Friday, December 8, 2017

Beach Bistro: A Culinary Gem on Anna Maria Island

Relaxed and sophisticated, Beach Bistro’s relentless pursuit of culinary and service excellence has earned owner Sean Murphy regional and national acclaim. One of Zagat’s “Top Restaurants in America”, Beach Bistro has been the island’s most romantic, fine-dining destination for more than 30 years, and its spectacular waterfront location makes it the perfect place to catch a spectacular sunset and enjoy some of the best cuisine in South Florida. 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 owner Sean Murphy 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. Our family has been making regular culinary pilgrimages to Beach Bistro since it opened in 1985, and it's definitely one of our favourite gastronomic traditions. Sean’s ambition has been the same throughout the Bistro’s 30 year history — to provide patrons with one of the best dining experiences that they've have ever had. Mission accomplished.

The cozy, sophisticated and colourful interior of Beach Bistro

Complimentary Vodka Cocktail with pomegranate, blueberry and St Germain on ice

Amuse-Bouche of toasted rosemary focaccia topped with tapenade and roasted tomato

Amuse-Bouche of Beach Bistro 'One Helluva' Tomato Soup made with seasoned Parrish plum tomatoes with sweet cream and Maytag blue cheese

Desiderio 'Jeio' Prosecco from Veneto

Seared Hudson Valley foie gras on savoury brioche bread pudding, garnished with a vanilla bean and Sauternes reduction, nutmeg anglaise and aged balsamic

Essensia Muscat served with the foie gras

Bistro Burrata Caprese  with local heirloom tomatoes, creamy burrata cheese, micro basil and an espresso balsamic reduction

Braised Short Ribs finished with tomato ragout, Parmesan Reggiano, 
with chef's vegetable and mashed potatoes

Seared scallops in Beach Bistro famous Bouillabaisse broth, 
finished with sweet cream and a soupçon of curry

Blanc de Blanc Champagne

The Famous Beach Bistro Bouillabaisse
Serves 6-8
Recipe courtesy of Sean Murphy, Beach Bistro

"First, you hire a bunch of pros to build a killer broth, poach to order Nova Scotia lobster tails, jumbo shrimp, premium market fish, shellfish and calamari"

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 leek, white parts only, finely chopped
2 tbsp shrimp or crab base
1 tbsp dried tarragon
1 tbsp fennel seed
2 cups white wine
1/4 cup pernod
1 quart seafood stock or clam juice
2 cups tomato juice
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 dash Tabasco
3 medium tomatoes peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 pinch of saffron
3 pounds firm-fleshed fish
14-18 jumbo shrimp
2 lobster tails
2 dozen mussels, bearded and cleaned
2 dozen littleneck or sweet clams, well cleaned
8 oz cleaned, sliced calamari tubes and tentacles

Heat a heavy bottom stockpot over high heat. Add the oil and garlic. Sauté the garlic for 5 minutes and then add the onion, leek, and celery. Stir the vegetables well to prevent burning and allow to cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until translucent. Next add the shrimp or crab base, dried herbs, white wine, and Pernod, bring to a simmer and allow to reduce for 5 minutes. Add seafood stock (can substitute clam juice), tomato juice, tomato puree, Tabasco, tomatoes, and saffron and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add all the seafood and cook for 6 minutes, or until the shells have opened. Discard any shells that do not open. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with a dollop of aioli and toasted French bread and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

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