We loved our dinner at Island Way Grill. Thanks to the Clearwater Beach TA forum for the recommendation!
My sister and I had a girls' getaway trip to Clearwater Beach. We stayed at the Sandpearl, and mostly ate within walking distance of the hotel. Regulars on the Clearwater forum recommended Island Way for a really good meal, and we are so glad we listened!
We also asked the concierge at Sandpearl for a recommendation for very good food and a nice view. After the obligatory mention of the hotel restaurant, the Island Way Grill came up. I remembered that I had read on the forum that this restaurant has its own fishing boats and very good fresh local food - just what we wanted!
The concierge made our reservation and called Florida Free Rides for us. I asked how much would be a reasonable tip and was told $5.00, same answer I got on the forum. We had a very nice ride in a comfortable van, and $5 just didn't seem like enough!
Island Way is across the bridge and on the intercoastal, near the Marine Aquarium. Stepping out of the van we were greeted by a wonderful woodsmoke scent. Being Midwesterners, when we visit a place graced by the ocean, we eat as much fresh seafood as we can sink our teeth into. But this tantalizing aroma was making me consider ordering some smokey red meat!
Even though it was hot and humid, we chose to sit outside on the deck with a view and a sea breeze. We arrived at about 6:45, a little before our reservation, and there were plenty of tables, though they filled up later as it cooled down. We chose a table by the rail and enjoyed the sunset with our dinner. One thing they could improve on would be the outdoor tables and chairs. They were inexpensive plastic and a bit grungy. Even a tablecloth would go a long way toward bringing the outdoor seating into line with the rest of the restaurant and the quality of the food and service.
The menu looked (and smelled) so good we wanted to try everything! So we had lots of questions for our waiter, Mike, who knew the menu well and answered all of our questions.
First a wine - we ordered by the glass, but later thought we should have shared a bottle of my choice which was wonderful! It was a St. Suprey 2011 Napa Sauvignon Blanc at $9.50/glass. Mike described it as very citrus and not too sweet which sounded just right for the weather. The flavors were perfect, grapefruit and tangerine scents with other tropical fruit notes, maybe passion fruit, my favorite. It was crisp yet smooth if that's possible.
We decided to share two small plates and then split an entrée and dessert. The seared scallops and the tempura shrimp each were cooked beautifully with perfect textures and the sauces complimented the seafood with interesting sweet, tart and herbal flavors.
For our entrée we knew we wanted the fresh catch. With several choices of preparation and of fish, it all looked good. We let our noses do the deciding, though, and we ordered the wood-fire grilled dayboat catch, letting the chef decide which fish. We were served the sea bass which was delicious and juicy with the wood smoke flavor adding a special touch without overpowering. The wasabi potatoes, julienne vegetables and mango salsa made a nice plate. And we were each served our own plates with the split portions - more than enough food.
We enjoyed chatting with Mike, our server who gave some good information about the Clearwater area and good times for return visits. We mentioned that we love to visit Maui each winter, but the trip is so long. And what do you know? - Mike used to live on Maui and work at a very good restaurant there in South Maui! In fact, our entrée at Island Way was very similar to one of my favorites at another South Maui restaurant, and just as delicious!
Since this was our one big indulgent dinner we had to order dessert even though we were quite full. We had read another TA reviewer's praise of the ginger crème brulé and saw that it was part of the dessert trio plate along with a chocolate espresso tort and key lime tart. Mmm... all three were very tasty, but that ginger crème brulé was something special! Next time I would order the full sized crème brulé, and maybe skip the appetizers to have a whole one for myself!
Our evening at Island Way Grill was just right. We loved the atmosphere on the deck overlooking the intercoastal waterway. The restaurant was beautiful - a combination of old supper club charm with elegant contemporary touches. We enjoyed taking our time with the meal and soaking up our surroundings while savoring the delicious food and drinks. Mike was a very good server, friendly and professional. We will definitely return to Island Way Grill when in Clearwater again!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.