Assuming you already know the delicious wonder of a crab cake, it’s time to familiarize yourself with a “reef cake”. Southside Village’s new restaurant aggregates all kinds of fish protein to create your ideal seafood sandwich. Locally sourced fish comes from a seafood supplier in St. Pete, then is filleted and assembled into Artisanal fish cakes with minimal breadcrumbs or toppings. These delicious patties from the waters of the Gulf and beyond are baked in the oven, then briefly seared for a satisfying texture. Hockey puck-sized food ultimately looks like your tried and true crab cake. When former New Englander Mike Martin was looking for a different way to cook his almost daily seafood consumption, these experimental patties became a real highlight at the dinner table one night with his wife. âOur Asian-inspired salmon cakes were not only the first cakes that evolved, but also my favorite,â says Martin. âThe flavor and texture of this cake pairs wonderfully with the crunch and flavor of our house red cabbage salad. The combination of fresh ginger and sesame oil makes this dish a deep dive into awesome Asian flavors.
Build your own reef cake creation from any protein of your choice, local Jamaican grouper, Cajun red snapper, and outlier Gulf shrimp like Chilean salmon, Maryland giant crab, and Nova Scotia lobster. -England. Then choose your ‘cake bed’ preference from organic arugula, spring mix, organic baby spinach, kale or romaine (for low carb options), or a baked baguette or small brioche bread for a complete hand-held experience. Meanwhile, specialty âboostersâ (sauces Martin was zealous in creating for his condiment-loving friends) let you add to your masterpiece and spice up your cake a few notches. âWe want our sauces to ‘improve’ the meal, not take over and overpower the main protein,â he says. âWhen we built our jerk grouper cakes, it was a simple decision to pair them with our homemade Caribbean salsa. The spices and herbs of the cake are quickly complemented by the crisp citrus flavors of the pineapple-based salsa. Summer corn relish, macadamia nut pesto, avocado cream with coriander, firecracker sauce, orange ginger, teriyaki, langoustine sauce, lime tartare, the list of enhancers is long. And from there, customers can go after them, adding grilled pineapple, jalapenos, dill pickles, applewood smoked bacon, vine-ripened tomatoes and more. The versatility you have in customizing your own cake is what keeps you coming back to try new flavor combinations and a different fusion of fixings.
Or, go on the Island Charcuterie Board, which enhances your typical meat and cheese pasture board by incorporating a surf and turf verve. Presented with poached cocktail shrimp, giant Maryland crab, grilled pineapple, heirloom grape tomatoes and stuffed eggs, an assortment of Boar’s Head meats and cheeses pair surprisingly well with seafood herbs, cocktail sauce, Dijon mustard and assorted water crackers. End your meal on a sweet and tangy note with a lime pie for dessert or a flight of Florida craft beers from a selection of breweries in Sarasota, Tampa and mile markers in between. It’s easy to get absorbed longer than expected, sit back and enjoy the restaurant’s island vibe which is full steam ahead with the nautical and reggae theme. Rattan light fixtures hang from the ceiling while fish fillets, seashells, driftwood accents and jute ropes in marine knots sporadically adorn cabins and walls, walls covered in larger-than-life murals by the Vitale Bros. of Tampa Bay Street Artist Collective. Painted shapes of octopus, lobster, hogfish, turtle, crab, snook, and sinking seaweed adorn the walls. Meanwhile, local carpenter Dave Cornell worked with Martin to come up with the idea for a bespoke table top when Martin purchased coveted vintage postcards from the Florida Gulf Coast on eBay. Old images of Siesta Key, Longboat Key, and Anna Maria Island, as well as photos from before Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Marina Jack, and Miramar Hotel, are displayed all over the bar, with some lying on their backs to show off evocative images, time-stamped messages to relatives in cursive writing. âSarasota natives really enjoy seeing these nostalgic images of the area – they usually end up sharing their memories and stories from the past with me,â he says.
Martin scored more gems on eBay – a stack of Jamaican reggae magazines from the 1970s and 1980s – to use in the decor. Pages of vintage prints were torn off, glued and then slipped onto each dining table for guests’ reading pleasure. âIt was strange, in fact, I noticed that all the ones I bought were from this seller named Rank’n Dan from St. Augustine,â Martin laughs. âI thought it was so funny and cool that this guy has amassed all these magazines from Jamaica and lives right across the way. I decided to name a reef cake in his honor. The diners will find under ‘Our suggestions’ on the menu: Rank’n Dan. Savor a Cajun Shrimp and Snapper Cake Slider served with gourmet Old Florida Lime Tortilla chips, Caribbean salsa and a cold Red Stripe beer. Yes my. SRQ
Reef Cakes, 1812 South Osprey Ave., Sarasota, 941-444-7968, reefcakes.com, @reefcakes.