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 entrée 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 entrée 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!

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