L'Etoile takes its name from the French word for star, and under the painstaking direction of husband-and-wife team Marc-Jean and Trish Berruet its kitchens live up to their namesake, releasing dish after dish of French cuisine to dazzle diners with bright combinations of flavors passed down from Marc-Jean's French-chef father. Guests sample succulent steak, fresh seafood, and dulcet pastries in a restaurant space glowing with soft light from overhead chandeliers, which send warm beams of light through crystal glassware onto white tablecloths to create an atmosphere that, like a cashmere cummerbund, simultaneously exudes elegance and comfort. Guests feast eyes and bellies on the restaurant’s offerings, enjoying dishes of tender cuts of rib eye, veal, and duck, along with tasty meals of steamed mussels, crab cakes, and shrimp, every order meticulously sauced and artfully plated in the timeless style of traditional French cooking.
By the time he was 20, Christian Zebier was serving as maître d'hôtel for a prestigious restaurant in Belgium. After a five-year stint teaching primary school, he realized that his heart lay in hospitality, and that children have terrible table manners. The first business Zebier began, Air du Temps, deployed an elite staff to serve such distinguished parties as the Belgian royal family.
Zebier stuffed his fine-tuned sense of hospitality into a suitcase and brought it to the United States, where he opened Brasserie Belge. He felt that Sarasota's open-minded, well-traveled residents could appreciate the traditional ambiance of a brasserie. The restaurant's attentive staff serves a menu of Belgian cuisine, such as Prince Edward Island mussels delivered fresh every morning and served with one of 12 styles of belgian fries. On the leather couches of the piano lounge, patrons enjoy Belgian beers, specialty martinis, and small plates.
As a café, bakery, and art gallery, Burns Court Café provides pleasant sensory overload for its guests, whether they’re enjoying live jazz music or staring in a daze at the Italian gelato and sorbet selections. Here, French café fare—such as daily quiches and melt-in-your-mouth croque-monsieur (the Frenchy take on grilled ham and cheese)—merges with real Italian coffee and Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. Once monthly, the café features a new exhibition with work from local artists.
An old world union of shiny red tablecloths, wall murals, and rustic wooden accents forms the backdrop for La Cote Basque's chefs, who harness traditional European recipes to imbue their menu with classic French, Italian, and German flavors. Complex flavor combinations tastily define La Cote Basque’s menu. The restaurant’s palate-popular chefs enlist sherry to sauté shrimp, fresh mushrooms, and peppers before recruiting brandy to flambé the entire concoction while a sunny-side-up egg adorns schnitzel holstein, a breaded veal cutlet served with anchovies and capers. Like friendship bracelets traded by butchers, the medallions senater assorties encompasses six different meats, including beef marsala, veal piccata, and chicken parmesan. House wines, such as chianti and sangria, complement the international-dining experience.
With sautéed gator, housemade crab cakes, and coconut french toast, Sanibel Cafe doesn’t let guests forget that they’re dining on a tropical island. This selection continues the tradition of homestyle cooking that the café established when it first opened in 1978 as the Pancake and Omelette House. This stage of its life ended in 1984, and, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, the eatery reopened as Sanibel Cafe. For more than two decades now, Sanibel’s kitchen has been keeping diners coming back with savory island-inspired cuisine for both breakfast and lunch.
In addition to signature items such as sautéed gator, morning diners fork into more traditional eats such as strip steak escorted by hash browns and stacks of pancakes that diners can scarf down or transform into smiley faces to convey the exact level of their happiness. At midday, the kitchen begins piling burgers and sandwiches with country-fried steak, charbroiled beef patties, fried shrimp, and grilled fish. Just like its seafood-laden kaiser rolls, the café’s decor pays tribute to its tropical location: joining hanging plants and cerulean pendant lamps, one-of-a-kind tabletops feature intricate patterns of fossilized seashells handpicked and patterned by artist Sue Stephens.
Pineapple-spice muffins, asian noodle soup, and Boar's Head roast-beef sandwiches with swiss cheese, pear, and balsamic vinegar. These are just a few of the recent offerings at The Coffee Cup, where a chef whips up new treats each day. The café's baristas pour freshly brewed coffee, cappuccinos, and specialty café drinks such as salted-caramel lattes, and music fills the air on open-mic nights.