Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant not only imports ingredients and products, but also recipes. With roots in northern Spain and Catalonia, these dishes come together on a menu of more than 100 hot and cold tapas selections, along with paella and cazuela. Paella, a widely varied rice dish cooked at length in a wide pot over open flame, can contain Serrano ham, scallops, pork, chorizo, and saffron rice the stunning golden hue of an alchemist's magazine advertisements. Though the restaurant spans multiple locations, each one presents guests with some charming element: a poolside patio at the Tampa location, a central tapas bar in Orlando, and a flamenco room in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, no matter the location, events bring about live music and joviality, all supported by an ample list of Spanish and Portuguese wines.
The locally inspired seafood at Duval's New World Cafe is freshly caught from the ocean. There's scallops rockafella, with crispy fried oysters and asparagus-mushroom risotto, and there's North Atlantic lobster tail that can be paired with chimichurri, stuffed with crab and shrimp, baked with drawn butter, or twinned with another lobster. And they cook up more than merely ocean-sourced fare: they bake lamb chops with cashew pesto and sizzle ribeyes and filet mignon until they are so hot meteorologists study it.
A towering wine rack spans an entire wall and glimmers with more than 1,000 bottles. Across the room, a lineup of nitrogen-regulated Enomatic machines dispenses samples from 80 wines to be sipped, swirled, and theatrically spit while reclining on a leather sofa, or while sitting at the long wooden bar. Small, shareable plates populate Sarasota Vineyard's menu in the forms of cheeses, roasted olives, and prosciutto-wrapped figs, ideal for pairing with wines or barley pops from a list of 20 beers.
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.
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.
Blue Dolphin Cafe's team of culinary wizards uses fresh ingredients to conjure up its menu of café fare. Satiate late-rising appetites and confuse alarm clocks with all-day breakfast options such as the corned beef hash, blanketed with a duo of eggs ($9.99), or the Blue Dolphin omelet, which outfits sausage and green onions in an eggy overcoat ($8.99). Bread-bookended bites include a chicken-salad sandwich ($7.99) and Jet's Jewel of a Sandwich, which layers roasted turkey, cranberry sauce and tarragon mayonnaise between slices of grilled rye bread ($9.99). Blue Dolphin Cafe also caters to both ends of the carnivorous spectrum, with the Surfer Burger ($8.99) riding a wave of fresh chopped beef and a bowl of veggie chili ($5.75) available to those wishing to act on their anti-meat desires.