What Savvy Diners say
about Sarasota-area restaurants
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Squadron 44 (Steak/Seafood), Venice
Reviewed by Roger K. on 7-21-00 / meal: Dinner / party of: 6 / spent: $140 / Food: Excellent / Kid_Friendly: Very Good / Service: Excellent / Value: Excellent / Cleanliness: Excellent / Ambience: Excellent / Overall: Excellent / Return?: Yes / Recommend?Yes
Food and service were superb. A unique dining experience with good food, service and ambience. The restaurant is decorated in WWII artifacts. Augie, our waiter, was very attentive and accomodating. We all had meals which were different and everyone enjoyed the experience and thought the value was good. I really enjoyed the shrimp, ribs and filet combo. If you get daring you can try the 40 oz challenge on the menu. Try this for a uique setting and good food at reasonable price.
Alday's BBQ, Sarasota
Alday's is BACK! If you enjoyed the best Bar-B-Q in town when Alday's was open on Clark Road, now you can enjoy them for lunch Mon. - Thurs. from 11am to 2:30pm and Fri. from 11am to 6:30pm. Carryout only, but they have two picnic tables outside the store if you can't wait to get back to the office to eat. We enjoyed Chicken and Beef Baskets complete with Baked Beans & Coleslaw. Same great taste I remember. They even cater parties.
All Star Steakhouse,
Food was fresh, salads made on premises, hamburger freshly ground, all exactly as we ordered it. This is a real sleeper. A sports bar with excellent food. Discount coupons can usually be found in the Shopper's Guide on Wednesday, which makes it even more of a bargain. Check this one out!
Althea's, Downtown Venice, FL
This is the third time we have tried Althea's since the new owners took over, and it has not improved. Tables are on top of one another, noisey, food only just "good", service lackadaisical.Three strikes, they are out.
Anna Maria Oyster Bar Seafood)
We had disappointing appetizers so did not order any further. The crabcake was mostly breading and the lobster bisque tasted mostly like cheese instead of lobster. We had also inquired if there were chunks of lobster in the bisque; the answer was yes. When it came, it was just soup with tiny specks of lobster meat. We didn't think the pricing justified what we got.
Anna Maria Oyster Bar (seafood)
Service very good and food above average. Each had different entrees and all were satisfied with quantity and quality. A nice selection of seafood and good service. One of our favorites. The only word of caution is, the noise level is also above average. This makes onversation-difficult, especially with larger parties.
Anna Maria Oyster Bar (seafood)
Always consistant high-quality food. It's our favorite seafood place!
Anthony's (Italian), Sarasota
Loved the food and the atmosphere. My husband & I went last nite and it was, as before, a wonderful experience. We are never disappointed. I had the famous, talked about, award winning Crab Cakes (100%) lump crab meat with a sun dried tomato and garlic aioli. It also came with a risotto Milanese with toasted pine nuts in it. The taste was extraordinary. My husband loved his Veal Marsala. We also had the Italian Wedding Soup which we both thought a little too salty and the macaroni was a little overcooked but very tasty. Our salads were fresh and dressings were delicious. They serve Italian bread with a superb dipping sauce. My husband had the Tiramisu which is made on the premises and one of the best we have tasted in Sarasota. $55.00 with a glass of wine just for one was an outstanding value. We will be back!
BangKok Thai, Sarasota
Beautiful place with wonderful food. We had to wait 30 minutes for a table but it was well worth it. Service was very attentive, water glasses constantly refilled etc. The waiter helped us make our choices and was very cooperative. Our guest was delighted with the entire experience.
Barnacle Bill's, (seafood)
Fish is very Fresh! Couldn't get better elsewhere! My husband and I had stuffed mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat which was the best we have tasted in a long time. Mushrooms were very nice and white and piled high with the crabmeat and the sauce was excellent! We then had the salads which are always fresh with the raspberry/walnut vinegarette. I had Pecan Crusted Grouper (Superb)! and my husband had Shrimp Scampi over Linguine; he said it was excellent, BUT the linguine was overdone. With 2 glasses of wine it was a great value! We will be back.
Barnacle Bill's, (seafood)
They do not 'please the customer'! Comments: I arrived ahead of our group, and told the hostess there will be 7 people. She would *not* put 2 tables together (as one of our party was in a wheelchair) so we were seated at a booth. My grandmother, in the wheelchair, had to lean way over in front of her just so she could eat.
I ordered the flounder, they say they can cook it all sorts
of ways, I wanted it breaded and fried, the waitress said 'They won't do that'.
NOTE: they *do* have a breaded, fried grouper sandwich!! So then I asked for the chicken
sandwich, breaded and fried, the waitress said 'They cannot do that'. NOTE: they
*do* have a breaded, fried chicken fingers basket!! So on that note, I ordered a burger,
Medium Well, and when I began to eat it,
Barnacle Bill's (seafood),
Food was excellent and service was prompt and attentive. I ordered Seafood Strudel... a combination of lobster, crab, shrimp and scallops in a sherry cream sauce wrapped in pastry... my guest ordered cashew-encrusted Grouper. We both had rice for the "starch"; mixed vegetables (perfectly cooked) accompanied the meal. We had house salad... mixed greens with raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing. The entire meal was excellent... served piping hot; a nice presentation. We arrived at 6:45 and were told there would be about a 20 minute wait ... looked like about 10 or so people ahead of us. We were seated in just under 15 minutes. The dining experience was very satisfying to me and my guest.
We sat at a table in the bar area; I was facing the cooler case where the fresh fish selections were displayed. I noticed there were people who came in buy fish to take home and prepare themselves. The thing that I really enjoyed, however, was watching the chef (or possibly his assistant) come out to the case to retrieve the selected fish for the next dinner he was preparing. I watched him filet, etc. and then take it back to the kitchen to work his magic!
Beach House, Anna
Mellow atmosphere. Great place to sip a beer and watch the sun set on the gulf. A favorite place to relax -- sit outside, almost right on the beach, there's nice live music - you can get sandwiches or complete meals, and the prices are quite fair. Service can be spotty, but this last time, excellent. Reminds us of the keys and other Old Florida sites.
Big Kitchen, Clark Rd at
The best matzoh ball soup and Pastrami in the area!
Bijou Cafe, (Continental)
Won't rush back for quite awhile--it was a disappointing experience with some special out of towners. 2 of six were not particularly pleased--one of three roast duck was 50% fat and a veal portion was described as insufficient. Air conditioning was heavily blowing on the table; noise level was excessive.
Not recommended during season--for a fine restaurant the noise and food quality left considerable room for improvement. By the time one selects a meal, adds a salad and coffee, the price is $30+ per and you still have to add tax/tip. Two complimented the chef for the escargot; fish chowder was good but no raves were heard. Caesar salad was tastey but a little heavy on the croutons and cheese. Coffee was absent aroma and good hearty coffee taste. All in all--not up to Bijou quality!
Bijou Cafe, (Continental)
Poor service for prices charged. Having been a regular at Cafe Bijou 12 years ago when it first opened we were very disappointed in our two visits within the past week. Had to stir coffee with knife because no spoon accompanied it; had to pour out our own $48 bottle of wine. Just not good enough for a restaurant of this so-called calibre when there are plenty of other good choices in Sarasota.
Bistro at Island's End,
(American menu), Anna Maria Island
The preparation of food has changed, and not for the better. Now just an average dining experience. We have been to this restaurant many times. I always go there to order one particular dish that I enjoy. This time the preparation changed and it was not nearly as good as in the past.
Bob's Boathouse, Siesta Key,
Nice casual restaurant for lunch, with a view of the intracoastal waterway, awesome fish sandwich is more than a meal in size! A fun place for lunch, attentive waitstaff, nice warm "chowda" on a rainy day, large servings for lunch time! Good selection of lunch salads and sandwiches are a cut above those at most other restaurants we've tried! Nice casual atmosphere, Great loaf of warm bread served with pewter bread dishes! Awesome 'crunchy' grouper sandwich!
Bob's Boathouse, Siesta Key,
If they don't serve a decent lunch, I won't try dinner. The bread served was cold, stale and tasteless. One of my lunchmates had the deli sandwich - the bread was stale. Two of us ordered grouper fingers. We were served crusted fingers of an unrecognizable fish. For what is purported to be a "fish" restaurant, this is most discouraging, and is not conducive to a return visit.
Bob's Boathouse, Siesta Key,
Limited menu with expensive prices for bland food. Very bland food. Kitchen not willing to take special request BUT on menu is the offer "we will do anything to make you dining more enjoyable. Bernaise-waiter never heard of it & kitchen refused to make. Cold sauteed mushrooms, undercooked yam, no garlic in shrimp scampi, need I say more? We should've known we were in trouble when we asked 2 different staff members what they would recommend & niether would reply! For the money we spent I would rather go to the Summerhouse.The wine list at Bobs Boathouse is bigger than the dinner selection. Please don't go there expecting a large seafood listing you would have more choices at the Oriental Buffet. Yes we attempted to speak to manager but he seemed too busy to chat with us. Seems the cute little cashier was much more fun to talk to. It was not extremely busy for a Friday night. I think the parking lot looks full from employees! If you liked it good for you, you were lucky! But I will definately will not waste my money or a kid free evening there again!
Cafe Campestre, (Mexican) Sarasota
Outrageous food for a very reasonable price. Adorable and affordable! Myself and 3 girlfriends went to try this restaurant tonite. It was just superb! We started off at the bar with of course Margaritas. Big, substantial, and top-shelf liquor. I gave the bartender the coupon I saw in the paper that if you mentioned it you got free hors d'ouvres. Tortilla chips with salsa and this wonderful cheesey dip that was to die for. I could have made a meal of this alone. We proceeded to the dining room which was decorated adorably and had a wonderful dinner. I had Sopa Azteca: strips of salsa chips in this med. hot tomato soup. Hard to describe but very different and most delicious. I had a Michocan Platter with so much food on it, I couldn't believe it. Presentation was awesome. I took half home. For dessert: Apple raisin cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, kahula, and caramel sauce. Ate the whole thing! A great experience and all only for $23.00 including a glass of wonderful Chardonnay. Service was superior. My friends loved their dinners and we agreed to return.
Cafe Amici, (Italian), Sarasota
Ambiance was like a tennis club coffee shop and very noisy. Server was innatentive. Dip for bread tasted like bottled salad dressing. Antipasto appetizer contained a tasteless fresh (?) mozzarella, No salads were included with entrees. Veal Picatta entree was a very small portion with no lemon present and a bland sauce. Marinara sauce tasted like watery stewed tomatoes with no flavor. We were never offered any coffee or dessert.
Place was small and noisy, food poorly prepared and not a good value, service was innatentive. Sarasota has too many good, enjoyable restaurants to tolerate this.
Cafe Baci, (N. Italian),
We are returning this weekend with a large party. What more can I say except the staff makes you feel like they are glad you came and I like that attitude.
Cafe L'Europe (New European) St Armands, Sarasota
Cafe L'Europe has to be one of the best restaurants in Sarasota. Food was fabulous. But even better was the service. If you're willing to spend a little more, it's well worth it.
If you haven't tried Cafe L'Europe, you need to. This was my first time there, and it's now among my favorite places in Sarasota. Can't wait to get there again. It's not cheap. But the service and food make you forget about the bill anyway.
Cafe L'Europe (New European Cuisine),
St Armands, Sarasota
Our party thoroughly enjoyed one of the restaurant's "Cheese Seminars." We started the evening with a sampling of several French and Dutch cheeses made from either cow's, goat's or sheep's milk. They were skillfully matched to a variety of delightful wines, both red and white, by Chef Jeff. After the cheese and wine tasting we enjoyed a superb dinner, complemented by a very special bottle of Brunello de Montalcino. All six of us found plenty on the new menu to delight our tastebuds. It was hard deciding what to have. We'll go back very soon!
Cafe Portofino, (Italian)
Incredible food at reasonable prices. Excellent chef. Desserts are also very good. We eat here at least once a week and everything on the menu is incredible. Casual, relaxed, yet quaint. Owned by 3-4 brothers who are very attentive. Lot's of personality and atmosphere.
We really enjoy the food. It is different than any other Italian restaurant. The meals are presented very nicely and the flavor is special. We always enjoy the food and the people. Highly recommend it!
Cang Tong 111 (Chinese), Sarasota
Good Cantonese cooking. Recommended dishes: Butterfly shrimp (9.95) was superb - 10 shrimp topped with bacon placed on top of an onion sweet sour sauce; mu shu pork (6.95) was a large, tasty order served with thin pancakes; and seafood delight (11.95) had lots of chunks of seafood, including lobster,and veggies. Each dish had a distinctive sauce rather than soy, soy, soy. I'm Chinese American and I think this is one of the better Chinese restaurants in Sarasota.
Capalbo's, (Italian) Bradenton
This is a VERY casual family-type Italian restaurant which is BEST KNOWN (and deservedly so) for its "pizza buffet." It's really a bargain! If you get a newspaper coupon it could be as cheap as less than $5 with tax and tip per person. It's a real value meal which for the excellent homemade soup, great crispy thin pizzas of considerable variety and very good salad bar, a customer cannot find fault. I am pleased to report Capalbo's is about to open a third location on East Fruitville Road. This combined with the two in Bradenton should give ample opportunity for many unfamiliar with it to give it a try! I have never ordered anything. Always (for more than nine years), I head there for the pizza buffet. Try it, you will like!
Captain Brian's Seafood/Fish
Market, No. Sarasota.
A great place for excellent fresh fish. The wait was short now but later probably not. The whole experience was very good,and I like the idea that there is no smoking. All restaurants should be that way. I would definatly go back and tell others to go also. We eat out at least once a week, on weekends.
Casey Key Fish House, Osprey
Good fresh fish and nice bay view setting. Mary, our waitress served us promptly and in a friendly manner. We came at a fairly slow time and she was able to spend time explaining the menu to us in detail. All of us had fish dinners prepared with fresh fish with wonderful toppings. My mahi mahi was topped with three shrimp and a nice light sauce. Fish and chips were properly done. We all had clam chowder which had a different taste than I'm accustomed to; delicious. Try some if you go. The porch setting overlooks the docks and bay. There is a separate stilt bar where you can enjoy cocktails. We didn't go there, but intend to go back to try it. We'll certainly return and recommend you try it.
Chart House, (AmerAsian), Longboat
The view is beautiful and the food is outstanding. My husband & I were there twice in the last month and a half. Both times the A/C was out. Very uncomfortable. Please call ahead to check to see if the A/C is working. We will make sure we will do the same before going back again. We would have never believed that the 2nd time we were there the A/C was bad again. The waitress told us they got a new unit last month and this one broke down. They should really seek better A/C contractors that come out on weekends, especially with the restaurant business. She told me that had to wait till Monday. Terrible!!!
Chart House, (American), Longboat Key,
We had a large lunch and thought we would have a light fare of appetizers and whatever for dinner. We started with the crab chowder. I really enjoyed the aroma and taste, maybe a strong sherry? I grazed the salad bar with nothing exceptional. Next was coconut crusted jumbo shrimp and calamari. The taste was wonderful but two shrimp and four pieces of calamari for $10 is a bit much, even though we did have an exception table overlooking the inlet. We have had some great seared ami tuna in the past. Not at Sign of the Mermaid on Anna Maria where it was very sinewy, and not here where it had so much pepper on it that you couldn't taste the tuna. The crab cakes were ok and the almond crusted grouper was good but made the eater sick to his stomach. Our spirits were restored when the chocolate lava cake appeared. Even though I am not a chocolate eater, I had no trouble eating a large portion. The foundation is a thick brownie cake with melted chocolate oozing out from unde! ! r a larger scoop of vanilla ice cream placed on top of the brownie. The ice cream is covered with a fine dusting of ground nuts and topped with a lit candle. The atmosphere is great, but I'm sorry, $100 for a few appetizers, one meal one dessert and no drinks?
Chef Paul's (American) N.
Reasonable prices; competent cooking. The restaurant's breakfast specialty is eggs benedict. It is the best traditional benedict in town.
Chef's Corner, (Eclectic ethnic menu)
Very Romantic Place. Food and service are Superb! My husband and I and friends decided to try this place for dinner. For an appetizer I had Eggplant Rollitini and my husband had the Pasta Fagiolio. Both homemade and the best we've had so far since we left N.J. All 4 salads were terrific; the dressing is hard to describe but fantastic. My husband and our friend had Chicken Marsala. I had Pollo Genovese (Chicken Breast with white wine, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and a very light sauce with Spaghetti Squash as a side and 2 boiled potates. Our friend's wife had Salmon over rice which was large, cooked to perfection and a light dill sauce over it. We had a bottle of Kendal Jackson Chardonnay Wine, Bread and butter. We were all satisfied and very happy campers. Our waitress Wendy was also excellent and very cheerful. Great personality. We will definitely be back. In fact we're going again next Saturday evening.
Chef's Corner, Downtown
Yet again an other superb meal at Jack Ovalia's great restaurant. Thursday night is Paella Night, the best we've tasted outside Barcelona. What a great venue this would be for a Savvy Diners Night Out!
China Blossom, Longboat Key
No worse and certainly no better than most Chinese restaurants in the area. Why or why can't we have a decent Chinese in Sarasota?
Coasters, (Eclectic), Sarasota
Enjoyed our meal, though I thought some entrees over-priced. Can't beat the dock-side setting! Enjoyed the music; pleasant, but not so loud it drowned out conversation. Great bread. My husband enjoyed his "admiral's platter" which was "almost too much to eat" (he managed to struggle through)! I had angel hair pasta with shitake mushrooms, very tasty, but a little overcooked and pricey. Friends enjoyed their fish.
Coral Rock Cafe, Nokomis, FL
Great value! Quiet, nice atmosphere, good food quality. Coral Rock was having a summer special with, (I think), 5 items to choose from for $9.95. Although the meal didn't include a salad, entree and side dishes were substantial. Warm rolls served with butter. I had Cod which was done perfectly with a light top coating of flavored bread crumbs. This was accompanied by yellow rice and steamed green and yellow zucchini. My friend had medallions of filet mignon: Prepared well, but lacked flavor; my guess is they cook with little or no salt. Some salt and pepper did the trick. With each of us having either a glass of wine or a beer, for a total under $30, (plus tip), it was certainly a bargain.
Crab Trap 2, (Seafood),
Good food; nice view; good service; good value! We had heard that this restaurant was good, so stopped on the way home from the airport. Crab cakes were fine; enjoyed everything. Although we arrived about 7, there was no wait and we had a nice table with a good view.
Crow's Nest, (Seafood), Venice,
Stopped for drinks and appetizers. After our 1st round, STILL did not receive appitizer. Reminded waitress who really didn't care. Halfway through our 2nd round of drinks, cancelled the appetizer and decided to leave. We went somewhere else to eat! Appetizers were sitting under the light when we left....waitress never tried to make good. There must be better places in Venice to eat than The Crow's Nest! Both times we went service was TERRIBLE!
Cuoco Matto, (Italian),
Probably won't return during "season": Recommend: with qualifications. We dropped in before the Jazz concert for a light early supper; that's easy to get at Cuoco Matto. Pizza is super-thin crusted and delicious; salads fresh and well prepared BUT the noise level is extremely unpleasant - almost impossible to converse with your table mates! So, although it is convenient and just right for pre-theater or concert meal, we will probably avoid it during the season, and just go when the town empties out a bit. The noise can really be a turn-off.
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