By Britney Anderson
Photos courtesy of The Crow’s Nest
While canal boats and spaghetti might be reserved for this Florida city’s Italian cousin, Venice isn’t short on beautiful waterways and fantastic food. Whether coming by land or in a boat, the Crow’s Nest has you covered: dock for lunch, dinner, overnight or longer at the Crow’s Nest Marina, with professional staff, a Ship’s Store, and overnight amenities; look no further for a nice sit-down meal than the Crow’s Nest Restaurant; and for that cozy casual bite, drop by The Crow’s Nest Tavern.
“We opened in 1976 as a very casual marina/boatyard restaurant serving great burgers, fish sandwiches, chowder, etc.,” said owner Steve Harner, who has been a driving force behind the Crow’s Nest since its founding 40 years ago. “Over the years, we’ve evolved to a seafood-steakhouse with an award-winning wine list, one of the best in Florida, but we retained our local neighborhood charm.”
From the early years as only a restaurant above a marina with seating for 45, the Crow’s Nest has expanded to include a 100-seat dining room, a renovated and updated marina and a bar and lounge. The Tavern at the Crow’s Nest is a casual pub-style room on the ground floor. Oak, brass and etched-glass reinforce a friendly, cozy environment. The casual menu features appetizers, a raw bar and “galley” favorites like the Jetty Burger, Old Tampa Cuban Sandwich and hand-breaded Fried Sea Scallop Basket.
Drop by the Tavern for a quick meal or a late-night snack, and you’ll probably catch some of the loyal group of regulars at the bar. Raw bar specialties include Gulf and imported oysters on the half shell, cocktail shrimp and middleneck clams. “Our Florida Grouper Sandwich, fried, broiled or blackened, is the Tavern favorite, along with the wide selection of raw oysters,” Steve said. If you’re in the mood for a more upscale meal, relax at the Tavern with a cocktail while waiting for a table upstairs.
In the Crow’s Nest Restaurant upstairs dining room, the raised roof and large windows allow every guest a beautiful view of the marina and the Intracoastal Waterway. The open concept extends to the kitchen, where chefs prepare your meal in plain view. The Crow’s Nest signature dinner items include Grouper Key Largo — sautéed Florida grouper, Gulf shrimp, scallops and lobster chunks, topped with hollandaise sauce — and Choice Filet Mignon with Gunther’s Sauce, a recipe from the late famed Ringling Bros. lion tamer Gunther Gebel-Williams, who was a Venice resident for many years.
Whether to celebrate a special occasion or just to celebrate the food itself, the Crow’s Nest boasts a wine list awarded the coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 1994, the Best of Award of Excellence since 2004 and the 2005 Wine Enthusiast Distinction Award. If more than 30 wines by the glass just isn’t enough, their Cellar Wine List numbers over 1,100.
So whether docking for a while or stopping in for lunch, the Crow’s Nest will welcome locals and visitors alike with the hospitality that has been winning hearts and awards for 40 years, and will continue to serve for many more.
Crow’s Nest Restaurant
Gunther Gebel-Williams Sauce
From the Crow’s Nest — Venice, Florida
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces scotch
1 cup soy sauce
3 cups water
2 ounces brown sugar
2 ounces Dijon mustard
1 ounce Worcestershire sauce
- Sauté onions in oil until soft.
- Carefully add scotch (to avoid flame) to sautéed onions and boil for 2 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and whisk well.
- Bring up to strong simmer and it will be ready to serve
or let cool and store up to 2 weeks in refrigerator, or freeze
Yields 6 cups