Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mar Vista Dockside Pub: A Taste of Old Florida

The Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, is located on the bayside of North Longboat Key in the heart of Longboat Village. Originally built in 1912, and spared when a hurricane in 1921 wiped out large chunks of the Island, this Old Florida style restaurant is considered one of the twelve oldest surviving structures on Longboat Key. One of my parent's favourite casual dining spots for lunch on the key, no trip to Longboat is complete without a pilgrimage to this charming Old Florida dockside gem.

Beautiful Bougainvillea, ferns and native plant species grow 
with glorious abandon around the Mar Vista

The fish points the way to Mar Vista's outdoor dockside dining

Outdoor dining at the water's edge

One of the best places to enjoy a meal at Mar Vista is by arriving early and grabbing one of the limited waterside tables, nestled under a canopy of trees and overlooking beautiful Sarasota Bay. The next priority is ordering a cold beer, glass of wine or crazy cocktail while ruminating on the delicious offerings on Mar Vista's seafood-heavy lunch menu. Feeling a little chilly with the 73° weather, the Longboat Mary caught my eye, and did it ever warm me up! Made with Absolut Peppar and Zing Zang, the Longboat Mary was wonderfully hot and spicy with spicey Vodka having a distinct character of green bell, chili and jalapeño peppers. 

A Longboat Mary made with Absolut Peppar and Zing Zang - hot and spicy 
with a distinct character of green bell, chili and jalapeño peppers

But what on earth is Zing Zang? I didn't know so I asked — it's a fabulously fiery Bloody Mary mix that contains over 14 vegetables and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. Only in America - too bad. Served with a pickled green bean, green olive, wedge of lime and celery stick, the Longboat Mary was almost a meal in itself.

Zing Zang - zowie!

Fresh baked loaves of bread arrive with whipped butter

With a vast array of appetizers, seafood, sandwiches, and salads to choose from, it's no wonder we keep coming back. With eight of us descending on Mar Vista, we were able to sample from their lunch menu with great gusto. Whether we needed it or not, we ordered some the restaurants warm bread fresh from the oven, and a pot of whipped butter. Known for their Grouper Sandwich, the fish can be ordered blackened, grilled or fried. 

Mar Vista's popular Blackened Grouper Sandwich served with 
creamy cole slaw and tartare sauce

The Coconut Shrimp Salad served over spinach greens, orange segments, candied walnuts, tomatoes, red onion and cucumbers with a raspberry vinaigrette is my Dad's favourite. Both the Crab Cake Sandwich and Mar Vista Burger also looked delicious, and served with a bowl of creamy cole slaw and hot french fries, but my cousin and I were more restrained and ordered the Ahi Tuna Salad and Spinach Salad. My brother chose the Grouper Quesadilla, which he said was a little bland, but he managed to gobble down every last morsel.

Coconut Shrimp Salad served over mixed greens, orange segments, candied walnuts, 
tomatoes, red onion and cucumbers with a raspberry vinaigrette

Maryland Crab Cake Sandwich with cole slaw and spiced crunchy french fries

The Mar Vista Burger, a half pound of grilled Angus beef topped with melted 
Swiss cheese and garnished with red onions, tomato and lettuce

Tender slices of rare sushi-grade seared tuna with pickled ginger, 
wasabi and soy sauce

Spinach Salad with baby tomatoes, feta cheese, red onions, beets and chickpeas

Grouper Quesadilla with cheddar cheese served with guacamole, black olives, 
sour cream and chopped tomatoes

For those arriving by boat, Mar Vista has their own dock, which makes for a very sporty entrance. We were considering renting a boat for the day, but the weather was a bit blustery, so we decided to arrive by land.

View of Mar Vista from the dock

Hand carved oddities dot the Mar Vista, indoors and out

A site not to be missed are the flock of wild peacocks, that patrol the neighbourhood streets of historic Longboat Village. Spotting two gorgeous males strutting their stuff along the boulevard, I was fortunate enough to take this funny photograph — it looks like he's a law abiding bird, stopping at the sign before high-tailing it up Broadway.

A flock of wild peacocks roam freely in historic Longboat Village, 
around the corner to Mar Vista

Korean Kogi Tacos
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Chef George Quattromani - Mar Vista

2 lb pork shoulder
12 soft flour tortillas
1 purple onion diced
1 small head cabbage shredded
1 bunch cilantro diced

Kogi sauce:

1 cups sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp chili powder

Salt and pepper a 2-pound pork shoulder and slowly roast at 275°F for approximately 2 hours. Let cool and then tear into bite size pieces.

For Kogi sauce, mix all the ingredients and bring to soft boil and simmer. It will become lovely and thick. Place the pork into the simmering Kogi sauce for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the flour tortillas in the oven or place on a grill to toast. Assemble the Kogi Tacos by adding a handful of roasted pork, shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro and diced onion.

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