Liquid Bar & Lounge’s menu of small plates puts a tropical twist on classic pub fare. Duos or quartets can sip on a revolving daily soup, such as pumpkin (Tuesdays) or pepperpot (Mondays), or weigh down flighty tummies with wings slathered in buffalo, barbecue, garlic-parmesan, jerk, spicy, or chipotle sauce. A cadre of island-influenced fare includes conch fritters, fried calamari with cherry jalapeño, and shrimp riding a wave of guacamole on a corn-chip surfboard. Once small plates have sated their stomachs’ appetite for savories, diners can break promises to the tooth fairy with desserts such as bread pudding drenched in rum sauce, sweet spanish fritters, or slabs of red-velvet cake.
The culinary artists at Xaga Sushi furl comestibles from a menu that gives diners glimpses of sashimi sea legs and flirtatious fusion winks. During roll call, guests give shout outs to a Pink Lady roll ($12) and her mix of spicy crab, eel, avocado, and tobiko, all wrapped in a pink soy paper. Caribbean rolls ($12) sparkle with a regal blend of eel, spicy crunch tuna, avocado, and a four-tiered crown of caviar ($12). Those who prefer their aquatic life cooked may scale Xaga's Snow Mountain rolls of tempura shrimp ($11), and others toss black pepper steak cubes ($15) across tables like a game of meat dice in the alley.
Pantano's Kitchen keeps its chefs busy all day. Starting with the morning's frittatas and pancakes, they transition to paninis, burgers, and deli fare as the hours progress. But they'll gladly make breakfast specialties all day alongside the more than 200 menu options diverse enough to please entire families or each head of a picky Cerberus. As diners deliberate further on build-your-own burger and salad choices, flat-screen TVs flicker with stock quotes and sporting events.
Owners Sarac and Eddie divide up duties at Mermaid Restaurant, as Sarac infuses traditional Italian and French recipes with his signature flair in the kitchen and Eddie dotes on patrons and their imaginary dates in the dining room. Eddie and Sarac's symbiotic relationship mirrors that of their Italian and French dishes, which seamlessly mingle on the menu. Upscale entrees bridge the gap between the two countries: short cavatelli pasta brings the flavors of Italy, while côtelettes d'agneau, grilled baby lamb chops in a rhone red wine demi glace sauce, fills patrons’ mouths with French-born flavors without anyone having to lick the Eiffel Tower.
A hefty list of wines complements both the upscale fare and the ambience, with racks full of bottles surrounding the dining room. Soft light shines down, accenting hardwood floors, and crisp white tablecloths make an elegant landing pad for each dish or drink.
Sanibel Chophouse's owner was inspired by summers spent on Sanibel Island (on Florida's Gulf Coast) to create a restaurant with an elegant, island-resort atmosphere and classically prepared steak and seafood dishes. Navigate Sanibel's surf-and-turf matrix to perform a linear computation of six meats, such as filet mignon and chicken cutlets, and four seafoods, including lobster tail and Maryland crab cake (range $24–$45, mean $32.42, median $32.50, mode $28 and $32). Or go for the easy-to-hold chophouse burger: applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, fried onion strings, and special sauce stacked atop a huge, juicy ground-beef circle (served with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and fries, $14). The menu is rife with meaty eats, such as cider-brined pork chops ($21), and dry-aged steaks, including a 20-ounce rib eye ($32).