“The King of Swing” was his nickname, and golf was his game. Sam Snead was known as one of the greatest golfers of all time — and his namesake restaurant is equally as good. Sometimes known for the early-bird crowd, Sam Snead’s Oak Grill and Tavern should be known for its food, as well.
Although I prefer to sit in the bar area or at the outside tables for a more laid-back and comfortable atmosphere, it’s also fun to discover the golf memorabilia around the dining room at Sam Snead’s. This neighborhood staple is one of my favorite Sunday night dinner spots for comfort food and good company.
On this particular visit, my dining companion and I started off with the bacon-wrapped sea scallops ($12.95) served with homemade remoulade. The succulent scallops were cooked to perfection, and the homemade sauce made the plate a winner. And, although we normally never have reason to comment on the small detail of bread being brought to the table, I have to make note that Sam Snead’s has one of the best loaves of bread — especially when it’s straight out of the oven.
For the main course, I ordered the house specialty baby back ribs ($16.95 for a half-rack), which are slathered with a molasses-based barbecue sauce and served with coleslaw and French fries. These ribs are by far my favorite in town! The sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and the rib meat is tender enough to be pulled off the bone with a fork. I substituted the basil redskin mashed potatoes for the fries, and the basil component really added to the side dish — comfort food at its best.
My dining companion tried one of the specials, baked black grouper with Italian breadcrumbs and a balsamic reduction ($23.95). Unfortunately, he was disappointed with the dry texture and lack of taste in a dish that sounded so appealing.
For dessert, there was no disappointment. After seeing the usual suspects of chocolate cake and Key lime pie on the menu, my companion and I ordered the most unusual: Xango ($7.95), crispy, fried pastry shells filled with warm cheesecake and rolled in cinnamon sugar. The crunch of the pastry and sweetness of the cinnamon sugar brought me back to the days when churros were the big treat in my school’s cafeteria. You always felt special when Mom packed you extra money for those warm treats, and Sam Snead’s Xango dessert is definitely a special indulgence. The warm cheesecake center oozed out after every bite of deliciousness, and the cinnamon sugar was the cherry on top.
Sam Snead’s Oak Grill and Tavern is the perfect place to unwind, whether with a great meal or one of its recession-friendly happy-hour specials. It’s always a great place to bring the family for lunch or dinner or to enjoy watching a game at the bar.
Golf skills not required.
Sam Snead’s Oak Grill and Tavern
Address: 1830 S. Osprey Ave., Suite 100
Web site: www.samsneadssarasota.com
Summer hours: Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday and 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Manager: Ed Talman
Year opened: 2001
Meals served: Lunch and dinner
Payments: All major credit cards accepted
Good for: Casual dinner
Special features: Golf memorabilia
Vibe/atmosphere: Family gathering and neighborhood spot
Order this: Baby back ribs, $16.95