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.
Former pro baseball player Shane William Rawley helms Shaner's Restaurant, where an arm that pitched 12 seasons in the major leagues now hoists menus of Italian and American food. The menu features burgers and sandwiches such as italian sausage and roast beef, alongside thin-crust pizzas such as the five-cheese white pizza and the supreme, boasting a medley of meat and vegetables. Sports games play on 14 high-definition televisions throughout the dining room, which also makes way for dancing powered by the tunes of a live DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.
The gastronomic gurus at The Savory Street Café and Bakery conjure a cornucopia of signature artisan breads to adorn their menu of breakfast- and lunch-centric fare. Roust slumbering appetites or hibernating woodland creatures with the lox-and-egg omelet, which accompanies its namesake ingredients with an entourage of cream cheese and chives; or, oil rusty jaw hinges with eggs benedict, english muffins elevating a stack of poached eggs, asparagus tips, and hollandaise sauce. The chef's signature Creative Craters dish stuffs crater artisan bread with eggs and cross-cultural ingredients such as spanish chorizo and francophiliac brie; a croissant filled with India-inspired curried chicken salad introduces lunchers to bread as flaky as Howard Hughes’ flint collection. Accompany the feast with offerings from the beverage menu, such as a white chocolate mocha or a chai latte.
Fresh fish, shellfish, and lean meat blend with spices at Maemi Peruvian Cuisine, where South American street fare and carefully plated entrees intermingle atop tables layered in colorful fabrics. Thinly sliced octopus and grilled steak crowned in fried egg showcase Peru’s national cuisine, as do tall glasses of Inca Kola and Cusqueña beer. The chefs put an Asian twist on appetizers, which include Japanese-style tempura and spring rolls, and servers unveil dishes amid booths, Peruvian artwork, and woven tapestries made from repurposed holiday sweaters.
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.