From a food standpoint, the ride from Ohio to Florida sucked – since we traveled on a Sunday and on Labor Day, virtually every independent restaurant was closed, and chains were the only option. So no slaw dogs in West Virginia, or barbecue or Brunswick stew in North Carolina, or real Southern food in Georgia.
On Tuesday, however, I was ready to eat. The hotel I stayed in was right before the bridge to Sanibel and Captiva Island, so there were a bunch of menus for the restaurants in that area in the lobby. A couple in paticular stood out to me – Keylime Bistro and RC Otters. Both are located across the street from each other on Andy Rosse Lane in Captiva, but I ended up going with RC Otters because they had alligator on the menu, something I’ve been wanting to try for a while.
The decor is typical South Florida – lots of bright colors, a huge patio with misters, and live music that just says “you’re on vacation – time to relax”. This quick snapshot of the interior should give you an idea of what I mean.
I got an appetizer of Gator Bites ($7.95), which I split with my dining companion. It’s hard to describe the taste of alligator without being cliche – it really does taste “just like chicken”. Well, slightly fishy chicken. I expected it to be dry, but it’s not. It was pretty tasty, better without the tropical mango sauce, though. While I wouldn’t go out of my way to order this dish again, it’s one of those things that you have to try at least once in your lifetime.
RC Otter’s menu primarily consists of sandwiches, so I figured that was the way to go. I chose Uncle Hank’s Famous Grilled Grouper Reuben ($11.95), which was absolutely fabulous. I don’t think I’ve ever had fish quite that fresh. Perfectly fresh fish is an amazing thing. Paired with swiss cheese, cole slaw and thousand island dressing on rye? I could live on these things. The chips that came with this dish were really stale, but they were an afterthought at best.
My dining companion got a Cuban sandwich ($8.95) – her first. I had some of her sandwich, and it wasn’t bad at all – but wasn’t quite an authentic Cuban sandwich either. It totally used the wrong kind of bread and had the wrong texture to the bread. However, a lot of sins can be hidden by pressing a sandwich, and it was both filling, and fit the Cuban sandwich bill as long as you didn’t know what you were expecting. She loved it.
Nothing on their dessert menu really appealed to me, so we went down to the beach-side Mucky Duck, where I had some of their Key Lime Pie ($5). It’s not the key lime pie I’m used to, but it was a real light frozen key lime souffle in a graham cracker crust that really hit the spot in the type of heat and humidity that area is well known for in August. I ate it outside, with a beachside view of the Gulf of Mexico. No pic of the pie, however. It was gone before I even thought of photographing it. I did take a pic of the view, though. Isn’t it pretty? I just wish I had been there at sunset, which I hear is absolutely breathtaking.
After finishing my pie, I splashed about a bit in the Gulf (I couldn’t get over how unbelievably warm the water was) and collected a few shells. I absolutely fell in love with Captiva Island, and if I could afford to, I’d move there in a heartbeat. The beauty is unparalleled (most of the Captiva/Sanibel area is a nature preserve), the attitude relaxed, and it did more than I can tell you in washing away months of tension. Not to mention that there’s something about the area that made my arthritis feel better, if only for a few days. Who knows?
I’d love to get back to the area for breakfast, that’s for sure. RC Otters has a great breakfast menu, and if it weren’t for the $6 toll to cross into Sanibel from Ft. Myers, I probably would have been there every day.