Dine review: Gecko's

jholmes@bradenton.comJanuary 22, 2009 

There was just too much food to choose from.

That’s what happens when you go to Gecko’s Grill and Pub.

My friend and I went to the Gecko’s in the Braden River Plaza last week for lunch, going through the menu over and over and over again before finally making a decision on what to eat.

We’d settle on something like the soup of the day — green bean casserole soup ($2.99 for a cup) — and a salad, like the Grilled Mediterranean salad ($8.99) that’s filled with grilled vegetables, peppers and red onion tossed with penne pasta and a sweet basil and balsamic vinaigrette. Then I changed my mind again and thought I might try fish, either the chargrilled or blackened fish dinner ($10.59) served with red beans and rice or the fish and chips ($9.59).

Then there were the various chicken sandwiches — from chargrilled to blackened to the Chicken Frisco, featuring seasoned deep-fried chicken smothered with jack cheese and crispy bacon ($7.99).

We also glanced at the wraps. I had my eye on the Caesar wrap with a choice of chicken, shrimp or fish (between $7.99 or $8.99). My friend was attracted to the roasted turkey wrap with cranberry relish ($7.99) and the Panini ($7.99).

You have to love a restaurant that offers such variety. Too bad they don’t have a sampler dish.

In the end, we decided to bail on our diets and throw caution to the wind. I ordered Gecko’s signature burger — dubbed the Gecko Burger ($7.99) — and my dinning companion ordered a patty melt ($7.59).

Gecko’s has a friendly sports bar atmosphere with music playing softly in the background and large screen TVs turned to several different sports channels. And, of course, to cater to its name, the establishment is also decorated with colorful geckos along the walls.

We received our appetizer, Gecko’s Onion Slivers ($4.79), quickly after we placed our order. The stringy onions were marinated, lightly breaded and deep fried, oozing with flavor. Though served with horseradish ranch dressing on the side, the onions were very tasty without it.

Our main dishes, complete with french fries, were just as flavorful. My Gecko Burger was an interesting combination of Angus chuck, smothered with chili, cheddar cheese and a couple of fat onion rings served on a toasted onion roll.

The menu states that the dish has been voted the best burger on the Suncoast. I could see why, with its smoky taste. I loved the mix of chili, cheese and seasoned onions, though I wished that there was a little more chili on the sandwich. The chili wasn’t as bold or spicy as I had hoped, but it was still delicious.

What I liked even more than my burger was my friend’s patty melt, which she let me sample. This sandwich packed a punch, bursting with seasoning through and through — from the grilled rye bread it’s served on to the grilled onions and sharp-tasting Swiss cheese.

After our meal, we sat eyeing the beautiful, fresh and massive salads the people at the table near us ordered, feeling a little guilty for not going with a healthier choice.

Next time we visit, we’ll probably get one of those salads and try that green bean casserole soup, too. Or maybe the blackened prime rib sandwich ($9.99) or the Buffalo shrimp (10 pieces for $9.99). I still can’t make up my mind.

With options galore, it will take many more visits for me to try everything my stomach desires.

January Holmes, features writer, can be reached 745-7057.

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