Longboat Key to Good Food: Five finds for flip-flop days

This tiny island is a genteel place from gentler times–Everything that’s best about the unpretentious Gulf side of the state.

1) Harry’s Continental Kitchen (Longboat): Order the rare sirloin sandwich on a baguette with béarnaise. Add a half pint of gazpacho and max out with a split of champagne and a slice of Key Lime pie. Perfect for poolside picnic.

2) Star Fish (Cortez): Head a few miles off the island for a low-key sunset snack.  A rustic seafood shack attached to a barebones seafood store, this is the place to order a fried softshell crab sandwich and a beer or two. Watch the fishermen (Cortez is still an active fishing/smuggling village) come in and the pelicans dine on scraps. Views of the mangroves are an added bonus. Even the oysters, not a regional specialty, are good.

3) Euphemia Haye: French country on Longboat Key. Oddly enough, best at pepper-crusted beef and Caesar salad. Not a hint of local in this anti-Norman Van Aiken crowd pleaser. Watch out for leering raccoons by the dumpster. My first great meal here was fettucine alfredo with escargots, a raisin nut bread with European butter, caesar salad and homemade blueberry cheesecake, circa 1985. If you call ahead, you can still make it happen.

The Haye Loft upstairs is a great capper for a night out here or at another restaurant on the island. Much more casual than downstairs, it nonetheless has a serious selection of the kind of cakes and pies that used to be displayed on dessert trolleys in Continental restaurants. Some decent if unspectacular digestifs as well.

Chef did Beard House Thanksgiving recently.

4) The Buccaneer: Pirate’s plunder of free plastic toys for kids. Straightforward seafood menu with loads of tacky terroir. Foil-wrapped potatoes, broiled grouper and a stiff rum drink make for the perfect early dinner. Walk the planks afterwards and check out the modern-day pirates’ yachts.

5) Tail of the Pup (St. Armand’s Circle): Chargrilled bacon wrapped cheddar cheese dog and a root beer float were the perfect antidote to a rainy day until this place closed.  Now that it’s gone, stop by Publix when clouds circle, pick up ingredients and put together at home.

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2 Responses to “Longboat Key to Good Food: Five finds for flip-flop days”

  1. NickySS Says:

    Hi!
    Nice info, big thx.

  2. Amy Says:

    I still dream about the Tail of the Pup, It was the first restaurant I was allowed to go into with just my friends. Those floats haunt me. Family favorite was of course, the Buccaneer. Nice to see that someone else remembers my childhood besides me!

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