Sea Star Cafe, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, FL
11544 Palmbrush Trail, Bradenton, FL 34202, (941) 753-6016
Cuisine: American, Breakfast and Lunch
Price Rating: under $10 per entree
Review Date: May 10, 2012 and May 16, 2012
Review Tip: More of a visual person or don’t have much time? Skip to the bottom for a quick video with all the pics!
This review is the first in the series of restaurant reviews that follows The Watering Mouth’s new restaurant review guidelines. All future reviews will follow this template! Yay!
Background Info on the Restaurant
The Sea Star Cafe is a cute little breakfast and lunch place located in a little strip mall in the northern part of Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton, Florida. Matt and Casey are super warm, down-to-earth co-founders who opened the restaurant in June of 2008.
This place has been called “Cheers” without the drama! And I’d have to agree with that description because from my researching this restaurant along with what I’ve heard about it “around town”, I know that they have a ton of regulars here that contribute to that feeling. In fact, Casey and her husband Ben just had a baby recently and a bunch of the regulars threw her a surprise baby shower at the restaurant! That says a lot.
It makes sense that it’s such a place for regulars because its location is really off the beaten path for most people that live here. You’d kinda have to know about it to get there as a newbie. It’s about two miles east of I-75 off of State Road 70, and doesn’t have greatly visible signage or an obvious location. Once you drive down Palmbrush Trail, though, it’s the first place on the left.
It’s also known for being a super flexible place to eat, as in, if you want something customized for you, they will bend over backwards to get it done for you! I love flexibility when it comes to restaurants.
My food review is just below, followed by my anonymous reviewers’ impressions at the bottom!
Cheri’s Food Review
When I went in to review the food, Matt and Casey greeted me warmly. Matt went to go prepare the food for me and I sat with Casey to be able to get the scoop on the food as it came out. They had chosen a wide array of dishes for me to try, so you’ve got your eyes full for the offerings I was given!
Billed as “The Best Reuben in Town”, this Reuben Sandwich is among my favorites that I’ve had. It tastes rich and salty, with ooey-gooey cheese melted over top, a rye that isn’t overpowering and corned beef that’s salty and not too fatty. I’m no Reuben expert but I can tell that the sauerkraut is really fresh and the homemade 1,000 Island dressing gives it the perfect creamy kick.
The chicken salad is light and crunchy and the vegetables that are served with it are the perfect accompaniment. Fresh and satisfying, I’m given an insider trick that some patrons order just the chicken salad with a side of the homemade potato chips. I ended up trying these together and they were right – it would make the perfect light meal.
I happen to be a French Toast connoisseur, you should know that about me; so I know my way around a plate of French Toast. This was such a great twist on the French Toast that I’m used to. They make it with a fresh Hawaiian bread that’s sweet and topped with cinnamon, powdered sugar and some toasted coconut. Drizzle some maple syrup on that little starfish arrangement and you’re good to go.
This. Muffin. Holy. Heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a grilled muffin before. I really love muffins of all kinds and this blueberry muffin was great – really substantial with a yummy sugary top and big, thick blueberries throughout. But GRILLED…that just took it to a whole other level. I definitely recommend their grilled muffin.
This sandwich comes with three types of cheese: Provolone, Cheddar and American cheese and I got the one with bacon and tomato on it. The cheese was really gooey which is always a plus for Grilled Cheese, and bacon makes anything better, but this sandwich was really nothing special to me. Maybe it was that compared to all the other deliciousness I got to try, this paled in comparison, but I was just rather indifferent to this sandwich.
The star of all the meals. As a salmon fan, I have to say that this was a really stellar combination. I was glad to get to try this because I tasted their hollandaise sauce which was really thick and rich and satisfying, along with the egg, the muffin and the perfectly complimenting salmon, which was really fresh and soft. Altogether, this was definitely in my top three of the tasting. When I got home, these were the leftovers I ate immediately, even though I was already stuffed, because I just didn’t have the heart to let it flounder in the fridge. Get it? Flounder??
Here was my most favorite interesting new thing to try on this menu. I mean, a meatloaf sandwich isn’t, like, a new idea, but their meatloaf recipe itself certainly was. I can’t say much more than it was just this deliciously satisfying, sweet type of meatloaf. I’ve never had a meatloaf that was sweet before, but this was the most delicate bit of sweet that really set off the meat and went so perfectly with the rye and cheese and tomato that it was served with. If you’re a meatloaf lover and like to try new interesting takes on old favorites, I definitely recommend giving this one a go.
Eggs cooked perfectly, no complaints there. The homemade hash was delicious and I’m not sure I’ve actually ever had homemade before. I thought there could have been a bit more beef in it, but it was still really good. I thought I’d detected a peppery bite to it at first, but I just must have gotten some pepper in there somehow, because bites after that didn’t have any pepper-ness in it. Though, when I thought about it after, I really liked having the pepper in it! Haha. If you’re a boring, ol’ egg orderer when you go out for breakfast, you will be satisfied with this.
This wrap was perfect. One thing that was notable was that I really, really liked the flour tortilla that they used. It seemed more authentic and fresh than other tortillas that you usually get at the store, and it really set it off well. The fried chicken was perfectly done and there was just enough ranch to really compliment but not overpower the sandwich. And the other thing is that I don’t think they used blue cheese at all, which is something I don’t like about traditional Buffalo Chicken Wraps. Score!
I have to say that I wasn’t really all that impressed with the homemade Lobster Bisque. What I’m used to is a really creamy, substantial bisque that you really feel like you shouldn’t be eating because it will give you an instant heart attack. This bisque felt like more of a diet version and was a lot more runny than I care for. It did have a great lobster taste, but I would have preferred a thicker base and some larger pieces of lobster to chomp on. Though, this type of thinner soup might suit your tastes just fine. I’m told the regulars love it!
Cloaked Restaurant Review
My cloaked reviewers that went into the restaurant anonymously showed up at about 8:30 am on a Wednesday morning. When they arrived, there wasn’t anyone else in the place but by the time they were leaving, the place had become full of other patrons. Their server was friendly and they thought the ambiance was pleasant.
One reviewer ordered pancakes and was warned by the waitress that they were big and that she should probably just have one. She decided not to heed this sage advice and was giving two huge pancakes and consequently wasn’t able to finish them! The reviewer who ordered the eggs, bacon and potatoes was pleased with his order though not completely wow-ed. And the reviewer who got the Eggs Benedict said it was tasty and that he really liked the Hollandaise sauce.
They were happy with the service they received and said that if they lived nearby, that this is a place that they would come back to. They just noted that it would be better if it was located a bit closer to the highway and had better, more visible signage.
Cloaked Review Ratings
|Food Quality & Menu||4.50|
Go to my Flickr account to check out my Sea Star Cafe Review images set to see the full set of pics. Or you can watch the short video I made as well for some audio commentary!
I really like this place and I like the owners even more. Matt and Casey really work hard to provide an awesome environment with imaginative food choices and a great “Cheers” atmosphere.
Do you think this is a place that you would like to check out for breakfast sometime??