Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island

The Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island is a lovely escape to a simpler time — tropical, laid-back Florida the way it used to be. Lush foliage, warm wood paneling and an expansive open air patio with picturesque views of the emerald green waters of Tampa Bay, provide the perfect atmosphere for enjoying the island charm of Anna Maria. A popular spot to enjoy a delicious lunch overlooking Anna Maria's sugar-white beaches and the island's historic pier, The Waterfront Restaurant has been praised by locals and out-of-town visitors alike for its inspired New American style of cuisine and impeccably curated beer and wine list. But it’s not until recently that fans of the restaurant have begun to see the Waterfront’s quietly sustainable side. As it turns out, this longstanding Island favorite was eco-friendly before eco-friendly was 'cool' and this focus on being as low-impact and environmentally conscious as possible has played a big part in elevating its exquisitely adventurous fare.

Waterfront Restaurant Owner Jason Suzor (along with wife Leah)

Almost everything on the menu is prepared entirely on-site: the kitchen team do their own butchering, make their own stocks, bake their own breads, and even smoke their own salmon. This way they can ensure that every aspect of their cuisine lives up to their very high standards. Local seafood vendors stop by to deliver their freshest catch, while produce vendors come by frequently with an array of fresh, seasonal produce. Not only does this sourcing system help support the local economy and ensure that customers are getting the freshest and tastiest foods available, it serves as an inspiration for the Waterfront’s kitchen team. The passion for sourcing and creating only the finest ingredients comes across in every bite, and now in every sip. The Waterfront Restaurant doesn’t just provide a great view and a warm community atmosphere — it also serves some of the finest sustainable cuisine that Florida has to offer.

The Waterfront Restaurant overlooks powdery sugar-white Anna Maria Beach

A family of America White Ibis on Anna Maria Beach

The Waterfront's lunch menu

Hendricks Garden Martini with fresh cucumber and cilantro and squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Red Wine Sangria

Locally brewed Crispin Hard Cider

California Veggie Burger with carrots, onions, string beans, edamame, zucchini, peas, spinach, red peppers, broccoli, garlic and oat bran, grilled and served on a whole grain bun, and topped with sliced avocado, sprouts and melted provolone

Seared Black Gulf Grouper Tacos in flour tortillas with cheddar jack, jicama slaw, and freshly chopped pico de gallo

Grilled Black Grouper Sandwich with tartar sauce and french fries

The Waterside Bar on Anna Maria Pier, across from the Waterside Restaurant, is full of old salty dogs telling tall tales of the fish they caught earlier in the day

Seared Grouper Tacos
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy Chef Jason Hibberts, Waterfront Restaurant

1/2 cup shredded jicama
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp capers
1 tsp minced shallots
1 tsp pickle relish
Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 oz black grouper fillets, cut into 6 pieces
Blackening seasoning, to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 6-inch tortillas, warmed
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Fresh pico de gallo for serving

Combine the jicama, cabbage, mayonnaise, capers, shallots, and pickle relish in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Dust the the grouper with blackening seasoning. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear the grouper on each side until they're nicely browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Top each tortilla with cheese, followed by grouper, and topped with jicama slaw. Serve with pico de gallo on the side.

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