Mussels, clams, shrimp and bay scallops are tucked this seafood dish at Phil’s 41.
DREW STERWALD / FLORIDA WEEKLY Here are some capsule summaries of previous restaurant reviews:
. Chaang Thai, 1900 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte; 743-6200
Sometimes worthy little establishments get overlooked. Chaang Thai, tucked into a little shopping center in Port Charlotte, isn’t flashy but it’s inviting and neat. Steamed mussels in Thai herbs were meaty and tender. The larp, a concoction of ground chicken, cucumbers, onions, lime juice, lemongrass and toasted rice, contained tender chunks of ground chicken, lots of onions and cucumbers and just a dusting of toasted rice.
The volcano shrimp had lots of shrimp and veggies in a sweet-hot sauce. We ordered it medium hot, while specifying that the other dishes should be a little less spicy and that’s exactly how they were prepared.
The Pad Thai contained firm noodles, shrimp, bits of egg, chunks of chicken and red pepper flakes adding heat to the somewhat sweet dish.
The red curry was a favorite, with fresh vegetables and creamy coconut milk balancing the heat and enhancing the seasonings. The fried bananas were creamy and ripe.
Everything was served hot and fresh and the servers kept a close eye on us and were quick to be of service
Food: . . . ½
Service: . . . ½
Atmosphere: . . . ½
Reviewed May 2010
. Lulu, Wyvern Hotel, 101 E. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, 639-7700
The heat of Lulu’s original Latin fusion concept have been toned down a bit since Florida Weekly first reviewed it in July 2009. Diners will still find empanadas and tacos and components such as habanero chilies, plantains and chorizo sausage, but they also will encounter mainstream comfort food such as pot roast, lobster macaroni and cheese or fish and chips. Bright and adroitly balanced flavors, proteins cooked to perfection and ample portions are signatures of this the chic restaurant at the Wyvern Hotel in Punta Gorda. For starters, don’t miss the blue crab salad, a superb showcase for the shellfish, which is laced with diced red onion, cherry tomatoes and cilantro and piled atop a trio of crisp tostones. Beef tenderloin and sea scallop entrees demonstrated the kitchen’s ability to handle hearty steaks as well as delicate seafood. Dessert options are enticing, and the restaurant’s petite servings will give you a taste without putting you over the edge of gluttony.
Food: . . . .
Service: . . . .
Atmosphere: . . . .
Reviewed June 2011
. Cap’n and the Cowboy, 2200 Kings Highway, Port Charlotte; 743-3969.
“Monstrosity.” “Train wreck.” “Captain Catastrophe.” The insults flew when sharp-tongued chef Robert Irvine descended last July on Cap’n and the Cowboy for an episode of the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible” makeover series. With just two days and $10,000, the show’s crew gutted and refurbished the restaurant with a more modern look, while Mr. Irvine helped proprietor Nick Scaringella revamp the menu and get the business side in order. When the dust cleared, the restaurant emerged revitalized, serving a higher quality of food — and it still is today. The crab cakes have been deliciously upgraded with copious amounts of jumbo lump meat, the coconut shrimp featured on the TV show are executed perfectly and the steaks are perfectly seasoned and grilled. There’s still a bit of identity confusion going on, with appetizers like potato skins that are right of out TGI Friday’s circa 1989 and side sauces and dressings that are served in plastic cups. There’s still room for improvement in a few minor respects, but the Cap’n and the Cowboy has gone from restaurant impossible to restaurant impressive.
Food: . . .
Service: . . . .
Atmosphere: . . . .
Reviewed April 2012
. Phil’s 41 Restaurant, 1975 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda; 575-7575
The menu is mostly Italian — traditional dishes with a few signature twists, such as escargot sautéed with mushrooms and roasted garlic and served over pasta. But diners also can order American comfort food such as pot roast, ribs and burgers. And then there are the crab cakes, touted by Phil’s as the best outside of Maryland. Really? Well, it’s hard to imagine improving on them. They are indeed some of the best I’ve eaten in Southwest Florida — and I have eaten many, many crab cakes. Phil’s take on veal Francese — three marvelously tender cutlets sautéed with white wine and lemon butter — also was a standout. And if you’re a seafood lover, you’ll want to tuck into the seafood fra diavolo, which contains more seafood than pasta. The mussels, shrimp, bay scallops and clams all were cooked to a succulent state in a tongue-tingling marinara sauce. Whether it’s well-executed traditional Italian food or some of the best crab cakes around, Phil’s has plenty to brag about.
Food: . . . .
Service: . . ½
Atmosphere: . . .
Reviewed December 2011
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