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Need a great restaurant in Sarasota

Will be in Sarasota beginning of June to celebrate my mom's 70th birthday. Need a great special occasion (i.e. money is not a problem) restaurant to take her to. All of us really care about great food and I would love to impress her on this special day.
Thanks in advance for any and all help.
Someone recommended a restaurant, I believe Michael's was the name. It was a while ago, but I definitely remember a man's name.

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  1. I recently saw http://www.dereks-sarasota.com/ mentioned on here. I haven't been but it seemed to get good reviews from people here. I plan on going and trying out their pretty creative menu when I'm on the gulfside of florida next month

    2 Replies
    1. re: catlike

      I was in Sarasota this last week end. Several years ago I had a very nice dinner at Michael's on East. The telephone book in my hotel listed Michael's on East as a catering and wine shop so I wound up taking my guest to Fleming's which is on the east side of U.S. 41 just north of Bee Ridge. I realize that Flemoing's is a chain (albeit upscale) - the ambiance and the food were outstanding, and the service was good. Their wine list is something else (although nothing like Bern's) and they do offer flights.

      1. re: catlike

        I also recommend Derek's. They have a more progressive menu than a lot of the places you'll find in the area. That being said, if you're looking for something a little more traditional for your mom's birthday, I'd suggest the Beach Bistro (beachbistro.com) on Anna Maria Island.

      2. Zoria's!!! I think it's the best restaurant in town. The food is consistently great, they have a good wine list and fantastic service. We go to Zoria's whenever we're in Sarasota and we've never been disappointed. My favorite appetizer is the gorgonzola tortellini in the brown butter sauce. It's divine!

        1. Derek's Eclectic Cuisine is where it's at! They have some of the most imaginitive dishes I've seen on this coast, a great winelist and the atmosphere is utterly charming. I can't think of a better special occasion restaurant.

          3 Replies
          1. re: laboheme

            Michael's on East is my fave. It is one of the best restaurants in the state. Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key is also wonderful. Marina Jack's is not a great restaurant, although they have a super seared tuna appetizer, but they are right on the harbor. I have not been to Zoria's or Dereks, but hear good things about them.

            1. re: phneale

              Thanks everyone. I think we will try Michaels the first night and Dereks the second. I believe my Mom hasn't been to either one. I was a little pessimistic about finding a good restaurant, but now I feel we have 2 potential good ones.

              1. re: WestfieldFoodie

                These two are not my choices because of several reasons. Michaels is very very overated, and Dereks is very very noisy, and difficult to listen to the person across the table, and I don't find their food extraordinary. My choices would be the Table on Hillview, and Beach Bistro. The Table is excellent, different, hip, and the in place of Sarasota..... Beach Bistro is one of the top best 20 restaurants in FLORIDA. A meal you will not forget. A little expensive, but someplace where you do not go but only on very special occasions. You are physically on the beach in Anna Marie, with exceptional service, etc. etc.
                Good Luck whereever you go, and let us know. Irwin

          2. we went to selva grill last weekend...it was wonderful and just what you're looking for...enjoy and hb

            1 Reply
            1. re: sandra

              Thanks so much. Now I'm confused again. I'm thinking we will try Beach Bistro and Selva Grill.

              I will definitely let you all know how it works out. I appreciate everyone's input.


            2. I agree with Irwin - Michael's on East is overrated. Its ok food, service is a little snobbish. They do have a nice piano bar and the decor is great.

              The Table is awesome. Beach Bistro is massively expensive and its such a small place that it would be difficult to accommodate a large party. Its more of a romantic dinner at the beach type of place. Try "Cork" in St. Armands. Its brand new and the executive chef there was the exec chef at Beach Bistro. I was just at Zoria last weekend and was not impressed. Its nice but not a memorable experience.

              Euphemia Haye's Haye Loft features a dessert bar that is pretty amazing. The food there is good too, but I'd recommend the dessert bar if you are thinking of doing something after dinner.

              1 Reply
              1. re: steamykitchen

                Just returned from Sarasota area and tripped over "Cork" by accident...being self proclaimed foodies from New Orleans, we had what can only be described as a perfect meal! Downstairs brasserie style, upstairs more upscale. Chef came to the table and spoke with us for half an hour about his prep techniques...our mouths hummed all the way back to the hotel!

              2. There are so many really great restaurants in Sarasota that you'll probably have to take Mom out to dinner every day for a week just to hit the really great ones. My favorites are:
                The Bijou Cafe in downtown Sarasota (Top rated by Zagats for the Gulf Coast).
                Cafe L'Europe on St Armand's Circle. Truly a first class restaurant in every respect and, after dinner, you can take Mom on a leisurely stroll around the Circle and do some late night shopping. Out on Longboat Key there is PattiGeorges, excellent food and located right on the water. The owner/chef is the brother of the owner of Michaels on East. After dinner head over to Euphemia Haye for dessert (it's literally right down the street. If you don't mind a drive down to Siesta Key there's Ophelia's on the Bay, excellent food, wonderful atmosphere (right on the water) and, if Mom likes to eat outside they have tables just 2 feet from the waters edge. Last time I was there a pod of dolphins passed by during the meal. Truly magical. Whatever you choose I'm sure you won't be disappointed in your Sarasota dining experience.

                1. just returned from our annual spring break in long boat key/sarasota. my favorite area restaurant is MEDITERRANEO in sarasota, dependable & delicious Italian, went there twice in a week and it did not disappoint. went to ZORIA another night, enjoyed the steamed shrimp dumplings app and duck breast entree. on the downside we decided never to darken the door of PATTIGEORGE again, the service and reception there is downright unfriendly even hostile and the food is carelessly prepared and overly rich. Tried a new place in St Armands called the Bottle Shop, a bistro with good affordable winelist and a guy who may be the worst waiter I've ever had. We figured it will be better next year, or gone out of business.

                  1. i heartily recommend Southgate Gourmet is she's a real foodie..here's my review of it in a previous post

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sixelagogo

                      We tried to go to the Southgate Gourmet Friday evening, but they have closed. The sign on the door said "the fat lady has sung." To bad, recently discovered this place and really enjoyed it.

                      1. re: Wallace

                        oh no way!!!!...wow, what a dissapointment!!...is it for the season or for real?

                    2. For a memorable evening, one you'd really like to impress you mom with, I'd have to go with Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island. (It's a bit of a drive from Sarasota, but it's a beautiful trip up Longboat along the water.) The food is phenomenal, the view right on the Gulf of Mexico breathtaking, and the service is the best I've ever had. Professional, excellent service, but done warmly and genuinely, with no pretension. They know how to make a person feel special.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: livetoeat99

                        Thanks to everyone who recommended restaurants. We are back. We ended up going to Beach Bistro for my mom's birthday. The food was excellent. The service was fantastic. The only complaint I had was that although the food was great, it was extremely expensive. I feel like we could have gotten the same food elsewhere for a more reasonable price. That having been said, it was a really great restaurant and sometimes you just have to ante up. The staff was phenomenal. They gave my mom a special dessert and bought a round of after dinner drinks on the house. Really nice! Overall, quite satisfied.

                        1. re: WestfieldFoodie

                          so glad you enjoyed Beach Bistro......Please do not bitch about the price. You pay golden for the best.

                        2. re: livetoeat99

                          I second that motion !!!!
                          Its in the top 20 best restaurants in Florida !
                          They do make you feel special !
                          All their food is excellent.