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.

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Now in its seventh year, the Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week, presented by Visit Sarasota County, starts on June 1, 2012 and runs through June 14, 2012. A foodies’ favorite enjoyed by visitors to Sarasota and the people who live here, participating Savor Sarasota restaurants offer specialty0priced multi-course lunches for $15 and dinners for $25. With more than 35 restaurants participating, the breadth of cuisines, style of restaurants and the various locations within Sarasota County provide a range of selections sure to please your palate and dining budget alike.

Waterfront at Ophelia's

The waterfront at Ophelia’s.

Are you a foodie looking to try one of the restaurants from the largest concentration of Zagat-rated spots in Florida? Is there a new place you have been dying to try but just never got around to making reservations? How about a return to one of your favorites or a waterfront locale?  Since specialty-priced lunches and dinners are offered over a two-week period from a wide array of restaurants, there are no real excuses for not sampling some of Sarasota’s finest cuisine. Here is a list of a few of our favorites, with our review and the Savor Sarasota menu:

Derek’s Culinary Casual   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
The Broadway   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
BlueQue Island Grill   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Maximo   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Selva Grill   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Bijou Café   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Salute   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Libby’s Café & Bar   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Patrick’s 1481   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
eat here   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Mozaic   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Lavanda   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Pattiegeorge’s   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Duval’s New World Cuisine   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Caragiulos Italian-American   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu
Ophelia’s on the Bay   –   Savor Sarasota 2012 Menu

As with any special offer, there is limited time to take advantage of it. So why not act now and explore some new dining spots in Sarasota? Your tastebuds and wallet will shower you with appreciation!

For weeks I watched the transition take place; the former space of longstanding Zoria and the short lived Main Street Oyster Bar being transformed into the new Half Shell Oyster House. Started in the summer of 2009 in Gulfport, Mississippi and shortly thereafter in Biloxi, the Sarasota Half Shell Oyster House is a joint venture between Bradenton resident Dino Mirando, and the Gulf Coast Restaurant Group headed by Bob Taylor.

Located at 1991 Main Street, on the corner of Links Avenue, the Half Shell Oyster House is an impressive space. Dark rich wood tones, tiled floors, wrought iron railings, white linen tablecloths, and a large high ceiling space, the newest place on Main Street exudes southern charm and offers a menu which is totally complementary.

Signature Charbroiled Oyster

Center stage on the menu, oysters of course, with the Half Shell signature charbroiled being one of many choices. Shrimp, crab cakes, and fish round out the seafood selections; however there are salads, pasta, chicken and steak for the non-seafood lover. In other words, the Half Shell offers a broad choice of menu items for all diners. The Half Shell Oyster House opens daily at 11am.

Pre-opening Reception: A “Win/Win” Event

On Friday January 6, 2012, the Half Shell Oyster House sponsored a pre-opening reception supporting the Mark Wandall Foundation.

About the Foundation:

The Mark Wandall Foundation formed in 2003 in honor of Mark Jeffery Wandall who tragically lost his life due to the negligence of a red light runner. The primary missions of the foundation are to support and nurture children in our community who have experienced loss in their lives and to educate and raise awareness regarding traffic safety and compliance.

This pre-opening reception was most certainly a win/win event attended by hundreds of people. Launching their first event, The Half Shell Oyster House underscores their care and concern for the community; while donating all the food, drinks, wine, beer, venue and staff for the evening, creates a well-received fund raising event for the Mark Wandall Foundation.

What better way to stress test your staff, make sure you are ready to open,  and give something back to the community?

Well done!

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
Closed
Derek’s Culinary Casual Closed Closed
5:00-10:00pm 
    3 Course Pre Fixe Dinner $75pp
Closed
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

A Historic Commitment to the Arts: A Brief Chronology

Even though Sarasota has a long history of exploration, settlement and development, today’s current city form began to take shape in the early 1920’s. Originally, part of Manatee County, Sarasota was organized as a town in 1902 and reorganized as a city in 1913. However, it was not until 1921 when Sarasota County was formed and the City of Sarasota became the county seat.

During the 1920’s the initial seeds for Sarasota’s cultural roots were sown with the 1925 building of the A.B. Edwards Theater. The grand styled art deco venue provided a variety of top talent headliners for a number of decades but it eventually fell into ill repair, lost its luster and was closed in the early 1970’s.With the purchase of the theater in 1979, a series of minor renovations and a major $20 million restoration project in 2007-08, the A.B. Edwards building was restored to its glorious beginnings and today is known as the Sarasota Opera House.

In 1936, one of Sarasota’s most prominent developers, leaders, and citizens, John Ringling bequeathed his entire estate to the state of Florida. With this bequest, came the extensive art collections which became the foundation for The John and Mable Museum of Art, one of Sarasota’s grandest locales.

Debuting in 1949 as the Florida West Coast Symphony, todays Sarasota Orchestra is the oldest continuing orchestra in the state of Florida. With a commitment to symphonic and chamber music, youth education, and the Sarasota Music Festival, the Sarasota Orchestra is delivering classical music in a new and exciting way.

In the early 1950’s the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art purchased the 18th century Italian Asolo Theater and moved it to the Ringling Estate in Sarasota. Today The Historic Asolo Theater now functions as a performing arts center providing a wide array of dance, film, theater, music and lecture performances.

In the late 1960’s the city of Sarasota was the benefactor of another bequest, this time from philanthropists Lewis and Eugenia Van Wezel. Built directly on Sarasota’s Bayfront, the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has been providing a wide spectrum of world-class entertainment for over 40 years.

In the late 1980’s/early 1990’s a “new” Asolo Theater was built on the Sarasota Campus of Florida State University adjacent to the Ringling Museum grounds.. Subsequently renamed the Asolo Repertory Theater in 2006, the Asolo is home to both theatrical performances and the Sarasota Ballet Company which was formed in 1990.

In addition to the “Big Five” Art Organizations, Sarasota is alive with community theater, art galleries, comedy clubs, music venues, special events and festivals.

 

Culinary Arts: The most popular art of all!

With the largest concentration of Zagat rated restaurants in the state of Florida, Sarasota offers a wide assortment of cuisine and style from which to choose. In fact, SRQ Reviews, Sarasota’s online restaurant guide and directory lists over 500 sorted by cuisine, style, and location.

Upscale, reasonably priced, casual dining, fresh locally grown ingredients, organic/vegan menus, small plates, and wine/espresso cafes are just a few of the recent culinary trends we see being incorporated into the Sarasota dining scene.

The art of fine dining is a part of Sarasota; so too is the casual dining spot.

Sarasota: Your Destination Awaits You

Beautiful white sandy beaches, turquoise blue colored water, tropical breezes, a truly defined downtown city feel with great restaurants, and warm friendly people; Sarasota: the cultural epicenter of Florida awaits you.