Poor Palmetto. It’s a nice waterfront community often overshadowed by the more famous cities of Southwest Florida. And, yes, we are as guilty as the next couple who lives in West Bradenton or basically anywhere south of the Manatee River. We gaze over at Palmetto during our strolls along the Bradenton Riverwalk or glance at rural parts of the city from atop the tower at Robinson Preserve but rarely feel compelled to make the short trek north over the Green or DeSoto bridges and really explore Palmetto.
Luckily, my amazing wife Kristin has a friend who lives in the Palmetto Point neighborhood and she recommended a place called The Clam House, 304 7th S. W., Palmetto. It occupies the former home of the once popular Tony D's Pub & Sub, Kristin told me. Last Friday evening, we drove north with the sole intention of visiting this seafood restaurant in Palmetto. I had no idea what to expect.
Past the exterior covered by a funky mural we found a cozy, covered deck area and then an interior that also teemed with Old Florida charm but with something completely unexpected: a sushi bar. The mere sight of the raw fish on display had us excited. As I’ve noted before, Kristin and are huge fans of enjoying fresh, smartly prepared foods while wearing shorts, flip-flops and, if we’re feeling fancy, upgrading from tank tops to Columbia shirts.
Our friendly server, Carly Kimball, recommended the Clam House Rita from the Tequila Drinks page of the extensive drink menu. Made with just the right amount of Jose Cuervo and served in a pint glass, the beverage packed plenty of bang for its six bucks. The craft beer page also impressed, with Kristin and I enjoying a pint of the light, refreshing, slightly citrus-y Florida Cracker White Ale ($6) from Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing.
Shortly after our drinks arrived, we were presented with a spicy tuna roll ($6.50) and boat-shaped plate of 10 steamed clams ($5). For starters, take another look at those prices. Seafood, at least seafood you want to eat, doesn’t get any cheaper than that. Of course, if the seafood tastes like freshly cut rubber it doesn’t matter if they’re giving the stuff away with a free pitcher of beer. Let’s make this clear, The Clam House’s seafood rocks.
I would soon learn why when Deanna Brinkley stopped by our end of the bar. She owns and operates The Clam House and its adjoining fish market with husband Kyle. Daughter Devin Brinkley was slinging drinks Friday. Yep, a real family business, another kind of place Kristin and I favor.
“We have our own fishing boat that catches the fresh fish we serve in the restaurant and at the sushi bar," Deanna said. “We farm raise our own clams right out in Tampa Bay, which are harvested twice a week and served in the restaurant.”
So, yeah, if you love super fresh seafood and sushi, especially in a laid-back setting, set your course for The Clam House in Palmetto. Our plan? Kristin and I will be stopping by this weekend or next on our way to, and maybe from, the Manatee County Fair (it runs Jan. 16-26). We love the livestock and live music and watching, from a safe distance, brave souls get on the rides; but aren’t too fond of deep-fried foods, especially when just a few miles away from the fairgrounds we can delve deeper into the menu at The Clam House. I also wouldn’t mind trying another selection from the drink menu. We ended Friday night by sharing Carly’s specialty, the Bikini Martini ($6), an alluring vanilla vodka and rum concoction as delightful as it is dangerous and reason enough to visit Palmetto.
The Clam House
304 7th S W., Palmetto