Sack-back Windsor chairs line several tables, and personalities from all across Pine Island come to indulge in the libations and excellent food.|
Three unshaven men, fresh from a day on the water, crowd the small bar trading emphatic fish stories. A married couple, from nearby Bokeelia, dine from the lounge menu. From across the room they engage my wife in conversation...life on the island, trips to Hong Kong and Dubai, the presidential race. Between the twists and turns of an animated discussion, the wife and I share a Caribbean Shrimp, Mushroom and Spinach Dip appetizer. Topped with Monterey Jack cheese and served with seasoned croutons, the subtle curry flavor of the dip was a pleasant surprise.
The amiable hostess introduces herself and explains how the Chef at the Tarpon Lodge, Jethro Joseph, hails from Grand Cayman. He loves to blend fresh Southwest Florida ingredients with Caribbean spices when creating his unique menu items. The end result is some of the region's most innovative food. Traditional classics given a South Florida update share menu space with fresh catch delicacies, while exotic flavors of the Cayman Islands reveal themselves in surprising and unexpected places.
The Tarpon Lodge Restaurant is consistently rated at four stars by visiting food critics. Live music, of the easy listening variety, is scheduled a couple times a week. There is an exquisitely appointed indoor dining room, but the tables you want here are out on the screened dining patio overlooking the postcard-perfect sunset on Pine Island Sound.
The hostess seats us at a corner table on the patio with an unobstructed water view. The live musical guests this evening are the David Sarchet Trio. Their blending of classic and modern jazz stylings mix with the fresh Florida air and provide the perfect atmospheric backdrop for a magical dining experience.
Within moments, our professional server provides proper wine service on the bottle we chose from the limited and affordable wine list. Glasses full of Steele Pinot Noir are raised for a toast in the dusky light. Crystal clinks, and our leisurely-paced meal begins.
Salads, bigger than life, appear before us. My wife goes with a Green Leaf Spinach Salad made with baby spinach leaves topped with roasted red pepper and mushrooms, finished with a warmed sweet bacon vinaigrette. The fluctuation of temperatures plays with our senses. Crisp cool spinach collides with the warm bacon dressing...absolutely stunning.
Mine is a Hearts of Palm Asian Salad. Tangy hearts of palm and sweet snowpeas tossed with mixed field greens and crispy fried wonton strips, which add an extra crunchy texture to the salad. All of it is lightly smothered in an Asian vinaigrette with sesame and ginger tones. Magnificent.
My wife's Pine Island Sound Crab Cakes definitely live up to the legendary word-of-mouth status they've earned over the past couple years. Jumbo lump crab meat combined with Chef Jethro Joseph's inimitable blend of seasonings, formed into two gargantuan crab cakes and sauteed until done. They are wisely paired with a garlic aioli which complements the flavors of the crab cakes nicely. This is Southwest Florida food done right.
My choice is a sought-after fresh catch special that's hard to track down, but oh-so-worth-it when it's found...Sauteed Local Tripletail. I was so delighted to hear our server verbal the dish at the beginning of our meal.
Related Articles -
Fantasie Swimwear, swimwear, beachwear, how to sew, sewing, sewing project, sew a spa wrap,