Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Crab and Fin on St. Armands

The Crab and Fin, which used to be called Charley's Crab, is one of the most popular outdoor dining spots on St Armands Circle, especially when the sun is shining and the resident pianist is playing softly in the background, under his outdoor arbor. Perfectly situated on a picturesque corner on the 'Circle' The Crab and Fin is always busy, and understandably so. The ambiance is upbeat and friendly, the menu caters to many tastes, and the food is always very good and reasonably priced.

The outdoor dining at the Crab and Fin in St Armands Circle

With a name like Crab and Fin, one would expect a menu that reflects all the flavours of the sea, and with a raw bar selection of fresh clams, oysters, gulf shrimp and three kinds of crab, including Alaskan Red King, Florida Stone and Dungeness crab, as well as raw tuna, the choices are difficult to make.

Crab and Fin menu

As our group looked over the menu, our server Alfredo brought sangria for everyone and a plate of Crispy Fried Calamari with wedges of fresh lemon and a delicate sesame dipping sauce for the table to share.

Red Sangria 

Starters included a lovely light Shrimp Bisque seasoned with diced shrimp, tarragon and a shot of sherry for good measure, as well as Charley's Chowder, a classic Mediterranean fish chowder, Fried Oysters, Portuguese Grilled Octopus as well as a selection of four caviars with traditional condiments and tasting notes for each, available upon request. Curiously, there was no price listed for the caviar — I guess if you needed to ask the price, you probably couldn't afford it! We weren't feeling like caviar anyway...

Shrimp Bisque seasoned with diced shrimp, tarragon and Sherry with a slice of lime

On a more reasonable level, Crab and Fin's entrées include a selection of freshly made pasta, steaks, surf and turf dishes, grilled fish and a nice assortment of luncheon-size salads, as well as a comprehensive wine list from which to choose. Our table decided on the Shrimp 'Po-Boy' with cajun dusted and crispy fred gulf shrimp served with a creole mustard sauce, house-made slaw and frites; a Shrimp Chimichanga topped with montery jack and cheddar cheese with a garnish of fresh guacamole and sour cream; a toasted Smoked Salmon and Brie Grilled Cheese served with a crunchy apple slaw; and my favourite, the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare served with chili lime aioli and guacamole topped with a nest of crispy filo.

Shrimp Po-Boy with cajun dusted & crispy fried gulf shrimp

Shrimp Chimichanga topped with monterey jack and cheddar cheese

Toasted Smoked Salmon and Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwich with apple slaw

Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with fresh guacamole, chili lime aioli and crispy filo

After spending a lovely two hour lunch at "Charley's" it was time to move on the more pressing matters — a little bit of shopping along St Armands Circle and maybe a swim in the Gulf before sun set. I love Christmas in Longboat Key!

420 St Armands Circle, Sarasota, Florida