Saturday, February 8, 2014

I Got My Bucket In Nantucket

Editor's update. Darn it all to heck! The Bucket has closed for good. From their Facebook page: "We have closed the Nantucket Bucket and plan to reopen as Harborita Cantina, a Mexican theme, serving great food from our trailer and super drinks from our Tequila bar."

Crap and triple crap! Just what the bay area needs - another Mexican restaurant. We need one of those like we need another Italian place or another pizza joint.

To bay area restaurateurs: There are other cuisines.

The northeastern coast of the United States has been calling out to me for years. Lobster shacks up and down the New England coast have been torturing me with their promises of a never ending parade of meaty, fresh whole lobsters, plump steamed clams, and succulent oysters from the gods of Olympus. I have watched cooking and travel channel TV hosts stuffing their faces with heavenly gifts from the northern seas, swimming in melted butter. I have grown to hate those people! That should be me with a greasy chin and buttery fingers.

One day I will make that trip to the frozen north to scarf down those fresh seafood delicacies that, up until today, I could only dream about here in Florida. Today my urge to venture any farther north than Kennedy Boulevard was tempered when my bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, and I walked across the threshold of Nantucket Bucket, 519 2nd Street South in Safety Harbor. My quivering buds of taste were practically orgasmic with the promise of New England seafood enhanced with a touch of Florida cracker gastronomy.

We arrived at the Bucket around 11:30 and stepped into an empty restaurant. We beat the lunch crowd that started pouring in around noon, so in the meantime the Bucket was ours. Mindy, our delightful server, invited us to sit where we pleased. There were 130 seats to choose from: inside, outside, at the bar, or in several dining areas scattered about the property. We plopped ourselves down near the bar after a self-guided tour of the property.

The Bucket building is a Sears Catalog home built back in the 1920s. It is quaint and comfortable, and could be described as homey. Everyone that we encountered was friendly and accommodating. The service was excellent. The food was even better.

My gorgeous dining partner, who is not a true seafood aficionado, chose a "small plate" of Sausage 'n Grits, which is just like the southern staple, shrimp and grits, but without the shrimp. The sausage was spicy, but the heat was mellowed by the dreamy, creamy grits. She was satisfied with her choice. The sausage was savory and cooked to perfection and, "I have never met a grit I didn't like." Well, there you have it.

For her side, the Belle had the Bacon 'n Bleu Cheese Slaw. This was an innovative take on another southern favorite with chunks of bleu cheese in an aioli base with crispy bacon. As everyone knows, everything is better with bacon.

Now, let's talk about my bucket. Aw, c'mon people, I mean my Maine Bucket of seafood. This was a whole Maine lobster with mussels, Ipswich clams, taters (cracker for potatoes if you have to ask), perfectly steamed corn, and other assorted veggies. Every morsel was cooked by someone who knows how to cook. There was nothing that was cooked to mush. If Safety Harbor was closer, I would go back for dinner tonight.

In addition to catering to our every whim, Mindy was also the house photographer.

To sum up our visit to the Bucket: the food was fantastic, the service was excellent, and the prices were more reasonable than anything we usually experience on the Tampa side of the bay: $81.86 and that included our 20% gratuity for Mindy.

Nantucket Bucket on Urbanspoon

Nantucket Bucket on Foodio54

As a side note: What annoys the dickens out of me as a resident of Tampa, is having to regularly cross the bay into Pinellas County to find innovative restaurants with reasonable prices. I will now step off my soap-box.

The Oracle dines anonymously and we pay full listed price for all that we consume.

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