Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Beach Bistro: Award-Winning Coastal Cuisine

One of the finest restaurants in South Florida, Beach Bistro has received more awards for their outstanding cuisine than perhaps any other restaurant in the area, and for good reason — the restaurant’s focus from inception was perfection. Relaxed and sophisticated, Beach Bistro’s relentless pursuit of culinary and service excellence has earned owner Sean Murphy regional and national acclaim from the Sarasota Herald, Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times, in addition to being heralded one of the top restaurants in Florida and awarded the highest Zagat ratings in the state. And the cuisine is always consistently excellent, from their Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon on parade with capers, caviar and key lime crème fraiche, outstanding Bouillabaise with lobster tails, jumbo shrimp, shellfish and calamari with garlic toasts and aioli, Herb Rubbed Pan Seared Rack of Lamb finished with a port rosemary demi-glace to the over-the-top 'Food Heaven' — Beach Bistro's rich marriage of Colorado lamb, butter-poached Nova Scotia lobster and Hudson Valley foie gras, all on a brioche bread pudding and served with a port, demi-glace and a sip of Essensia, which Sean christened — "a Dionysian vision from the end of a pier in Maine." 

With it's spectacular setting overlooking Holmes Beach on beautiful Anna Maria Island, Beach Bistro is like a painting, complimented by the finest food in the area, an extraordinary wine list and dedicated professional staff that have been with Sean for years. White tablecloths, a rose on each table and romantic sunset view sets the scene for an outstanding menu that celebrates coastal cuisine at the highest level. Sean’s ambition has been the same throughout Beach Bistro’s history — to provide his guests with one of the best dining experiences they've ever had, and he's definitely succeeding, reflected in all of the glowing accolades that Beach Bistro consistently receives, and his dedicated following that return over and over again. My parents have been making a culinary pilgrimage to Beach Bistro since it opened in 1985 so it's now a family tradition.  

Rosemary and lemon infused water

Beach Bistro's menu is beyond compare with a consistently excellent selection of award winning dishes 

Due to the cold chilly week on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, the Beach Bistro was offering complimentary Hot Toddy's to every guest

A warm and potent Hot Toddy made with rum, lemon and honey

A Hendricks Martini with a twist

Kir Royale  

The amuse bouche with a small bowl of Bistro Blue Tomato Soup with seasoned Parrish plum tomatoes, sweet cream and Maytag blue cheese, and warm focaccia with pesto, tapenade and roasted peppers

'Roberto's Farm Salad' - vibrant and full-flavored, herbs and greens in company with artisanal cheeses, grilled fruit, fruit sorbet and heirloom tomatoes

Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon by Willie Krauch’s smokehouse in Tangier, Nova Scotia, on parade with capers, domestic caviars and Key lime crème fraiche

Smoked Salmon "Rose" with creme fraiche and caviar

A 2014 Adelsheim Pinot Gris from Williamette Vally, Oregon 

Beach Bistro's signature Bouillabaisse with Nova Scotia” lobster tails, jumbo shrimp, premium market fish, shellfish and calamari

The Bouillabaise is served with herbed garlic toasts and aioli

Floribbean Grouper, a Bistro original with line-caught Gulf Coast Grouper in a toasted coconut and cashew crust served with a red pepper-papaya jam

'Rack of Colorado Lamb' -  Herb-rubbed, pan-seared and oven-roasted, finished with a port, rosemary demi-glace, and topped off with a glass of Port on the side

A glass of Port is served with the Rack of Lamb

Beach Bistro's Dessert and Specialty Drinks menu 

Beach Bistro's Florida Key Lime Pie

David, the Sommelier at Beach Bistro, brought over a bottle of chilled 2006 Tokaji Aszu at the end of our meal and served us a small glass to keep us warm and cozy for the drive home

Floribbean Grouper with Red Pepper-Papaya Jam
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Beach Bistro

Red Pepper-Papaya Jam:
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced peeled papaya
1/2 tsp chopped jalapeño pepper
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp fresh lime juice

1/4 cup panko Japanese breadcrumbs
2 tbsp flaked sweetened coconut
1 1/2 tbsp chopped dry-roasted cashews
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 6-ounce grouper fillets
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp butter
Lime wedges, for garnish 

To prepare the jam, combine the first 3 ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Combine the water, sugar, red wine vinegar, a dash of salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the puréed bell pepper mixture, and cook 7 minutes or until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice then allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin to prepare the grouper: place the panko, coconut, and cashews in food processor and pulse 4 times or until the cashews are finely chopped, then place the mixture into a shallow dish. Place the flour in another shallow dish, and the egg whites in another shallow dish. Sprinkle the grouper fillets with 1/8 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Dredge one fillet in flour, then dip into the egg whites, then dredge in the panko mixture gently pressing the coating to adhere onto each fillet. Repeat the procedure with the remaining fillet — flour, egg whites, and panko mixture.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fillets and cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Turn the fillets over, and wrap the handle of the pan with foil. Place the pan in oven and bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve immediately with jam and lime wedges.

Savory Cranberry Bread Pudding
Serves 8
Recipe courtesy of Beach Bistro

This delicious sweet and savoury bread pudding is served with Beach Bistro's Rack of Lamb, but it would also be a great addition to the any holiday menu.

1 cup dried cranberries

Juice and zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup Armagnac, divided

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup sliced shallots

1 loaf challah or brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups heavy cream
4 large eggs

1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander

Soak the cranberries in the orange juice and 3 tablespoons of the Armagnac for 30 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

 Drain the cranberries and combine with the bread pieces, apples, butter, and sautéed shallots in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the cream, eggs, chicken stock, cinnamon, coriander, orange zest, and remaining tablespoon of Armagnac. Whisk until well incorporated and pour the mixture over the bread and fruit, mixing until well coated. Refrigerate for an hour.

Transfer the entire mixture to a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for an hour. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for at least an hour before serving.