Unsung Heroes #2
Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
In the first of these two loosely linked articles I extolled the virtues of the Java Hut Café on the A1A between Flagler and St Augustine. Our second delightful, , , , , but unexpected, encounter happened on the other side of the state.
Together with our co-owners we had decided on a day out to St Armand’s Circle and Lido Beach near Sarasota. Our trip turned into quite an eventful day (but that’s another story! ) and eventually we decided to call it a day and head back towards Orlando. Our journey to St Armand’s had been via the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and the I75 down to Sarasota. However, as we had had our lunch quite late and so we were not quite ready for our evening meal, we decided that for our return journey we would take the coastal road up through Longboat Key towards Anna Maria Island and Bradenton and look for somewhere to eat on our way.
Not having driven this bit of highway before, we soon began to wonder if we had made a mistake as both sides of the road were taken up by residential homes and condos, with the odd resort hotel mixed in. As we continued northwards I was on the verge of suggesting that if worst came to worst I could at least recommend the Rod and Reel Pier Café, right at the northern most tip of Anna Maria Island, having had an excellent meal there a year before!
We had already reached Bradenton Beach before we spotted our first likely diner, and although it didn’t look anything special, just a single story roadside storefront, we decided to turn round and at least see what they had to offer. We parked up on a sandy lot next to the aptly named the Gulf Drive Café and while three of the party started to head for the main door at the front (road side) I decided to wander to the back and quickly made up my mind that this was the place to dine! The outside deck, which ran the length of the building at the rear was perched on the edge of the beach and had amazing views. Fortunately we must have just beaten the rush and were immediately seated by our server. We soon had waters and drinks to hand and started to browse the menu. I settled on the house salad with shrimp added, while my wife and one of our friends opted for Clam Chowder and the fourth member of our party ordered a burger.
The ladies were both delighted with their chowder, claiming it to be one of the best they had ever tasted. My friend’s burger was well filled and the meat juicy and tender.
However I have to say that menu didn’t do my salad justice! It had so many vegetables in it that I cannot remember everything, but the contents included, sliced raw mushrooms, olives, carrot, onions, lettuce (of course! ), raisins and more than 20 of the most succulent tail-on prawns that I have ever tasted. A veritable feast of a salad! And all this was eaten in front of an incredibly beautiful sunset – no extra charge!
Will we visit the Gulf Drive Café again? If we are in the neighbourhood – you bet!
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