It has been just about a year since Patrick Tomassi, owner of the Quilted Giraffe restaurant, bought Mr. Manatee’s, a longtime Royal Palm Pointe restaurant known for its casual island atmosphere.
A decade ago, when Mr. Manatee’s and Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty were owned by the same New Jersey company, we used to view the former as an OK place for lunch. My husband favored the mahi-mahi sandwich.
But for dinner, we always drove right by Mr. Manatee’s en route to the more-formal Shanty – with its much larger selection of entrées – down at the end of the Pointe.
Now, with the Lobster Shanty gone, we decided recently on a very casual Saturday to give Mr. Manatee’s a go and check out its $15.99 lobster dinner.
Expectations were not all that high. But when we were seated around 7:15, and told the server we had come for the lobsters, we were not expecting to hear: “Sorry, all gone.” Really? At 7:15 on “Lobster Night?”
So there we were, studying the menu, and trying to figure out what else we might order for a casual dinner.
Finally, we settled on a round of starters. I chose a shrimp taco ($4.99), my husband picked the fried calamari ($9.49), and our companion went with a house salad ($4.99).
Somewhat to my surprise, the taco – fried shrimp in the thin flour tortilla with house-made pico de gallo, crème fraiche, cojita cheese, fresh lime and cilantro – was very tasty. My husband also gave high marks to the fried squid, a generous portion served with an excellent marinara sauce.
Then for mains, I selected the steamed clams ($12.99 for a dozen), my husband ordered the fried oyster basket ($9.99), and our companion opted for the Mexican shrimp bowl ($10.99).
My steamed clams were tender and tasty, but alas arrived barely lukewarm. When I mentioned this to the server, she insisted (despite my demurrers, having eaten several) on replacing the clams, and was back in only a couple of minutes with a new order of steamed clams done perfectly.
My husband also enjoyed his fried oyster basket – served with coleslaw and a choice of French fries or a veggie (he chose the very tasty broccoli and onions) – and our companion was more than pleased with her shrimp bowl, which consisted of fried shrimp served with black beans and rice, sautéed peppers and onions, corn, fresh pico de gallo, chopped avocado, cheddar and jack cheese, and crème fraiche.
At this point, we were more than full, and decided to forgo dessert. And after a somewhat shaky start (I still would like to try one of those lobsters), we left agreeing that for a casual dinner, Mr. Manatee’s was a place we would visit again.
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The reviewer is a beachside resident who dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of this newspaper.