Admittedly, Umbrellas has now been in place for a few months already but it still felt brand new to me as I had yet to visit! Located in the historic space next to the Sarasota Opera House, the vibe is chic but with some pretty color and personality. This spot is one of the couple in town that never seem to house any one business for long (looking at you former-Rustic Grill/Darwins/everything else & also former location of The Table on Hillview, since reincarnated too many times to keep track of) and we’ll see if Umbrellas is an exception…so far I’d give it about 50/50 shot of still being around in a year or two.
I visited twice, once for happy hour and once for lunch. At happy hour, I made the very un-happy discovery at my 6:08pm arrival that happy hour only goes until 6:00 :-/ Drinks are half price during happy hour and run about $14 each the rest of the day. I had a traditional martini (it was fine but the blue cheese olives definitely came from a pre-stuffed jar - yuck!) and my friend had a glass of wine. The bartenders were cheerful and attentive, but the place was so loud we had to relocate after one drink to be able to have a conversation. I didn’t love the whole experience but decided that to be fair I needed to return and actually try some food.
I went back for lunch the next day and at first we were the only table seated; not such a good sign! Our waiter was really nice but the food came out in a funny & weirdly-timed order, and my dining companion didn’t realize until that evening that the second course in his Savor Sarasota meal was completely omitted! He did return at a later date and brought back a very rich chocolate torte that was delicious. I loved the fried brussels sprouts, but one word of warning: the bucket of french fries is literally a large bucket completely full of fries. It was kind of fun but so excessive that it was almost strange. About 20 people could have dined on that amount of french fries and everyone would have been stuffed! Finally, even though lunch was way less crowded than happy hour, it was still very loud as the sound just seems to ricochet around the place.
Maybe it is a lingering negative feeling about the location - I felt that ROAST was absolutely the worst restaurant downtown - but I just wasn’t thrilled with my experience at Umbrellas. No one thing stood out as being completely horrible and meal-ruining, but the general feel for me was just mediocre. And, as cheap&crabby-old-lady as this will make me sound, when I’m having a $14 cocktail, I just want to really enjoy the whole thing: the atmosphere, the coldness of the drink, the company I’m with, etc. It was fine, but just not special, in my humble opinion.
Even though I wasn’t crazy about the volume level inside, outside can be another story! There is a really nice courtyard where, once it is not a million degrees plus humidity out, I’ll return to check out some of the live music options Umbrellas features regularly: Jazz Jam on Mondays, Fridays ROCK!, Latin dancing on Saturdays, Ladies’ Night on Thursdays, Weekend Brunch, Jazz Thursdays and Gypsy Jazz on Sunday…
I hope you will give Umbrellas a chance and pop over for an early happy hour or dinner. It seemed like they were still working out some new-restaurant kinks so I’ll give it another shot once they’ve had more time to perfect their art!