These are some GREAT options! Many thanks to all for replies--I'll check them out on line and start dialing for ressies! Thanks so much!
Meeting friends for a 2 day "reunion" in Dallas.
Know many of the usual suspects; we are foodies who also care about atmosphere/service. Will be staying at the Anatole. Interested in lunch and dinner ideas.
Any recs for new restaurants in Oak Cliff (lunch or dinner)? Or around Oaklawn or knox/henderson? Prefer no chains. Liked Hibiscus and Parigi on earlier visit, as well as Stephen Pyle's and Hattie's in Oak Cliff. The Melrose is good for Library and for b'fast. Know there are some new ones in Oak Cliff--also maybe Deep Ellum?.
Looking for creative/interesting but also an atmosphere where we can talk. Doesn't have to be "fancy", need OK /good wine list too.
Recommendations greatly appreciated!
Synopsis of review: Not ready for prime time -- a few gems, disappointing service – approach with caution.
We’re year-round Sarasota residents, and serious foodies, eating out 3-4 times a week. Reports on the State Street Eating House were good, so we went, taking out of town visitors with us.
They don’t take res for less than 6 people, but they do offer to let you “call ahead” for preferred seating—simply call and let them know you are coming. Which we did, but no one answered the phone; we went to voicemail at 6:30 on a Tuesday night. And when we mentioned it to the hostess on arrival, no, she hadn’t received the message and was simply puzzled that she hadn’t heard the phone. It was the first of many puzzled looks we would receive during our lengthy dinner time.
The menu, on line and in person, was enticing. Nice website, nice descriptions—many things we wanted to try!
Wine: decent list, pricing is OK. Cocktails. Good, but frustrating to watch people behind the bar wash dishes and dish with customers there while we waited 20+ minutes for a simple martini. Which was a less than full martini glass for $11 – a bit expensive for the size—obviously, using shots to measure their pours.
Staffing was odd and disorganized. We had at least 4 different people that took drink and food orders, delivered food, stopped by the table, took requests – and it seems that none of them talked to each other. The term “disjointed and random” is a kind description of the “group” service that the owner/chef explained with pride.
But on to the food. Some good, some disconcerting.
They had large plates, starters, “snacks”, sides, etc. Being an adventurous group, we put together things that appealed from various categories.
The chopped butter lettuce salad was attractively presented, though primarily crisp romaine with lots of ribs; not one discernable leaf of tender butter lettuce. Did they think we wouldn’t know the difference? It was fresh and enjoyable, though the dressing was nondescript.
Fried okra with white truffle oil. Great concept. Delivered as whole fried okra, in a brown paper bag on a wooden slab It was saturated with grease to the point that you held the bag up and it literally dripped. And not with truffle oil. It lacked even the much-anticipated heavenly scent of truffle oil.
House cured wild salmon gravlax. Sounded great. Arrived and was a deep red color. Texture was more mushy than firm. 2 people tasted it; we discussed the possible issue of food poisoning, and decided not to continue. We expressed concern and were informed that it was cured with beet juice (could that have been mentioned on the menu or by the server? It would definitely have affected our selection.) The server was sorry that it was “not a preparation you preferred,” and removed it. Though a rejected dish, it was not removed from the bill.
Roasted sweet potato with goat butter was a hit—both people who ordered it liked it, a simple ½ sweet potato served in the skin. American green beans, served still delicately crisp, also well received.
Then, the “house pickles”. Served attractively in a 3-compartment dish. Can I just say that when I read “pickles” I do think of cucumbers being pickled? Of course, there are “pickled” many things, but the term by itself usually connotes cucumber pickles. Not a one in sight. There were pickled beets, some kind of bean, onions, and whole okra. Very strong vinegar taste, not unpleasant. But not a cuke in sight. So many options—lime pickles, butter pickles, dill, gherkins, etc etc. Again, the menu descriptions were misleading at best, delivering disappointment in more than one selection. A simple “pickled offerings” or some broader term would have sufficed to set different expectations—and have elicited a question. Caveat emptor.
Onion rings – crisp, tender, indeed exceptional, some of the best we’ve had here in Sarasota.
Grilled fresh sardines—greatly enjoyed by our guest, who rarely sees them on a menu.
Hamburger. Server said it was a 6oz burger. It cooked down to what looked like a burger about ½ inch thick, served on a flat bun, three times the size of the burger (the bun,1/2 of which had a burned bottom) The chef said it was Kobe beef (again, not on the menu; don’t know where that came from.) But topped with strongly flavored, overpowering American cheese. Not a good pairing. And for the price ($13.50), it came with only condiments and pickled onions and cucumber strips on the burger, nothing else. Fortunately, our guest had ordered the onion rings as a side, or the disappointing burger would have been alone on that plate.
Wild salmon. Ordered medium, came well done and a bit dry, but it was OK and well seasoned. The “baby arugula” served under the salmon looked like spinach The “hashed gold potatoes” were like mini French fries—again, brown with retained oil, mushy, soaked through and not really edible. When queried, the server said “they usually don’t look like that.” So maybe sometimes they are firm, crisp, and delightful.
And finding “our” server, ANY server, often a challenge, though one person, Jess, who was also a cook (baseball cap gave it away) was engaging, knowledgeable and responsive when she was in the dining room. Our first server, a man with a jaunty bow tie, became increasingly distant and non communicative as the night progressed. Fortunately, others stepped into the breach. After we were finally able to flag him for the check, he did deliver it, but without so much as a grunt or a thank you, which would have been a nice touch. With all the people involved, the room felt oddly understaffed.
We did decide to go elsewhere for dessert.
Overall, the place is busy (it is new) and has a very active bar. It is attractive in an industrial chic way (though a bit of noise-dampening insulation, sound baffles, or whatnot to absorb the din would have made conversation less difficult. If a few things are tweaked and addressed, it could be a restaurant worth recommending--
1. If the frustrating and disorganized service is better managed (or managed at all--no one seemed to be in charge or directing the “big” service picture, and the chef endorsing the “group service” concept only validates the skit-skat, haphazard approach to service delivery.)
Sarasota needs interesting new restaurants, and this one has a lot of potential; we hope to hear that it addresses some of its issues. If you go – take a leisurely approach, and do ask for descriptions as you order.
So, this is a lengthy review -- the short version is: located really far from either Sarasota or Bradenton proper. Lovely location and decor, fabulous food, OK service, bring your platinum card.
Bistro at the Concession
This is, I understand, the Sarasota outpost of the Beach Bistro, the acclaimed restaurant on Anna Maria—so of course, we went!
Well, it’s in a lovely country club setting that doesn’t yet have a lot of houses. But the ones that are there are big. Fabulous landscaping, large magnolias—nice setting, located beyond the end of University Parkway.
The Clubhouse was restrained and elegant, with great finishes and fussy chandeliers. There was a Bar/Grill room adjacent to the Bistro Dining Room, which was clubby, tasteful, and surprisingly small. There was also a patio through double doors, complete with a fireplace for those chilly nights. A charming pianist contributed perfect background standards to round out the experience.
We were there on a Friday evening just as the season was winding down. All said, we were there for a long time—over 2 hours. There were a total of 5 tables occupied that night with groups from 2 to 8 in size.
The entrance was at one end of the main building—not an intuitive location, but a “local” led us and gave directions on the way. We were greeted by a waiter, who gestured us to a table; menus followed. Our initial server made wine recommendations and let us sample 2 wines by the glass to select one as we perused the menu. The wine list was quite varied, with some rarely seen options. It offered good selections in all price ranges.
On the menu, they had a list of “smaller plates” which also worked as large appetizers, as well as the regular first course and entrée menu.
Must say, the food was really excellent. Amuse was a tomato soup with a sprinkle of Maytag blue cheese -- it was one of the apps that had tempted us on the menu, and when we spotted it going to another table in an aperitif glass we opted to try it as amuse bouche and try another appetizer. It was cream based, a light coral orange, rich but good—an entire bowl might have been too heavy for a first course.
The shrimp cocktail was excellent, 5 large herb-marinated shrimp served hooked on the rim of a thick martini style glass. The spicy mango dipping sauce was inspired, tangy but not too hot; a regular cocktail sauce was also served.
The strawberry salad was a generous pile of quartered strawberries with greens, sliced almonds and a balsamic reduction, artfully drizzled on the plate. The presentation was OK but not exceptional—great taste, just no panache.
The pork tenderloin was outstanding – brined, grilled with an amazingly tender and near-totally rare center, served as medallions—a very generous portion. The “Floribbean Grouper” was also very good—thick, crusted with coconut and cashew, tender and moist. There were, in fact, 2 grouper preparations, and you could get a “small plate” for $27, or regular size for $39. The small portion, with the mashed Yukon gold potatoes and over-grilled pencil asparagus, was quite ample.
The big gap was in the service. This qualifies as one of the more expensive restaurants in the Sarasota area (think entrees, $25 chicken to $49 rack of lamb) and the service was pleasant but not outstanding. It was nice, and we were addressed pleasantly, but there were several people involved and service wasn’t always coordinated.
Most disconcertingly, we watched as tables were cleared by stacking and balancing empty plates and cutlery three-and four-high in a server’s arms; wine glasses carried by the fistful. It felt more diner than divine. We waited more than 10 minutes to have finished plates removed, and repeatedly had staff move by our table with no eye contact and no move to clear. The service did not have the unobtrusively attentive, civilized, genteel feel of a top-rated restaurant. The staff was gracious and personable overall, and that was very nice—attitude counts.
All in all it was a good evening. I might visit again, but it would need to be a really special occasion to drive that far into the hinterlands for an investment dinner.
Bistro at the Concession 7700 Lindrick Lane Bradenton, FL 34202 (941) 907-0511
How centric can I be?!? LOL, I was asking for downtown Sarasota. Thanks for the catch and the reply.
Know there's one by Burns Court-- it's name? Heard it was good.
Not the Fresh Start Cafe ( which also has OK buzz, and outdoor space--on Orange.)
Any other great suggestions for Saturday lunch this weekend? So many places are dinner only. Outdoor and people watching a plus.
Went the other night -- great spot! On Phillipi Creek, has outdoor dining with a firepit and indoors with a chic 50s vibe -- food quality was excellent, though a bit pricey. Noise level not high. This is a keeper. Will definitely go back.
SO, new "Table" in Sarasota at Phillipi Creek? Heard the dining room was beautiful -- what is the buzz on this? Apparently new in the last few weeks? RSVP!
Yes-- I wrote a separate post on it earlier this week. (look on the board--) 7 Hill is the name. Worth trying for sure. Had the buffet, good--more in the post. Gateway to India here on HIllside is also good, but I'm going back to 7 Hills for the next Indian we get. They have dosas :) and the spices were quite good. Chef is well trained. Tandoor--not as good, went 3 x -- and service by some family members can be haphazard and surly. Poorni, the owner, is very nice. But overall experience, not. Try 7 Hill and Gateway.
7 Hill -- Cuisine of India
New Indian in Sarasota!! Just opened in October 2011. It’s at 7119 S. Tamiami, 34231 – where the Morocco restaurant was.
Really nice and genial owner/Chef, Raj, trained in Southern India, in the Culinary Institute in Tamil Nadu. He then cut his teeth working with Taj Hotels, working with the head of their food program. For those unfamiliar with the Taj hotels, they are quite upscale and they do very interesting and beautiful food. Started in India and now around the world with 100+ locations.
We happened upon it on our way to lunch one day—made a u-turn and tried their buffet. QUITE good, with excellent, fresh seasoning. Good naan and chicken tikka Masala, as well as a number of other dishes. Two preparations of rice, one with tiny peppers and mustard seed Menu is EXTENSIVE – and they have several types of dosa, which we have not found in other Indian restaurants here!
Ambience is nice, good lighting etc. They have wine and beer – a bar area, and 2 separate dining rooms.
Haven't seen any marketing or website yet, so hope people find this and support it.
We’ll be back very soon.
I have not been to those yet, though Indigenous, which is in the old Canvas location, is on my short list!! Open now. "Eat Here" is also supposed to open a location downtown, though do not know if it has opened yet--original location on Anna Maria.
Just went to a wonderful new Indian restaurant, on So Tamiami -- 7 Hills Cuisine of India, 7119 So Tamiami, where Morocco used to be. Only did buffet, but will go back. Will do separate review -- it's only been open a week. Chef was very good, trained in India, first restaurant here, though has had others in other parts of the US. Raj, nice man, glad to talk about the intricacies of his food. It's good, really hope they make it. Apparently no marketing yet.
OK, foodies on the hunt for new fab pizza and such.
Figliulo--on Siesta Drive in Sarasota.
Great reviews. High expectations, for food at LEAST. Reality.......not so good. Ambience is slightly above fluorescent, (the lights are NOT florescent, but not well designed for bright/soft) (TV included) Service nice, not abrasive, sweet, pretty ineffective; management present (sometimes glued to the TV) but clueless, (think (everything OK? Oh, good, they’re fixing it—no follow up) and food a C. Caesar was good. Truffle ‘packet” had flavor but pasta was chewy and too thick Here, underdone crust on pizza AND on calzone. They took it back—rebaked – so toppings and fillings totally dry and chewy. Crust? Still not done. Follow up? No. Adjustment of bill? No . Of course, we asked, and an adjustment was made for one item, Any follow-up by management to see if we were OK? No. Just a cheery “goodbye” as we departed. Goodbye. They were right. Could improve, but ......
Many thanks to you all!! Suggestions near AND far greatly appreciated! Heading out this morning, taking the list with me!
Family group coming in, have theatre tix this Fri eve. They LOVE Indian. What is good in the neighborhood of Times Sq / Theatre district? No florescent lights, please :)
Retropolitan. Went last week. No one to greet you at entrance at 7pm on a Friday night. OK menu, but scattered service (waitress, overheard: " I'm so BORED tonight."...then why weren't you checking your tables?) Slow cooked pork was distressingly bland. The meatloaf...no sauce "The chef isn't doing a sauce for meatloaf right now" very dry, had to resort to ketchup. Said they'd been open a month. There's no energy or interest from the management -- with only 4 tables occupied while we were there, you'd think they'd stop by to check in. They do have patio seating. We're full-time Sarasota residents, and this isn't on our "return to" list. Galileo next
One day. lunch and dinner in Monaco on a cruise stop.
Would love a Michelin recommendation. 4 people, 3 of us fairly casual :) But all that appreciate finely crafted food. So, al fresco? Fabulous food?
Would also appreciate a local spot, more casual ( though not cheap/comfort food) that has good historic charm or just charm, al fresco a plus.
Any recommendations for the day tourist greatly appreciated!
(cross posted on "international" )
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Need a Saturday lunch near downtown ( and good shopping that is arts oriented for gifts, if possible!!) and a spot for Sunday dinner near NE 15th Ave. Visiting older friends-- nice restaurant, but not over the top--there will be an argument over who is treating!. Steaks, pasta, American cuisine, full bar. Any recommendations, gratefully accepted. We will have a car, so anything in the 2-4 or so mi area, good.
PS we'll be coming again, so if you miss this time frame, still appreciate your input!
Thank you all for your input -- it was extremely helpful! A brief recap:
We did go to Graham Eliot--prompt greeting, nice ambience, though the table lighting could have been better designed. Servers knowledgeable and helpful. Noise level OK--you could hear yourself and your companions. The interpretations of the food were quite innovative-- one person had an outstanding piece of sturgeon, thick and moist, though the presentation lacked color. I had the beef tartare, which was chunky and well seasoned. Another person had the beef stroganoff, which was on top of spaetzle, a long strip cut in pieces at an angle, cooked blood rare. More description of that dish from the server would have been helpful, as the expectation of stroganoff overall is "cooked more than I would like it cooked." :) Overall, it was a good dinner, and we would probably return.
Ending up at the SOFA show on Navy Pier, we were of course offered the option of pre-packaged sandwiches and such. One member of our group knew about Riva, there in the exhibit hall area. Medium-upscale seafood, good service, decent wine options. We had a great lunch, mostly salads, but very fresh seafood, and a great view of the lake--in a very bright and bustling neo-Euro atmosphere with a charming server that actually responded to additional requests (!) far surpassing anything "indoors" -- well worth the short walk. Worth, in fact, coming to without attending a show.
We went out of our "zone" to Uncle Juloio's Hacienda (855 W. North Ave) for dinner. A recommendation from a Chicagoan transplanted to Boston, we went on faith. (Mexican, Chicago, off the grid--) WELL. What a fabulous surprise. It bested the Mexican food we'd had in Texas the week prior, coming in with meaty tamales and enchiladas that were fresh, filled with moist beef or chicken, with your choice of sauces. The side salad was large, with decent tomatoes, and the guacamole was good if not exceptional. While the atmosphere was loud, the color palette was more sophisticated than expected, and the artwork tilted to modern, with good lighting. Food quality was excellent, and the tostadas were crisp, thin, and perfect with the charred salsa. Would definitely go again. Cheerful service. A chain, so can only vouch for the location above. And it was less than a $10 ride from downtown.
The next day, we ventured to India House ( thanks for the recommendation!!) It was
The food was good. We knew our limitations with 2 people, so ordered Lamb Shik kabob ( well made, moist but not mushy, very generous portion) and aloo gobi, which had a lot of big chunks of potato, then large cuts of cauliflour. Flavorful, but a bit unwieldy -- and only a fair amount of flavor at "medium" -- They started with bits of naan, cut for dipping in a slightly spicy tomato sauce -- it was good, and a good starter. Service was OK but slow, no real interaction -- we'd probably go back, if we were in town for a number of days.
Again, many thanks for the ideas! We enjoyed trying new options in Chicago!
My husband and I are coming to Chicago next week, staying just off Michigan Ave on Delaware. No car, so cab or walking best. Three requests:
1 We've been to Tru, Les Nomades, Topolobampo, Frontera, MK's, Spiggia, C. Trotter's, Bin 36 -- not that interested in repeating unless there's been a big change in one of those. Alinea is off the list because my husband has some food allergies, and needs to pick his menu. That said, we'd like to find a good restaurant (doesn't have to be ultra top tier) near our hotel (short cab ride) -- American, Italian, French, Latin, noise level not too high, would be great. Would appreciate any suggestions with those criteria. Have considered Graham Elliott, would appreciated info on it if anyone has feedback on it.
2.In addition, it would be great to have Indian suggestions -- read the previous post about Devon St, -- it was an older post, would appreciated any additional ideas, espec inside the loop.
3. Late evening one night, would like something that is good for 9pm or so on the quicker, homier side-- like Bistro 110, but new -- in the downtown loop if possible.
Many thanks for whatever insights you can share!