I grew up in Canada. We were pretty much a one sport country.
Hockey, hockey, hockey.
It was easy to get a kid hooked on hockey.
Teach him to skate and pretty soon he is going 30 miles an hour.
Then give him a stick and tell him that he is allowed to hit the other kids with it.
Little boy heaven.
Understanding sports in this country was an adjustment.
At first blush baseball seemed courteous and cerebral. The use of the bat was baffling. Guy has a perfectly good stick in his hands and he is not allowed to hit anybody with it.
Football suffers long periods of inaction. Everyone runs like hell and smashes into each other for a few seconds and then they stand around for a couple of minutes talking about it and thinking what to do next.
The fans are crazy.
Paint your body and then dance around naked in the freezing cold with cheese on your head. Makes even the wildest Canadian hockey fan look civilized.
Everything is football at this time of year. All talk is about offense and defense and valuable players.
Restaurant kitchens are a lot like football. It is a team sport. Kitchens have quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and on any given night you are only as good as the guys and gals on your team.
During play the head chef in the middle of your line is your quarterback signaling orders to his grill guys and sauté guys - calling plays according to patron orders charging at him like crazed defensive linemen.
Sauté guys are the kitchen’s receivers. They are all about great reflexes and speed. Sauté chefs work multiple burners with lightning hands and precision timing. Try cooking seafood in ten pans on ten flaming burners at one time - then try doing it for five or six hours at a stretch.
Grill guys are running backs - the heavy lifters. Constantly working twenty pounds of the world's best beef and lamb on and off the grill and in and out of 450 degree ovens to precise timings of doneness. Miss a steak by a minute and it's not medium rare any more.
Plating requires the execution of a perfect pass play. Multiple preparations of vegetables and garnishes and sauces and proteins all at varying degrees of doneness and cooking times hitting one plate at precisely the same time - while different plates for the same table are being perfected simultaneously.
And the play is repeated again for another table seconds later.
Special teams are your pantry - salads and desserts that have to be precise and perfect because they open and finish the game for you - first impressions and lasting ones -
game changers and memory makers.
The best defense is preparation. To face an onslaught of diners with low blood sugar and high expectations you need a great prep team. Whole fresh fish and shellfish, procured, cleaned and portioned, meats trimmed and cut, bread baked fresh, sauces finished to velvet, and luscious desserts nurtured to nirvana.
All of this incredible work is accomplished in an environment as dangerous as any football field.
The chefs are constantly dodging and weaving through hot ovens, flaming burners and flashing knives.
There is one, last, ironic parallel that kitchen teams share with football teams.
At the end of the Super Bowl game they give the trophy to the owner.
I get to watch this fierce and exquisite interplay of talent and athleticism from the owner’s box and at the end of the game the critics give me most of the credit.
And all I did was find the players.
We are proud to announe that our craft cocktail bar, The Doctor's Office, is now open on Anna Maria Island!
For many years the space now occupied by The Doctor’s Office bar was in fact the real doctor’s office for the island’s communities.
Good things happened here. Medications were dispensed and procedures performed that made people’s lives easier, healthier, and happier.
We hope that this bar will follow that tradition.
The teams at Beach Bistro and Eat Here are also committed that this bar will follow the tradition of excellence forged by the Beach Bistro over the last 31 years.
A heritage of making people happier through their enjoyment of the very best in culinary offerings and libations.
The Doctor's Office is open nightly from 5:00pm to midnight and serves crafted cocktails, great bar fare from the Bistro team of chefs, and artisanal beer and wine.
Browse the menus: The Doctor's Office website.
Beat the crowds of Black Friday with Bistro gift certificates and treat yourself to a visit to Sean's new bar, The Doctors Office.
Sit at the bar’s beautiful reclaimed California redwood bar top, sip a superbly crafted single barrel bourbon Manhattan and congratulate yourself for being smart enough to stay away from the mall.
You can also receive Eat Here gift certificates as a bonus Bistro gift for buying Beach Bistro gift certificates and take the family out for some "Florida’s Best New Restaurant" tacos, pizza and pot roast.
A mirrored opportunity is in place for Eat Here gift certificate shopping.
Buy the relatives an Eat Here gift certificate and reward yourself with a celebratory evening out with dinner at the Bistro or a crafted cocktail evening at The Doctors Office.
Your Beach Bistro and Eat Here "smarter-than-the-mall" shopped gift certificate purchases will be rewarded with a 15% value on your pick of Beach Bistro, Eat Here or The Doctors Office bonus gift certificates.
Treat yourself and treat your friends and relatives to the bonuses of Beach Bistro smarter shopping.
Gift certificates can be purchased online, in person or on the phone...
*offer expires December 26th*
The weather has cooled and all the baby turtles have found their way safely to the sea...so we are now again serving dinner and cocktails on the sand. There is no better backdrop for a fabulous meal than the sun setting over the Gulf...
Menu highlights include the world's best Rack of Lamb, Thai'd Bouillabaisse, Gulf of Mexico Grouper and Prime American Tenderloin. View the full menu here.
Please call for reservations. 941.778.6444
The team is creating new cool and authentic Bistro dishes for the last legs of summer.
Chefs Clay and Ezio and Robby have been masterminding light-plate, cool summer seafood crudos and cool creamy pâtés for the lighter summer palates and plates of our September diners.
Summer catches of local Mangrove Snapper and Pompano are keeping company with great Gulf Grouper and seasonal Soft Shell Crabs.
The Thai'd Bouillabaisse and tropical Caribbean-spiced Prime American Beef Brochettes are stunning summer diners as the headliners of our lighter Summer Tasting menus.
The chefs are offering up great new Cuban Sandwiches and Cuban stews for bar patrons and Roberto, as ever, is crafting super cooled salads with sorbet vinaigrettes for both venues.
We are introducing summer diners to our menu with a cooling cocktail sip to settle you into your evening of America’s best food bounty accented with authentic taste treats as part of our summer theatre performing the celebratory arts.
“Sure is Hot” Summer Cocktailing
Classic Summer Lunch Cocktail from Canada…The Caesar
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. Clamato juice (half clam juice and half V-8 is better)
Salt, Pepper, and Tabasco to taste
Celery salt on the rim
This cocktail is the favored summer cocktail in Canada.
They think it is hot there when it gets in the 80’s.
There is a shortage of days in the 80’s and a shortage of AC.
The accoutrements can make the drink spectacular…think celery, bacon, hot peppers, dill pickles….
Gin and Tonic - Improved
The “hot” cocktail for the British Empire was the “gin and tonic” savored on verandahs the world over. It had the added benefit of delivering quinine - the malaria combatant.
The recipe is just your favorite gin and tonic and lime. 2:1:1
Try varying the tonic…Seagrams and Canada Dry are the usual favorites but try Fenteman’s or “Q” if you can find it …or even customize your own from an online recipe.
Best Cocktail in a Heat Emergency…?
Any cocktail with big ice and your favorite coolie cup.
The bigger the ice, the longer the cool before the drink is diluted.
If it is September and you don’t have a favorite coolie cup…then you are new here and you should get one.
We are all talking about it.
We all know.
There is Hot … and there is Florida Hot … and then finally, ultimately, there is Florida September Hot.
Florida September Hot is when it has been too damn hot already for too damn long and we have no more patience for the damn heat.
It is pretty hot inJune but it has not been that hot for that long and June is June … pretty hot and we know what is coming but we still have some patience left.
For much of July it has been 93 degrees every day and we are getting pretty tired of it and the weather guys are saying it feels like 104 and we know that but we don’t need to hear it every day, but we are still hanging in and it's OK.
By about the fifteenth of August we are losing our sense of humor about the heat. There is some patience left but not much.
But by mid-September every scorched, sweating fiber of our being is screaming … ENOUGH! It has been too damn hot for too long and now it is September and it is worse because it has a name and it is called September Hot and that's it we have had enough and it has been too damn hot for too damn long and everybody knows it and there is no point in being patient with anybody or anything anymore.
We have become as merciless as the heat. We look forward to saying “Sure is Hot!” in the line at the hardware store or the drug store because we think it is funny to watch adults break down and cry.
We spend our days inside chilled boxes peering out at the white searing heat.
Stuff is dying in the yard and we just don't care.
We drive from one chilled box called “home” to our chilled box at work by travelling in little chilled boxes on wheels.
We spend evenings looking online at places that are cooler than us and trying to figure out how to get there and who will cover our work while we are gone and there is nobody to cover us because they already had the good sense to leave.
There is some good news.
September Hot means that if you walk into the Bistro Bar or Eat Here and you say... "Sure is Hot" ... then the first one is on us.
We are happy to buy you that first drink because you are suffering just like we are and the Bistro team is gratified that we can inject some joy into these dog days.
All we ask is that when you come into the bar and you cheerfully proclaim, “Sure is Hot!”... please close the damn door so the AC does not get out.
Sean and Susan and the whole Beach Bistro team received some lovely news this week. Zagat has just redone their rating system, changing from their years-old 30 point system to one of 5 stars. Beach Bistro received 4.9 in food, the highest Zagat rating in Florida, and one of only a handful in the country.
We first received this news Tuesday, from Good Day Tampa Bay on Channel 13.
Imagine our delight watching Russell Rhodes and Laura Moody discussing Beach Bistro with a reporter from New York, who told them, ‘Beach Bistro is the restaurant to go to.’ (See the video clip here.)
We are a team at Beach Bistro. This score reflects on everyone on the team, from those who arrive at 7:30 am to begin that day’s prep, to those who finish up in the wee hours each night – it’s the chef staff, the serving staff, those who clean and wash dishes, the day staff who organize the front of the house and answer phone calls and emails.
All of us here at Beach Bistro are grateful to all of you who come in to dine with us. Over the past 30 years, you, our customers, have become our friends and are as much a part of the Bistro family as all of us. Together, we all have a special little place perched on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, where life’s moments like marriage proposals, anniversaries, birthdays, and graduations are celebrated, and where people come to relax and enjoy their favorite foods and wines with their friends.
To be recognized by Zagat in this way, is sort of like icing on the cake. We were having a great time with you already. We just have something new to celebrate with you now.
For the next little while, when you come in, just mention ‘4.9’ so we can share some bubbly together.
The Beach Bistro Team
Canada's two greatest exports have a shared heritage.
I am talking poutine and hockey.
I was born in Canada and lived there a good chunk of my life.
This means that I can say outrageous things about Canada whenever I want.
It is like being Donald Trump - I can't be held accountable for anything I say.
Poutine is basically French fries and gravy.
For Canadian kids it was a staple.
It was hot and cheap and easy. It could be served anywhere there was an oven and a hot plate.
Every one knows Canucks are crazy for hockey.
As kids we spent hours every day in hockey rinks.
We ate in rinks.
We lived in rinks.
We smelled like rinks.
Poutine was hockey food.
Every rink had a “canteen”.
The canteen in the rink had an oven and a hot plate and a kettle. The oven and the hot plate were for poutine and the kettle was for tea.
The poutine fries were dumped on a sheet tray and cooked in the oven.
The gravy was generally Franco-American beef gravy from a can that was heated on the hot plate.
The hockey moms drank tea from the kettle and served up poutine in paper cups with gravy on top.
I am grateful for fries and gravy. It is doubtful that I could have survived my rink days and early years without it.
My gratitude shows in the serious attention that our Eat Here chef staff spends on the
“Helluva Poutine” that we have been serving there since our opening.
Fresh cut fries.
Duck fat in the oil.
Crowned with house made “debris” demi-glace and a clutch of aged parmesan.
We know that the original Quebec poutine had “curds”.
But curds attract spiders (Little Miss Muffett) and we don’t like them much so we picked aged parmesan for our Eat Here poutine.
The “gravy” in the Eat Here poutine is a beef and port “debris” gravy.
In N’awlins they toss bits of meat into their gravy and it gets to be “debris gravy” because it has “debris” in it.
You pay extra.
The debris in Eat Here demi is pot roast pieces.
Our Eat Here poutine is great, but as good as it is we are going to take it to even greater heights as a new Beach Bistro Bar offering.
For our Beach Bistro poutine we are going to start with duck fat roasted creamer potatoes and then anoint them with our Bistro port demi-glace.
Next we are crowning the potatoes and demi with a clutch of crumbled award-winning Prince Edward Island Avonlea Clothbound Aged Cheddar.
Avonlea cheddar just won a prize for the “Best Cheese in Canada”.
Brad Richards won the Conn Smythe Award for MVP when the Lightning last won the Stanley Cup. Brad is also from Prince Edward Island.
How is that for Canadian hockey poutine paternity.
We are going to take our poutine over the top with…(drum roll please)…Foie Gras…for the lushest, richest poutine anywhere.
To further celebrate our poutine’s Canadian heritage we are going to charge twenty Canadian dollars for it.
That’s sixteen US bucks today.
And the price will vary with the Canadian dollar.
We hope it goes up.
To further celebrate poutine’s hockey connection, when the Lightning win the Stanley Cup, we are giving it away.
Poutine was one of the things even my mom could cook.
Lovely lady, my mom - but culinary exceptionalism was not her strong suit.
Mom was a dedicated disciple of the Irish Cooking Bible, “Take everything that flies, walks, swims or crawls across the face of the earth and boil the living bejeezuz out of it.”
This Mother’s Day I am going to sit with my hockey stick and watch the Lightning playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs and enjoy some Beach Bistro Poutine.
I will think of my mom and all those Canadian moms and their poutine and I will be thankful.
Be thankful for the moms in your life.
Treat them to a Beach Bistro Mother’s Day Gift Certificate and we will throw in a bottle of Champagne*.
*complimentary Champagne only available when gift certificates are purchased in person at Beach Bistro.
The Beach Bistro's Gulfside dining room opens at 5:30, the Bar at 5:00 and now the Bistro is also offering a beach cocktail service from 5:00 at a handful of tables on the beach out front.
The beach cocktail service features our wine, champagne, and craft cocktails – both timelessly classic and newly inspired.
Culinary offerings are perfectly suited to a cocktail hour on the beach.
Stick your toes in the sand and recharge with a tasty beverage and savor a bite from our Beach Menu ...
Classic Bistro Caesar, a Big Shrimp Cocktail with Real Gulf of Mexico Shrimp, a Potted Prime American Beef and Foie Gras Rillette crafted by our Chefs,
or a Cheddar plate of Prince Edward Island Avonlea Dairy cloth-bound aged Cheddar kissed with truffled Anna Maria Island honey.
There is no more beautiful cocktail spot on the planet to sip and savor a light repast.
No extra charge if the dolphins show up.
Please click here for the Beach Bites Menu and Cocktail List.
We are honored to have a highlight of our Bistro Bar Menu - The Real Grouper Sandwich - featured as one of the most memorable dishes of the year according to The Tampa Tribune's food series "WTFork." Read Denise Parker's "Top 10 Dishes of the Year" here. Denise's original article "Beach Bistro not just for the rich and famous anymore" heralded the new Bistro Bar Menu as a way to "dine at one of Florida's top restaurants without taking out a second mortgage." Read that full Bistro Bar article here.
Sarasota Magazine’s latest restaurant piece “Exactly Where to Eat in Sarasota
Depending on Your Mood” pairs local restaurants with all moods. Highlighting
Beach Bistro as the go-to place if you’re in the mood for “something romantic”
the article notes that “It’s easy to fall in love if you’re gazing at each other—or at
the indulgent offerings on your plate—inside the intimate little Beach Bistro…”
Read the full article here.
For the past twenty-nine years the Bistro has been shuttered for Thanksgiving so that our employees can spend America's special day with their families and loved ones.
An exception to the tradition of being closed on Thanksgiving was the Bistro's first Thanksgiving Day just over thirty years ago. Susan and Sean were both born in Canada. They are immigrants to this country, just like the forebears of all Americans who have given thanks for living in the greatest country on earth.
On that first Bistro Thanksgiving, the Bistro had only been open for a few weeks.
Times were tight and offering a special Thanksgiving dinner seemed the only practical alternative to losing an evening's sales. The staff's faces during service were more akin to those enduring a funeral than celebrating a happy holiday.
Sean and Susan blame that dour evening on their inexperience as restaurateurs and Americans. They did not realize that being part of the greatest country on earth is taking one special day to be grateful for the opportunity.
They developed the Bistro tradition of being closed for Thanksgiving.
The Beach Bistro team and the teams at Eat Here's Anna Maria Kitchen and Siesta Kitchen will not be at their work , but they wish you well on Thanksgiving Day and they look forward to helping you celebrate evening.
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second of October. It is not as sacred a day as it is in America but it is still a special day for our Canadian cousins.They are currently thankful for having a new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Sean and his father both worked to elect the first Trudeau. In Thanksgiving for this historical event, the Beach Bistro and Eat Here Restaurants will be toasting our Canadian visitors from December first through the twenty-first. Our Canuck cousins should just salute the staff on entry with "a toast to Trudeau" and the first one is on us.
Flip it over. Visit the Turkey Tips blog post for more explicit tips on a better bird accomplished by baking the gobbler breast side down. Hint - the juices flow down into the breast. Flip it back for the last thirty minutes to brown the bird for the photo session.
Serve beef instead. Imagine a seared and oven roasted Prime American tenderloin on a platter with oyster mushrooms in a port-demiglace kissed with béarnaise. If those early Pilgrims with the buckles on their hats could have had American Prime Beef instead of turkey you know they would have. If you can't get the tenderloin , we will have it for you .
Get hip with veggie temperatures. Serve those roasted roots just warm or room temperature tossed with herbs and a good olive oil. Keeps the visiting relatives from fighting over oven space and burner tops.
The little Pilgrim salt shaker on your Thanksgiving table is looking pensive because he is thinking how great some Northwest Pinot Gris would be with that big bird dinner. Excellent Pinot Gris are readily available from Adelsheim and Chateau Ste. Michelle. The wines are both more subtly spicy and refreshingly floral company with turkey dinner.
The Beach Bistro and Eat Here's Anna Maria Kitchen and Siesta Kitchen will be closed for Thanksgiving and will reopen serving dinner evening.
The Bistro staff is on Cold Front watch.
After a long Florida Hot, summer nerves are frazzled, patience is lost, and just when we absolutely needed it, comes …“the Cold Front.”
A brisk, cool breeze will be refreshing us this evening.
The Bistro Bar will fill with joyous, raucous people drinking red wine and eating big steaks. There will be naked dancing in the streets. Life will be joyful and full of promise again.
A great way to greet our first cold front is to plant yourself on a comfortable stool in the Bistro Bar, grab a favorite cocktail or glass of wine and then step out onto the beach. Luxuriate in the cool breezes caressing your neck and washing your fevered brow. Toss your hair (whether you have any or not), gaze upward and watch the northern breezes scatter clear, bright stars across the sky.
Anna Maria Island. The best place in the whole world to live again.
And the Beach Bistro, the best to dine … or drink.
Toast yourself … “Sure was Hot.”
Naked dancing optional, but encouraged.
Approaching our 30th birthday we were adjusting to not getting a ZAGAT 30 on our 30th.
There aren’t any ZAGAT 30s.
We were, however, recently rewarded with news that we had come first with an unorthodox "most expensive" prize in the Tampa Bay Business Journal for one of our signature presentations. The “most expensive” prize was captured by a patron favorite, Food Heaven.
As long as it is first place, we will take it.
We are uncompromising in sourcing and offering only the "best stuff" in seafood and domestic lamb and prime American beef …and then we find the best chef teams to prepare it. “Best Stuff” is generally more expensive.
Our pursuit of the highest quality products and presentations has been consistent and relentless for the past thirty years, and our Food Heaven represents some of the best in that pursuit. It dances at the edge of “over the top.” The Heaven is described on the menu as the “perfect food marriage” and a “Dionysian vision from the end of a pier in Maine.”
It really was born at the end of a pier.
It was 2005. Sean had just received news that the Beach Bistro was to be given the opportunity to become one of the first restaurants in Florida to present a performance dinner at the James Beard House in New York.
It was a big deal.
The Beard House is the food capital of the world. It is also the food vanity capital of the world. At a Beard dinner, there are one hundred of the most jaded food writers and critics in the country and Sean was determined to knock them dead.
He did what any Nova Scotian Irishman does when confronted with a major dilemma. He strolled out to the end of the pier with a bottle and his problem and drank his way through it. It was the Irish equivalent of a Moses moment. He came back from his journey with an empty bottle of Chianti and the idea for Food Heaven.
His vision was an iconoclastic marriage of the richest food products on the planet. Foie Gras was an essential beginning point. He and the chefs had just finished crafting the Bistro's Foie Gras presentation on a savory bread pudding with three sauces. They had spent a year developing the best way to cook Novey Lobster - slowly poached in a butter broth.
Selecting an altar of the world's best Rack of Lamb to offer up these two food super-heroes was daringly appropriate.
Performing a Beard Dinner is a mad Mr. Toad wild ride. Expectations are monstrous, the pressure palpable and the degree of difficulty daunting. You have to source a six course dinner presentation in a distant location and then perform it perfectly from a tiny kitchen for a hundred demanding guests with massive expectations. It is an adventure that is not for the timid of heart.
Food Heaven was the feature presentation on the menu. At the outset of the evening one particularly arrogant restaurant critic told Sean that putting foie gras and lobster and lamb together was a terrible idea.
As we placed the dish in front of him he was visibly impressed but reservedly described it as "ill-advised." After he had lapped up every morsel and was heading out the door, he told Sean that he was still thinking about it. Sean bid him good night. "Next week, when you are still thinking about Food Heaven, there will only be one restaurant in America where you can get it.”
And there still is only one place you can get it. Food Heaven…worth every penny.
Fred, everybody's favorite bartender, recently won the Sarasota Magazine award for "Best Martini" in two counties.
All of us who ever watched Fred shake one were not surprised.
Every great, new cocktail is a classic revisited ... and they are being revisited with the collusion of Fred and our returned bartender Matt Jeronimo.
Matt was Bistro trained as a waiter and took a sabbatical to hone his craft bartending talents in Los Angeles. He is a bar visionary returned to revitalize our classic bar strengths at the Bistro.
We have the perfect bartending team - timeless classic Fred Sullivan and, reengineering our cocktail list, fresh talent Matt Jeronimo.
Bistro ... best food ... and best bar.
About the Beach Bistro: For nearly three decades, the Beach Bistro has consistently been awarded the highest ZAGAT scores in the state of Florida for “best food” and has been honored with inclusion in ZAGAT’s “Top Restaurants in America.” The Bistro also boasts a long-standing Wine Spectator Award and is enthroned in Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon Hall of Fame. Beach Bistro is located at 6600 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach, 941-778-6444, beachbistro.com.