Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Burg Bar and Grill: 1752 Central Ave St Petersburg, FL

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Gabriel and I had to go up to St. Pete to meet with our wedding photographer (EEEeEEEEeee!!!) so we decided to make a day of it and head to the Dali museum afterwards. We’d been wanting to check it out for a while and were excited to spend the afternoon there. It was a very interesting way to spend some time, and we thoroughly enjoyed not just the art and the guided audio tour, but also the amazing architecture of the building itself as well as the beautifully manicured grounds and awesome views of boats on the water.

When we finished looking around, it was after 3:45pm and our stomachs were growling. Although the cafe in the museum looked great, I was craving iron and feeling deprived since we skipped our post-blood-donation burgers the week before. We decided to check Yelp for local burger joints and found 5 star reviews for the Burg Bar and Grill.

We arrived to find a tiny, dive-y bar with a few tables and a friendly bartender/waiter happy to seat us. Apparently, during ‘normal’ meal times, it’s nearly impossible to get a table so we were lucky that hunger stuck at an odd hour. We looked over the menu and quickly chose our burgers. I love that they have a small and large size so that I don’t eat an 8oz just because it’s on the plate in front of me when I’m perfectly satisfied with a 5oz. I ordered mine cooked medium and topped with american cheese, grilled mushroom and grilled onions and Gabriel got his with blue cheese and bacon. We both asked for our fries to be very well-done.

About 10 minutes later, our waiter arrived with our lunch/dinner much to our delight. The fries were super crispy and the burgers looked amazing. I was very happy to find that they had malt vinegar for my fries- a preference of mine over ketchup. One bite and I was sold. This absolutely deserves all of the stars it’s been given. The burger was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of gooey cheese and sauteed onions and mushrooms. The roll was fresh and doughy, not the typical out-of-a-package roll at all. I tried a bite of Gabriel’s burger and found that it too was perfection.

Overall, for less than $20 we left feeling thoroughly satisfied, pretty darn fat and totally happy. If we are ever in the area again, we might just have to go back. If you live nearby, definitely give it a shot- you’ll be glad you did.

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Chez Carey! Thanksgiving contribution. Dumpling squash stuffed with veggies!

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I was in charge of bringing the vegetable to our Thanksgiving dinner this year and as luck would have it, Gabriel and I happened to stumble upon an amazing hydroponic farm a few days ago where we picked fresh produce to our hearts content. I was so inspired by all of the gorgeous vegetables there that I decided to combine a bunch of them into my contribution to our T-day feast.

I started by halving and roasting sweet dumpling squash with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper at 350 for about 35 minutes. I also sliced carrots, parsnips, beets, zucchini and summer squash and roasted them on a separate cookie sheet. Meanwhile, I sauteed the beet greens with some crimini mushrooms, garlic, red onions, olive oil, salt and pepper.

When everything was done cooking, I lined the squash halves with the colorful discs and filled the centers with the greens. I topped the greens with more roasted discs and placed them on a serving dish surrounded by the beet green stems and extra mushrooms. Beautiful AND delicious, if I do say so myself! I plan to finish them with a little fresh dill, cilantro and parsley just before serving them.

Hope you and your loved ones all enjoy a happy holiday feast tonight!

Darwin’s on 4th: 1525 4th St Sarasota, FL

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Yesterday was my honey’s birthday. We searched a few menus online of restaurants that we’ve heard great things about and ultimately decided on dining at Darwin‘s to celebrate. We arrived to find a very cool looking building.  Inside was dim, with romantic lighting and beautiful attention to detail in everything from the ceiling, draped in rich colored fabrics hanging from wrought iron fencing, rustic lamps, woven placemats, all the way to the awesome open kitchen where we could watch the chefs make their magic happen.

We were warmly welcomed, first by the hostess and then by our waiter. He told us that hand-crafting beer was one of their specialties- but neither of us are really beer drinkers. That said, the descriptive menu was so appealing that I felt like I had to at least have a taste or two- and our waiter was more than happy to oblige. I tasted the pumpkin spice and their signature beer, and while I’m still not really a fan of beer in general, I can understand that there are different notes and flavors to be appreciated just like with wine.

We looked over the menu, full of very appealing choices, and had a chat with our  waiter about his favorites. Apparently, he pretty much loves everything there- and had a lot of excitement in describing a few of them. We decided to share a bunch of appetizers rather than limiting ourselves to just 2 entrees. We are always happy to share plates (just another reason why I love him) and agree on just about everything food-wise- which really isn’t difficult since we both love eating.

The bus-boy brought out a few little popover-type rolls- they were almost identical to the ones they serve at Derek’s Culinary Casuals, just down the street, so I (wrongly) assumed that perhaps the chefs were buddies from culinary school. Very soon after, our first 3 choices arrived and were presented beautifully- full of color, texture and creativity.

The first was the Yuzu butter poached lobster taco: Miso-truffle black bean puree, avocado, pico de gallo, soft flour tortilla. It had generous pieces of lobster claw meat and that bean puree was incredible- smooth and just the right amount of truffle oil. The tortillas were fluffy and fresh. It was the perfect amount for 2 people- one taco each, and just delicious.

The 2nd was the Limi chopped salad: Spring mix, romaine lettuce, tomato, onions, avocado, choclo, black beans, queso fresco, orange chipotle vinaigrette. It had been recommended to us by a co-worker of Gabriel’s so we felt we better try it. It was colorful and filled with fresh produce, beans and queso fresco to make a refreshing combination. That said, it didn’t blow us away as something all that special- but it was still a nice, light compliment to our other, heavier dishes. I could see ordering it for lunch with another app and feeling like it was the perfect light meal.

Our 3rd plate was the Octopus Tiradito: Sashimi-style tender octopus, black olive puree, onions, avocado, toasted bread. Octopus is Gabriel’s favorite so we had to try it. It was tender, but not as melt-in-your-mouth as we have had it on a few occasions. The olive tampenade was an interesting contrast that I didn’t think would work, but in reality was quite tasty in and a cool texture along with with the chewier meat and soft, creamy avocado.

After those first 3 dishes, we wanted something salty and crunchy and were excited to see tostones on the ‘sides’ menu. (So sorry that we dove into these and polished them off before I remembered I hadn’t taken a photo!) They are one of my favorite snacks when done right and these absolutely were. Wow. Hot, crispy, just the right amount of batter and with a wonderful, herby, chimichurri-type dipping sauce alongside. These were really awesome, and as a classic, authentic Peruvian dish, I’m sure that Darwin has had these under his belt for a while. Finding genuine, ethnic food in Sarasota never ceases to amaze and surprise me. I should really stop doubting how many fantastic restaurants hosted by talented chefs this area offers.

We wanted one more small dish to end this awesome meal and so we asked our waiter one more time for a recommendation. He told us that the Tuna Tiradito was not to be missed. It is Darwin’s signature Sashimi-style tuna, ginger soy sauce, cubes of fresh watermelon, leche de tigre. I’m SO glad that we listened to his advice because this ended up being my favorite of the night. The sweet, cool, juicy watermelon was a fantastic contrast to the tender, fresh, raw, tuna and the lemony sauce that came alongside was a tart compliment to the whole dish. It was beautifully presented and tasted even better than it looked.

We were about to ask to see a dessert menu when our attentive waiter, Enrique, showed up with a surprise ‘Happy Birdday’ dessert for Gabriel. Yes, birdday. Ummm. Cute mistake. The dessert was the Lavender Poached Pear with Goat cheese ice cream, black pepper caramel sauce. Not something I’d really ever order, but definitely enjoyable and very different. The black pepper, caramel sauce was especially unique and neither one of us hesitated in coming as close to licking the plate as is socially acceptable.

Overall, this was a very different dining experience than I have had in a while. Very NY. Very sexy. Very delicious. We will most certainly be back again soon. Thank you Darwin!

Waffle Stop: 660 S. Washington Blvd, Sarasota FL

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I had to get my car serviced at the Ford dealer across the street, so with an hour to kill and not much else nearby, I decided to go have lunch at Waffle Stop. Yes, it’s kitchy and sort of cute with it’s Elvis memorabilia, but let’s not kid ourselves. This is the divy-est of dives around. The bathrooms are dirty and dingy and you actually have to go outside of the restaurant to get to them, similar to a gas station. The restaurant itself is dark and filled with mostly people over 70. The waitress, however, was just sweet as pie and I got the feeling that she had been working there for a long time. I bet she even served Elvis a few times since it was apparently a favorite spot of his.

In typical dive-y diner fashion, I decided to order something basic that they couldn’t really mess up too much- a grilled cheese with tomato and a side salad. The salad was very generic, down to the packet of dressing that came with it, and ingredients that are most likely intended to top sandwiches or burgers. The grilled cheese was pretty darn good with it’s buttery, junky, white bread and thick american cheese and tomatoes.

My whole meal was less than $10 (cash only by the way- there is an ATM in the front), as it should have been, and I successfully killed the right amount of time for my car to be ready when I returned. I highly doubt I’ll be back, but ya never know.

Nancy’s Bar-B-Q: 301 S Pineapple Ave Sarasota, FL

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I find it totally hilarious that Nancy is apparently a Jewish woman who knows how to do BBQ. As a Jew myself who happens to make an excellent pulled pork, I find this very appealing.

I’d heard excellent things about Nancy’s and finally had the opportunity to try it when a couple of friends, Gabriel, and I went to the annual Sarasota Chalk Festival nearby. We were hungry and wanted to eat lunch before dealing with the thick crowds at the festival, so we decided to wait on what first appeared to be a very long line for Nancy’s. We were happy to find out that it moved quickly, and we were ready to order sooner than we expected. I had heard that the pulled chicken was phenomenal, and really had my heart set on it, so I was a bit disappointed to hear that it had already sold out for the day. I opted for the BBQ chicken with 2 sides instead. My sides were a sweet, vinegary, cucumber salad and some awesome collard greens with bacon. YUM. The chicken had a crisp BBQ-y outside and juicy, tender meat. I sampled a few of the different sauces and settled on one that was a smokey, sweet flavor as my pick of the day. Everything that was on trays around me looked fantastic too, and the bites I sampled of pork, and mac & cheese were outstanding. I will definitely have to make a return trip to try  that pulled chicken next time. Thanks Nancy!

Tsunami Thai and Sushi Bar: 8404 Lockwood Ridge Rd, Sarasota, FL

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Gabriel and I were getting a little bored of our standard dinner spots, so we decided to try Tsunami. We were seated quickly and the smiley waitress brought us our menus. I noticed right away that she addressed me very infrequently and pretty much spoke only to Gabriel. Ooookay. I ordered a chicken stir fry which came with a small salad and miso soup. The soup was very salty and I only had a few spoonfuls. The salad was covered in dressing, which I had specifically asked for on the side, so I sent it back for a new one. The sad little salad was made up of mostly iceberg lettuce. Boo. The main dish was also very over-salted, though it was full of fresh ingredients and it was a perfect portion size. Gabriel ordered Pad Thai which was mediocre.

Overall, the chef definitely likes his or her salt, and for that reason I doubt I’ll be back. The waitress and the sushi chef thanked Gabriel as we paid and left, and hardly acknowledged my presence. Not a fan. Oh well.

Blue Dolphin Cafe: 470 John Ringling Blvd Sarasota, FL

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I loooooove a good breakfast. I met my dad at Blue Dolphin and was charmed to find out what a ‘regular’ he is there. Everyone knows his name and treated us both really well. It has the feel of the NY diners I miss so much, and a menu with tons of great choices at fair prices. I ordered a 2 egg omelette (they are usually 3 eggs but 2 was plenty for me) with broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms and half the amount of swiss they’d normally use. It came with fresh, thick, rye toast and a fruit salad and it totally hit the spot. Everything was cooked perfectly, exactly the way I would do it myself- except probably a bit prettier if I’m being honest about my omelette cooking skills.

🙂