Tag Archives: Waiting staff

Goichi Sushi Cafe: 4562 Bee Ridge Rd, Sarasota, FL

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On my way home from work last week, I was at that stage of hunger where I couldn’t seem to decide what I was in the mood for. I called my honey and had him do a quick search for what was a good in-between spot for us to meet at. With a sushi craving (well, that’s pretty much every day for me) and not a ton of money to burn, we were lucky to find Goichi Sushi Cafe. The website advertised a ‘3 roll combo for $10.95’, and had reviews that were good enough to warrant giving it a shot.

I was lucky that he had called ahead because when I arrived, there were people waiting outside because the restaurant is tiny, and all the tables were taken. The little one on the end had a ‘reserved’ sign on it, which I came to find out was actually for us. Yay! The waitress clearly had her hands full waiting on all of the hungry patrons, and we patiently waited along with them. She arrived with menus and water within a few minutes and we ordered a seaweed salad to share to start with. After looking over our options for the 3 roll combos, we each ordered 3 different ones so we could share them all. We also ordered a bottle of sake to share- and were impressed by the very fair price.

I would be lying if I said the food came out quickly. We came to find out that there is only one chef, and he had been extremely busy trying to keep up with the orders that kept rolling in. It probably took at least a half hour to get our food. That said, it really was all quite good and fresh, with the seaweed on the outside as we requested. The waitress was very personable and apologetic about the long wait.

Overall, I happen to really like the minuscule size of this cafe. It feels intimate and personal, and I got the feeling that most of the people in there were regulars. It’s pretty much on my way home from work, so it’s very convenient for me. With incredibly reasonable prices and an awesome selection, I think it’s safe to say that I will most likely become a regular too. I just may choose to call ahead and pick up my orders in the future to avoid the long waiting time.

 

 

 

 

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Guerrero’s Bakery & Restaurant: 3557 Webber St Sarasota, FL

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As I get older I’ve been gravitating toward stronger tastes, spicier spices and more flavorful seasonings. When the doctor I work for told me that this was his favorite Mexican restaurant in Sarasota, I took him VERY seriously being that he grew up in Mexico. There are so many Americanized ‘Mexican’ restaurants in this area that are more about tex-mex than authentic food, and though I have been a big fan of Mi Pueblo (https://bigforkinmouth.com/2012/06/13/mi-pueblo-university-walk-plaza-8405-tuttle-ave-sarasota-fl/) up until this point, I definitely have a new top pick.

Guerrero‘s has a totally no frills atmosphere. It does not have the awesome decor or waitstaff in costumes that Mi Pueblo or Two Senoritas has, but the food is awesome, and I’ll take that over looks any day. We sat right away and the waitress brought over warm, fresh, super crunchy chips and a bowl of very spicy salsa. Yum. These are already so different than most Mexican restaurants around that we knew right away we were in for some great food.

We decided to share shrimp fajitas and steak fajitas which came with rice, beans, sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes with fresh cilantro (YUM). The menu said that it came with guacamole too, but the green sauce we were served was quite avocado-less. The waitress explained that it was what they call guacamole when we asked about it, but there was a language barrier that prevented us from finding out what it really was. There was also no cheese served with these fajitas- but It really didn’t need it.

The peppers and onions were caramelized slightly and served with the shrimp and steak in a sizzling pan. They were all quite good- but the standout were the REAL tortillas. What a difference to have those over the store bought ones. They were so full of flavor and texture- even though they did keep falling apart wrapped around our fillings. I guess we probably overstuffed them but we really couldn’t resist. The only criticism I had was that the rice and beans were room temperature (and that’s being generous) , not hot. I’m sure we could have sent them back, but we had enough other food that we really didn’t care that much.

Even though we were quite full at this point, we couldn’t help browsing the bakery filled with homemade Mexican breads and pastries. We each chose one to bring home and polished them off by the next morning. There is no question that we will be returning soon. We live close by and the prices are extremely reasonable- less than $10 for an entree? Wow. Awesome find. Thanks for the suggestion Dr. G!

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!

Indigenous Restaurant: 239 S. Links Ave, Sarasota, FL

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I’ve had my eye on Indigenous for a few months now, waiting for the perfect opportunity to try it. What I’d heard about this restaurant made it sound like it would surely end up topping my list of local choices. Everything from the rustic, lovely outdoor seating area, to the creative and healthy locally-sourced menu was so appealing to me. I was very excited to finally go with my boyfriend and my parents last night.

We arrived to a neighborhood I’d never been to before and I was instantly in love with the adorable, colorful, artsy houses and galleries that abound in this artist’s colony. I made a note to myself to return during daytime hours when I could explore the shops a bit to see what else this area had to offer. Parking was easy, and we were seated right away. I’d been told that sitting outside was the way to go, but it was a bit too humid to do that on this particular evening. It was really lovely out there though, and the next time I go I’ll be sure to ask for seating out there.

We were taken into the second little section of this house-converted-into-a-restaurant to our table, tucked away in a private, cozy nook. The wicker chairs and gentle, natura, art on the walls totally spoke to me, and I felt that it ended up perfectly coordinating with the menu (something that I felt was not quite right at my other top pick in the area, which has a somewhat similar feel to the menu https://bigforkinmouth.com/2012/08/05/dereks-culinary-casual-514-central-ave-sarasota-fl/) In fact, I found a lot of similarities between these two restaurants and was interested to find out that the two chefs will be coming together to put on an event next month…it should be awesome and I’ll have to see about going.

Our waiter attended to us quickly; bringing over yummy, crunchy, cheddar-y homemade crackers, taking our orders for wine, and going over the specials- which all sounded wonderful. As always, there was a lot of sharing between Gabriel, my mother, and I- which allowed tastes of a bunch of options. (My step-dad, historically, humorously, and much to our collective chagrin, does not share very often.) The three of us started with the following three apps.

1. Beet Tartar (Apples, radish, pea shoots, creamy horseradish) I LOVED this one. The combination of crunchy and soft textures, bite from the horseradish and radish and sweetness from the apples and beets, not to mention the beautiful presentation made it a total winner for me.

2. Watermelon Salad (jicama, watercress, goat feta, mint, pistachios, vanilla balsamic and fresh black pepper) This was a very close second to the beet tartar. Again, a gorgeous plate tastefully served as edible art. Again, the mixture of consistencies was intriguing and the fresh fruit contrasted with the creamy feta and the bite of the pepper was exciting. This one was incredibly refreshing and summery and I’d strongly recommend it on a hot day when you aren’t ravenous.

That said, we WERE ravenous and we found that overall the portion sizes for the appetizers and the entrees were on the rather tiny side. We are active people and though we do try to eat healthfully for the most part, we can put away a pretty good quantity of food and these plates all fell just slightly short size-wise. The cheesy crackers were a nice change from the typical bread that is served with dinner elsewhere, but in the long run, we felt that we could have used some to help fill us up. The good part was that it left plenty of room for dessert…but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll get there soon 🙂

3. Chilled Mango Soup (cucumber lime sorbet, red chiles, hibiscus flower) Another interesting dichotomy of tastes. The chiles had serious zing to them, and the creamy cool soup and sorbet did their part to cut that burning. I didn’t love this one as much as the other two, but not because it wasn’t delicious. I think I just preferred the ingredients of the others because there was simply more going on. This was comparatively simple and not quite as impressive.

For our entrees, Gabriel and I shared the special which was a wonderful (yet tiny) piece of arctic char served atop some shaved brussels sprouts with raisins (one of my favorite veggie/fruit combos that I make at home on occasion, incidentally) as well as an incredible dish of huge, wild-caught, gulf shrimp over lobster-edamame succotash and baked cheesy grits. WOW. This entree was the standout for me. The shrimp were out-of-this-world. Perfectly cooked and served over the most amazing, cake-like, baked grits and creamy, succotash. I would be very likely to order this one again, as much as I always try to order something new on repeat visits to restaurants. This plate was pretty much perfection for me with pretty much everything I love about food all on one plate.

When the dessert menus arrived and I was not already stuffed, I was pretty excited about it. Not that being stuffed really ever stops me, but still. Gabriel and I decided, very quickly, on ‘The Brownie‘ (toasted marshmallow ice cream, graham cracker dark chocolate brownie, belgian chocolate sauce.) My mouth is watering again just thinking about it. We thought it was interesting that both Indigenous and Derek’s have their interpretation of S’mores on the menu. Coincidence or perhaps a bit of unspoken competition? In any case, it’s just fine with me. As it turned out, they are really two totally different variations on similar ingredients and both are totally outstanding. The ice cream and caramelized marshmallows on top of the brownie (which was really a blondie as far as I am concerned) were creamy and dreamy. I’m kind of off in la la land just remembering it as I write this. The melty chocolate inside the brownie along with the crisp, graham pieces were oh-so-decadent. The dark sauce that was drizzled around the dish was the perfect icing on the cake, as it were. It’s pretty rare that I don’t love the final course of a meal, but there are certainly times like these when it’s really just as perfect as can possibly be.

My mom and step-dad, by the way, had the lemon/thyme pound cake with blueberries by the way- which I did taste. It was light and exactly as expected. Not particularly exciting. I did, however, also ask the waiter if by any chance he’d let me have a little taste of the special ice cream offered that night which was popcorn flavor. He obliged and WOW, it was really awesome. I was really pleased that he was kind enough to bring me my little spoonful sample.

All that said, it wouldn’t be an honest review if I didn’t check back with reality for just one tiny second. For the most part, the service of this meal was totally on par. That said, there was just one problem at the end. When we ordered our desserts, my mother ordered a cappuccino and my step-dad, a regular coffee. My mom’s came out right away, about 5 minutes later our desserts arrived. At that point, we reminded the waiter that my step-dad had ordered a coffee and he apologized and said he’d go right back to get it. 10 minutes later, we’d finished our desserts, but still, no coffee. We flagged out waiter down again and he explained that he had to make a fresh pot. It finally came out about 10 minutes after we’d finished our desserts and had our plates cleared. Timing is definitely an important part of service, and if I’m being fair, I really do need to deduct a star for that mistake. Other than that, everything was absolutely awesome and my experience definitely lived up to the high expectations I went in with.

Bravo Indigenous. Can’t wait to come back.

 

The Lobster Pot: 5157 Ocean Blvd, Sarasota, FL

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After spending a gorgeous afternoon kayaking at Siesta Key, Gabriel and I were hungry and thirsty and decided to use a coupon we had for The Lobster Pot. When we arrived, we were seated right away near the window and a waitress came over with menus. We asked for big glasses of cold water with lemon and some bread and sat back to look over the menus.

A waiter immediately brought over a basket of yummy looking cornbread and we continued to wait for our water. And waited. And waited. Finally, about 10 minutes later our waitress brought our waters over and we slurped them down like we’d been in the desert for a month. Phew. Hopefully this would not be indicative of the wait time for our meals.

We noticed that many of the items on the menu were listed as ‘market price’ and I did not hesitate to ask the waitress to run down the numbers for us. I’m glad I did, as some of the items were well into the $34 and up range and definitely curbed what I’d planned to order. We decided to start with the steamers appetizer. (market priced at $13.99) We also decided to share 2 entrees. I ordered the parmesan ranch salad topped with lobster and Gabriel ordered the Shore dinner (fried clam strips, broiled scallops/shrimp and fish- which are usually prepared with seasoned bread crumbs but we asked to go without them) and sides of garden veggies and mashed potatoes. Our food arrived quickly and we decided that the water delay was just a fluke. The cornbread was fresh, warm and tasty and we asked the basket to be cleared since we’d already emptied it.

The steamers arrived in a large pot- actually way too large for the relatively small number of clams inside. They were served with the traditional water bath and melted butter. We dug in right away and I was kind of disappointed. These were only ‘okay’. For the amount of money they cost, I would have expected them to taste much fresher than they did- and at least to be given a quantity that justified it. That said, since I didn’t really love them, I guess I didn’t really want more than were served anyway. Uh oh, so far this meal was not going very well.

Luckily, once the entrees arrived things turned around. My salad was large and beautiful, topped with a generous amount of shelled lobster and parmesan cheese. The parmesan ranch dressing on the side was excellent and turned out to be a great dip for the shrimp that came with Gabriel’s meal. The clam strips on Gabriel’s plate were crunchy, not greasy and turned out to be some of the best clam strips I’ve ever had. The broiled seafood was only so-so, as they lacked flavor. They were served in a very buttery sauce- that we’d asked them to go very light on and without seasoned bread crumbs by our request. I guess the flavor usually lives in those bread crumbs so maybe it was our fault for foregoing them- but even so, if it were really cooked right, I think the flavor should have remained. I think it was the fact that they were drowning in butter that took away from the freshness. The sides were also only so-so. As someone who usually finds mashed potatoes pretty hard to resist, these didn’t even really tempt me after the first bite. They were creamy and smooth- and I prefer chunks. The flavor was somewhat off-putting and I couldn’t identify the reason. The vegetables were fine, but nothing to write home about.

Judging from the plates on the next table over, the amount of crab legs for the price also seemed really small. I think overall, this restaurant is fine- but not great. It’s overpriced for what it is, and it’s in total tourist-trap land. I highly doubt we’ll be back…Although if I have a craving for clam strips I suppose there is a possibility.

My suggestion in general is don’t eat on Ocean Blvd. All of the restaurants are only decent, they are all over-priced and over-crowded. Yes, they are convenient if you are spending the day at the beach, but there are SO many better options if you are willing to drive 10 minutes away. Check out the great options on Gulf Gate or head downtown or to Hillview.

Mi Pueblo: University Walk Plaza, 8405 Tuttle Ave. Sarasota, FL

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Everyone we have met here has told us to try Mi Pueblo. Apparently, it’s known as the very best Mexican food in the area. A waitress at a different restaurant also told us that they make fantastic margaritas- which my boyfriend loves, so last night we decided to give it a try.

We arrived to find a really adorable building, a friendly hostess, cool lighting and shadows, and a comfortable booth ready for us. Menus and ice water were brought for us right away. Soon after that, our drink orders were taken and a basket of delicious tortilla chips and spicy fresh salsa was served. The margaritas came out super fast and really were outstanding.

I knew what I wanted before I even looked at the menu because I’d heard their chicken Mole was awesome. It’s one of my favorite Mexican dishes, so that was an easy choice. We noticed there weren’t really any sides on the menu, but when we asked if we could have a side of veggies, our waiter told us that they did have tasty grilled vegetables as a side to offer. Great, we’ll take one of those.

Gabriel ordered the ‘2 choice’ combo plate with 1 verde enchildada, and 1 chimichanga. We decided we’d share everything so that we could really get a good feel of the food here.

Our meals came out very quickly, and WOW! Everything was awesome. Super fresh, cooked perfectly, served with sides of Mexican rice and refried beans topped with cheese.

When our bill came, we did a double take. Two entrees, a side and 2 drinks for less than $40!?!?!? WOW again, that is really awesome.

I was so full but somehow managed to keep noshing on the 2nd basket of chips that was refreshed during our meal. Ohhhhh. I think I overdid it. Next time we come, when they ask if we want more chips, I will definitely remember to say ‘No thank you.’ In spite of my eyes-bigger-than-stomach rookie mistake, this was an excellent dinner and we’ll definitely return soon!

Thailand Restaurant: 2238 Gulf Gate Dr. Sarasota, FL

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All of my worries about being able to find excellent ethnic food now that I’ve moved away from NYC have faded into a distant memory. I met my mom and step father for dinner here a few nights ago since it’s only about 5 minutes from my place of work. It looks horrible from the outside and I think they’d  be very smart of them to remedy that, but once inside, a pleasant atmosphere awaits. Dark wood carvings, rich fabrics and cozy booths make for a warm and inviting interior.

Menus and ice water were brought over right away along with a fresh pot of green tea. We looked over the menus and decided to share a few things. I started with a basic thai salad with a delicious peanut dressing and we ordered a chicken satay for the table which was wonderful. Fresh, tender and generous pieces of chicken served with the classic peanut sauce and vinegar/cucumber sauce were a great start to the meal. We shared a cashew/shrimp dish and a chicken with veggies dish that were both outstanding. The preparation of both dishes was light and healthy, allowing the true flavor of each ingredient to shine through.

The service was perfect; efficient, knowledgable and fast. The price was extremely reasonable, although the entree portions were slightly on the small side compared to most asian restaurants. We were totally satisfied with our dinners, we just didn’t have leftovers to bring home like we often do.

I would strongly recommend Thailand Restaurant- just ignore the appearance from the outside and trust me 🙂