Monday, September 9, 2013

Restaurant Review: Clearsky Cafe, Clearwater Beach FL

In all the years I've been visiting (and now living in) Clearwater Beach, for some reason, I had never been to Clearsky Beachside Cafe - Now that I have, I can't believe I didn't go sooner! They are open from 7am to 1am every day, and serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and have happy hour specials, tapas and full entrees.

They're located in a prime spot along Mandalay, near the Sandpearl Hotel.  Every night, walking down the beach, you can hear music streaming from the cafe.  The ambience there is lovely.
I visited with a group of six on a rainy Wednesday evening.  Despite the rain, we were able to sit on the (covered) patio - there was a lovely breeze and Spanish guitar.
For appetizers, we started out with an order of Crab & Artichoke dip, and some Calamari.  Clearly, I was not sticking to my paleo diet regime for the evening, but it was very interesting to note that they had Gluten Free options clearly labeled on the menu, as well as a note that they could accommodate various diets and allergy requests if the server is alerted.  Anyway.  The artichoke dip was amazing.  It was served with fried pita crisps, rather than just plain tortilla chips, which is a nice touch (Reminds me of Kelsey's 4-cheese spinach dip... mmm...!)

The calamari were served with two types of dipping sauce, but they were underneath the actual fish.  I thought this was an interesting approach - not necessarily my favourite presentation, as I think as the dish sits for a while, the bottom calamari get a little bit soggy.  But they tasted great.  
There was more than enough in the appetizer portions for everyone to share.

Tom decided on the Tuscan Chicken as his entree - sauteed chicken, goat cheese and capicola topped with a basil white wine sauce - and he let me have a taste.  It was served with a side of either quinoa or couscous... we couldn't really decide - but it was delicious!

The flavours of the chicken and goat cheese blended together really nicely, and the chicken itself was cooked to perfection.

Myself... I had the Lobster Ravioli.  I was debating between this and the Mesquite Chicken Quesadilla on the small plates menu.  After such a big appetizer, I kind of wish I had gone for the smaller meal - but the ravioli were hard to resist! They were absolutely delicious (even though I could only eat half the plate!) and they were served with bits of lobster in the actual sauce, which was awesome.
It was served with a portion of cheesy bread (which one of our table mates had also ordered as an appetizer) which was great for dipping!

I would definitely order this dish again - just maybe cut down on the appetizers beforehand!

Now, funnily enough, later this week, my friend Sand who just recently moved to the Tampa area came out to the beach to visit me.  After walking down to the pier and doing a bit of touristy stuff - we decided that we needed food.  With such a great experience under my belt, I suggested Clearsky to him, and we headed over.  Our waitress, Annie, was the same waitress I'd had earlier, and she totally remembered me.

This time, I had the mesquite chicken quesadilla (sorry for the awful picture - I didn't realize it was blurry when I took it!) and Sand had (I think) what they call the Sky High burger - it had cheddar and applewood smoked bacon and it looked delicious!  My quesadilla was awesome too.  Totally hit the spot! My only complaint, if I had one at all, is that I wish it was served on a bigger plate - I always eat quesadillas with a fork and knife, and there wasn't much room to manoeuvre on the rectangular dish - haha!

Overall, both of my experiences at Clearsky were great, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the area.  I will definitely be going back... again.  I'm thinking of making reservations for my birthday dinner next month already!

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