St Armand’s Circle & Anna Maria Island, Florida

The Columbia Restaurant, St Armand's Key, Florida
The Columbia Restaurant, St Armand’s Key, Florida

Niki’s son Jay and daughter-in-law Kathy are “down” for a few days’
respite from the Indianapolis area weather and to soak up some of our warm weather. We were happy to meet them for lunch at the famed “Columbia Restaurant” on St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota.
Always a busy place at anytime but the the seating is usually quick and the biggest problem is finding a parking place within hiking distance of the restaurant.

Once seated, the meal always begins with each diner being served a warm, crusty loaf of Cuban bread to be slathered with butter and savored while we peruse the large and varied menu offerings.

Aromatic dishes on the dinner menu feature traditional favorites of Spain and Cuba, offering tender pork, chicken and rice, fresh fish and shellfish. Entrees are served while still steaming and enhanced by overflowing pitchers of fresh, fruity sangria.

Of course we both had to sample the Sangria!

Niki ordered the “Gazpacho Andalucia”, Spain’s famous cold soup of puree of ripe tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cucumbers and garlic. Topped tableside with finely diced vegetables and toasted Cuban croutons. She also chose Columbia’s legendary “1905 Salad” tossed at our table. Crisp Iceberg lettuce with julienne of baked ham, natural Swiss cheese, tomato, olives, grated Romano cheese and their famous garlic dressing.

Niki thoroughly enjoyed the salad but said she has had better Gazpacho elsewhere.

Jack chose the “Crab Enchilado” purported to be a Sunday favorite among Spain’s young folk. It’s a mildly spicy sauce of fresh lump blue crabmeat, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, garlic, oregano, white wine and chili peppers. Served over pasta. If it’s pasta Jack has to try it wherever we visit and he proclaimed this pasta dish to be “delicioso”.

Overall we both enjoyed all the food immensely and the conversation with Kathy and Jay.

St Armand's Key and Anna Maria Island
St Armand’s Key and Anna Maria Island

After lunch we drove North along Gulf of Mexico Drive (Rte. 789) – Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island, with stops at Coquina Beach (Bradenton Beach) . . .

Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island
Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island

where there were many people enjoying picnics and bicycling in the park while the sun worshipers were enjoying a gorgeous beach day.

Coquina Beach Arts & Crafts Sale
Coquina Beach Arts & Crafts Sale Today!

In another part of the Park we visited the Arts and Crafts Show.

Coquina and Bradenton Beach Parks are located near Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida and are about an hour and a half South of Tampa and Clearwater. The areas are large with plenty of free parking, trails, picnic tables, beach access, life guards, restrooms and a snack facility. A great place to think about for Spring Break or just about any other time.

Another beautiful 80 degree day has slipped by in Paradise.

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