Any restaurant that has been successful since 1976 obviously knows how to attract, and keep, happy patrons.
That being said, Crow’s Nest Marina and Restaurant has been the gold standard for seafood restaurant in Venice for decades. And, while it is a bit of a drive from our abundance of culinary treasures, it is so worth the drive.
Mart had a new property listing in Venice, and happily pointed out that we should plan on dinner at The Crow’s Nest after we finished shooting photos at the home. As full time Realtors, we work often find ourselves in Venice, so dinner after the photo shoot was the perfect time to mix pleasure with pleasure.
The Crow’s Nest is located along Tarpon Center Drive, north of Venice Avenue and Venice’s adorable downtown and public beach. The drive down was a pleasure, seeing the beautiful properties lining the boulevard headed to Tarpon Center Drive.
As expected, there was a constant flow of guests taking the elevator to the second floor dining room, where guests can enjoy a view of the inlet and the Gulf of Mexico. When a seafood restaurant is located right next to a marina, you know the seafood is going to be fresh!
We started the evening with a glass of wine, a Malbec for Mart, and a Pinot Grigio for me. The wine list at The Crow’s Nest has been well developed with the menu in mind, with a wine cellar that commands attention off the main dining room.
Savor Sarasota was still going on, so Mart ordered an appetizer, main course and dessert ($29 for the whole shebang) while I focused on the regular dinner menu. I think Mart’s choice had everything to do with his choice of appetizer, the Deep Fried Oysters. He was looking forward to this dish as soon as he saw them on the special menu, and he was one happy foodie with the dish. Plump, juicy oysters coated in a crisp, crunchy crust and flash fried so the exterior is hot, while the mollusk inside stayed cool, tasty, and briny.
I’m a huge fan of Seafood Bisque, and the cup I ordered at The Crow’s Nest was as good as any I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Served with a glass of sherry on the side, Mart did me the honors of pouring the sherry over the top of the Bisque.
The bisque was smooth and velvety, with numerous bite sized chunks of lobster, crab and shrimp. The sherry swirled through the bisque, cutting through the cream and tickling the palate. I’d SO order this again!
While there are pork chops, chicken and filet mignon on the menu, both Mart and I are sticking with a seafood entrée. I ordered the Grouper Key Largo, a pan-seared grouper topped with lobster, shrimp, scallops and mushrooms, with house rice and hollandaise on the side.
This dish was every bit as robust as it looks. I loved the Portobello mushrooms with the mixed seafood, and the hollandaise was a great alternative to the butter I’d usually dip my seafood in. The lemony taste of the hollandaise was delicious with both the fish and the rice, and I was satiated well before my plate was finished.
Mart ordered a shrimp stuffed with crabmeat (yowza!) from the special Savor Sarasota menu, which was the ideal sized portion for guests ordering a three course meal. (Forget that we were chowing down on the hot bread before the food arrived.) The shrimp was grilled and seasoned , and swimming in a beautiful butter sauce, giving us a different flavor than the beauties on my plate.
The strawberry shortcake we shared for dessert was composed of a home made biscuit and fresh whipped cream, strawberry coulis and fresh Florida strawberries. What a great dish to enjoy while watching stand up paddle boards floating in from the bay.
I couldn’t help myself. While sipping my wine, I relaxed in my chair, closed my eyes and let the setting sun warm my face . . . leaving me with a sense of contentment and serenity that you can only find after enjoying a superb dining experience at water front restaurant at sunset. While we can enjoy flitting about from delicious restaurant to delicious restaurant, it’s hard not to pinch yourself once in a while to remind us that we live this paradise everyday!