Indigenous in Sarasota?
As usual, I’m a contrarian on this site. I don’t bother you much anymore with my views and principally read the site simply to find out information about new restaurants. That said, the genuflecting toward Indigenous is a little hard to take, particularly the virtual advertisement from ThreeKitcheneers. I liked Indigenous OK enough when it was the Canvas Café and it’s OK also now, but when someone on the board tries to figure out whether to dine at Indigenous or Michaels based on the quality of food – well, that’s going too far in Indigenous admiration.
We made reservations some months back on a Saturday night and was told that the only inside table available for our group of 5 was in the bar room and I remembered that from the Canvas days and said OK. What we weren’t told was that the bar would be crowded on Saturday night and that people would be falling all over our table and we couldn’t hear conversations. So, with no other table available, we left. We then returned for a two top on a weeknight. We don’t like dining outside, get bit up, and so we again reserved inside. We were in that little room on the right just after you enter the restaurant. It was tight and what others might call cozy, I call cramped. We each ordered appetizers and a main course. One dish was very good and the other three all had an off-taste about them. It wasn’t a question of quality but rather an issue of pairing ingredients that don’t pair well just to be different. You see this a lot in restaurants today as chefs try to be unique. The food network doesn’t help. The only restaurant in town that pulls this off well is Derek’s, which is excellent. Needless to say, we didn’t “spontaneously burst into tears” over Chef Steve’s cuisine. Nor is “elegant” I word I would use to describe the place. And by the way, if a chef has worked all over town – there may be a message there that ain’t necessarily good.
That said, I like Chef Steve and am happy for his current success. Indigenous is good for Sarasota. The place is crowded and if you want to dine outdoors it really is an excellent choice. It's OK to like a restaurant for a lot of reasons (ambiance, outdoor dining -- to name a couple) without putting its food into a category above where it belongs.
I ate at Indigenous last night, and I thought it was AWESOME. As a frequent visitor to the Sarasota area, I've been to most of the best restaurants in the area, and this was as good as ANY of them. Just fantastic.
Two of the dishes were standouts (and all the rest were very good as well). The parmesan beignets appetizer were amazing - so very very light, with only a slight sweetness to them (these are still savory beignets, not dessert beignets). I also loved the braised short ribs entree. Alongside the short ribs were another amazing item, a "sweet potato cobbler" - in the shape of a muffin (or individual souffle), light and crumbly and moist, just a wonderful addition to the plate. Other things I enjoyed included a nice gazpacho and a light buttermilk panna cotta for dessert.
Chef really excels in serving foods that are full of delicious flavor, yet also light rather than heavy. The service was excellent. I love the layout, with a long outdoor patio and a series of small indoor rooms, all of which make the place seem very intimate. I disagree with the comments above; that intimacy, combined with the excellent personal service, makes this as elegant as any place in town (but if you want to come casual, that's fine too).
THIS IS A GREAT RESTAURANT. Great food, great service, great atmosphere. I don't rave about restaurants unless I try them and decide for myself that they deserve it. Indigenous does. Based on my dinner last night, it deserves the highest praise indeed.
239 S. Links Ave.