Monthly Archives: June 2012

Pop Craft Pops: Sarasota Farmer’s Market. Sarasota, FL

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It was a HOT day at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market today. Not a cloud in the sky and pushing at least 90 degrees, what better way to cool off than with a delicious, refreshing, icy cold artisan popsicle!?!?

The creative and unusual flavors handwritten on this vendor’s board were what caught my eye and I couldn’t resist. I chose the blueberry/lemon/basil flavor and was SO happy I did. For $3, I had a wonderful and healthy snack that was bursting with farm fresh flavors. It cooled me off instantly, and I finished it before too much of it could melt it’s way down the stick. FANTASTIC. I can’t wait to go back and try the other flavors. YUM.

Peppermill Eatery: 7246 55th Ave East, Bradenton, FL

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I had a coupon for $10 0ff $30 at Peppermill Eatery that was expiring soon so after reading a bunch of good reviews online, Gabriel and I decided to go there for dinner last night. What a totally pleasant surprise when our waiter came over to take our order and it was someone I know as a client from my day job at Bear Creek Veterinary Alternatives. (www.bearcreeksarasota.com)

After chatting with him a bit about his awesome pack of dogs, I asked him what his recommendations were and he emphatically suggested a dish that I had already been leaning toward. Well, that made for a very easy decision indeed! I ordered the shrimp and ‘Lobstah’ pasta and a small side salad with blue cheese dressing and Gabriel ordered the stuffed shrimp.

Our salads came out quickly, along with some bread (which was the ONLY thing that wasn’t great as it was served cold. If it had been warm it would have been worlds better) It was, however, served with a brown sugar, apricot, whipped butter that was SO delicious that I didn’t even really care about the cold bread anymore. Craig, our fantastic waiter, was nice enough to bring me a little cup of it to take home that I can’t wait to put on waffles or pancakes this weekend. The salad was simple, but good- and I’m always happy to find restaurants who do NOT serve boring iceberg lettuce. This was romaine, red onions, cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes with a side of creamy blue cheese that was fine- but not particularly remarkable. I personally love a good blue cheese with big chunks, but this one was smooth.

After finishing my salad, it was just a few more minutes before the entrees arrived. WOW! What an impressive presentation! From the looks of the outside of this restaurant which is totally nondescript located in a strip mall, I would have assumed the food inside would be generic, unexciting and maybe one step above edible. I was VERY happy to be proven dead wrong. The food was presented as if it was in a MUCH classier place (the interior could definitely use a bit of sprucing up so that it matches the quality of the dishes). The shrimp and very generous chunks of lobster were super tasty and fresh, and the peas and mushrooms that decorated the linguine were cooked perfectly and the perfect touches to this creamy, buttery, parmesan-y meal. I ate until I was stuffed and STILL had plenty to take home for lunch the next day. I also tasted Gabriel’s stuffed shrimp which were equally impressive.

When we received the check, it was almost laughably low for what we’d just eaten. After our $10 discount, we paid UNDER $20 for the 2 of us. We will most certainly be back.

Pizza Mia: 14435 SR 70, Bradenton, FL

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As a pizza loving NYer, I was a little hesitant to place an order for delivery with Pizza Mia tonight. It’s been rough finding a decent slice here so far, and I doubted that tonight’s meal would be any different than the other fails thus far. It was, however, pouring rain, 8:30pm, and my boyfriend and I had both just gotten home from work- too hungry and tired to think about cooking or going out.

Having seen a post on Facebook a few nights ago about Pizza Mia and the fact that they deliver in this area, we decided we might as well give it a shot. We had ingredients to make salads to go along with our pie, so we went ahead and called in our order after trying to place it through their online ordering system which did not work properly.

We ordered a small pie; half cheese/sauce and half veggie deluxe with meatballs. The veggie deluxe included onions, green peppers, artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach. After printing out a $3 coupon from their website, the order came to around $15.00- quite reasonable in my opinion. 30 minutes later we heard a knock at the door and were pretty psyched that even in the torrential rain, the delivery time was that quick- and that the driver easily found our somewhat hard to find front door around the back of the building we live in. We gave him a $20 and sat down to eat.

Though it wasn’t exactly hot anymore, it was still mostly warm and we were hungry enough that we didn’t really care. I took my first bite. WOW! What a totally pleasant surprise. This is not Florida pizza! This is actually pretty NY-y! How exciting. We will definitely be repeat customers. Thanks Pizza Mia!

 

First Watch: 8306 Market St Bradenton, FL

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Gabriel and I had breakfast here yesterday. It couldn’t possibly be more convenient as it’s less than a mile from where we live. We were seated in a comfortable booth right away and a VERY smiley and friendly waitress came to bring us menus and a delicious pot of hot coffee. We were a little surprised that the coffee, though it’s served in an unlimited-refills pot, is charged per person, not per pot. Next time we might opt to share one mug đŸ™‚

I ordered the ‘Caps Etc’ for my breakfast and asked for the english muffin to be served dry, and the roasted crimini mushrooms (HOLY YUM!) to be prepared with half the amount of cheese they’d normally use. I ordered my 2 eggs poached and a small fruit salad on the side to share with my honey bunny.

The food came out super fast and looking delicious. It was all exactly as I’d specified and everything tasted great. I even liked the little homefries which aren’t usually my favorite.

The prices were pretty reasonable- except for the per-person coffee price of around $2.50 each. My one cup didn’t really justify that…but Gabriel did end up getting a cup to go which I guess made up for it. My entree was around $8 and the little fruit salad an extra $3.50.

We’ll be back for sure! 

Ping’s Chinese Cuisine: 5445 Fruitville Rd Sarasota, FL

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I met my dad and my honey here for dinner a few nights ago at my father’s suggestion and was pleasantly surprised. When I first walked in, I found a totally unexciting atmosphere in a strip mall. It looked like a run-of-the-mill coffee shop inside, but did have a very friendly hostess/waitress to show me to my seat.

We sat in a booth and were immediately served ice water and a bowl of VERY crunchy noodles with duck sauce. I find these very hard to resist and must admit that I ate more than I should have. We looked over the menu and decided to share a seafood with mixed vegetables dish and a shrimp with lobster sauce dish. I also tasted a bit of my dad’s wonton soup– and must say that it was better than average. Not too salty, fresh and definitely homemade. The entrees were also very fresh and full of large pieces of lobster, shrimp, scallops and a great assortment of vegetables.

The service was super friendly and fast and had the feel of eating in someone’s home- where they really put attention and love into what they cook. This, along with a few other experiences I have had so far in the area, has already changed my preconceived thoughts about eating ethnic foods in Sarasota. It DOES exist, it does NOT make me miss living in NYC, and it IS a great value and worth a visit.

 

Jpan: 8126 Main street, Lakewood Ranch, FL

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AH! Finally, A great place for sushi that isn’t ridiculously overpriced AND has excellent quality fish, creative rolls and great service. The bonus here is that it’s less than 5 minutes from my condo AND they are open for lunch with great deals for around $10.

Gabriel and I went for dinner with another couple here a few nights ago and were really happy to have tried it. We shared a bowl of perfectly cooked edamame, some awesome cold sake (they do not have a full bar which was the one downfall) and 6 different maki rolls. We also ordered some tamago sushi and some scallop sushi. Everything was spot on. This is the first sushi place in the area that I will definitely go back to aside from my current favorite, Ichiban. (https://bigforkinmouth.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/ichiban-2724-stickney-point-rd-sarasota-fl/) This was only slightly more expensive- but we did have drinks here, so I felt that $30 per person for dinner was totally reasonable. I left feeling full and happy đŸ™‚

The service was fantastic and we all really appreciated that no one seemed to mind that we lingered to chat long before we ordered and long after we finished eating.

Hooray Jpan! Just another reason to love living in Lakewood Ranch. Give it a try!

 

Libby’s Cafe & Bar: 1917 S Osprey Ave Sarasota, FL

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After I circled around the area for 15 minutes looking for a parking spot, I finally noticed that Morton’s lot is ALSO for Libby’s and has free valet parking. Duh. There’s 15 minutes I’ll never get back. Hooray for valet!

My parents and Gabriel had arrived before me and were comfortably seated an an outdoor table looking over their menus. I joined them and was quickly greeted by our waitress who was ready to go over the specials and take our drink orders. During Savor Sarasota restaurant week (which, apparently, Libby’s will be honoring for the whole summer- YAY!) They offer $15 bottles of wine so we decided to share the white they had. We looked over the $25 prix fix menus and I found myself facing a tough decision- WAY too many appealing choices! I love problems like that. As I often do, I asked the waitress what her favorites were and decided to go with them- the Seoul Kitchen Chicken Lettuce cups for a starter and the  Cedar Wrapped Sustainable Salmon for my entree. The entrĂ©e comes with asparagus- not my favorite veggie, and they were happy to substitute green beans when I asked.

What turned out to be the standout for me what served next; a basket of AMAZING parmesan biscuits served with brandied (I think) cherries, butter and roasted garlic. The cheese was caramelized in the baking process and I am not lying when I tell you that these alone are plenty of reason to dine here. I am still hyper salivating thinking about them. YUM.

My appetizer came out quickly and was really delicious. It had a spicy kick from the kimchi, and the BBQ glaze on the chicken was a great combination of sweet and tangy. I love foods that require assembling, so rolling up the little lettuce wraps myself was amusing.

My entrĂ©e was described by the waitress as ‘the best salmon she ever had in her life’ so how could I *not* order it? Despite a bunch of other super interesting options on the menu, I trusted her and chose it. I have to say, I was kind of disappointed with it. Yes, the salmon itself was wonderful- cooked perfectly and seasoned lightly, but the fact that the only side were the steamed green beans was a let down. Everyone else at my table had amazing dishes with extravagant presentations, and my boring piece of salmon sitting next to a pile of veggies was totally sad looking. Although it did taste very good, it did not blow me away as tastes of everyone else’s entrees did. Oh well, next time I’ll trust my own instincts and choose something else.

For dessert I ordered the key lime pie- one of my go-to desserts when I don’t feel like chocolate (which is pretty rare). This was a great opportunity to stray from my typical loyalty. It was an excellent slice, adorably topped with gummy bears. Totally delicious, refreshing and somehow both light and rich at the same time.

I should also point out that while I didn’t totally agree with our waitress’ choice of entrees, she was an excellent server; very attentive, knowledgable and personable.

Overall, I thought that Libby’s was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had so far in Sarasota- and even faintly reminded me of my all time favorite restaurant; ABC Kitchen in NYC. (And that is a VERY high compliment) I will definitely be back- especially knowing that the prix fix deal is going on all summer long! $15 for a 3 course lunch? Yes, please!