Let's Talk Shop by Danae DeShazer

Get it while it's fresh: Lucky Pelican Bistro

Posted July 19, 2012 at 11:00 am

by Danae DeShazer

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“It’s like Cheers, but with a menu,” exhaled a Lucky Pelican Bistro regular.

The Lucky Pelican Bistro, which serves the freshest fish, locally-shucked oysters, and a menu that varies depending on the hour, has been dubbed the neighborhood fish house of Lakewood Ranch.

The owner, a no-nonsense smart guy named Jim, doesn’t even like to call the 102-seat funky bistro a restaurant because “that’s just not what it is.” I have to agree: it’s a lot, lot more. Jim tosses around the term “gastropub” -- which I have to admit I googled. It boils down to a place that marries excellent food and excellent drink.

The restaurant (for lack of a better word) is eclectic. There are pelican knick-knacks covering the bar area, neon bar signs donning the walls, and over-sized chalk boards that hold the sacred specials. There’s also a glass ice box with fish you can buy off of them too, allá a seafood market.

“Most people don’t even look at the menu anymore,” says Jim matter-of-factly. “They come in, sit down, and take a look at our specials board. That’s all they really need.”

When I walked in, the lunch specials were being wiped away to make room for the dinner ones -- which consisted of grilled cobia with a spicy crawfish sauce; sake-glazed sea bass with stir-fried veggies; roast & smoked beef brisket with beer-battered onion rings; and grilled diver scallops “ciopino style” with shrimp & clams in a tomato vegetable sauce. (If your mouth isn’t watering, you may want to check your pulse)

With the specials as the centerpiece, Jim extends one of his gripes. Many returning customers come in and request a special they had two weeks ago, and the ingredients are just not available. But, he says, that’s the nature of working in the fresh food industry. You have it one day, and it’s gone when it’s gone.

Did I mention they make all their food from scratch, even the salad dressings? (At 3:30pm, the scent of fresh-baked cookies was emanating from the open kitchen)

They’re known for their food, yes, but they also have quite the extensive bar experience too. I was quite impressed by the 15 beers on tap (Jim says they switch them out every couple weeks), and I wasn’t familiar with all of the names either. Unique choices, such as the UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen, were chosen to pair nicely with various seafood dishes. (Jim says the raspberry beer would go great with their spicy fish dishes)

But, Jim assures me that they’re not “beer snobby.” With their bar selections, as well as their food offerings, the Lucky Pelican just wants to give their customers an array of the best.

Gastropub indeed. In September, the Lucky Pelican Bistro will celebrate its fifth anniversary. And I hope they stick around for at least five more! 



Visit the Lucky Pelican at 6239 Lake Osprey Drive, Lakewood Ranch (a mere 30-second drive off 1-75 exit 213 at University. Next to the Holiday Inn in the Lake Osprey Plaza.)

Call: (941) 907-0589 or visit online at LuckyPelicanBistro.com

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