I'm quite certain that you're all aware of my obsession with food. But what you may not know is that I'm also pretty passionate about my home state's bar-none beaches. A Florida girl, through and through, you'll rarely catch me without a tan as I spend most of my days off basking in the sunlight at one of my many favorite sand and shore spots. While my time being a serious sun goddess may have encouraged some unfortunate and premature sun spots and wrinkles, I wouldn't trade my memories of care-free sunbathing and extreme sand castle building for the world.
It shouldn't be surprising that one of my most-loved activities is dining at the beach. However, I'm sure many would agree that you often pay for the sunset and shoreline view while eating unexciting and low-quality food. It's very seldom that a restaurant on the beach truly impresses with both hospitality and cuisine. On those very sporadic occasions that I hit the ultimate beach dining jackpot, I make sure to share the gem with all of my friends. So consider yourselves all my friends as I tell you about my near flawless dinner at Shor American Seafood Grill on Clearwater Beach.
On the drive to Shor, I couldn't help but reminisce some high school beach trips long, long ago. Clearwater Beach was our go-to spot for senior skip days and spring break shindigs. Continuing onward, I pulled up to the Grand Hyatt hotel, where Shor is housed. Can you believe that a hotel restaurant...on the beach has earned my praise? Believe it. The second my friend Megan and I walked into the hotel, it was apparent that this place puts an emphasis on hospitality. Bonus points already and I hadn't even sat down yet.
When we made our way into the private dining room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the gulf, we were immediately greeted with an extravagant cheese board filled with Brie, Bleu, Gruyere, honeycomb, and fig jam along with a little something sweet to wash it all down with.
Let me state, Shor has created a bourbon believer out of me. Their Peach Mint Julep boasted just enough kick and smoothness to properly coat my throat. Yet, the sweetness of the peach made it one perfect summertime libation. I need that recipe.
Without too much delay, out came Shor's signature pretzel bread. They were torturing me in the name of bread. Because it was within arms reach and sending its warmth and salty goodness my way, I had to give in...to just two measly bites. Spiking my blood sugar with carbs never felt so good. Okay, I'm exaggerating just a bit but this bread was damn good.
The feast officially began when our group was served the official first course- a trio of Shor's signature starters. As the chef stressed the importance of their hand-picked fresh lump crab, my mouth was watering in anticipation. Then it happened. Like a kid in the candy store, I was giddy as ever as I ate my first bite of the American Blue crab cake. Next to my palate was the Ybor Gold Braised Short Rib. Fall-apart tender and moist, I was pretty pleased with Shor's choice of beer for the preparation. Just an hour away from Clearwater sits Ybor City, Tampa's historic cigar city. Looks like Shor really likes to keep it local. Props to them. Last was the Fried calamari-in the form of fries. Extremely tender and breaded perfectly, it was another winner.
After the cheese, pretzel bread bites, and starters, I could've walked out full and happy. But it wasn't over. For the entree sampler was now delivered. Yet another trio, this plate consisted of the chef's most-loved plates at Shor. House-made ravioli, Seared Black Grouper, and Filet Mignon with Bacon and Herb Barely were all presented beautifully and begging to be devoured.
My friend Megan, having been to Shor before, insisted I concentrate on the Lobster Ravioli. Smart girl. Loaded with huge chunks of Blue crab, the ravioli was made of delicate wonton wrappers and doused in a heavenly Vermouth cream sauce. I appreciated the wonton wrappers versus traditional pasta dough as their lightness really allowed the crab to shine.
The Seared Black Grouper, caught locally, was an interesting combination of fish, sweet potato mash, and Fig Vincotto. Although I wasn't too keen with the super sweet ingredients next to the mild white fish, I still found the fish was very fresh and cooked to perfection. The filet, on the other hand, was divine in every way. Cooked medium rare, it came topped with demi glace and caramelized cippolini onions. As if that weren't enough, the it came sitting atop a mound of bacon and herb barely. The carnivorous decadence...God help me.
Alas, it was time we indulge in dessert since we hadn't indulged enough already. Swept away to the Hyatt's pool deck, we were offered some of Shor's enticing sugary treats. Flourless chocolate cake, Banana Split, and Blueberry cheesecake were our most righteous grand finale. I don't even know where to begin. I'm not a lover of cheesecake but Shor's blueberry variety won my affection with its delightful balance of sweet and tart. The flourless chocolate cake....well, it was love at first bite. I'm allergic to bananas and decided I wasn't too enthused about breaking out in hives on this night...
Shor was a memorable experience from beginning to end. Although I was a guest at a special event, I can speak for the service and happy faces I witnessed all around the restaurant. It was obvious that they really set themselves apart from those standard drab beachside eateries. One of the many restaurants participating in this year's Dine Tampa Bay Restaurant Week going on until August 30th, Shor is a spot you don't want to miss. Be sure to check out their Restaurant Week menu for an extra special prix fixe offer.