Located in the Gulf Gate district, in the former space occupied by Piatti Italian Bistro, and right next door to Il Panificio, Off the Hook Seafood Co. is serving some of the freshest seafood around. It's a large, glass-fronted building with high ceilings, a contemporary glass-walled wine room, modern glass lit bar, colorful lighting fixtures and simple nautical pieces sparingly placed throughout the restaurant. Off the Hook presents a subtly casual, yet slightly upscale dining room, with the bar taking center stage.
As one would expect, the menu at Off the Hook is seafood-oriented, with a few token nods (chicken, steak and vegetarian) to the non seafood-lover. Offering a range of appetizers, soups and salads, there are many options from which to choose. For our meals, we choose the following:
- Caesar Salad: Romaine, fresh croutons, parmesan and house-made dressing. $7.00 Grilled and slightly charred romaine. Made a wonderful presentation. The smoky taste combined well with the slightly tart, lemony taste of the dressing. The white anchovies were a great addition.
- House Salad: Romaine, fresh veggies and balsamic dressing. $6.00 A simple, fresh and colorful start to our meal.
- Crab Cake: Pan-seared with house remoulade. $9.00 (Appetizer) A beautiful presentation. This crab cake is the real thing, filled with chunks of crab and flavorful. Tender and delicious.
- Shrimp and Grits: Four barbecue-grilled shrimp served over savory and creamy grits, topped with crisp bacon and green onions. $14.00 (Appetizer)
The jumbo shrimp was fresh and moist. Simply plated, the grits were mop-up good!
- Fish or Shrimp Taco: Flour tortillas with your choice of seared fish or grilled shrimp over Napa cabbage slaw, house-made Pico de Gallo and avocado topped with remoulade, served with house rice. $14.00
We chose the seared fish, which was mahi-mahi. A generous-sized piece of mahi-mahi, very moist and fresh. Layers of flavors and textures made this fish taco one of the best in Sarasota.
- Golden Tile: Pan-seared and topped with herb butter, mashed potato and house vegetables. $20.00 A simple, yet nicely plated dish. The tile fish had a slight sear on the outside with a flaky moist consistency inside. Potato and veggies complemented the fish perfectly.
- Black Grouper: Pan-seared with lemon butter and topped with crab meat, asparagus and mashed potato. $25.00 A thick piece of fresh grouper; the lemon butter gave both the grouper and crab meat a tangy, rich flavor. Broccoli and carrots accompanied the asparagus. All fresh, colorful and full of flavor.
- Mahi Mahi: Pan-seared with a tomato relish and arugula, asparagus and mashed potato. $22.00 A fresh, well-prepared fish with sear on the outside, yet still moist inside. Tangy and very satisfying.
- Snapper: Pan-seared and served with a lentil sauce and crispy onion rings. $24.00
Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of fish served with lentil. I love the combination of flavors and texture – filling and lick-the-plate-clean good!
- Limoncello and mascarpone cheesecake: $6.00 A light, perfect combination of tangy and sweet. Not too rich or filling. A perfect ending, especially when shared!
With its stylish, glass-backed and well-lit bar, Off the Hook offers a range of specialty drinks, beer, wine and soft drinks to accompany your meal. The wait staff is very friendly and attentive, offering guidance when requested, and efficient.
Even though we live in a coastal community, the number of seafood-specific restaurants is relatively small. Adding another quality seafood restaurant to the list is a welcomed addition.
Off the Hook Seafood Co. 6630 Gateway Ave. / 923-5570
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. daily
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