While we’re always grateful for the abundance of fine dining and the ever-expanding nouvelle cuisine scene in Sarasota, Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar on Siesta Key, basically at the foot of Stickney Point Road, always gives me the warm and fuzzies. It was, after all, the second restaurant I visited when I first came to Sarasota back in the late ’80s (the first being the late-great Magic Moment for nostalgic foodie historians).
Being from the frozen north, Captain Curt’s was, and is, the typically charming and totally laid back “Old Florida” raw bar and after-beach oasis you want to eat at when you come to Florida. You know – a family style joint where you can nosh on fresh seafood, hot french fries and drink an ice cold brew in your shorts and flip-flops and not worry if you have sand on your feet. Honestly, I would be content if my last meal on earth was a blackened fish sandwich with an ice-cold draft beer, which I’ve enjoyed time and again at Captain Curt’s – not that I’m planning on checking out anytime soon, mind you. This place would fit the bill on that beautifully however.
On to the repast on this recent evening . . . We were cruising around with no particular destination in mind when it struck me to make my pilgrimage back to Captain Curt’s. It was already around 8:30 p.m. when we arrived to a bustling scene, both in the Backroom Saloon, and the dining room up front. Understand that many area restaurants are winding down and tidying up at that hour, so that gives you an idea of what a winning formula this place has.
We couldn’t pass up the nationally acclaimed, award winning clam chowder to share as a starter, and I’m here to tell you, this is a sensational version not to be missed! I’m serious here — Captain Curt’s clam chowder came in first in the Great Chowder Cook-Off – and international competition in Newport, Rhode Island. Jill and I both agreed the chowder alone was worth future visits! And luckily, for those of you reading this from afar, you can go to their website and order a gallon of it on a flat rate shipping program – totally worth it.
Since seafood was the obvious choice-du-jour here, Jill went for the Alaskan fish and chips. Maybe we need to get out more(!?) since this is something I don’t see around town, or maybe don’t notice. The fish was perfectly prepared, crispy battered Alaskan pollock hailing from the icy waters of the Bering Sea, served with a side of yummy fries. a packet of vinegar (naturally) with a ramekin of tartar sauce.
Being in that raw bar state of mind, I ordered up a half dozen freshly shucked, plump, raw oysters. Captain Curt’s offers a trio of house branded hot sauces, and of course I sampled ’em all. Mm-mmm! In addition, I decided on an order of garlic mussels, which is always on my short list of favorites, and made short work of those tasty mollusks, sopping up all of the broth with the bread that came with!
By meal’s end, we debated on whether to stick around for a nightcap in the Backroom Saloon to enjoy Sunny Jim and his “Parrot-head” extravaganza, but ultimately decided to go home, with assurances that we’ll keep this Siesta Key treasure “front-of-mind” the next time we need that shot of laid back Old Florida that made us fall in love with SRQ in the first place!