lifestyle

Savor Sarasota Starts Tomorrow!

Plan your culinary adventure around nearly 100 area restaurants that are slashing their menu prices for Savor Sarasota.  Starting tomorrow, a wide variety of local restaurants will offer a special prix-fixe menu of $16/person for lunch and $32/per for dinner for a 3-course meal.  Savor Sarasota runs from June 1 to June 14 only so the time to get out and try something new in our area is now!  

Duval's Fresh Local Seafood

Duval's Fresh Local Seafood

Participating Restaurants

We can't wait to try many of these!  Here's a partial list of participating restaurants in the downtown area:

Tsunami Sushi & Habachi Grill

Tsunami Sushi & Habachi Grill

  • Brand-new Element Modern Mediterranean Grill
  • Mozaic
  • Beulah
  • The Coolinary
  • Prague
  • Bijou Café
  • Café Epicure
  • Evoq @ the Westin Hotel 
  • Jack Dusty @ the Ritz Carlton
  • Louie's Modern
  • Lolita Tartine 
  • The Blue Rooster
  • El Greco
  • Mélange

There are literally more than we can mention in this post, but suffice it to say that if you have a downtown favorite, it's on the list.  For a full list of all the Savor Sarasota restaurants, visit their website here.  

Savor Sarasota is county-wide so you can enjoy some of our best restaurants off of Main Street downtown as well!  Here are some we recommend checking out around the rest of Sarasota County:

Carmel

Carmel

University Park/Lakewood Ranch

  • Sophie's at Saks - UTC Mall
  • Capital Grille - UTC Mall
  • Carmel - Cooper Creek

Lido Key

  • One of our faves, Shore
  • Tommy Bahama
  • Crab & Fin
  • Café L'Europe

Longboat Key

Shore

Shore

  • Another personal favorite of Realtor Extraordinaire, Euphemia Haye
  • Harry's Continental Kitchen
  • Chart House

Siesta Key

  • Ophelia's on the Bay
  • Siesta Key Oyster Bar
  • Café Gabbiano
  • Miguel's

North Sarasota

Siesta Key Oyster Bar

Siesta Key Oyster Bar

  • Half-Shell Seafood House
  • Muse @ the Ringling
  • Rodizio Grill
  • Mona Lisa in The Meadows

South Sarasota

  • Off the Hook Seafood Co.
  • Ruth's Chris Steak House
  • Roessler's Restaurant
  • Mattison's Forty-One
  • Café Baci
  • Bravo Coastal Bar & Kitchen

Enjoy the opportunity this month to taste and sample many of our best restaurants!  Bon appetit!

This Season in the Arts

It’s about to be that time — the time our cultural landscape switches into high gear.  From art galleries to music venues to theater, there is no question why Sarasota has often been dubbed “The Cultural Coast.”  Here’s a quick summary of what’s coming to the big stages in Sarasota this upcoming season.  

2017-2018 Season Review

Asolo Repertory Theatre

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The Asolo’s season will open with Andrew Lloyd Webber classic Evita showcasing Eva Peron’s rise to power in Argentina.  The play will be directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, who handled Guys and Dolls in the 2016-2017 season.  Evita runs November 18 through December 30.

After the new year, the Asolo will be only the third theater in the country to stage Shakespeare in Love, a stage adaptation of the award-winning movie about Will Shakespeare and his muse, Viola.  Shakespeare in Love runs January 19 to March 4.

Closing off next season, from June 6 to June 24, the Rep will put on The Jungle Book.  This is a world-premier put on by the creators of last season’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  Enhanced by whimsical videos and audience-interaction technology, this production of the Kipling classic looks like it will be compelling, to say the least.

For Asolo Rep’s full schedule and for tickets, visit their website here.

Sarasota Opera

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What is more downtown than heading to the opera?  The stunning Opera House, which sits in the heart of downtown on Pineapple Avenue, was originally built in 1926 and completely renovated nearly 10 years ago.  If you haven’t stopped in lately, step into old world Sarasota and plan a night at the Opera this season.  This season includes six performances, including two absolutely time-honored productions, La Traviata and Carmen.

For the Opera’s full schedule and for tickets, visit their website here.

Sarasota Ballet

Iain Webb’s Sarasota Ballet Company enters its 27th Season with an exciting range of 13 ballets by some of the most celebrated and prestigious choreographers and composers of the ballet world.  First up this season is the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic The Secret Garden, bringing the story of Mary, an orphan sent to live with a recluse uncle, and her secret garden to life by narration, puppetry, and dance.

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Always a seasonal favorite, the Ballet will put on The Nutcracker in December.  This adaptation is done Sarasota-style, so be prepared for some circus flair!

For full schedule and tickets, visit the Ballet’s website here.

The Newest View: Westin Sarasota

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For some time now, we've been watching the changing cityscape of downtown Sarasota.  With the addition of eye-catching high-rises such as the Jewel and VUE, it's clear that Sarasota real estate is looking to the sky.  After months of looking at the construction obstruction at Tamiami and the base of the Ringling Bridge, we are finally rewarded with a new View from the Top!

The Westin Sarasota

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The Westin Sarasota is located immediately adjacent to the VUE at 1175 N. Gulfstream Avenue and stands 18 stories tall, offering expansive views of Sarasota Bay.  If you're looking for a luxury stay-cation, check in to one of the 255 rooms for the weekend.  They've got a full-treatment spa and salon, a rooftop pool, and two full restaurants: EVOQ, which offers lighter versions of comfort-food in an upscale setting; and The Roof Bar & Eats.

The View from the Roof Top

Ascend to the top level of the Westin to visit The Roof Bar & Eats.  I took the trek last week to get the full experience of Sarasota's hottest new scene.  As promised, the view was spectacular.  Given that the Roof is right next to the rooftop pool, guests are encouraged to wear poolside attire and relax as they enjoy the spanning views of the Bay, the Marina, Ringling Bridge, Golden Gate Point, and mainland downtown.  The menu here focuses of "craft" style everything - from craft beer to craft cocktails - and has a constantly changing menu of upscale bar bites.

The view certainly was stunning and my companions, who live in a high-rise downtown and are very familiar with the Sarasota skyline, and I were struck by the different perspective the location offers.  We could see an angle of downtown - right down Main Street from the bayfront all the way to where it ends - that was not previously available, which was interesting, plus the water views on the other side directly over the bay can't be beat.  The only downside to this new hot-spot is that the drinks are served in plastic, something I find hard to get past when not actually poolside.

The addition of the Westin's Roof Bar & Eats to the waterfront section of downtown will certainly prove to be a good one, as it will attract similar crowds to that of ever-packed Jack Dusty and will quite likely attract the post-gala, post-theatre crowd during season.  I can only imagine this place will be hopping every day in a very short amount of time if its success now is any indicator--it was packed for happy hour on a Tuesday when I went.  The kicker?  They don't even offer happy hour prices, so everyone is just there to enjoy the next big thing and the view from the top of the Westin.  


Lila: Fresh New Downtown Hotspot

Written by Molly Russo

Lila opened on Main Street in the fall of 2016, and we are just finally able to say we've been there.  (Let's be serious, Realtors can be a little busy during "season"!)  But now that the crowds have thinned, the waits have shortened, and the emails have slowed to 100 a day instead of 300, we had time this week to spend the lunch hour at a leisurely pace at this fresh, healthy, and delicious Lila.  

So What's the Vibe?

This restaurant has a cool, comfortable, rustic vibe from the moment you walk through the door.  Its clean and modern look of wood, metal, and glass is punctuated by fresh greenery on the front table and wide-matte shots of bright fruits and veggies on the wall.  Lila, which (in case you hadn't heard) is pronounced "lee-lah", is a dream come true to anyone with food allergies.  The menu is built on a foundation of farm-fresh vegetables, presented exquisitely and prepared to perfection, and is almost entirely gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly.  

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Sorry, did you say Vegan???

Let's carify: VEGAN-INSPIRED.  This is not a vegan-only restaurant, but it is one that offers endless options for those on restrictive diets. And as someone with food allergies, I must say I've never been more excited looking over a menu and not having to skip straight to salads that don't have croutons.  My table mates were Allison, a dedicated and longtime vegetarian, and our colleague who eats a normal diet.  While obviously guided by vegan/vegetarian cuisine with a side of meat, as opposed to the opposite, this menu reads like a page of Bon Appetit, and leaves even the "normal"-eating omnivore with mouth-watering options.  There were full on vegetarian/vegan dishes, such as beet salad, veggie burger, and stir fry, and there was also a section of the menu with eggs, meat, chicken, and seafood that can be added to any meal.  After much discussion and internal debate, we ended up with:

  • The Macro Bowl - ordered by the vegetarian
  • The Bean Tostadas - ordered by the gluten-free, dairy-free
  • The Greek Salad plus shrimp - ordered by the person without dietary restrictions

But... would we go back?

We all agreed at the end of this meal that Lila was a hotspot worth revisiting.  The flavors were interesting, the dishes were well-seasoned, and we all left feeling good--not stuffed to the gills or over-indulgent.

The menu is amazing; the food is incredible and succulent and creative.  We found the prices a bit high for lunch (all of our lunches were $12 or more per plate), but expected given the farm-to-table nature of Lila.  We also thought the service was a little slow; after all was said and done, our appetizer-less lunch took over an hour.  Again, this is probably thanks to the fact that everything is freshly prepared at the time you order it.  Overall, however, this is a new lunch place we would be happy to frequent again.

Lila. 1576 Main Street, Downtown Sarasota.  941.296.1042

All Faiths Food Bank's Campaign Against Summer Hunger

What do you think when you think of Sarasota?

When most people think of Sarasota, they think of the rolling white sand beaches, the rich arts and cultural community, and the seemingly endless options of shops and restaurants.  What our vibrant community masks is an underlying problem of hunger and food insecurity.  

"When school ends, hunger begins."

That's the motto of the Campaign Against Summer Hunger, an initiative taken on annually by All Faiths Food Bank.  For the food bank, the problem is two-fold: first, the seasonal nature of Sarasota means that their cupboards are at their fullest when our snowbird residents are in town so when they leave, so does a big source of food and fund revenue for All Faiths; second, during the summer, children that are normally fed by free- or reduced-lunch (and sometimes -breakfast) programs at school now have to fend for themselves for food at home.  1/2 of Sarasota students benefit from these programs at school, so it is estimated that one in every two children go home to bare cupboards during the summer, and this doesn't include younger siblings that may not be of school-age yet.

No one can tell by looking at a child that he or she is hungry. Because smiles mask it and laughter muffles it, child hunger is deceptive, and it exists everywhere.
— All Faiths Food Bank

As a member of the food bank's Summer Hunger Committee, I want to raise awareness of this often-overlooked, or even hidden, problem in our community.  This year, the food bank aims to feed over 40,000 children over their summer via increasing their presence in the community: their number of food distributions goes up, they stock backpacks full of food for children at libraries and other community centers, they provide food to daycares and early childhood centers, and their partnership with Sarasota County Schools enables the schools to increase their reach and feed more kids hot meals every day.  All in all, it is a very robust, comprehensive, and ambitious program that I'm proud to support.

Be part of the solution.

Until May 15th, contributions to the Campaign Against Summer Hunger are matched dollar-for-dollar by a group of investors, meaning every dollar you donate goes twice as far.  Here are some other ways you can help.

  • Donate - time or funds are both needed this time of year!  
  • Run a food drive.
  • Increase awareness of both the problem AND the solution!

To find out more about how to help your neighbors in need, visit AllFaithsFoodBank.org.  

Downtown Lifestyle: Shakespeare in the Garden

Downtown Sarasota offers an array of unique things to do on any given night of the week.  One of the highlights this month was the presentation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Selby Gardens.  

A more perfect location for the whimsical play set in a forest at night you simply couldn’t find.  

The FSU/Asolo Conservatory is a three-year MFA program for actors.  During the students' second year, they put on a four-show season, typically in the smaller Cook Theater, located at the Asolo just north of downtown Sarasota.  Any of the plays they put on are worthy of attending; I've always been amazed at the talent fostered in the Conservatory!  However, if you only attend one, let it be Shakespeare in the Garden.  Actors and audiences alike have been fortunate to benefit from the partnership with downtown’s Selby Gardens, with a performance of Twelfth Night in 2015, A Midsummer Night's Dream this month, and will continue next season with an outside presentation of Much Ado About Nothing.

The stage was set up in the foreground with limited seating surrounding it.  A food truck with French cuisine, wine, and beer was at hand as the doors opened a half hour before sunset.  Ever-thoughtful, there was also a bug-spray station when you walked in, of which nearly everyone was taking advantage.  As you can see from the picture at the top, the view did not disappoint when you entered the seating area.  The performance began at sundown, very apropos for the nighttime setting of the play.  Actors took advantage of the surroundings, positioned not only on the stage front-and-center, but under trees on the periphery, hidden behind bushes by the audience, and even from the peninsula across the water behind the main stage.  

Shakespeare itself does not need a review.  We know A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of his most renown comedies.  Nor does Selby Gardens require one--the longstanding oasis walkable from downtown Sarasota is far from unknown.  But the combination of the two created the perfect scene for both.  The gardens complimented the play and the play complimented the gardens.  With full sound mixing, music, amplification, and lighting, the performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream on waterfront downtown Sarasota simply was fantastic.  The final performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream happen this weekend.  I cannot wait for Much Ado next year and hope to see many of you there at this special downtown experience!