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Feb 17, 2012 02:03 PM

Siesta Key/Sarasota late Feb- need reservations much ahead?

Looking forward to being down there (from PA) next week, the 21-27. It's our anniversary and we'd like to have some really nice food. Is there still time to reserve? Do I need to? Do it ASAP? I'm still researching, but from reading you nice chowish people there, I'm looking at Ophelia's, Javier's, Derek's, Pho Cali, Yoder's (I guess), and am open to suggestions. We like all kinds of food but hate stuffy/pretentious. Not that keen on lots of heavy, rich stuff either. Thanks for any help!

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  1. ASAP on reservations. You are in the height of the season. Two new restaurants that opened that are very good are Darwin's on 4th which I LOVE and The Savory Cafe....must have reservations at both. Another one is Puccini which is in a shopping mall at Clark and Swift....very small and also a must for reservations. Both Puccini and Savory bring your own wine, the difference is there is a $7.50 corkage fee at Savory and none at Puccini.


    1. The Half Shell Oyster Bar opened in Sarasota a month ago. I know the one in Gulfport MS and really enjoyed it, and a few hounds gave the new one a good review. ( Hey, if irwin likes it, is HAS to be good...!) I'll be back to try it in 2 weeks.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Irwin said that the food was good, but the service needed to be worked on. Maybe give it a little while to get it together. It was truly amazing how fast Darwin's was able to get it together...we were there about two weeks after it opened and everything was perfect.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            To borrow from John Belushi :
            LET'S DO IT !!
            Ospreycove is in Italy, I'll check with scubadoo97 because he doesn't leave for Puerto Rico until mid-month. I look forward to hoisting a few!

        1. I think for an anniversary Derek's would be an excellent choice. The food is very good and it's upscale enough to seem special for the occasion.

          5 Replies
          1. re: scubadoo97

            Thanks everyone so far. I have a res at Derek's and one at Ophelia's so far. Will check out Darwin's and the Savory Cafe. Geez, I spent HOURS looking on here at posts yesterday, and following links-- I love this site. What about recs for a good Cuban place to try? Not looking for anything fancy. We love hole-in-the-wall joints with good food too.

            1. re: rutabaga

              Cuban would be the Columbia at St. Armands Circle.

              1. re: Veggo

                Second that. Cuban and Spanish food

                1. re: Veggo

                  Oh, Darwin's looks really good! Got a reservation for Thursday. Do we need LUNCH reservations at all? My husband want to go to Yoder's and I want to go to The Savory Street. Still checking out the other restaurants you just mentioned, Veggo and Mother of four......

                  1. re: rutabaga

                    Don't think they take reservations at the Savory for lunch for parties less then six. Have only been there for dinner. I have never made resavations for lunch so I think you are fine going anywhere without them. Enjoy!

            2. Oh, one more question for you helpful people: how do people dress down there for dinner? Dress casual? Casual casual? Tank tops and shorts? I usually go with nice-but-comfortable, but if everyone else is in jeans and t shirts, I don't want to feel overdressed.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rutabaga

                Skip the tank tops and Tees and jeans. (Guy Harvey Tees get a pass). Pleated shorts & silk blouse or golf shirt for the ladies, golf shirts and chinos for the guys is fine. Tommy Bahama silk is a +. Tilley hats a +. Tevas, Docksiders, tasseled loafers all OK - no socks, please, unless you are over 90 as some are. Wrinked, faded linen is a +. Hey, we got million dollar rowboats here at Marina Jack!

                1. re: rutabaga

                  Capri's and a nice top for a nice restaurant for lunch, shorts (not short shorts unless you are in Siesta at one of the local places that are super casual) and a nice top will take you almost anywhere. In the evening mostly long pants and a nice top. For men shorts and golf shirt for lunch and for dinner a nice cotton shirt and a long pair of pants. For a very casual restaurant jeans are fine. You honestly see everything here from very nicely dressed people to slobs. I certainly wouldn't go to any of the restaurants I suggested, nor the one's you have reservations at in anything other then "country club casual"!!

                  1. re: Mother of four

                    Thanks. I feel prepared, thanks to you all.

                2. Check out the new restaurant " Maximo's" .... located on I believe First Street.....by the Opera House..............was before located at Siesta Key and the food was amazing!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: JohnWoodford

                    I just want to thank you folks. We had good food with your help. I really loved Darwin's. WOW is your tap water bad. Other than that, it was great to be there. The weather was perfect, which didn't hurt, and Marie Selby Gardens was a highlight. Okay, it's not food related, but I had to say it.
                    Derek's was good but if I wanted to nit pick, I could (but I don't). Thanks again.

                    1. re: rutabaga

                      Glad that you loved Darwin's! I'm not a huge fan of Derek's so I would be interested in hearing what you have to say. I seem to be one of the few that doesnt seem to feel that they are amazing.

                      1. re: Mother of four

                        Well okay, Mother of four- since you asked: we went to Derek's the night after Darwin's, so it was difficult not to notice that Darwin's was better. I do realize that it's not fair to judge by a one-time visit of just two people. Now that the disclaimers are out of the way: 1) nice space but some ugly wall elements 2) gumbo excellent but a little over-salted 3) never got rolls... finally asked and got some (right before dessert)- they were lovely and very rich (would've put a damper on my appetite if I'd had it before dinner, small though they are-- they're like cheese-enhanced mini brioche) 4) my haricots vert were undercooked 5) I had one of the "simple grills" (was in a simple mood after the wonderful flights of fancy the night before) and the salmon was fine, but the chimichurri was robbed by 90 % of its liveliness by too much cooking temp. 6) I made the mistake of ordering the "smores" for dessert. I thought it'd be fun and would be a grown-up version. Not. Although all the components were house-made and it was nicely presented, it was painfully, painfully sweet. It was every bit as sweet as a hershey bar and a campfire marshmallow inside a couple Honey Maid grahams. Kid stuff. I was very happy with our wine and the service was fine. Could've done without the frequent schmoozing forays of the man himself, but whatever. All in all it was good, but not great. Oh- almost forgot. One of the desserts was lavender-honey-poached pear with goat cheese ice cream and salted caramel-black pepper sauce. I would've had that, but I'd had THE IDENTICAL dessert the night before at Darwin's. I commented on it to the server and she said that someone who used to work at Derek's was now at Darwin's. Now I feel all nitpicky, but you asked.

                        1. re: rutabaga

                          Another picky little thing I forgot: if you wear dark pants/skirt, you get a black napkin. If you wear light-colored pants, you get a white napkin. It's so you don't have ugly napkin lint. Nice idea, but really silly to me. Those napkins don't shed lint. I rubbed my black napkin on the white tablecloth (sneakily), and nothing. So it's just for show. A little pretentious, maybe?

                          1. re: rutabaga

                            I like the napkin thing! Especially when I'm wearing black pants....a lot of the better restaurants do it, no biggie but a nice touch. I had the trio of ice, gelato and one other for dessert....one was worse then the other. I quietly called over the waiter and told him that I was not happy with it, actually three of us ordered the same thing and all felt the same. The waiter came over, listened to me then without saying a word walked away. Then a bit later the Chef arrives with a very arrogant attitude, he listened then walked away. That was it...they deducted it from our check and not another word was spoken. Have not been back since...too many other good restaurants to go to whose owner chefs don't have an attitude! They have to learn that it's the customers that are keeping them in business and whether they like it or not they better make them happy or they won't be back.
                            Not nitpicky at all, for their prices you should have a wonderful meal and everything that goes along with it.

                            1. re: rutabaga

                              Sorry you had a problem with Derek's. I have been several times and all visits were without issues or I wouldn't have recommended it. I don't recommend too many places

                              I too am looking for new venues when in the area that chowhounds find exceptional

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                Scubadoo97, I don't know if you were talking to me or to Mother of four just now, but as for me, I enjoyed the meal. Everything I wrote was only because M.o.f. wanted to know details of what I DIDN"T like about it. Overall, it was a good meal.