Normally, you won’t find me at a seafood restaurant. The reason why is simple. Although, I actually love seafood; I’m allergic to shellfish. At best, that fact limits my options to fish, fish and more fish. At worst, it leaves me as that lame person ordering either chicken or steak at a seafood place. That’s no good. I recently visited Apollo Beach, Florida for some training and my supervisor and her husband were gracious enough to take me and the crew out for lunch. They suggested Circles Waterfront Restaurant. Instead of being that person who throws a wrench in the lunch plans with my allergy story, I just rolled with it. I was in the mood for a salmon caesar salad anyway, so why not?

Circles Waterfront Restaurant
1212 Apollo Beach Blvd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572

Now, reviewing a seafood restaurant is tough when you cannot describe the flavor or taste of a dish. Fear not though! My co-workers (who are really more like friends) had no problem describing their dish to me in detail. In fact, I could call this my first collaborative review.

We ordered a spread of appetizers when we got there that included calamari, spinach artichoke dip, crab cakes and grouper bites. Everything was delicious, but I only got a picture of the calamari because once the appetizers hit the table, it was go-time!

Of course, I ordered blackened salmon caesar salad to satisfy my craving. I usually order dressing or any condiments on the side to avoid the overkill that sometimes happens when a chef gets a little carried away. I forgot to do that and was a bit panicked about the outcome. Would my dish be covered in an ocean of caesar dressing? While I was sitting there contemplating the worst, the food came and I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, the dressing was a bit creamier than I’m used to, but the chef’s light touch made for a dish that wasn’t drowning in a caesar dressing. Also, the blackened salmon had a spicy richness to it thanks to the blend of cajun seasonings, but the texture was light and flaky. All of these elements combined to create a tasty balance to a simple dish.

My boyfriend, who came along for the road trip, ordered the Grouper and Crab. He described it as a “flavor party in my mouth.” I asked him if this party was a good one or a lame, stand-against-the-wall type and his reply was “it’s lit.” In order to draw out a description than is used for more than an Instagram hashtag, I asked him a few extra questions. He said the fish was “not too fishy” and the crab was heartier than he thought it would be. He explained that in his experience, crab meat is usually so light in texture that you can eat an entire bowlful of it and feel like you haven’t eaten a thing. He also said he loved the tartness of the lemon butter sauce in combination with the nutty flavor of the almond pilaf rice. This was a win according to him.

My co-worker decided to go rogue and order something non-seafood. In fact, you could say he went “medieval” with his meal choice. He ordered Pork Shank Osso Buco. First, I had no idea that a seafood restaurant would even offer something so off the beaten path. Normally, you may have your stray chicken dish or steak listed but that’s about it. Indeed, this was a rare treat as it is only available on Wednesdays. The pork shank was massive, but cooked well. When my co-worker attempted to cut into it, the meat just fell off the bone at the first touch of the fork. He offered us a piece to sample and it was melt in your mouth good.

No one had any desire for dessert because we were stuffed at the end of our meal. We hung around for a bit to enjoy the amazing scenery that Circles Waterfront has to offer. This place really is a hidden gem so if you ever find yourself on a road trip on the west side of Florida, stop in for some fresh seafood with a side of breathtaking waterfront views.

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