SRQ Reviews Network - Dining Guide

When I heard through the “Sarasota Dining Grapevine” Executive Chef Pedro Flores from The Table Creekside was also going to oversee the menu at Phillippi Creek Restaurant & Oyster Bar; my ears perked up. This Dine-mark™ restaurant has a large, long standing, loyal customer base, carefully cultivated, and  comprised of people from Sarasota and visitors alike. So what changes could one expect? What about the menu? Additions? Deletions?  This menu thing could be tricky and fraught with unintended consequences.Creekmenu

I heard there were a number of new items already on the menu, so I decided to go to Phillippi Creek Restaurant & Oyster Bar and check it out. When we first arrived it was busy, but were able to get a waterside table. The typical Phillippi Creek newsprint menus looked the same, but upon further examination, we noticed a number of positive changes and additions.

“Just in time for the change in seasons comes innovative and delicious additions to the menu at the Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar. Nearly two dozen of Chef Pedro Flores’s creations have been added to the already award-winning signature specialties that make Phillippi Creek a year round favorite with locals and winter visitors alike. “

We needed a few minutes to study the menu before we could make our strategic selections. This was not easy because it required us to pass up some of our stand by favorites, so we could try something new. We chose the following as our representation of the expanded menu:

  • Chicken Salad Plate: Free range chicken, seasonal fruit, roasted vegetables, jasmine salad, organic greens $10.95
    Fresh, colorful, full of flavor, the chicken salad had some fruit mixed in but was not sweet, just the way we like it! A great starter for sharing.
  • SONY DSCStuffed Grouper: Shrimp, scallops, and Blue Crab stuffing Market Price
    This was a big piece of grouper, stuffed full with visible bits and pieces of shrimp, scallops, and crab.
  • SONY DSCBaked Seafood Trio: Salmon, mahi mahi, grouper $24.95
    What an outstanding presentation of 3 fish individually placed on a cedar plank, colorful, full of various flavors, can easily be shared.


  • Wahoo Ceviche Cones: Blue corn cones stuffed with ceviche $8.95
    Although not brand new to the menu, it is relatively new and underscores the theme of fresh, new, exciting presentations.


  • Chocolate Fudge Brownie: Topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce $7.95
    A dark, warm, rich, moist, chocolate brownie with melted swirls of vanilla ice cream and caramel…one word…WOW!


Even though we passed on our regular faves to try the new dishes, we were not disappointed in the least! Chef Pedro Flores and his team have done an outstanding job of adding some creative and innovative items to the menu while maintaining all of the customer favorites. In fact, these new menu additions are destined to become new favorites. For fresh, delicious seafood, meet me at at “The Creek.”

SRQ Reviews, the restaurant guide you need to find the best dining in Sarasota, Florida.


SRQ Reviews Network - Dining Guide

If you are like me, every year Thanksgiving seems to come upon us with little to no notice. This year is no exception. I cannot believe we are only days away from Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. Each year we highlight some Thanksgiving dining options for you to consider. Despite the short notice, this year is no exception.

A traditional home cooked Thanksgiving meal.

Since Thanksgiving is a holiday share amongst family and friends, the traditional home cooked meal generally takes center stage. For those of you looking for fresh and/or organic turkeys, there are a number of options:

  1. Morton’s Gourmet Market is offering fresh Bell & Evans turkeys and Eberly Farms organic turkeys. Call 941-955-9856 to place an order.
  2. The Butcher’s Block is offering Amish turkeys for pick up. Call 941-955-2822 to place an order.
  3. Whole Foods Market offers a wide selection of Heritage, heirloom, organic, or kosher turkeys. You can also special order a chilled brined turkey.
  4. The Fresh Market is offering a 1-stop shop for all of your Thanksgiving needs.
  5. The Mozzarella Fella, a new addition to Sarasota is offering Italian specialties, side dishes, and catering for Thanksgiving. Call 941-366-7600 for more information or to place an order.

One of the best dining views in Sarasota!

For some, the thought of planning, preparing, and serving a large holiday meal is daunting. Not to mention the clean-up which is part of the process! Fortunately, Sarasota is home to many fine restaurants offering options for Thanksgiving Day Dining.

Here are a few to consider:

  1. Ophelia’s on the Bay is offering a Traditional Turkey Dinner featuring turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and gravy for $25.00 per person. Call for reservations: 941-349-2212. Our comments: Perhaps one of the finest spots for water-view dining. Very friendly attentive staff. Quality food. To see our full review>>>
  2. The Polo Bar & Grill will be offering a Thanksgiving Day Buffet from noon till 5:00pm, $35 per person, $14.95 for children under 12. Call for reservations 941-782-0899 ext.2.
  3. The Bijou Cafe will be offering their full dinner menu as well as some chef specials and of course Carolina turkey on Thanksgiving Day from noon till 8:00pm. For information and reservations call 941-366-8111  Our comments: Quiet, casual elegance, very fine service. Friendly staff. To see our full review>>>
  4. Libby’s Cafe + Bar is offering a special plated Thanksgiving dinner which includes a special “brown bag” for leftovers,  as well as a la Carte items. Pricing for the Thanksgiving plate is $30/adult, $12/children (12 and under) Our comments: Libby’s has definitely stepped up their game. Food is very good, setting is excellent. A new review is forthcoming. To see our full review>>>
  5. Duval’s New World Cafe will be serving up a special Thanksgiving feast from 2:00pm till 9:00pm. For reservations please call 941-312-4001. Our comments: Casual, subtly upscale, friendly staff, and quality food. To see our full review>>>

No matter what the choice, one thing is clear; we wish you the very best Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

SRQ Reviews, the restaurant guide you need to find the best dining in Sarasota, Florida.

Everyone loves a party, especially one done in grand style. Such was the case for the 2012 Forks and Corks Grand Tasting held on Sunday, Jan. 29. The 5th Annual Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival was hosted by the Sarasota-Manatee Originals and made possible through event sponsors, donors and business partners.  Sarasota’s culinary creativity, range and diversity were all  showcased in a series of winemaker dinners, interactive seminars and classes and with the culminating public event, the Grand Tasting.

The Sunday afternoon was “picture perfect” for an outdoor event: bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky with temps in the 70s. The magnificent courtyard of the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art served as center stage for a palate-pleasing presentation. The performers, approximately 50 local chefs and restaurateurs, combined their culinary talents with 80 international winemakers to present one of the finest flavorful food festivals in Sarasota.

The Grand Tasting event was scheduled from 12-4 pm. We arrived fashionably late (12:20pm), only to find the crowd already sizeable. With 1000-plus people attending and this event being a quick sell-out, we anticipated some difficulty with logistics. This was not the case at all! Registration was easy, the program well-organized, signage was good and the flow of people easily managed. All we needed was a plan to navigate more than 85 tables offering food, beer and wine. Our initial plan was amazingly simple in concept: start in numeric order, do a quick survey of the various foods and wines being offered (noting the ones we wanted to explore further) and then circle back to those tables we highlighted. We quickly realized our levels of interest far exceeded our capacity to taste and consume. So much for best-laid plans! Here are some of the highlights from our gastronomic trek.

Osso Bucco from Ophelia's

Local Food:

– Lamb Osso Bucco from Ophelia’s on the Bay
– Grilled Flank Steak on Artisan Roll from Michael’s on East
– Bruchetta Pomodoro and Agnolotti from Salute!
– Spicy Korean Pork Belly Happy Buns from The Polo Grill & Bar
– Kobe Beef Sliders from Square 1 Burgers & Bar
– Classic Caesar Salad from Euphemia Haye

Taylor Bay Scallop Crudo from Derek's

– Taylor Bay Scallop Crudo from Derek’s Culinary Casual
– White Bean Cassoulet from Bijou Café

Food photos courtesy of Larry Hoffman.



Wines from around the world:

– Bell Pinot Gris from Bell Wine Cellars
– Whispering Angel Rosé from Chateau D’Esclans
– Sondraia Bolgheri DOC from Poggio al Tesoro
– Noble Riesling from Helfrich
– Carneros Chardonnay from Merryvale Winery
– Champagne Rosé from Nicholas Feuillatte
– Mint Haven Cabernet from Morgenhof Estate
– Chenin Blanc from Post House

The afternoon was truly delightful, combining some of Sarasota’s finest assets: food, wine, people and weather in one amazing place.  Plus, on your way out all of the wines tasted were offered for purchase in a special retail tent at a discounted price. Now how is that for an added bonus? For those who like to plan ahead, next year’s Forks & Corks is scheduled for Jan. 25-28, 2013. Tickets go on sale Nov. 12, 2012.

Congratulations to all the people who made the 2012 Forks & Corks such a great success. Sarasota was proudly represented!

Photo by Peter Acker.


SRQ Reviews Network - Dining Guide

With the holidays falling on a weekend this year, many restaurants are taking a well deserved break and closing; while others are choosing some variation of openings and closings. We did a survey of various Sarasota restaurants to see which are open, and what special menus may be offered. While we did find most restaurants closing for the Christmas weekend, many are open for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Here is a sampling of what we found for 2011 Holiday Dining Options. Please note you can see our review of the restaurant by clicking on the restauran’s name in the list. In addition to our editorial on the restaurant, all of the restaurants’ contact information is available as well as google maps for directions on the review page.

Christmas Eve Christmas Day New Year’s Eve New Year’s Day
Libby’s Cafe & Bar Regular hours, menu, and special   items closed Regular hours, menu, and special   items Sunday Brunch and a la carte   dining
Ophelia’s on the Bay 5:00-10:00pm   Regular menu plus Holiday specials 4:00-8:00pm   Regular menu plus Holiday specials 4:00-11:00pm   Regular menu plus Holiday specials 11am-2pm Brunch5:00-10:00pm
Regular Dinner menu   plus Holiday specials
Patrick’s 1481 Closing at 4:00pm Closed Special 3 Course Dinner $22/person   Champagne toast at Midnight Regular Hours and menu
Bijou Café Closed Closed 5:30-10:00pm  Regular menu Closed
Indigenous Closed Closed 5:30-10:00pm  Regular menu Closed
Mediterraneo Regular hours and menu Regular hours and menu Special a la carte menu Closed
Divino’s Regular hours, menu, and special   items Closed Regular hours, menu, and special   items Closed
Salute Ristorante-Enoteca 4:00-8:00pm   Regular menu plus Feast of the 7 Fishes Special Closed Regular Menu plus specials Live  music starting at 8:30pm Closed
Selva Regular menu plus music in the   back lounge Closed Regular Menu plus specials music   on the patio Reservations only Closed
Beach Bistro Regular hours and menu Closed Special Holiday Menu Regular Hours and menu
Pattigeorge’s Restaurant Regular hours and menu Opening at 5:00pm    Regular menu Regular Hours and menu 10PM   seating with Champagne, party hats, and favors Opening at 5:30pm Regular menu
Mozaic 4:00-9:00pm   Regular menu plus special items Closed 5:00-6:30pm
Reception, Food and Wine pairing dinner $79/pp                after   7:30 $109/pp
Derek’s Culinary Casual Closed Closed
    3 Course Pre Fixe Dinner $75pp
Terrace on the Circle Closed Closed 7pm -1am Mediterranean   Extravaganza!  $50/pp food and entertainment, Belly Dancing, featuring a   Middle Eastern menu 7:30-3:00pm   Regular menu
Two Chef’s Casual Dining Regular Hours Closed Regular Hours and menu plus   special items Regular Hours and menu plus   special items
Square 1 Burgers & Bar Closed Closed Regular Hours and menu plus   special items Regular Hours and menu plus   special items

SRQ Reviews wishes you the Merriest of Christmas’ and the very best New Year!

SRQ Reviews Network - Dining Guide

Perhaps no holiday is more focused on food, football, family, and fun than Thanksgiving. Serving as the official “Kick-Off” to the holiday season, Thanksgiving family traditions run deep. Whether it is a family football game, a trip to the beach, a visit to grandma’s house, or just a planned viewing of the NFL games, all the planned activities revolve around the Thanksgiving meal.

Although the traditional home-cooked/home-made Thanksgiving Day meal is still the predominant manner of celebration by most, hectic schedules and lifestyles necessitate dining alternatives. For many, going out for a Thanksgiving dinner works best. After all, there is little prep and no clean-up involved! Sarasota is blessed with many fine restaurants; here are a few for your Thanksgiving Day Dining options:

Two Chefs Casual:  2:00-8:00pm. By reservation only 941-355-5151.  4 courses, $30 includes coffee, glass of house wine, beer, or soft drink.  Children under 12 years old $12 for 2 courses plus soft drink.

Patricks 1481:  3 course meal.  5 options prices ranging from $18.00 to $28.00.  For reservations 941-955-1481

Ophelia’s:  Regular menu plus traditional Thanksgiving meal $24.  For reservations 941-349-2212

Bijou Cafe:  Regular menu and specials. Traditional dinner plate $24.95.  Noon – 8:00pm.  Reservations 941-366-8111

Libby’s Cafe and Bar:  11:00 am to close (last seating at 9:00 pm)  Thanksgiving Special Dinner Plate is $30/adult and $13/child, 12 and under  — including a Turkey Brown Bag To Go.  Beverages, taxes and gratuity are additional.   Ala Carte limited menu items range from $3 to $36. For reservations call  941-487-7300

Cafe Baci:  Noon to 8:00pm  941-921-4848, 3 courses $27

Michael’s On East: From 2:00-8:00pm Traditional and special holiday menu available; For reservations, please call 941-366-0007

Polo Grill and Bar: A gourmet Thanksgiving buffet, available from noon to 5 pm. For just $32.95++ for adults, $14.95++ for children 12 and under, and free for children 4 and under; For reservations call 941-782-0899 ext. 2; 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch

The Sandbar: Traditional turkey dinner and regular menu; 11:30am to 9:00 pm; 100 Spring Avenue • Anna Maria, FL 34216  941-778-0444

The Broken Egg: open for Thanksgiving brunch at each of their three locations from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm

 6115 Exchange Way, Lakewood Ranch  941-388-6898

4031 Clark Road, Sarasota   941-922-2869

140/144 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key  941-346-2750

So whatever your choice, traditional home-made or dining out, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

SRQ Reviews, the restaurant guide you need to find the best dining in Sarasota, Florida.

SRQ Reviews Network - Dining Guide

The 5th annual Savor Sarasota Restaurant week kicks off on Tuesday June 1, 2010 and continues through Monday June 14, 2010.

With one of the highest concentrations of Zagat rated restaurants in the state of Florida, Sarasota’s restaurants provide a wide assortment of cuisine and a casual to fine dining experience from which to choose. This elevation of the culinary arts joins Sarasota’s cultural attractions to provide a wonderfully splendid destination dining experience.

The Savor Sarasota restaurant week is the perfect opportunity for the uninitiated Sarasota diner to sample a number of restaurant offerings and start a list of favorites. Speaking of favorites, Savor Sarasota is also the perfect venue for the experienced Sarasota diner to revisit an old favorite or try something totally new.

All of the participating restaurants offer a multi-course lunch for $15 per person or $25 per person for dinner. SRQ Reviews reviewed the following participants:

Bijou Café
Blu Smoke Island Grill
Caragiulo’s Italian Restaurant
Derek’s Culinary Casual
Libby’s Café and Bar
Ophelia’s on the Bay
Pattigeorge’s Restaurant

Whether you are a “seasoned local” or a 1st time visitor to Sarasota, the Savor Sarasota Restaurant week has something for you. Your dining destination awaits you.

Bon Appétit!

SRQ Reviews, the restaurant guide you need to find the best dining in Sarasota, Florida

SRQ Reviews Network

Outdoor dining at Libby's Cafe + Bar

Just like a favorite pair of jeans or an especially comfortable shirt, everyone needs a “go to” restaurant. Comfort, familiarity, and a sense of belonging are the trademark virtues for such a place. For me, Libby’s Cafe + Bar fills the spot.

Located on South Osprey Avenue, in the heart of Sarasota’s Southside Village, Libby’s presence projects a welcoming and inviting venue for lunch or dinner. With outdoor seating, 2 bar areas, booths, tables, and a private room, Libby’s is prepared to handle any sized party. The menu selections are extensive offering sophisticated cuisine and old world comfort food with an up to date twist. In other words, there is something on the menu for all to enjoy!

Easily accommodating with choices in dining venue and cuisine, the only remaining attribute to be addressed is service. On our 1st visit we were somewhat disappointed with the level of service from our waiter. To be fair, he was training a new person which may explain why he seemed rushed at times. However we did find other staff to be friendly and cheerful. In fact on subsequent occasions, any lingering concern about the service had been eliminated. We have found the Libby’s team to be attentive, friendly, and sincerely interested in making our experience a great one.

So if you are thinking about a place to eat and want the feeling of your favorite pair of jeans and your most comfortable shirt, give Libby’s Cafe + Bar a try. It might just become one of your “Friday Faves.”