Wine Dine and Play: Sea-Guini

Sea-Guini

Independence Dinner
Clearwater Beach, Florida USA
Dined on July 4, 2016

By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
If you are a beach goer then this is the place for you. Trip Advisor and several other travel authorities has named Clearwater Beach as one of the best beaches in America. Now add some patriotism as an American, and you cane enjoy that beach along with some fireworks on Independence Day, July 4th. Up and down Gulfview Boulevard there are hotels and resorts occupying every piece of available land. It is a tourist trappers delight, with restaurants, gift shops, boat tours, and everything else you can think of to with the beach. At one of the newly built resorts called the Opal Sands, there is a seafood restaurant with an Italian twist called Sea-Guini where my wife and I enjoyed a July 4th dinner before going on a night cruise to see the fireworks. This is a review of our very nice experience. 



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From the Sea-Guini home page:

Sea-Guini: (siː ‘ɡwiː.nei)
Uniquely Inspired Seafood - Influenced by the Flavors of the Mediterranean & Italy
Sea-Guini offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico from every seat to create an unforgettable setting for your dining pleasure. Our Private Dining Room can host up to 12 people for that intimate business dinner or special celebration.

Sea-Guini Kitchen invites guests on a culinary journey that features locally caught seafood, and the best produce available from local farms. Meticulously prepared seafood specialties, aged all-natural steaks and signature house-made pastas from scratch, using simple, natural and whole ingredients.

To catch the action as it happens, interact at the Chef’s Bar as fresh pasta is handcrafted and Neapolitan pizzas are prepared to order in our Tuscan Brick-Oven. Sea-Guini artisanal cocktails are hand-crafted in a contemporary atmosphere that also offers local craft beers, new and old world wine selections and maybe one of the nicest Sunsets in Florida.

At Sea-Guini, every visit is filled with indulgent possibilities and the passion for the good life.

Buon Appetito!

Main review:
The Opal Sands Resort is a very nice, new, and modern hotel, very clean and spaciously bright with light white colors, and windows allowing the beautiful Gulf of Mexico to come right in, and in the summer months, it will stay bright till past 7pm. My wife and I were staying down the street and walked over to the Opal Sands to have dinner at the Sea-Guini. Afterward, we had reservations to go on one of the harbor cruises to see the fireworks for this July 4th, Independence celebration. 


The restaurant opened up first into the bar and cocktail area on one side with the stone wood hearth for the pizzas on the other. The cocktail tables had large teal green chairs, a reminder of “That 70’s Show” style color. One side of the restaurant was a white wall, that circled around. The restaurant was almost like it was built into a crescent style shape as it circled around. The other side was floor to ceiling windows, at least ten feet high looking out to the water and beaches.


Beyond the cocktail area separated by a see-through glass wall with water running down the centre from top to bottom that aluminized to bright blue color at night. On the opposite side of this wall was the main dining area with a separation and mix match of chair colors from the 70’s green to a leather style light grey color, with circular six seater tables in the center and four seater tables along the window where we sat.


The lighted chandelier in the center of the dining room was a very interesting design that reminded me a wind blown rain drops cascading down in different directions. It added a greta amount of opulent ambiance to the dining room. We arrived right at 5pm to eat since we had to catch the boat by 7, and we were walking to the docks, another half mile from this resort. The back side of the dining room had a contrasting color opposite to the white and was more of a brown color. 


Our service began with a few cocktails, to which my wife tried one of their house-made cocktails called the hand shaken coconut, which because of it being Independence day had an american flag accompany it. I went more casual “Dude” style Big Lebowski white Russian to which if you have seen this movie, he called the Caucasian. 


Sea-Guini is a Mediterranean inspired seafood restaurant with Italian origins and a very typical Italian style menu, with house made pasta, pizza, assorted seafood specials, and a few items from the land if you're tagging along and hate fish. Their menu is broken down by the following. 

  • Primo
  • Hearth Oven Pizza
  • Zuppe E Insalata
  • Housemade Pasta
  • Specialities Della Casa
  • Desserts

Our server brought out some bread while we enjoyed are cocktails and reviewed the menu. The bread came with a serving of hummus and an olive oil with a balsamic center for dipping our bread.



We both shared one appetizer from the Primo portion of the menu, which had selections such as carpaccio, polpette meatballs in san marzano sauce, baked artichoke fonduta, calamari, and our selection the tuna crudo. The dish was served with day boat tuna, crispy radishes, an orange pistachio vinaigrette, and a fresh herb salad on the side, with micro green garnish. My wife enjoyed a glass of chardonnay from the Frei Brothers winery in Sonoma with this dish.


For entree’s my wife had another starter and a soup with a pean seared sweet pickled crab and lobster cake served over a handmade pasta with pieces of juilienned zucchini and tossed with light champaign pommerey mustard sauce, and sautéed winter vegetable salad.


Her second dish under the Zuppe E Insalata portion of the menu was her all time favorite soup, a lobster bisque, which for the Sea-Guini recipe had oven baked chunks sitting over a crouton on the rich sherry cream sauce with pureed Maine lobster. Their have been several restaurants reviewed on this sight where my wife has had the lobster bisque from the menu, and I do not recall there being a restaurant that had a recipe she did not like. Other items on the Insalata menu are of course your typical wedge salad, caesar, and house salad called the opal. They also had their take on a caprese salad using burrata cheese instead of buffalo mozzarella, and a farmers kettle soup as well.


Between the specialties and house-made pasta I had to go with the latter. Five separate options from a linguine vongole with fresh clams, an old country pappardelle with short rib ragu, a rigatoni bolognaise, and a spaghetti ali olio which all sounded fantastic. The one that grabbed my eye the most however was the penne alla vodka tossed with a rich and creamy tomato sauce, fresh broccolini, sweet fennel sausage, heirloom tomatoes, and topped with imported buffalo mozzarella.  Not only did it catch my eye, but it caught my heart, as I would have married that dish it was so fantastic. 


With our main courses we had a few glasses of wine with my wife having a sauvignon blanc from Kim Crawford winery, and me having a pinot noir from Route 128 winery. If pasta did not interest you as a main course, then with the speciality menu you could order land or sea items ranging from swordfish, hogfish, chicken saltimbocca, scallops, veal chop valdastana, New York Strip center cut, and grouper to name a few.


Dessert:
We still had a little time left and the dessert menu did have some interesting items. From a torta di ricotta, gelato, crème brûlée, tiramisu, and others, they all sounded good.  I was in the mood for a little cheese platter dessert and ask the kitchen if they could make one, even though it is not listed on the menu. They were nice enough to make one for me with what they had available, and it was wonderful, great customer service. 



A brief look at the wine list:

Sea-Guini - like most of the restaurants in central Florida want to cater to their clientele when it comes to wine, and most of those clients unfortunately have an uneducated basic table wine style palette. I was there as well, but my wife is helping me to expand mine. It is hard for us to find places that offer boutique wines, which are sometimes cheaper then the mainstream, and have a better taste and quality. This area is held captive by large corporate alcohol vendors like Empire and Southern Wine & Spirits. So you are always going to see your typical basics like Yellowtail, Robert Mondavi, and Beringer. On the wine menu at Sea-Guini they offer selections of the mainstream such as Kim Crawford, Hess, Ferrari-Caraono, Ravenswood, and Chateau Ste. Michelle to name a few.

Though some of the wines on their list are good flavor and decent quality, all of them are mainstream from the big vendors. I compare it to a Walmart and the Target coming into town offering cheap asian sweat factory products, putting the small guys with better quality out of business. The big stores make you think you have a better product, with an expensive brand name, but in the end is it worth it? Hopefully one day this will change and the restaurants will open up to expanding their wine portfolio’s and educate their clients to help expand their palettes, which will only bring more business and greater appreciation there way. Once the client is informed, then the restaurants can open up to a fantastic world of wine, making more money by selling more, and keeping the client happy at the same time. Now is the restaurant bad for offering only mainstream?……No, they are just stuck because the client only knows mainstream. I was a California cab and basic brand name Cotes du Rhone drinker for decades, and fell into the same mainstream category, now my palette is expanding thanks to my wife. I’m not condemning the restaurants for this, only trying to make the client aware so hopefully over time, they can educate themselves like I have been.

The wine list consists of a range from house table wines at $8.00 to $18.00 per glass and $30.00 per bottle and higher with mainstreams offered at $460.



Wine Tasting Notes:

Wine & Grape:
Nose (Bouquet):
Palette Experience:
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand

Winemaker:  
Citrus and tropical fruits backed by characteristic herbaceous notes for which Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is renowned.

My Tasting:  
My wife had this win and I do not have her tasting notes


CONTACT THE WINERY
Winemaker:
An exuberant wine brimming with juicy acidity and fruit sweetness, providing a balanced flavour profile. The finish is fresh, zesty, and lingering

,
Frei Brothers Chardonnay 
Sonoma
Winemaker:  
Green apple, orange zest and apple pie

My Tasting:  
My wife had this win and I do not have her tasting notes


CONTACT THE WINERY
Winemaker:
Complemented notes of butter and toast, with a silky finish and plush mouthfeel


Route 128 Pinot Noir, 
Yorkville Highlands
Winemaker:  
Lush black cherry, strawberry, and raspberry fruit characteristics.

My Tasting:  
From what I recall this was a very fruit forward wine, very reminiscent of most pinot, and much lighter as well


CONTACT THE WINERY
Winemaker:
Fruit forward style. A mellow wine, with complex soft tannins 

My Tasting: 
Soft to medium tannins, and a mild finish, the wine would go well with most seafood.



So, with the meal and interview complete, and our culinary appetites fulfilled, lets see how Sea-Guini rates overall shall we. Here is how my rating system works….
5 stars
 is Extraordinary
4 Stars
 is Outstanding
3 Stars
Exceeded Expectations
2 Stars
is Above the Average
1 Star
is an Average Dining Experience
No Star Rating
The Restaurant is Basic, Poor, or Appalling



Rating Breakdown And Analysis:


On Wine, Dine, and Play, I have an overall star rating scale of six levels with the lowest being a poor or appalling experience (zero stars), up to an extraordinary experience (five stars). This rating scale is formulated by braking down individual experiences such as (1) wine selection, (2) plate presentation, (3) ambiance, (4) wow  factor, (5) customer service, plus (6) food quality and combines them on a separate scale of zero to ten, with ten being the best. In the next paragraph, I brake down how and why I come to the conclusion of the rating numbers listed in the overall review chart below.




The overall star rating from Wine, Dine, and Play that I give to Sea-Guini is a three, meaning that they not only stand above the average to dining experience of other restaurants, but exceeded my expectations. I also believe that with the 20+ years of dining across the world, I set my expectations to a higher standard compared to some other reviewers out there. So to receive more than 2 stars from me says a lot about your establishment and how you “wowed” me. I came to this conclusion based on all the other factors listed above and how they rated. I came to this conclusion based on all the other factors listed above and how they rated.


Overall Star rating by Wine, Dine, & Play:
3 of 5
Exceeded Expectations 
Ambiance:
8  of 10
Quality of the Food:
6  of 10
Plate Presentation:
5  of 10
Customer Service:
7  of 10
Wow Factor:
3  of 10
Wine Selection:
 (See the full list below)
6 of 10


INDIVIDUAL QUALITY RATINGS:

I rate ambiance on several factors from the most important being cleanliness of the dining room and restrooms, to organization and flow. I look at the atmosphere, character, the tones, artwork, and the design styles to see if they match the themes of the food. During the daylight hours natural lighting versus electric is also a strong enhancer of enjoying a meal, and of course the styles of furniture, or if it is inviting and comfortable.

A beautiful and spacious restaurant, contrasting bright colors, and an interesting choice in furniture all helped increase the ambiance rating to 8 out of 10 points. Very pleasing place to sit and enjoy a meal.

The quality rating bases the essential or distinctive characteristics that the food offers, or if I see that it is of a higher grade, superiority, or excellence. Also important is the taste. Did the chef pair or match distinctive ingredients together, and did he send my palette on an adventure?

Several items on the menu are locally sourced, and other items are imported internationally for a well rounded quality of items available for a score of 6 out of 10 points.

The plate presentation is based on the art of how the food is put together and displayed as it is brought out. Does it look unique, molecular, or have interesting garnishments, or built action style at the table? Does it make you look twice and go “wow”? All of these attributes help add to this rating.

The setup for the plates were very basic and minimal garnish. The tuna dish did look very appealing with the way the oils were splashed around the plate, but beyond that, nothing really wowed me on the presentation, so I give them a score of 5 out of 10.

Customer service can make or break a restaurant. You can have the best quality of foods, and plate presentations that put Escoffier to shame, or the most beautiful ambiance, and fantastic wine or bar list. However if you have a service staff that is not attentive to the needs of the guest, or has an unclean uniform, smells like a cigarette after returning from a break, does not act professionally, or lacks knowledge on the menu, food, and restaurant, then you have a major problem. On the other hand a great server can bring a customer back over and over again even if the food is mediocre. People go to restaurants for the show. They think they are experts because they watched a reality tv show on the Food Network, but what needs to be understood is that as amazing as a kitchen staff and Chef’s may be, the front of house is just as great.

The server was attentive and informative, my high point rating of 7 out of 10 points goes to the kitchen staff for making me the cheese plate dessert, even though it was not on their menu. Bravo.

The “wow” factor as I like to call it is a quality or feature that is extremely impressive. It can be something that is seen or done that is funky, surprising, or pleasing. It is something that just makes me go “wow”. This rating is also the hardest to get high marks for. The wow factor is a combination of ambiance, quality, plate presentation, customer service, and wine or mixology that goes above and beyond what you would expect from a restaurant.

Normally I rate the “wow” factor at most of the restaurants I’ve reviewed at a 2 or 3 point range with a few exceptions to that rule. Several central Florida restaurants that we have dined at have varied on the point scale from 2-4 points. This is not a bad thing and a lower score does not decrease the overall restaurant score, but a higher wow factor will help to raise it at the same time. I rate the Sea-Guini at a “wow” factor of 3 points out of a possible 10.


The wine selection can vary from place to place, and I base the ratings not just on the quality of the wines offered but also the selections. Wine is grown everywhere around the world these days and the demand for it has increased ten fold. Distributors in every major city whether they work for a large named company like Empire or a small boutique company can provide any restaurant any wine if they want it.

As I mentioned above in the brief look at the wine list, using the Walmart analogy, most restaurants in St. Petersburg and Tampa are controlled by the big alcohol vendors, and don’t offer boutique wines from the small mom and pop vendors out there. I rate the Sea-Guini at 6 points out of 10 for their wide European selection, but only very basic items in the new world selection.

If boutique wines were offered, then the rating for not only Sea-Guini, but any restaurant being reviewed would go up at least two or more points. The restaurants here can do it if they put their minds to it. Oder from a no name company, stock up some boutique wines, then educate your customer base. Offer tastings, wine pairing dinners, or special flight nights, then watch over time as your customer base grows and greatly appreciates your constant improvement with wines. Still offer the mainstream of course for those that will never deviate, but try it, and see what happens. I might even be able to put you in touch with a distributor who can get you these wines.



This rounds up the review and rating for Sea-Guini, and from this experience, I would compare our experiences here this evening to a few other places either I or my wife and I have been to in the past such as Sea Salt in St. Petersburg and Moshulu in Philadelphia, and Two Oceans Restaurant, in Cape Point, South Africa.


Other Clearwater, Pinellas, and St. Pete Beach reviews on Wine, Dine, and Play:
Spinners Rooftop Bistro, in St. Pete Beach, Florida
Rowe Bar, at the Don CeSar, in St. Pete Beach 
Feola’s, in Treasure Island
Beachcomber Bar & Grill at the Don CeSar 
The Salty Rim, in St. Pete Beach
Osaka Sushi Thai in Seminole, Florida

Food Prices 
(excluding, alcohol, taxes & gratuity)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 

**Currencies chosen reflect the world’s major travelers and restaurant connoisseur’s**


My food bill:
Currency:
Price chart:
$86.00
United States Dollar (USD)
$$
$112.00
Australian Dollar (AUS)
$$$
£70.00
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
££
$113.00
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$$$
¥580.00
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥¥¥
€78.00
European Union (EUR)
€€

Rates as of October 2016

 Alcohol Prices:

$74.00

***
Customary starting gratuity for restaurants in the United States begins at 15% 
Of your total food bill and increases or decreases based on the level of service you received. 
In most parts of Europe, Australia, Africa, and some Asian countries it is not 
common to leave any gratuity as it is already included into 
the check, but you may feel free to leave extra anyway. Alcohol gratuity 
is calculated by a separate 10% or higher gratuity if you wish. 

***

Review basics:


Wine selections by 
region:
6 of 10
Old world: 
  1. France: Bordeaux: (Haut Médoc, Cotes de Castillon,  Médoc, Pessac Leognan, Sauternes, St. Estèphe, St. Julien, St. Émillion, Pauillac, Pomerol, & Margaux)., Bourgogne: (Chablis, Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet, Macon Villages, Meursault, Pernand, Pouilly Fuissé, Nuits St. Georges, Gevrey Chambertin, Viré‐Clessé, Vosne‐Romanée & Bonnes) Other: Côtes du Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Champagne,  Alsace, Côtes de Provence
  2. Italy: Piemonte,Veneto, Toscana, Abruzzo,
  3. Germany: Mosel
New World: 
  1. Australia: Barossa Valley
  2. New Zealand: Marlborough: (Wairau Valley, Awetere Valley, Waihopi Valley)
  3. California: Sonoma, Napa, Santa Barbara County, Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Paso Robles, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Anderson Valley, Santa Rita Hills, North Coast, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley,
  4. Oregon: Willamette Valley
  5. Washington State: Columbia Valley
  6. Argentina: Mendoza, Calchaqui Valley 
Corkage fee’s:
The Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge $25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual or Conservative
Reservations:
Not Required, But Recommended
Walk-Ins:
Accepted, but not guaranteed
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a child’s menu or cater to them; however for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended for children not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette
Hire a Babysitter! 
Dress code:
Casual or Conservative attire
Cuisine style:
Contemporary, Modern, Lounge, Seafood, American, Italian, Mediterranean, European, & Vegetarian
Experiences:
Place for foodies, Trendy, Lounge, Business parties, Romantic, Hot spot, Great outdoor dining, Good for special occasions, Beautiful décor, Scenic views,, Intimate, Upscale, and a Neighborhood gem.
Payments:
Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Valet, and hotel parking
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Low
Smoking:
Nonsmoking restaurant, and nonsmoking patio
Patio:
Yes


Sea-Guini:
Opal Sands Resort
430 S Gulfview Blvd
#100
Clearwater Beach, FL 
33767 





Contact Information: 

Maître d or host:
+1 727 450 6236
Online reservations
Seat Me by Yelp
Restaurant website:
Sea-Guini
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time (GMT - 5:00)
Breakfast: Daily
7:00 am - 11:00 am
Lunch: Daily
11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Dinner: Daily
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Email or webpage contact:
Contact Us

Social Media 
Accolades:

Facebook link                
Twitter @OpalSandsResort
Pinterest
Instagram




****
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Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Picture below was taken in Dublin, Ireland at the
Guinness Factory tour.


About Sean:

I am based out of St. Petersburg, Florida working in the food service industry for the past twenty years, and am currently with the American Embassy as the Executive Chef in Basra, Iraq. Formally I have worked with groups contracting in Afghanistan, and Antarctica, also working in restaurants in and around Atlanta, Georgia prior to the wars. I have also owned a catering company and served proudly in the United States Army Food Service Program. The idea for Wine, Dine, and Play started in late 2012 after a trip to Jordan, when I was asked by friends to write down the experiences from a few Jordanian restaurants, wine from the region that I tasted, and locations of interest such as Petra. Since that time, over 250 articles have been written on restaurants, including fifteen from the worlds top 100 lists of San Pellegrino and the Elite Travelers Guide. There are articles on exotic world locations such as Victoria Falls, and South African Safari’s; food recipes & Grand Food Dictionaries; ethnic country cuisines such as Afghan, and Peruvian; tasting tours of world cities like Charleston, Cape Town, and Dubai; and of course wine from vineyards in California, Oregon, the Carolina’s, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, with much more to see and write about.


Who is John Galt?




“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)





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