The chefs at Red Snapper Seafood & More are fearless when it comes to trying new things: oysters, crabs, gator tails, catfish. They create dishes with them all, but there are also a few unexpected items in their repertoire?namely several traditional Vietnamese dishes, several of which are lower in calories. They cook stir-fry and fill bowls to the brim with pho, in which thin slices of medium-rare beef marinate in a rich broth. Popular dishes include vermicelli noodles and the salad bowl. Bubble tea makes the perfect complement to all the different meals.
With 140 acres of grazing goats and masticating Jersey cows, Sweet Grass Dairy crafts artisan dairy delectables in a variety of styles. Curd-cravers can choose from a variety of cheese and charcuterie plates, such as Finn's Finest Fodder, stacked with finocchiona, creminelli barolo, speck, chorizo, Vilux dijon mustard, cornichons, and crackers. Meanwhile, wine lovers can test their matchmaking skills by pairing up lonely cheeses with a bottle of one of Sweet Grass's grape bloods. The wine menu changes weekly, but always offers myriad choices in different categories, including smooth white wines, big and bold reds, and attention-seeking sparkling varieties that perpetually fizz at top volume.
The aroma of frying fish beckons diners toward Sam’s Crystal River Seafood's front door, behind which seafood, pasta, and steak are prepared amid family-friendly environs. The menu unfolds with appetizers such as double-breaded fried green tomatoes, served with house-made ranch dressing, based on the recipe famously eaten by all Wild West cowpokes ($4.49/half, $6.99/full). Shrimp can be ordered fried, broiled, blackened, or boiled, and chefs fill stuffed flounder with crab meat before broiling the fish and sprinkling monterey cheese on top ($13.99). Lobster bites are fried golden brown, providing a simpler way to explore the sea creature’s interior than administering a Myers-Briggs test ($7.49). Betray surf for turf with a clandestine rendezvous with a 12-ounce new york strip steak ($15.99), or opt to lunch on noontime burgers and sandwich fare. Ocean appreciation flourishes within the nautically themed interior, which includes a 50-gallon fish tank and walls festooned with fish replicas and oars.
Andy Reiss, the fellow behind Andrew's Downtown, is a longtime restaurateur and ardent advocate of businesses in the city center. The Italian fusion sister of Andrew's Capital Grill & Bar, Andrew's 228 offers small plates and entrees in a classy bistro setting. Chefs here prepare Mediterranean-inspired nibbles, such as calamari and chorizo in red wine, along with decidedly American snacks that include black-eyed pea hummus with potato chips and rock shrimp popcorn with saffron-Old Bay aioli. The meats showcased in the main courses come from sustainable farms and local waters, while much of the produce hails from area fields or Mother Earth's crisper drawer.
Capturing the feel of the Big Easy throughout Florida, Po’ Boys surrounds diners with photos of New Orleans and Mardi Gras memorabilia, as well as the rich fragrances of gumbo and jambalaya. The menu presents fried pickles, gator baskets, po’boys, andouille sausage platters, and firecracker shrimp, which are proof one can never know what Mother Nature will do next. The downtown location remains festive with live music on the deck, while other locations, including the Killearn restaurant, host karaoke nights. Catering options are also available to bring bayou flavors to special events.
Although steak, seafood, salads, and wines share the spotlight, it's the fondue pot that transforms the dining experience at The Melting Pot into an interactive one. Bubbling at the center of the table, steel cauldrons steam with cheese blends such as aged cheddar and lager beer, or fontina, butterkase, and buttermilk blue. Diners spear slices of granny smith apples, artisan breads, and veggies before dipping them into the thick, creamy cheese. Although a wine and cheese fondue pairing may suit the evening on its own, a fresh salad followed by lobster and steak turns the experience into a three-course event. Continue the dipping feast by adding one of nine velvety chocolate fondues; diners can gather around the table to dunk strawberries, marshmallows, or chunks of cheesecake.