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Blue Giraffe a sense-pleasing experience

By Staff | Aug 17, 2012

Everyone knows that there are five senses that can give pleasure: hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. The Blue Giraffe restaurant in the Periwinkle Shops touches on all of them.

Upon entering the restaurant you are greeted by friendly staff, many having been with the restaurant for a long time and considered “family” by the owners. Mom/owner, Karen Roberts, takes a special interest in her employees and works schedules around college and family obligations. Bright, cheerful colors in the decor and on each table indicate you are in for a fun treat. Culminating with the aroma of the dishes and tastes of your choice, the experience is sublime.

Owned by Paul and Karen Roberts for six years, local favorite entries are on the menu with a variety of international, tantalizing flavors. It is said when you look at a menu and can’t decide because there are so many appealing choices, it’s a sign of a wonderful experience when you do decide on an entree. It is obvious the owners took great care in working with Chef Aaron Schoeberlein to give guests many great dining options.

The Roberts came to Sanibel on an unusual path. Originally from the United Kingdom, Karen was raised in a restaurant and night club family, growing up in establishments her father owned. Paul, also from the UK, was an architect and restaurant designer and subsequently a multi-media consultant. It is that combination that makes for a viable and thriving business, which Karen says has been busy, even through the slow season.

They decided to make a lifestyle change and moved to New York. Subsequently, before their children grew up and moved out of the family home, they decided to move to Phuket, in Southeast Asia. As they were ready to leave for Asia, the tsunami hit and the area they were headed to was devastated. Looking for an alternative destination, they visited Sanibel and decided it had the lifestyle they were looking for and an ideal environment for their children. After careful consideration, they made the choice and move here full time. At the same time, the restaurant that has become the Blue Giraffe became available and they knew the decision was the correct one for them.

Karen’s background helped to determine what diners on Sanibel want: wonderful tastes and choices, consistency in food, accommodation for different size groups, prices for every budget and the ability to choose a specific entree, hence a la carte items. This helped them build a loyal clientele of local and seasonal residents, and visitors who are repeat diners. The ability to get to know many of their guests and what they want has contributed greatly to their success.

Many diners are tourists who happen to stumble on the restaurant while shopping. There is a bar with television for those who like to enjoy TV and a cold beverage while spouses shop.

Samplings of just a few items on the menu indicate the diversity and uniqueness of the food at Blue Giraffe.

Start with a strawberry daiquiri. This is not just an ordinary daiquiri, but a party in itself. The beverage arrives in a visual burst. A tasty strawberry drink with an abstract design of whipped cream in the glass, a jaunty strawberry perched on the edge topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a festive umbrella.

Next, try a bistro salad a tantalizing blend of tastes and textures. Mixed greens topped with fresh strawberries, mandarin oranges, walnuts and crumbled blue cheese are served with a wonderful raspberry vinaigrette.

The very popular Thai fish wrap is crispy cod, Asian slaw and grilled pineapple with Thai peanut sauce in a soft black bean tortilla.

The wasabi kissed crab cake Kaiser has won two Taste of the Islands awards one for best appetizer and one for best seafood. The crab cake is flavored with wasabi and topped with a Cajun Remoulade served in a warm hoagie bun with lettuce, tomato and onion.

All-time favorite quiches and burgers are not overlooked at Blue Giraffe. Chef Aaron’s quiches are homemade and very popular with clients who want a light but filling entree. The burgers are made with a special burger blend and diners frequently say they are “the best I have ever had.”

The maple mayonnaise, usually served with the restaurant’s sweet potato fries has become so popular that diners ask for it as a condiment for other dishes.

Desserts add a scrumptious touch to the meal. Key Lime Cheesecake is not just a flavored cheesecake, it’s a traditional cheesecake crust with a second layer of Key Lime pie on top. Choices for the day are listed on a gaily colored chalkboard as a constant reminder to leave room.

The best fun to have at Blue Giraffe to try as many entrees as possible is to bring a group of people and share everything the art of fine dining is to make it an experience with others. The Blue Giraffe is a perfect place to do that!