As my dining companion and I stepped into Sanibel’s T2—that’s shorthand for Traders 2, and the same owners who made Traders famous for its fresh seafood and modern American fare are behind this latest endeavor—we glanced at each other and shared a happy sigh. The details were just right, from the coastal design to the upbeat waitstaff to the familiar-but-still-special menu with only a few overlaps. We knew this would be island dining, elevated.
At a table in the middle of the cozy dining room with a view of the small bar off to the side, we admired the Florida-chic décor—plantation shutters on the windows, a mural of tropical foliage and paintings of pink flamingoes. In less skillful hands, it might have edged to the kitsch, but at T2 it’s done deftly.
And the menu is perfectly in-tune with this vibe. Offerings are divided among starters, salads, sandwiches, tacos, flatbreads and entrées, and they lean more toward the casual end of the dining spectrum. With that in mind, we began with two cups of soup: an outrageously good gumbo ($5) made with yellow rice, green peppers, shrimp, mahi-mahi and salmon in a thick tomato broth, plus an inventive take on gazpacho ($4). The chilled gazpacho had a sour cream base and was made with pureed cucumbers, onions, garlic and tomatoes, then sprinkled with slivered almonds. It was elegant, flavorful and fresh.
On our waitress’ recommendation, we also split the short rib flatbread ($17).
“You made a good choice,” she confided. “It’s amazing.”
When the crispy slab of flatbread arrived—topped with chunks of tender short rib, creamed spinach, mushrooms and fresh mozzarella—we had to agree with her. It was, indeed, amazing.
In keeping with T2’s relaxed island feel, my companion chose a lamb burger ($17) for his main course. Cast iron-seared and topped with caramelized onions and Gruyère then drizzled with a cabernet demi-glace, it was leagues beyond other burgers. I had the evening’s special, jumbo Gulf shrimp with a crabcake stuffing served over lobster ravioli with a lemon beurre blanc ($25). The dish effortlessly combined each element into an exquisite plate, beautifully presented, with notes of citrus, fresh seafood and house-made pasta.
At the end of the meal we had several dessert choices, but one seemed especially fitting: the homemade Key lime pie ($8). I should disclose here that I grew up eating Key lime pie made with Key limes picked in my backyard, which is to say I have little patience for anything but the real deal. And this version? Tart, thick, with a dense graham-cracker crust, it was as authentic as any I’ve tried.
T2 is not extravagant in design or menu, and yet it feels delightfully special. It’s Florida done right, from food to décor, and I’m glad to add it to my list of Sanibel favorites that warrant an excursion.
2340 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 558-8919, t2traders.com. Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Sunday. Wheelchair-accessible. Reservations recommended.