COMMENTS

Bar Tab: Flying Dog Café

/
Flying Dog Cafe exterior

Flying Dog Café recently relocated from Tallevast to Cortez Road in Bradenton / COURTESY PHOTO

Good thing I live in the northwest corner of Bradenton because things are getting silly down south again. The Sarasota County commissioners have passed such a restrictive, countywide decibel level limit that, if I lived in Sarasota, I would be a criminal for singing along to my favorite Allman Brothers Band albums while lounging by our fenced-in pool area on Saturdays. Luckily, those same commissioners who probably rooted for John Lithgow’s character in “Footloose” could not possibly appreciate a place like Flying Dog Café, our destination spot last week shortly after reading “Sarasota County turns down volume on music."

Flying dog stage James

Charlie Whitt (guitar) performing with James Varnado (drums) at Flying Dog Cafe's new location in Bradenton. COURTESY PHOTO BY MARK T. KRACKER.

Flying Dog Café operated in Tallevast – safely on the Manatee County side of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport – from 2005 until January, when it relocated several miles north to Cortez Road in Bradenton. During that nearly decade run by the airport, Bruce Famiglio’s place became a beloved spot for musicians and lovers of live music. It’s still a music venue, but even better these days. The new Flying Dog location features a larger stage, superior sound system and fancier lights. The cafe also now has a full-liquor license, and, in addition to the regular menu, offers freshly baked pizzas. “Our goal here at the Flying Dog Café is we want to be one of your social destinations,” Famiglio told me earlier this month.

Red Hot and Bleu Pizza

Red, Hot and Bleu Pizza. STAFF PHOTO / WADE TATANGELO

Joined by my amazing wife Kristin, I stopped by the Flying Dog this past Friday shortly after 5 p.m. Our server, Jennifer Austin, was first rate. She recommended the Red, Hot and Bleu Flatbread Pizza ($8.95). It’s a killer cracker crust topped with tasty chicken chunks, a terrific trio of cheeses (blue, cheddar, and mozzarella), thin onions that come to a crisp in the oven, fresh tomatoes and spot-on spicy wing sauce. Yep, a bunch of strong flavors coming together beautifully to make for a mouthwatering platter.

Flying Dog Sandwich

Flying Dog Sandwich. STAFF PHOTO / WADE TATANGELO

I also ordered The Flying Dog Sandwich on toasted wheat. Filled with cappicola, genoa salami, prosciutto, provolone, lettuce, tomato, olive oil and black pepper, it was a fine sandwich. But it could have been better with more olive oil, a dash of red-wine vinegar, oregano and served on white bread, good white bread like the homemade kind Famiglio might be able to procure from his Bradenton neighbors at Fav’s Italian Cucina.
For all my criticism of The Flying Dog Sandwich, though, I ate the majority of it after finishing my half of the pizza. It was a good sandwich, just with room for improvement.

Johnnie Walker Black Label

Johnnie Walker Black Label. STAFF PHOTO / WADE TATANGELO

After starting with a pint of Yuengling ($2.50 during happy hour), I was ready to upgrade. Jennifer, our bartender, admitted that with the newly acquired liquor license she and the rest of the staff were pretty much just serving two-part standards. I glanced at the selection and spotted Johnnie Walker Black Label, one of my favorite Scotch selections. I ordered it over ice and was presented with a rocks glass teeming with the stuff for a mere $6.50.

Buffalo Wings

Eight-count of wings “mild.” STAFF PHOTO / WADE TATANGELO

Still craving more of that wonderful wing sauce, we ordered the 8-count wings “mild” ($7.95), which were flavorful but a bit soft, if you know what I mean. Should have ordered them “well done” but that’s’ my fault. On the other hand, the accompanying homemade Hot Baked Pretzels ($4.95) were crispy on the outside, doughy in the middle and all together an ideal bar bite, especially when glistening with butter and served with spicy mustard for highly recommended dipping.

Dana_Lawrence_SHT

Dana Lawrence and rest of Kettle of Fish peform Friday at Flying Dog Cafe / HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVES

So, yeah, I was sipping my Scotch, listening to the Allman Brothers Band’s masterful instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” – composed by Sarasota’s own Dickey Betts – while a local band set up on that great new stage. We would leave just before the live music started but plan to return, maybe Friday, when Kettle of Fish is scheduled to take the stage with guitar hero Greg Poulos. It’s always nice to hear a group of professional musicians with serious chops rock out without worrying about getting penalized for playing louder than the typical conversation in the Italian household in which I was raised.

Flying Dog Café
419 Cortez Ave. W., Bradenton; 359-9788; theflyingdogcafe.com

Have a suggestion for a place to be featured in Bar Tab? Comment below, email to wade.tatangelo@heraldtribune.com or contact me on Twitter: @wtatangelo.

Flying Dog Café
419 Cortez Ave. W., Bradenton; 359-9788; theflyingdogcafe.com

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013 Wade Tatangelo created what would eventually be called Bar Tab while working as a correspondent for the Herald-Tribune in 2003. He would continue writing about bars for Maxim, Tampa Bay Times, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, OC (Calif.) Weekly and The Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune as a staff writer in 2013 and has happily returned to writing our weekly column Bar Tab. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: March 27, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.
COMMENTS