Just a quick weekend report on the past weekend's trip to Sarasota:
El Habanero (Lunch)
Extremely tasty Cuban cuisine. Garlic, garlic, garlic. Roasted pork with yuca con mojo. Extremely tasty, and the sliced pork came with a rich garlicky sauce. My huband had the garlic pork sandwich - it was the winner of the meal: a very large portion of shredded roasted pork with an extreme garlic flavor (think roasted garlic mixed with the spicy touch of raw garlic too) on very crunchy pressed cuban bread. The black bean soup was awesome. Our friends had garlic chicken with plantains, and fish with a spicy sauce and beans and rice. Everything was washed down with sangria and fresh watermelon, and mango, juices. I highly recommend this place.
Cork on St. Armands (Dinner)
We ate downstairs, but ate from both menus (which was a very nice option to have). I had the black pepper biscuit with ham and pepper jelly appetizer to start. It was very good, but the portions were a little too cute for me. Not that I was looking for something gargantuan, but it was hard to get the full intensity of the flavors with such a petite morsel (think biscuits the size of two pieces of Cookie Crunch cereal placed bottom to bottom). And there were four of us, and four elfin biscuits. My husband had the steak frites, which he was very pleased with. I had the Rocket Salad, which was very good and extremely rich (I've never said that about a salad before). Our friends had the mac and cheese and Croque Monsieur, which were reportedly good as well.
Kilwin's Ice Cream on St. Armands (Dessert)
Ben and Jerry's was closed when we left Cork, so we followed our noses over to Kilwin's for some ice cream. I had the Cinnamon Bun. Loved the cinnamon, but not so much the bun - I'm not a fan of little gloppy pieces in my ice cream, unless they are made of peanut butter. Still it was very good. They also have wet walnuts which can be hard to find, and are like liquid gold to my husband. We also tried the chocolate peanut butter ice cream, very dark and wonderful. We had to wrench ourselves from the fudge case after trying the super-smooth peanut butter fudge.
Whole Foods (Breakfast)
We went down to the downtown Farmer's Market because we thought there would be some great breakfast eats there. Somehow we didn't see anything that lit our fires at the Market, and the other restaurants were more outdoor eateries or incredibly packed (did I mention it was 60 degrees with incredible winds? We weren't eating outside like some brave souls). In dire need of coffee and food, our party ducked into Whole Foods for some random eats and some joe. I reccommend the vegan chocolate chip cookie; it's even better than the regular chocolate chip cookie. Other than that, there isn't much to mention, except Sarasota's Whole Foods is better than mine and I am lime green with envy. Then we bought some produce from the Farmer's Market and emptied our bank accounts at Sur La Table (well, not really, but it required some amazing restraint on my part).
Sarasota Brewing Company (Snacks)
After a quick tour of the Ringling Museum, my husband requested that we head out to the Sarasota Brewing Company for some beer. I had the honey wheat, which was very good. I can't remember what my husband had, but it was good too - I think maybe an ale? And was the porter was excellent as well. We also had jalapeno poppers with a cilantro lime sauce and a plate of blackened chicken nachos. Both were tasty, maybe a half step above your normal bar food. Our server was great. Attentive and very friendly.
The Table (Dinner)
Upon other Hounds' advice, we made a rez for 7:30. We were seated promptly upon walking in the door. I ordered the Floridita cocktail, a tart and marvelous concoction of pomegranate vodka and grapefruit juice. We also had the Chilean Seabass Chowder (extremely good), baby snapper with yuca and tomato jam (very good), lamb chops (amazing, domestic lamb with a coffee rub), pork shank (very, very good), and wild salmon over rice (excellent). For dessert we had the key lime tart (not too sweet, very tart, and very good) and chocolate "explosion" or something to that effect. It was good, but your standard chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse. The service was fine, but we had the feeling that our server was burdened with too many large tables and didn't really quite maintain the level of service that I expect in that environment. He did, however, seem very knowledgeable about the menu and the ingredients, and the food was exceptional, so I would certainly return.
Word of Mouth Cafe (Breakfast)
Determined to do better than Whole Foods, we spotted this cafe across the street from Sarasota Brewing and, after finding a good review in Creative Loafing, we headed over there for breakfast. There was a slight wait when we walked in the door, but they offered free coffee to those who would wait, so we happily obliged. The decor is cute, and I liked the quotes written into the plaster on the walls. Also, their baked good look and smell amazing. I ordered three blueberry pancakes and was able to eat two; their portions are large. My huband had a breakfast sandwich and grits. Both were very tasty. Our friends had eggs and toast, and biscuits with sausages and sausage gravy. In all, we all highly recommend this place for those who want a really solid diner-style breakfast.
Obviously, feeling that we had not consumed enough sausage at breakfast, we stopped by Geiger's meats to see if they would be open for shopping. No such luck, so we headed on up to the Tampa Aquarium to look at fish and make sushi jokes. Then we went home for cocktails and dinner at Luma in Winter Park.
Thanks to all the Sarasota Hounds for your advice! It was a very enjoyable weekend (except for the lack of beachy weather).