While the restaurant may be new to the island, it’s not altogether new. The original Blue Coyote is a well-known supper club in Fort Myers, open to members only.
While the Fort Myers location is on the water, the Sanibel spot overlooks the green at Sanibel Island Golf Club. When new owners took over the club, Blue Coyote owner Mitch Schwenke was asked to consult the remodel of the existing restaurant; then he got island fever. The idea of operating on Sanibel grew on him, and, as he puts it, “It became a great marriage.”
Decorative lighting in the famous Chihuly style — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
Now the Fort Myers crowd, who could only dine at the super club by pulling strings, has unlimited access to the same fabulous food and equally grand ambiance.
Schwenke did most of the Sanibel renovations himself, adding woodwork and columns. He also built a stone arch now nicknamed St Andrews Arch, after the bridge at the famous St Andrews Golf Course in Ireland.
The creative lighting and blue hues behind the bar envelopes you in a feeling of cool comfort. Other lighting includes chandeliers that you would swear were designed by famous sculpture artist Dale Chihuly.
But some of the most intriguing décor is found hanging on the walls. The restaurant is home to a large collection of original artwork by Markus Pierson. Pierson started his cool Coyote Series nearly three decades ago.
Soothing blue tones add a comfortable vibe to the Coyote bar. — Photo courtesy of Cindie Barker / Blue Coyote Supper Club
The coyote is an expressive character, inspired by a Joni Mitchell song of the same name. Many of the pieces displayed are originals. Some are reprints, but all are for sale.
Besides the striking décor, the Coyote offers a superb menu that is small in comparison to most restaurants. This allows the chefs to concentrate on quality and presentation, rather than quantity and speed. It features a lot of meat as well as local seafood, local produce and lots of daily specials from items fresh off the boats.
Popular items include the pork chop made with Kurobuta pork, encrusted in panko and rosemary and atop potatoes and a sweet blackberry gastrique. For an appetizer, the tomato basil escargot on truffled crostini is a must-have.
While bartenders have been perfecting their creative cocktail list, the biggest niche for the Coyote is small, California boutique wines. You will find a nice, worldly selection here, too. But the managers work hard on locating value-oriented bottles that you will likely not find in other restaurants on the island. And they always seem to have something special in the back, not on the list.
Sunday Brunch is quite popular with dishes like PB&J French toast and Coyote Eggs. And don’t forget about the Bloody Mary, garnished with two strips of bacon and a skewer of deviled eggs, finished off with a splash of bacon-infused vodka. It's a meal in itself.
One thing that is different than the original Coyote, the Sanibel location offers lunch that seems to last forever, thanks to the golfers. This restaurant is off the beaten path of the well-traveled Periwinkle but worth the effort to find.