The quote comes from Matt Thomas, the managing partner of this big, friendly place located in University Park. While its signature dishes include the likes of pulled pork, Mama’s meatloaf and wings, the menu is unusually broad. Appetizers range from ahi tuna to cheese fries, and entrées range from citrus-glazed salmon to Hall of Fame ribs. Predictably, there’s a kids menu; less so, there’s a list of everything that’s gluten-free, including a beer — a nice touch.
Named for the famous No. 63 of the Tampa Bay Buccaners, Lee Roy Selmon’s presently numbers six restaurants, two in Tampa and one each in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers and Bradenton. A seventh is set to open in January in Palm Harbor. The Sarasota store seats 220 indoors and out (yes, there is an outdoor area where smoking is allowed). It can be a busy place. They served 1,238 covers on Mother’s Day; they expect to do that many or more on Father’s Day. It’s no surprise that Valentine’s Day is also a big one.
Thomas has been in the restaurant business 28 years. He started on the grill in the kitchen at Ruby Tuesday and has been with Lee Roy Selmon’s for 10 years. Chef Mike Koertgen is in charge of the kitchen, including the menu’s daily specials.
Selmon’s is a sports bar with a huge bar, lots of big-screen TVs and enthusiastic watchers but without the slightest hint of the grunge that sometimes characterizes the category. At the same time, it is a family restaurant that also does a healthy volume of business lunches. Most of all, Selmon’s is unique to Florida. Thomas says that arriving snowbirds make it one of their first stops. “(They want) Florida staples — what they don’t get a home,” he says.
SELMON’S CHOPPED SALAD
Yield: one serving
2 cups mixed lettuces, chopped
2 tablespoons red cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons carrots in matchsticks or shredded
1 tablespoon corn kernels
2 tablespoons cooked bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons red peppers, diced
2 tablespoons tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, grated
5 ounces cooked chicken breast (one breast), chopped finely
1 1/2 ounces honey mustard dressing
1 ounce potato sticks, optional
Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
In a mixing bowl, add lettuce mix, veggies, bacon, cheese and chicken, and toss well with a pair of tongs. Add dressing, and toss evenly to coat.
Mound mixed salad from the mixing bowl high in a salad bowl. Pile potatoes sticks high in the center of the salad. Sprinkle chopped herb over the salad and serve immediately.
SELMON’S FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Yield: one appetizer serving
6 to 8 green tomato slices, 1/4-inch thick, cut in half
Cracker breading (unsalted saltine-type crackers crushed and mixed with flour)
Oil for deep frying
Green tomato sauce: mayonnaise seasoned to taste with horseradish and Creole mustard.
Egg wash typically consists of one to two tablespoons of water or milk per egg, lightly beaten.
This makes a generous appetizer serving.
Toss the tomato slices in flour until coated completely. Shake off excess flour.
Dip tomato slices into egg wash and evenly coat. Toss tomatoes in the cracker breading until well coated.
Heat oil to 350 degrees and fry slices for three minutes.
Remove and pat with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
Plate with a ramekin of green tomato sauce in the center, and garnish with chopped parsley.