Quick Summary: Coyne’s Pier 28 in Sarasota is a must-stop for anyone who loves seafood (ESPECIALLY CRAB CAKES).
8201 S Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34238, (941) 921-0028
Cuisine: Seafood, Tapas
Price Rating: $10 to $15 entrees
Review Date: March 16 and March 29 , 2013
Background Info on the Review
Last year, I had not one but TWO friends recommend that I check out Coyne’s Pier 28 as a possible place to review. So when I spoke with the owner, Vini, and he told me that he wanted to convert me to a crab cake lover with their authentic Maryland-style cakes, I knew we’d have to get this done!
Normally, when you think of a restaurant in a mall, you think of a certain level of quality — but Coyne’s Pier 28 far surpasses that preconception. Just check out the interior — stylin’!
Beautiful bar area with TVs and plenty of space.
Nautical decoration and feel set you up for the fresh seafood you’re about to eat.
The exterior of Coyne’s Pier 28 as seen from the parking lot of the Sarasota Square Mall.
And we all know the food is the best part of any of my blabberin’, so if you’re a true crab cake lover — skip down about 12 pictures for the most beautiful crab cakes you’ve ever seen!
Cheri’s Food Review
The salad that we were served is their Grilled Caesar Salad ($9) — which to me looked more like a deconstructed caesar which I thought was pretty cool. They actually grill their romaine lettuce, which is a great technique to bring out even more flavor from the lettuce, and if you’ve never had this before, it’s a must-try. I love the presentation and how you can get just as much or as little of this in each bite that you want, of the grilled romaine lettuce, creamy caesar, shaved asiago cheese, baby anchovies, croutons and even some tomatoes in an olive oil marinade.
Detail of the grilled romaine.
Next up was the Wasabi Encrusted Ahi Tuna ($12). This is served with fresh wasabi, pickled ginger, Thai chili and a Ponzu sauce. Pillow-like soft pieces of tuna are complemented by the sweet dipping sauce, and the sesame seeds add a great texture to each bite.
Ahi Tuna appetizer done right!
So here’s the money shot! This is the Moody Blue Chips ($8) which are a patron favorite here, and you can see why. Housemade potato chips, smoked blue cheese and Maytag crumbs, warmed and dressed with blue cheese and a balsamic reduction — this is perfect appetizer food. The chips were a perfect blend of crispy and soft, and the dressings provided a depth of flavor that had my tastebuds all excited. A truly awesome appetizer!
No, but seriously — look at that drippy, gooey awesomeness!
The fresh, never frozen Calamari Frittes ($10) is served with Marinara and Citrus Chili Marinade. These were lovely calamari — not spongy or springy by any means and not overly breaded either. Love the dipping sauces that came with; we settled on the citrus chili as our favorite.
Calamari Frittes detail — how cute is he?!
Up first on the list of entrees we were served was the House Burger ($14). First of all, the presentation can’t be beat — look at the height on that burger! Though I’m told the fries don’t always come like that… haha! But let’s start from the bottom of the burger and make our way up: bun, crispy onion straws, custom-grind burger patty made with ground sirloin, brisket and short rib, fried Panko-pepper encrusted Velveeta cheese slab, tomato, lettuce, pickle, bun and onion straws. YUP!
When I finally was able to cut the monster in half, I was left with this amazing, cheese-dripping sandwich. This was a totally incredible burger and I highly recommend that you give this one a go!
The Ocean City Stuffed Flounder ($30) was a big pile of fresh caught Flounder stuffed with Crab Imperial, broiled to perfection. I know this is a favorite at Coyne’s, but I have to say I was the least impressed with this dish. To me, it needed a little something more, but maybe that’s just because I was on flavor overload from all the other complex dishes. Though I did really enjoy the creamy bites of Crab Imperial — loaded with crab flavor!
BUT — the Coyne’s Famous Crab Cakes ($28). Okay, give me a minute to breathe just thinking about this dish again. Now, if you’re a true crabcake lover; I’m talking Maryland-style, tons of crab, barely any filler, super chunky kind of crabcakes, you know…..a TRUE crabcake lover….then you will leave here more than happy. These cakes are truly something special. The best compliment that you can give a crabcake is “Hey, you taste like crab!” and I know why here at Coyne’s — because they use 96-97% crab meat in their cakes. That’s a lot of crab and it certainly shows just from the outside.
Coyne’s has simultaneously converted me to a crabcake lover, and ruined me forever because I won’t be able to settle for anything less spectacular than these.
And last but certainly not least was the Cioppino ($22) seafood soup, which has pan seared shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and fish of the day in a red wine tomato broth with a side of jasmine rice. This was a big hit to me — the shrimp and scallops (U/10, sushi-grade!) were both huge and perfectly cooked and alongside all the other fresh seafood goodness, you simply cannot go wrong with this entree choice.
And THIS, my friends! This is the Dessert Trio ($9) and seriously, why don’t ALL restaurants have little trio dishes like this so you don’t have to be torn between trying only one of several choices that you’re interested in? This, from left to right, is the Fresh Berry Parfait, Tootsie Egg Roll and Funnel Cake Fries. The parfait has housemade white chocolate mousse, seasonal berries and a slice of Baltimore’s Berger’s cookie. Next is a dessert eggroll stuffed with housemade cheesecake and Tootsie Rolls! And last but NOT least, the funnel cake fries covered with a dusting of powdered sugar. The only complaint I have here is that I wish there was more Tootsie Rolls in the eggrolls! The perfect way to end a decadent meal, without having to choose between favorites!
Cloaked Restaurant Review
This is the part where I have an anonymous review done to critique the entire restaurant experience in a undercover way so that you can get a good idea of what it’s like for the typical restaurant-goer like yourself! It keeps us all honest!! Here’s what they said:
Not so at Coyne’s Pier 28.
Pier 28 is more “technically attached to the mall entrance” than the typical stand nestled between a low-budget pizza joint and a pretzel shop. It’s a full-fledged restaurant with an extensive seafood menu to match, and it’s not to be trifled with.
We were immediately greeted and seated, opting to take an actual table (and there were several available on a Friday night) over the comfortable-looking bar/lounge/bistro area. The restaurant is relatively new, and it shows. Modern design, very clean, maybe a tad too dim inside, but still very comfortable. One look at the menu, and we couldn’t wait to dig in.
After passing on a well-described cocktail (which sounded appealing to my sidekick except for one liquor ingredient), my partner in crime took a margarita that came with plenty of the good stuff in it. We chose to start with the Pier 28 Crab Balls and the Grouper Cheeks. The crab balls were excellent, as they were basically small crab cakes with a crisp fried coating. Many places try to keep their crab cakes together with a too-wet slathering of mayo and flavors in the middle as a binder, but these were fresh crab through and through, and had an excellent texture that wasn’t dry. If there was a light binding used, it wasn’t enough to take away from a very rich crab flavor. The accompanying sauces were excellent pairings in the flavors of sweet mustard, a tangy tartar and, surprisingly, a marinara-like sauce that actually worked very well. The grouper bites were just as good, with a dark, crisp breading that held some very light, fluffy fish. If we were just in the mood for some bar-style tapas, we would have been satisfied with these, but we pressed on.
Our main courses arrived and did not disappoint. I got the Sea Scallops, she got the Stuffed Flounder, and it was a tough choice between which was better. My scallops came well-cooked in a sauce that there could never be too much of – Sherry Bacon Vinaigrette. This was such a rich dish with such large offerings of scallops that while my mouth was sad to only four, my tummy was thankful it stopped at four. The stuffed flounder was every bit as delicious, which was a bit tricky: it’s easy to overbake and overbroil stuffed fish and lose moisture and flavor quickly, and over-browning it will sort of meld that seared oven-taste into the rest of the dish, but Pier 28 pulled it off like they invented it. Everything was cooked to perfection, and the taste delivered. Both dishes came with seasoned vegetables that were good and au gratin potatoes that stole the show. Rich, creamy without being slathered, well-prepared potatoes.
If the word “rich” keeps coming up in flavor descriptions, it’s for good reason. We decided to split a dessert that kept along the same lines, a smooth White Chocolate Mousse with seasonal berries in a parfait glass. Completely decadant, completely delicious, a perfect end to an excellent meal.
This was a surprisingly great stop at the Westfield Shopping Center. It was refreshing to see a restaurant deliver at such a high standard in such an unlikely location. They offer a few dishes outside of just seafood, and they’re probably also very good, but missing out on the seafood at Coyne’s Pier 28 would be a mistake.
Cloaked Review Ratings
|Food Quality & Menu|
Review Disclaimer: This review is part of a series of restaurant reviews that follows The Watering Mouth’s restaurant review guidelines. My Tasting photographs may not show the true portion of a meal a typical customer would receive. These reviews are based on two visits to a restaurant, one open Tasting where I taste and photograph a restaurant’s best dishes, and one full, anonymous review (like the typical restaurant-goer would experience) found at the bottom. We are honest with our reviews, and assume that each restaurant is consistently performing to the standards we experienced!