BRADENTON BEACH -- The Blue Marlin restaurant on Bridge Street is one of the top-reviewed restaurants in America, according to online reservation system OpenTable.
OpenTable announced its 2014 Diners' Choice Award Winners that include the Top 100 Best Neighborhood Gem Restaurants in America, with Blue Marlin making the list.
News about the award surprised owner Adam Ellis when reached by the Herald on Thursday.
"We're a very small restaurant, and we try to be personable with everybody," Ellis said. "We don't really advertise and it's all through word-of-mouth. If we get them in here, we have to give them a reason to come back."
The awards are determined by the 5 million-plus restaurant reviews by verified OpenTable diners between June 1, 2013, and May 31. All restaurants with a minimum "overall" score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration, according to the San Francisco-
based company. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the percentage of qualifying reviews for which "neighborhood gem" was selected as a special feature.
"The winning restaurants on this list are in many ways the heart and soul of their neighborhoods, offering much more than delicious meals," said Caroline Potter, OpenTable chief dining officer. "They provide a place that inspires a real sense of community and pride, making local area foodies feel right at home, night after night."
The Blue Marlin is nestled in a 1920s blue cottage on Bradenton Beach's historic Bridge Street on Anna Maria Island.
"We try to search out the freshest, most local seafood we can get from around here," Ellis said. "The place has 12 tables inside, so I tell all the waiters every table is a pearl. Don't let it fall by the wayside, so if they're not happy, make them happy."
Other restaurants in Florida that made the list include The Back Room Steakhouse in Apopka, South + York in Winter Springs, and Stonewood Grill & Tavern in Orlando and Wellington.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.