The menu at Two Blondes and a Shrimp in Sanford reads like a pan-continental smorgasbord. Curry, linguini, quesadillas and fried catfish all make appearances on the pale blue pages tied with pink ribbon, along with Southern-lady staples like she-crab soup, tomato pie and pimento-cheese sandwiches. Two Blondes promotes itself as a seafood joint, but the variety of its fare belies its marketing plan. The restaurant, situated in the same historic building that was once home to Sanford’s first newspaper, is an eclectic bistro serving not only fresh Florida seafood, but down-home versions of classic international cuisine.
Despite its being served on a plate much too small for the gargantuan portion, the calypso crab patty ($8) was a perfect start to the meal. The thick mound of crab was filled with chunks of rich meat, and the homemade remoulade sauce and peppadew peppers provided exactly the right amount of acidity and spicy kick to accent the mildness of the crabmeat. On the other hand, jalapeño crab dip ($10) wasn’t fiery enough to please fans of the hot pepper. A searingly hot serving dish substituted for the supposed heat of the dip, but the trade-off wasn’t satisfying.
When our entrees arrived, the appetizer plates still hadn’t been cleared, so an awkward shuffling occurred. Our ruffled server placed our entrees on the table while my dining partner and I gathered our own dirty dishes to hand over when her hands were empty. Once all was in order, I caught an oaky whiff of my pecan-crusted chicken ($14.95) and peace was restored. The skin was left on the tender chicken breast, a wise choice on the chef’s part, and it was glazed with molasses and topped with pecans, a perfect foil to the lean white meat. The El Salvador New York strip ($23.95) was cooked to a perfect medium and topped with a sunny-side-up egg and pico de gallo, a fresh touch that transformed the dish into a summertime staple.
Our server failed to inquire whether we’d like to see a wine list or dessert menu, cardinal sins for any restaurant that wants to make money. When they did appear, the choices were extensive, and about a dozen wines were offered by the glass on the night we dined. Don’t bother asking for a cocktail: Two Blondes doesn’t have the coveted liquor license, though plans to acquire space next door for an adjoining martini bar are in the works.
While entrees and appetizers failed to produce exclamations of overwhelming culinary joy at our table, the tiramisu cheesecake ($4.50) was something to rave about. In general, tiramisu is a tired favorite, but Two Blondes transmogrifies the old standard into a fantastic dessert choice: coffee cheesecake topped with whipped mascarpone and chocolate sauce atop a crust of espresso-drenched lady fingers. The grape martini mini-dessert, fresh grapes and light cheese custard ($2.50), enlivens the palate for a meager price.
Two Blondes and a Shrimp captures a wide audience, from family diners to Sanford’s hip young adults, and the First Street antique district is the ideal location. The cozy atmosphere of the wood-paneled and art-adorned dining room provides an intimate setting, while the patio, twice as large as the inside dining room, is an optimal choice for breezy summer evenings – no matter what your hair color.