Tag Archives: Wine tasting descriptors

Pacific Rim: 1859 Hillview St. Sarasota, FL

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Gabriel and I celebrated our one year anniversary on Thursday so we decided to go have sushi for dinner, in honor of our first date which was also for sushi. There are only a few sushi places in the area that get great reviews, so we decided to try Pacific Rim since it was often talked about as having the best atmosphere of all of them. It is said that you eat with your eyes first, which I absolutely agree with, but beautiful presentation and a nice atmosphere does not make for a great meal in my book, and the food here was definitely lacking. I should also mention, even though I don’t like to judge people if I can help it, that the clientele here were on the tacky/Miami side. Many of them dressed in midriff-baring tops, way-too-tight pants and sky-high heels. Definitely not the type that Gabriel and I really like to hang with. Sorry. Maybe not very nice, but I’m just being honest.

We were seated, as requested, outside on the pretty side porch. It was really cool later when it started storming and little trickles of water came down the walls like a mini waterfall. Inside was very air conditioned and loud, so we were happy to be outside. The chairs were unusually low but the friendly waitress happily brought out a couple of pillows for us and that made a big difference.

We looked over the menus and ordered some edamame, shrimp lettuce wraps and a bottle of unfiltered Nigori sake to start. I must comment that this was the FIRST sake I’ve ever liked. It was much sweeter than those I have tasted in the past and I was surprised to find that It was very enjoyable for me. The lettuce wraps and edamame came out soon and we noticed the big clump of salt centered on our edamame. The waitress explained that we were to use the extra bowl to cover them and shake them up, but even after doing that it was hard to get the salt to evenly coat the other pods. The lettuce wraps were plated beautifully, but totally over-sauced and the flavor and texture of the shrimp, pear and mushrooms kind of just mushed up together.

For our sushi we chose an assortment including; tempura spicy tuna in shitake caps, scallop and avocado handrolls, tamago, shrimp, eel/ cucumber/avocado rolls, salmon sashimi and salmon roe. The tamago, roe and salmon sashimi were ¬†excellent but aside from that, I thought the quality was very mediocre and quite pricey. This restaurant clearly goes for appearances first and taste second and as far as I’m concerned, that’s not enough to impress me. For 1/4 of the total price we could have gone back to Ichiban for all-you-can-eat sushi and next time, that’s most definitely what we will do.

Lee Roy Selmon’s: 8253 Cooper Creek Blvd Sarasota, FL

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Gabriel and I enjoyed a fun dinner with another couple here last night. Although I’m not really a sports bar kind of person, this restaurant feels much classier and less sporty than I expected based on the reviews I’d read ahead of time. Yes, there are tons of TVs playing various games, but the feel is more upscale and less rowdy that I would have guessed.

Luckily, our friends had a couple of great tips for us. The first was that if you check-in on four square, you get a free fried-green tomatoes appetizer. Cool! We jumped on that. The other VERY important tip is that the amazing bbq-butter-topped rolls, which do NOT come automatically, ARE free and available and absolutely worth asking for. YUM.

I ordered a frozen strawberry margarita to sip and it was delicious; refreshing, sweet- but not overly so, and the perfect amount of alcohol that didn’t totally overpower the drink. The fried green tomatos were a bit slow to come out, but when they finally did we gobbled them right up. They came with a tangy ranch dressing to dip in, and the slices were thick cut and super crunchy.

For my entree, I ordered the shrimp and grits- something I would not normally choose but it sounded interesting. I also ordered a side of green beans and thought it was odd that it did not automatically come with a vegetable when just about all of the other entrees did. The grits were unreal. Super cheesy and with generous bits of bacon, it was NOT at all a light dish. I still can’t believe I ate the whole thing- it was so rich and filling, but tasted so amazing that I couldn’t stop myself. The shrimp were a bit too sauce-covered, and I think they could have used half the amount instead of drowning them in sugary flavoring that they really didn’t need. I thought my meal was excellent, but really felt that the menu was lacking. I would have ordered a healthier shrimp option if there had been one- but the choices were basically salads or super indulgent entrees and sandwiches.

The meal ended with the waiter bringing over hot washcloths to wash our hands with…Nice touch! I thought the prices were totally reasonable and I would definitely consider going back…next time, I will plan to be more mentally prepared to indulge than I was this time.

 

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 ūüôā

 

 

 

Ichiban: 2724: Stickney Point Rd. Sarasota, FL

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My new job is about 3 minutes from Ichiban and when I saw that they offer all-you-can-eat sushi for under $20 (if you pay cash. It’s $23 with credit cards) I couldn’t wait to check it out.

Gabriel picked me up from work yesterday and we headed straight over. We were seated right away and given paper check lists on which to make our choices. One menu included teriyaki and tempura options and the other was all sushi, maki rolls and hand rolls. There were 5 specials also included on the list and the waiter also informed us that we could also add salad and or soup. Wow. I was already impressed. The lists were very extensive. We are used to AYCE sushi in NYC that has only the most simple and basic choices and were really excited to see how far our $20 was going to go here.

We both started with a salad. The dressing was awesome, but the iceberg (blah, boring) lettuce was not fresh– brown pieces everywhere. We were both happy enough with the dressing that we ate it anyway, and I would quickly come to see that this first course was the ONLY negative thing about the whole meal.

Next, the waiter brought out our tempura and teriyaki choices. The tempura was pretty good- though not super light and flaky like it should be…but it was hot and fresh and the flavor of the sauce was perfect. The teriyaki beef was surprisingly good- tender meat with tons of sweet and tangy flavor. It’s cool that when you order from that hot cooked food list, you order by the bite sized piece, so it’s perfect for just having little taste samples of whatever sounds good without committing to huge portions.

Next we got our first plate of sushi. (I actually completely and totally forgot to photograph round 2 of our teriyaki, tempura and sushi choices..OOPS!) We had about 10 total rolls and 5 pieces each of very tasty fish. Some of the standouts were the scallop roll, the Sarasota roll (tempura shrimp topped with lobster and eel sauce, YUM. This was my favorite) and the alaska roll. The sushi here is very good. It is not the ultimate, top quality fish you find at some restaurants, but it IS definitely fresh and very very good. If you want to spend triple the amount for fresher fish, than by all means go for it. I’d personally MUCH rather spend $20 for ridiculous quantities of very good quality fish here.

When we were full-as-can be, we got our check and realized that we didn’t bring enough cash. My bad. So, we got one of the $19.95 deals but had to pay $22.95 for the one we used a credit card. Including tax & tip, we spent around $50 for this awesome meal, and calculated that we’d most likely eaten WELL over $100 worth.

We will definitely, positively, absolutely and certainly be going back. Frequently. Soon. Yay! BRAVO.

 

Burns Court Cafe: 401 S Pineapple, Sarasota, FL

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Gabriel and I stopped in for lunch today when we did a quick search on yelp.com and found a $5 for $10 deal. We arrived and saw a lovely case full of fresh sandwiches on baguette, quiches, pastries and other yummy looking treats. The friendly woman working there gave us some advice and time to look at the menus.

There were lots of appealing sounding salads but I decided on a Caprese baguette ( mozzarella, tomato, basil, olive tamponade, pesto, ciabatta) that came with a side salad. Gabriel ordered the Quiche Lorraine (delicious) with a side salad. He also got a chocolate/banana/prune shake that tasted a million times better than it sounded to me. We actually decided to buy some prunes to use in our at-home smoothies because they added so much healthy sweetness.

We chatted a bit with the owner who is extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the area. She clearly takes a lot of pride in her business and it shows. We went to sit at a table and she brought our food and ice water over to us quickly.

Our lunches were awesome. I gobbled up my sandwich SO fast. The fresh bread it was on was SO wonderful. It had a nice bite to it- crisp outside with a doughy interior. I also really enjoyed the fresh dressing on the side salad. It’s amazing what a difference a good quality olive oil and vinegar make to some mesclun leaves and tomatoes.

Overall, this is a great cafe to stop into for lunch or some great coffee. I know that I will definitely be back- and if it’s not quite so hot outside next time, you’ll probably find me sitting at one of the cute sidewalk tables.

Thanks Burns Court Cafe! Well done! Next time, croissants! (They looked SOOOOO good)

Lucky Pelican: 6239 Lake Osprey Dr. Sarasota, FL

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Last night, Gabriel and I joined 2 other couples for dinner at the Lucky Pelican. I’d heard about this restaurant a bunch of times already from my parents and their friends. Apparently, it’s one of the best seafood places around and people will gladly wait up to an hour for a table. The woman who organized the dinner was smart enough to call ahead (they do not take reservations but you can call to get on the list) to tell them the 6 of us would be there at 6:30 when our meeting time was really 7, so we only had to wait a few minutes before being seated. Awesome.

Our menus and drink orders were taken right away by our waiter, who seemed a bit ‘off’. Perhaps tired, perhaps overworked, perhaps completely and totally drunk. Hmmm.

I ordered a mojito and a water with lemon, both of which were brought out shortly and the waiter asked us if we wanted to order any apps. We hadn’t really looked over the menu yet, so we asked for a few more minutes to decide. He came back about 1 minute later and we still weren’t ready so when he left, I commented that since we’d just turned him away twice, he probably wouldn’t be back for 20 minutes the next time. Unfortunately, I was correct. When he did finally come back, we ordered the calamari and shrimp starters and happily received the bread and butter he’d brought with him. We also put in our entree orders at this time, during which, it became rather clear that he was in fact, drunkity drunk drunk. “I’d like the seared scallop salad please”, “ok, one ceasar salad”. Ummm no.

About 10 minutes later a busboy brought us our entrees. Huh? What happened to our apps? “Oh, you ordered apps?”

Oh boy. He also forgot 2 of the women’s sodas and Gabriel’s avocado. Ooookay. Maybe a pen and a pad of paper would be a good investment for this guy.

So, our entrees (and my mojito) were REALLY excellent. My scallops were cooked to perfection with a golden sear and light seasoning. The arugula, mangos and toasted almonds made a great combination with the scallops. The dressing was a ¬†light, sweet¬†vinaigrette and it was summery and delicious. I totally cleaned my plate. My friends, who eat here frequently, said they’d NEVER had a problem like this with the service and we all actually found it quite laughable….plus we saved money on the apps that never came.

We decided to skip dessert, although the choices sounded great. I will definitely be back since the menu had tons of appealing options, reasonable prices, excellent food and it’s about 3 minutes from my house…I’ll just be sure to sit in a different section next time in hopes of having a sober person to take our order.

 

 

 

 

Salute!: 23 N Lemon Ave, Sarasota, FL

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My family and I went here for dinner tonight after our first attempt had an hour long wait and our 2nd attempt was closed. Salute has a great outdoor eating area with available tables and we were seated right away. Our waiter came over with menus and went over the specials. None of us wanted to order cocktails so we just asked for flat water. I also asked if, when he had a moment, he’d bring over some lemon for the water. When he came back to take our orders and to bring us bread and dipping olive oil, I again reminded him that I wanted some lemon. When he came back a third time to bring us our appetizers, I asked him for a third time for some lemon. Finally, he came back with 3 slices of lemon (for our table of 4. Hmmm) and my water glass was, by then, empty. Big fail. The bus boy overheard me complaining about the timing of this and re-filled my glass. Ok. Better late than never.

For my app, I shared an arugula, endive, radicchio salad with Gabriel. It came with a creamy balsamic dressing and shaved parmesan. Very nice and fresh, but kind of on the boring side.

For my entree, at the suggestion of our waiter, I ordered the chicken parmesan with penne. It was a great portion sized- very manageable and not overwhelmingly large which I appreciated. The chicken, however was totally overcooked, stringy, dry and unimpressive. The sauce and cheese on top were mediocre at best. I’ve had better chicken parm at a diner.

For the prices here, I would not return. Just a few nights earlier, we went to Cafe Baci for the same price and MUCH better food. I guess you’re really just paying for the lovely outdoor seating here and not much more.

Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

Cafe Baci: 4001 S. Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL

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From the street, Cafe¬†Baci¬†looks like it’s from 1960. The sign as well as the outside of the restaurant is dated and falling apart, and does nothing at all to represent the excellence that happens inside.

We were welcomed very warmly by the hostess and quickly led to our table. We saw right away that the clientele of this establishment is pretty much the over 65 crowd, and we felt slightly out of place and underdressed. The hostess assured us that people come in wearing just-off-the-beach clothes sometimes and that we were totally fine. Our waiter came over with menus and ice water and went over the specials, all of which sounded great. Shortly later, he brought over a basket of foccacia, delicious garlicy/parmesan breadsticks and some herbed olive oil. You see from my picture that we had all dived into those before I remembered to take a photo, and the basket is already partially empty.

This restaurant came very highly recommended by my friend and duo partner Mike (please visit mikesolomusic.com and careyyaruss.com com for more info ) and one of the things he mentioned to me was how accommodating they are to their patron’s requests. Knowing that, I asked if it would be possibly to add some grilled shrimp to the¬†cappellini¬†primavera, to which the waiter happily agreed.

When my entree came out, I was very excited for my first taste. It was loaded with huge, gorgeous, grilled shrimp, tons of fresh vegetables and homemade cappellini with a creamy, tomato sauce. It was seriously delicious, rich and indulgent. I was totally happy with it, even though I was expecting a nice, light pasta dinner and it was definitely on the heavy side. The portion was extremely generous and I happily shared it with Gabriel and my mom and step-father, who all agree that it was super tasty.

For dessert, we decided to order one tiramisu for everyone to share. When it arrived with an old looking strawberry on top, we assumed it must have been made much earlier and was just sitting in the fridge waiting for someone to order it. It was covered in a 2 inch thick layer of whipped cream on top and the espresso soaked cake was kind of overwhelmed by that. The flavor was good and if there had been less whipped cream I think we all would have really enjoyed it, but as it were, I pretty much was the only one who ended up eating it.

Overall, I was very impressed with Cafe¬†Baci¬†and would definitely go back. I would love to see some younger people in there, but unless they update the outside and make it look a big livelier and hipper, I doubt anyone under 40 will be going in anytime soon. With¬†nearly full¬†tables, it seems like their business isn’t suffering because of that, and maybe that’s really the crowd that they are aiming to attract.¬†With it’s rustic, Italian interior, it has a classic feel that’s sure to please an older (and wealthier)¬†clientele. The food is really top quality and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a hearty meal. Enjoy!