It all started with ZD Abacus…what a wine list! We dined here over Labor Day weekend and the restaurant was full from 5:30 until closing. This is a small dining venue, so reservations are essential. Lois, who manages the restaurant with Laura, warmly greeted us. Lois is also responsible for the vases of flowers in every nook and cranny. Just lovely! The menu features local fish, vegetables, and fruit. You can read review after review and see the appreciation diners have for the superior quality food. The heart of the restaurant is the staff. Our waiter patiently explained each dish in earnest detail. I have food issues, so he was careful to check if there was a concern. I ordered the coastal snapper, which was cooked to a purist’s perfection…grilled to a crispy golden on the outside and perfectly moist and delicate. Sauces and spices did not hide the flavor of the fish, the taste was just honest-to-goodness fresh flavor. My husband ordered the lamb, a specialty of the house and was amazed at the thickness of the cuts. We learned that the owner, Marty, cuts his own meats. This is part of the reason for excellence. The owner not only oversees his restaurant, he is the primary chef! And he has a generous, hospitable enjoyment for his restaurant that is apparent in every plate, every employee, and every moment he is mingling with guests. Eating at the Lakeside is like dining with family…you are well cared for! Back to the ZD Abacus: this is a wine that is unique, reflects the depth of the wine list and is sought after by oenophiles. (We are NOT in that category, but appreciate quality wines and generous pricing.) Sitting behind us was a true oenophile who traveled regularly to dine here to enjoy his favorite wines. In our locale, the ZD Abacus was priced well over $600. Marty’s first desire is to have people ENJOY their wine and food so he does not overprice his wines. We purchased the last bottle of Abacus for a little less than half the price of our Florida local prices. We plan to return in November for the Highlands 7th Annual Culinary Weekend when Marty and his amazingly professional staff are hosting not only Cakebread Cellars, but also Justin Wines. Not to be missed!
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