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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beachhouse Restaurant

     The West Coast of Florida is blessed with arguably the most spectacular sunsets in the world, and Beachhouse on Anna Maria Island is a piece of prime real estate for sunset-watching. The patio seating is on the sand and as you settle in, you are front row center for the nightly spectacle.
     Temperature in the seventies, a healthy breeze and not a cloud in the sky to impede our view... Every time I watch the sun slowly approach the horizon, I can't help but smile with anticipation, and when that big white ball grazes the distant water line and begins to melt into it, the five-year-old in me whispers "do it again".
     The interior of the restaurant is not too shabby either. It accommodates a very large number of people comfortably, the bar is attractive, there is a massive wine rack behind glass in place of a wall which looks very dramatic, and they even have a gift shop.
     This time we ordered chicken and pesto crustinis for an appetizer just to mix things up a bit. They were good, but not enough to eclipse the table bread- a basket of warm, doughy homemade pineapple coconut bread served with whipped butter. Oh my! I sigh at the mere memory. I abstained from alcohol that night, but John ordered a JDub's IPA (India Pale Ale). He found it too bitter and not a good partner for our first course.
     For entrees, John ordered the beef tips with risotto and I had the fish platter with garlic mashed potatoes and coleslaw. His beef came in a flavorful tomato-based sauce that helped the otherwise uninspired, slightly undercooked risotto.
     My dish was simple and satisfying. The grouper virtually walked off the shore and onto my plate, it was so fresh, and the potatoes were savory, but I could've skipped the coleslaw.
     As often happens, we were craving a sweet ending to the evening but nothing really stood out on the dessert menu. We ordered their "homemade" Key lime pie just to quell the yearning. When it came, we looked at each other in stunned silence. It really did look 'homemade' - a simple wedge of pie, no whip cream, no embellishment on the plate, not even a particularly attractive shade of green. Then we took a bite and the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" took a whole new meaning. Flawless balance between sweet and tart, just the right amount of crumble on the crust. Turns out any embellishment would have been superfluous.
   A simple anniversary dinner on a magical night in a captivating setting is an irrefutable Godwink.

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