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May 1, 2012 03:08 PM

Sarasota/LBK Help!

I've read every post here, Fodors, TripAdvisor, Yelp. I know this is not exactly the right term but I feel "mission creep" has set in.

We have vacationed here four years I think, always in the summer, out of "season". Off the top of my head the places we have eaten at and would consider returning to: Euphemia Haye, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Columbia, Lazy Lobster, The Sandbar, Bern's (hellish drive with construction). The only place we really have to go to is Columbia because even though the food isn't that great we always have a great time, the Sangria I suppose..

So here is the deal. I need for Longboat and Veggo to each give me a six night itinerary. 2-3 fine dining, 2-3 upscale casual, 2-3 fried seafood joints.

Thank you for your cooperation. : )

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  1. kengk: Flattered you asked, here’s my list per your category and number of restaurants requested. There are others I would put into the upscale casual list if you asked for more. As always your mileage may vary.

    Fine dining:
    Maison Blanche (closed for part of July, open most of August)
    Beach Bistro
    Michael’s or Vernona (depending on the atmosphere you prefer – there’s a huge difference between the two).

    Upscale Casual:

    The Table or Tommy Bahamas

    Fried Seafood Joints

    Can’t help here, don’t eat fried beachy-type food. Lazy Lobster is a step up from a fried seafood joint and is as close as I get. ;-)

    3 Replies
    1. re: Longboat

      I've got the fried joint for you...Star Fish in Cortez. It's dockside and super funky. Great conch fritters, seafood chowder, etc. Not sure stone crabs will be in season then but if they are, they're good. You can't get more casual that this's literally on the docks with picnic tables. Really fun!

      1. re: Longboat

        The Prix Fixe menu at Maison Blanche sounds really good.
        My wife doesn't drink wine. How will I do ordering by the glass with that menu I wonder?

        1. re: kengk

          Maison Blanche was a one star Michelin restaurant in Paris (I lived in Paris but didn’t know the restaurant then) – which is a very high rating indeed. People throw around “star” ratings here but Michelin only goes to three stars and any stars at all is huge. The owners (husband chef, wife hostess) moved here and didn’t miss a beat. No booze at Maison Blanche, just wine and beer. No worries about wine by the glass, they have a good ones, both colors, including a very good champagne. You might just stick with that. That’s a serious comment, by the way. Champagne goes with both fish and meat dishes -- and spicy dishes too. Pretty much anything. Oftentimes Champagne is also the relative best buy on a wine list and when it is I just order a bottle and drink it with dinner all the way through.

      2. My turn.

        fine dining - A 2nd for Beach Bistro, a sleeper is Ezra in Bradenton.

        upscale/ casual - Half Shell Oyster House - new, I highly recommend the grilled oyster combo and the shrimp. I like the Sarasota Ceviche - cool building, half price tapas on the rooftop level on some days. I'm a Columbia fan also, especially the paella and 1905 salad with spiced shrimp.

        fried seafood joints- Captain Brians, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Star fish is maybe the best but it closes early and no dinner Sun. & Mon. Great for lunch. Cortez Kitchen nearby works for dinner.

        1. The tasting menu at Beach Bistro is calling my name. Maybe will go during the middle of the week and it won't be too crowded.

          1. Started making reservations at the places on Open Table, was reminded that the Sunday we will be there is Mother's Day. Where is a good place to eat dinner that night? In other words, what is the best place that no one would want to take mom to?

            3 Replies
            1. re: kengk

              Mother’s Day (and Valentine’s Day) are probably the two worst restaurant days of the year. Virtually all restaurants are jammed, there’s usually a limited menu, the kitchen is stressed – which means the servers are stressed. Reservations are at a premium and you’ll probably end up waiting even with reservations, particularly if they don’t know you. I don’t normally like buffets but the Ritz Carlton (Vernona) often has buffets on holidays and that’s one way to go. Vernona is usually good about tables being ready at the time reserved and because it’s a buffet (or at least I think it may be on Mother’s Day) a lot of the server and kitchen problems disappear. Tommy Bahamas is usually good about reservations too. They can always be counted on to be open for holidays and Sundays when other restaurants are often closed. Wherever you pick, make a reservation right away.

              1. re: Longboat

                Might just buy some shrimp and boil them up at our house for Sunday.

                Got reservations at Maison Blanche, really excited about trying it.

                Here is the lineup:

                Maison Blanche
                Beach Bistro
                Half shell
                Captain Brian's

                Star Fish for lunch one day.

            2. One more quick question; I actually like to get dressed up a little for dinner, if it is appropriate for the venue. Are any of the places on my list likely to have other men there wearing a sport coat?

              Part two: are any of these places air conditioned to the point that a cold natured person like myself might need a jacket for warmth?

              3 Replies
              1. re: kengk

                On sports jackets: no place in Sarasota requires one. I tend to wear a sports jacket to Vernona, which is sort of elegant, but that’s the only place I wear one and it’s sort of just to get into the “feel” of the place. . Summer in Sarasota gets very casual at the restaurants but at Beach Bistro and Maison Blanche you’re still going to want to wear collared shirts. At Patti’s you’ll want a collared shirt but can wear nice shorts with it instead of slacks. I’ve seen shorts at Beach Bistro but I wouldn’t wear shorts there nor would I wear shorts to Maison Blanche. And if you really do like to put on sports jackets, a lot of men will be wearing them at Beach Bistro and some men will be wearing them at Maison Blanche and so go for it.

                Like you, I get cold from air conditioning and so I usually bring along a light jacket or sweater that I don’t put on if not needed. Pomona is always chilly but you’re not going there. Pattigeorge’s is not usually cold, nor is Maison Blanche but Beach Bistro sometimes is.

                1. re: Longboat

                  Again, the great generational/cultural divide surfaces; as the demographic of Sarasota/Longboat Key/S.W.Fl is decidely skewed to the retired plus plus crowd , there is a distinct difference in dress between the groups. First as Longboat mentioned, some restaurants, nice places, good food,etc. are catering to the older crowd, thus there is more resort casual attire to be seen. While the more current and/or cutting edge places one does not see any jackets, i.e Darwin's, Lan, State Street, Selva, to name a few. This is more a generational thing, as work attire has evolved, not always for the better, in my opinion, to at the extreme, casual grunge office wear.
                  In any case as SRQ/LBK are primarily tourist destinations you will not be out of place in any area restaurant with Casual Wear to Resort Casual.

                  1. re: ospreycove

                    Starfish in Cortez, Indigenous in Sarasota.