Diva #1’s trip with her Aunty and Uncle ended with four beautiful days in Clearwater Beach, Florida. The water was warm, the sun shining and everyone was happy, Uncle even left the hotel room to sit on the beach instead of working all day. Dolphins even came near enough to the shore that Diva #1 and Aunty swam with them. Well, correction, Aunty swam away because she thought they were sharks. In the end we enjoyed this very relaxing part of the trip, especially after the bustle of Disneyworld.
Diva #1, Uncle and Aunty stayed at the luxurious Park Hyatt in ClearwaterBeach. Seventeen floors above the ocean, Diva #1’s luxurious king size bed overlooked the beach…. she didn’t want to ever come home.
Since we did not want to miss out on any beach time, we ate lunch twice at the Swim Bar & Grill in our hotel. On the eighth floor of the Park Hyatt, Swim Bar & Grill was a pool side restaurant overlooking the ocean, known for its amazing view of the sunset. This little lunch time grill was always packed with hungry customers in between bouts of swimming and tanning. Their cocktails were large and had some amazing tequilas and rums, and often enough live music was playing around the pool and grill making the guests feel like they were on a Caribbean vacation.
We enjoyed their salsa during one lunch and their amazing guacamole on another. Uncle joked that when possible, Diva #1 and Aunty ate guacamole with every meal. Diva #1’s favourite item on Swim’s menu was the blackened mahi-mahi tacos with pico de gallo and an amazing cilantro lime sour cream aioli, very rich and delicious. On other visits we also enjoyed the chicken with grilled watermelon and arugula wrap, with fresh lime cilantro mojo, as well as the quesadillas. Sadly some days we were too hungry to take pictures, but we took a few so that our dear readers could be jealous about what they missed hee hee. Uncle enjoyed the pulled short rib wrap with cabbage coleslaw, and we seemed to never be disappointed with our little lunches. The wraps came with a side of homemade chips, and in general, we loved having lunch in this hotel bar and grill.
The real gem of the ParkHyattClearwaterBeach hotel was Shor restaurant on the ground floor. We were so enamored by this restaurant that we went twice in two days for dinner! The bread was warm and came with whipped butter, the oysters were shucked in front of you and the terrace overlooked the ocean. Truly the perfect Floridian restaurant! Diva #1 deeply regrets that on her first visit to Shor restaurant her camera died so she did not get a picture of the formidable trio of baked oyster Rockefeller with fennel, spinach and a béarnaise sauce. BUT even more importantly, she did not get a picture of the most amazing lobster mac n’ cheese that she had ever had in her life. This amazing plate came with ½ lb of lobster, oven dried tomatoes, baby spinach and a creamy white cheddar sauce. The ½ lb of lobster just sat on the top of the cheese crust and when mixed in, it was divine, truly the best mac n’ cheese.
“Trio of Baked Oyster Rockefeller: fennel, spinach, béarnaise” 16$
“Lobster Mac ‘Cheese: maine lobster, oven dried tomatoes,organic baby spinach, white cheddar cheese sauce” 31$
Enough about the tasty dishes that are lacking pictures, and more about the ones with visual proof! Uncle wanted to order the fried calamari, but Diva #1 is over calamari, been there done that. This calamari was huge, very tender, slightly breaded and cooked to perfection. Even the jalapeno cocktail sauce was a nice twist and a delectable surprise, we were really impressed! So now she is back on the calamari bandwagon. There certainly isn’t such fresh flavourful calamari back in Montreal, let alone that big. And the Divas love big…
Obviously we had to get the fresh oysters; we had tried oysters Rockefeller on the previous night but were really impressed with Shor’s variety so we wanted to try something new. We tried three different types, fell in love with the meatier ones and ordered more. After all, we were on vacation! As you walk into Shor, you see an oyster bar with oysters on ice, and Diva #1 wanted to steal a few and bring them to her room for a late night snack, but Aunty was watching her closely.
Upon the waiter’s recommendation we also ordered the American blue crab cake that is served with a corn purée, arugula and a smoked red pepper coulis. The crab cakes were amazing and fresh tasting, almost like they were baked instead of fried. They were not greasy at all. We were certainly glad to have taken our waiter’s recommendation.
Having fallen in love with the lobster mac n’ cheese on the previous night, Diva #1 decided to try the homemade lobster ravioli with a vermouth cream, and Aunty followed suit. Diva #1 often indulges in a dirty gin martini with vermouth and was happy to try a sauce with vermouth in it. Though the vermouth was not particularly prevalent, this dish was definitely tops in terms of seafood pasta dishes. The ravioli were generously stuffed with lobster and the cream sauce can only be described as decadent. Diva #1 cannot decide if she preferred their lobster mac n’ cheese or their lobster ravioli, both were wonderful.
Uncle ordered the 12 oz Angus ribeye steak with sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes and a green peppercorn sauce. He was very pleased, and together we raved about the wonderful Shor restaurant. We even returned to Shor for brunch one morning, but Diva #1 is not a morning person and forgot her camera and phone… obviously she is a phenomenal blogger. Shor’s brunch is lovely with some Floridian specialties like eggs Benedict with crab cakes and other gourmet delights, definitely something to return for.
At the end of both of our nights at Shor restaurant we indulged in dessert. Before eating at Shor, Diva #1 could never imagine ordering the same dessert two nights in a row, she is a creature of variety. But Shor’s pineapple upside-down cake with coconut gelato deserves a standing ovation. So she ordered it two nights in a row… shamelessly. The dessert was moist and rich with an almost caramel sauce, coupled together with the fresh coconut gelato, it is a miracle that she did not order it during brunch too.
Uncle and Aunty shared the blackberry cheesecake with a spiked blackberry coulis. The waiter had recommended this dessert; yes it was good but no competition for the pineapple upside down cake. The cheesecake was creamy and a great combination with the blackberries, and we were happy to have listened to our waiter.
After spending two nights at Shor restaurant we decided to leave the hotel and go to Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber restaurant on our last night in the spectacular ClearwaterBeach area.
We sat outside on their cute terrace surrounded by plants and miniature lights and awaited our appetizers. Diva #1 sipped on her mojito and reminisced with Aunty and Uncle about how we had to return to Montreal the next day and we were not looking forward to it. Our oysters (notice a trend) were the first to arrive. We ordered the Florentine oysters and the chilled blue point oysters from Boston. Good ol’ Bob Heilman, whoever he is, he sure has some mean oysters. We were happy, although the Florentine stuffing was a bit overpowering which means we did not taste those oysters as much as we would have liked.
Our New England clam chowder soon arrived which was part of the seafood platter. that we ordered and boy was it delicious. The platter came with the choice of clam chowder, lobster bisque or salad and we do not regret choosing the rich and creamy clam chowder that came with little sourdough crackers. To make us even more full, our waiter brought us a basket of goodies that included different bread rolls, banana bread and muffins…. we were full before our main meals arrived.
The Beachcomber seafood platter should have a disclaimer that it is meant for two, us fools ordered one each and were soon moaning and groaning and loosening our belt buckles. The platter included shrimp, scallops, fresh fish, a Maryland crab cake and a side of whipped potato, a baked potato, French fries or green beans. It also came with a homemade tartar sauce and horseradish cocktail sauce. If that wasn’t enough, there was the option of adding a lobster tail which we all took without any hesitation.
The dish came with a little bowl of melted butter over a candle to keep it warm and too much seafood for one little (medium-sized) Diva. This platter was perfection. You had the option of having the seafood broiled or fried, we chose broiled, and we could not decide on our favourite delectable underwater creature. In the end the consensus was that the scallops were to die for, as well as unbeatable; they just tasted like the sea and were so large and tender. The lobster tail was devoured in seconds and the crab cake was delicious. Diva #1’s only regret was that the melted butter should have been garlic butter, but other than that we would be hard pressed to make any improvements.
We left ClearwaterBeach hesitantly, we could have easily stayed another week and just relaxed, stayed on the beach while drinking mojitos and eating fresh seafood. Having been to the Fort Lauderdale Atlantic side of Florida, ClearwaterBeach on the Gulf of Mexico side clearly takes the cake. Diva #1 hopes to return to Florida for more culinary and more importantly beach adventures. She thanks Aunty and Uncle for a fabulous trip!
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: Always on Thursdays, American, Bar, Beachcomber, Beef, Bob Heilman, Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber, Breakfast, Brunch, Burger, Chilean Sea Bass, Clams, Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, Coastal Cuisine, Cocktails, Crab Cakes, Filet Mignon, Florentine, Florida, Gelato, Grilled Watermelon, Grouper, Grouper. Frog Legs, Guacamole, Gulf Coast, Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, King Crab, Lobster, Lobster Mac n’ Cheese, Lobster Ravioli, Mahi-Mahi, oysters, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Poolside, Quesadillas, Reservations Needed, Ribeye, Salsa, Sandwiches, Scallops, Shor, Shor Clearwater, Shor Grill, Shrimp, Snapper, Snow Crab, South Gulfview Boulevard, Steak, Sunset, Swim, Swim Bar & Grill, terrace, wine, Wines, Wraps