Peruvian cuisine is eclectic; it showcases a base in ancient Inca and bears influences from European (Spanish, Italian, German) and Asian (Japanese, Chinese) immigrants. There is a wide diversity of food and preparation in traditional Peruvian cuisine.
Javier’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, a long-standing (20 years) fixture on Siesta Key, serves some deliciously prepared Peruvian specialties while teasing out some of the more European dining characteristics. In essence, it's Peruvian cuisine meets Continental dining.
Tucked back in the corner of a small strip mall at 6621 Midnight Pass Road, just south of the Stickney Point Road Bridge, it is easy to overlook Javier’s. Such an oversight would be a mistake! Simple and nondescript on the outside, the interior space at Javier’s is warm, inviting and casual, with a subtle air of refinement. Upon entering, there is a small, cozy wine bar and a good sized dining room, which is equally adept at serving couples or small groups of diners.
The menu is extensive, offering many traditional Peruvian dishes, small plates, tapas, ceviche and Continental entrees, such as roast duck, chicken piccata, and pepper steak. With such a tempting array, finding a dish to please should not be a problem. However, selecting just one dish just might be! For our meals, we chose the following:
- Ceviche de Tuna: Tuna marinated in the traditional Peruvian sauce of red onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and Peruvian aji pepper. $9.00
A tremendous presentation of fresh tuna in a mélange of citrusy, pungent flavors, which scream fresh. Delicious.
- Javier’s Famous Organic Caesar Salad: $6.75 Although not prepared table side, the salad is prepared to order at a station in the dining room. The ingredients are fresh, crispy and nicely dressed. Garlicky with a nice crunch. A Peruvian twist on a Continental classic.
- Anticuchos Mar y Tierra: Peruvian surf and turf. Chargrilled skewers of beef and shrimp served with beans and rice, yuca frita, platanos and chimichurri sauce. $21.00 (Served with house salad). Tender, good sized pieces of mouthwatering beef, mouth-popping flavorful shrimp and a chimichurri, which adds some nice fresh flavor.
- Arroz con Pato: A traditional preparation from Chiclaya in northern Peru. Roast duck with a cilantro risotto, accented with green peas, red peppers and aji amarillo. Served with yuca frita. $23.00 The classic Peruvian rendition, large serving, rich and full of flavor. Certainly could be shared by two people.
- Pork Churrasco: South American style pork loin, char grilled and served with spicy chimichurri sauce (Served with house salad and choice of side). $18.00 The chimichurri had just the right kick to spice up the pork. Side salad was fresh and plentiful.
- Arroz Con Mariscos: Similar to seafood paella, this dish includes shrimp, scallops, fish, mussels and calamari served with rice in a fresh ginger tomato sauce. $21.00 Another classic dish full of fresh flavors, colors and textures.
- BBQ Baby Back Ribs: Full rack of tender ribs. $18.00 Fall-off-the-bone tender, the barbecue sauce is sweet and smoky.
- Bananas Foster: Made to order. Bananas sautéed in a rich caramel sauce then flambéed in dark rum and crème de banana. Served over vanilla bean ice cream. $6.50 The menu said it — ”The best!” Also prepared to order in the dining room, this classic dessert was creamy, rich, luscious and satisfying. Easily shared amongst two to three people, although it was so good you might not want to share.
There is an adequate selection of beer, wine and soft drinks to accompany your meal. We found the house selection of wine to be reasonably priced and a great complement to the meal. The wait staff is very friendly, attentive and knowledgeable; they explained the various dishes and preparations and made sure we understood the options.
The eclectic menu, breadth and style of food are hallmarks of Peruvian cuisine, and Javier’s takes these Peruvian culinary characteristics and adds its unique Continental flair. The result is a most enjoyable dining experience.
Javier’s Restaurant and Wine Bar: 6621 Midnight Pass Road / 941-349-1792 / Open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m.
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