tartare

Perfectly grilled butterflied shrimp served with two slices of garlic crostini. DSC01573

Unlike most steakhouses of this caliber, steak entrees at Bern’s come with appetizers and sides: French onion soup and a simple garden salad.Bern's: French onion soup Bern's: salad

I ordered a 7 oz Chateaubriand, which arrived a perfect medium-rare as I had requested. The steak had a great crust and a melt-in-your-mouth red interior. It was accompanied by the best fried onion strings I’ve ever had – delicately battered, and not greasy at all. Shredded carrots and sauteed kale were the vegetables of the day – probably not something I would have chosen on my own, but alright.

DSC01581 Continue reading

Two Beer Gardens in SRQ

21 Mar

During my last trip to Florida, we swung by two beer gardens, one big and one small. Here’s the down-lo.

JDubs Brewing Company, Sarasota

Here’s the front of JDub’s – it’s nothing fancy.

JDubs

The other side is where the action is. Being at JDub’s is like being in your buddy’s backyard, with a couple of cornhole games to make up for the slightly rickety picnic tables. He’s also your coolest friend because he brews awesome beers.

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Inside, the bar is pretty small – enough space to fit about 3 people. Just squeeze in at either end to order your pint. Aside from the bar there is also one long table over looking windows to the brewery.

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Motorworks Brewery, Bradenton

On the other end of the beer garden spectrum is Florida’s largest patio at Motorworks Brewery in Bradenton. There’s a stage for a band, a large projection screen (great place to watch a game), a raised deck area around a huge tree, a small mini golf area, and about ten setups for corn hole. Near the corn hole games there is space for a food truck – which is where all the food is made if you order anything other than beer from the menu. My portobello salad was great, with two huge mushroom caps, but it came on a styrofoam plate.

Motorworks: cornhole

A large deck surrounds an old tree. This is the place to be.DSC01690

The brewery hosts some pretty cool events too – I saw posters for pilates (followed by a pint of course) and a chili cook off.

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Inside there is plenty of seating, a long bar, another stage and projection screen, darts, and a popcorn machine where you can scoop your own. A window at one end of the bar lets you see the tanks where the beer magic happens.

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I ordered a beer flight:

The Nitro is award winning. It has a unique taste with hints of coffee. I liked the taster but I don’t think I could drink a full pint. The coffee porter on the other hand is easy drinking. Probably my favourite out of the bunch. The India brown ale has a herbally finish. I couldn’t taste the melon in the Melon Kolsch. My husband found it too bitter for his taste. Lastly, the Session is easy drinking but not particularly remarkable.

Motorworks: flightAside from Motorworks’ own beers, the long drink menu includes bottles from other craft breweries, as well as wines, if beer isn’t your thing. When in Bradenton, no matter your preferred drink, the Motorworks beer garden is the place to enjoy it!

Info: Motorworks Brewing, 1014 9th Street West, Bradenton, FL 

Motorworks Brewing on Urbanspoon

Authentic Chinese in Sarasota: Yummy House

21 Jun

With a name like Yummy House, this place could easily fade in with the plethora of Happy Family’s, Lucky Panda’s, or Asia Wok’s that serve greasy Americanized slop some people call “Chinese food.” But Yummy House is the real deal; its owners hail from Toishan, China. I’ve been to Sarasota several times now, and spending a few days in the town certainly gives the impression that there are no Chinese people around. That’s because they are all inside, at Yummy House.

IMAG1831Yummy House prides itself on its Salt and Pepper mix. We ordered the Salt and Pepper shrimp – lightly battered, large, fresh shrimp. Absolutely delicious!

bok choy and mushroomsShitake mushrooms over bok choy is a well-executed, classic dish.

IMAG1836Sizzling beef with onions in black pepper sauce // Eight Treasures Pot with scallops, shrimp, bbq pork, chicken, shitake mushrooms, and tofu.

IMAG1837There are a few dishes on the menu to please those looking for something more Americanized, like the chicken lo mein (Above photo, bottom left), orange chicken, beef and broccoli, and egg rolls // stir-fried chicken with vegetables (Above photo, bottom right). Most dishes hover in the $10-$12 range.

The menu is a manageable size – you won’t find yourself overwhelmed – but there is a good variety, ranging from sizzling plates, bbq dishes, fried rice and noodle plates, pork, chicken, fish, and lobster. Nothing is out-of-this-world, but every dish we had was solid.

The Final Word: Florida is not exactly known as a mecca for Asian food, but if you’re in the area with a hankering for authentic Chinese food, Yummy House is the place you need.

Yummy House on Urbanspoon

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