Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sandbar Restaurant, Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria Island

Whether it is a measure of our advancing age or preference for our own culinary mash-ups, we tend not to dine out often. Occasionally - such as this evening - we have a sudden urge for "restaurant quality" food. When submitting to the impulse the choice of venue is invariably seaside and casual. Tonight it was the Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island. Our drive there from our residence on Longboat Key took just over half an hour. We found ample additional parking reserved for restaurant patrons about a block past the site.

The beach at this location is broader than many others on Anna Maria Island or Longboat Key, partly no doubt because it is practically at the northern end of the barrier island jutting into the Gulf of Mexico. The journey to the place was heralded by subtropical architecture reminiscent of Key West, generally smaller structures, often built of boarded, colourful finishes peculiar to seaside resorts. Unlike Longboat Key (which by design is almost exclusively residential - to the extent that even the Publix grocery store resembles a golf club) Anna Maria Island teems with short-term tourists and families of younger parents and children. There is an unmistakeable Coney Island and cottage atmosphere throughout Anna Maria Island. Nor was the prescription for alcohol missing at the restaurant.

We chose to sit outside immediately adjoining the beach (our toes were quite literally in the sand). Though the weather was dull today the characteristic colours of the beach were brilliant, succeeding to present a sharply contrasting display of otherwise mellow hues as appealing as fine neat whiskey in a crystal tumbler. Surrounding us to the sides and behind were groups of families, many of whom were buoyant and talkative. We contented ourselves to stare at the sea, watching fishermen, beach idlers, sea birds and the occasional dolphin in the distance. A young boy played in the sand, constructing - then destroying - a castle. Several other children - presumably from the north - lay on their backs in the sand and made angels.

By the time we left table it was approaching seven o'clock and the place was packed.  They do not accept reservations but we had arrived early enough (around 4:30 pm) to have been seated immediately. We opt for an early dinner (or late lunch) to permit us to drive home in daylight - not merely as a matter of safety but to enjoy the scenery.

And, yes, we did finish with Key Lime pie and bread pudding!

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