Driving in the parking lot, I didn’t really know what to make of the place; more or less, it looked like it should be a house but was a restaurant. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
Moreover, walking in the door, we had the option of either sitting in the dining room or in the tavern area. Naturally, the tavern had televisions and a nice bar set up, ideal for watching sports games that they advertise. We decided to go with the dining room for a more relaxed experience.
The dining room was really cozy, and it was intriguing how the ambiance was a combination of being in a formal dining room of a home and the sensation of being on a boat out at sea. The walls were covered in beautiful moldings and shelves that were adorned with a variety of boat antiques, dried grasses that were reminiscent of those on the beach and paintings. It just felt very comfortable, with dim lighting and luxe ceiling fans, which only augmented the homey feeling the restaurant embodied even while the tablecloths and napkins made it feel like a really nice night out.
Now for the food: Sanibel’s menu is quite eclectic and the options range from a raw bar with clams and oysters to other seafood, soups and salads, steaks, pastas and even chicken dishes.
Needless to say, the selection offered left my dining buddies of the evening and me with some tough choices! However, we also didn’t want to break bank and some options were more affordable than others, which I’ll get into later.

As a table of four, we started out by sharing two appetizers; the Gator Bites (yes, alligator!) and tater skins. At $9.95 and $7.95, respectively, it cost about $4.50 per person to split the apps amongst us.

For one, the novelty of alligator bites was too good to pass up I mean, how often does such an opportunity present itself? The tater skins were popular on the tavern side, so our choices allowed us to be a little fancy and a little classic.

When the portions came out, they were not as large as I would have expected and this was a bit of a turn off; however, as I found out later, the entrees would provide us with more than enough food, so the small portions earlier ended up being to our benefit.
At the same time, both dishes were delicious; alligator tastes similar to chicken, only a little tougher, and the honey mustard provided with them was an excellent condiment. The tater skins were also quite good and baked for just the right amount of time, so we were definitely content.

Stage two, the entrees, was also delicious. Two of the group ordered ‘Grouper baskets,” which were pieces of grouper fish lightly breaded and fried with fries. One ordered the Caesar salad with grilled chicken which was really big and was garnished with a fresh dressing made from scratch.

I ordered the Shrimp Basket, which had seven big shrimp, breaded and fried to deliciousness, and I substituted out French fries for sweet potato fries that were amazing. The dish also had a fresh mango dipping sauce that was the perfect tangy compliment to the breaded goodness; in other words, it was excellent.

With respect to price, the baskets section, including the two described above as well as chicken fingers, a burger and some sandwiches were very fairly priced in the $7.95 to $11.95 range, with the two described above closer to the upper limit.

Beyond that, the entrees, which included chicken dishes, fish dishes, steaks, chops and pastas, ranged from $16.95 up to $24.95, which would certainly be appropriate for a special occasion meal, but not for the college student on a budget.

Therefore, this week’s Best Bang For Your Buck would be the fish baskets that my friends and I had; at $11.95, they were a lot of food, and since the restaurant is boat-themed, we wanted to have what it is known for seafood!

Overall, this restaurant provided a relaxing and very filling evening. While the appetizers could have been bigger, their components were delicious and the baskets and salad provided plenty of food for my cohorts and me. I would recommend taking the 20-minute drive up to Webster to check this place out because, whether you want the tavern and pub feel or the fancier dining experience we had, you can definitely find something at Sanibel.

Getting a little creative, you don’t have to break bank and can still try some unique dishes as we did. At $20 each, it ended up being well-priced and a lot of fun!

Siegel is a member of the class of 2010.

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