The Ritz Carlton Sarasota
I am not in the habit of giving poor reviews. The RitzCarlton was a client of mine and I always enjoyed dining there. However four us dined here for lunch and all felt the food and wine were not worth the prices. The lobster roll was simply a hot dog roll with a few pieces of warmed, buttered lobster. The chips were good but made up three quarters of the plate. The restaurant (Jack Dusty) certainly did not lose money on this selection. A better deal is Dockside Marker 4 in Venice. Two rolls for the same price ($21).
The wine list has great selections but is outrageously priced. The format is cumbersome and difficult to read. Twenty-six dollars for a glass of Rombauer Chardonnay? Really?
Pilot Grille Venice Beach
This has nothing to do with wine but I feel it’s important to mention the best hot dog place in Venice. My wife and I always enjoyed a spontaneous lunch break and over time we have gravitated to hot dog locations, mostly food trucks up north. We have tried all of the hot dog locations in Venice and find the Pilot Grille is the best for the price. The dog is large and sumptuous, chile or condiments are substantial, and it easily makes a meal, (Mad Dogs is our second choice and Jetty Jacks is third). This is a family operation with a brother operating the concession at Nokomis Beach.
Le Petit Jardin Cafe 1500 E. Venice Ave., Venice, FL
Stopped here for lunch the other day. Weather was rainy and cool and my wife and I needed some sustenance. This cozy little cafe is noted for quiches and crepes and they are wonderful. I enjoyed a petit crepe (smaller version) of Jambon (ham) with sautéed mushrooms and cheese. It was combined with a small crock of french onion soup for $11. My wife had a Crepe Parisienne with chicken, peas, carrots, and celery, and soup, for the same price. I would have ordered wine but the brand was Canyon Ranch which I feel is substandard.
This is one of the few restaurants in Venice I would have no problem returning to. Someday I will talk to them about their wine selections.
Grill Room 1635 US 41 Bypass, Venice 34291
Dined here yesterday. This a part of Norma Jeans Bar & Grill but has a separate entrance behind Norma Jeans. It’s extremely busy and I had to reserve for 4:30 PM to beat a group of forty at 6 PM. Not my favorite time to dine, but since ny wife and I were the only patrons at this time, we received a great deal of attention. Alberto, the manager, was most gracious to as was our server. The room is paneled in dark wood like a traditional steakhouse. This is a smaller and more rustic version of Capitol Grille. Howerver, there is a very relaxed feeling about the place. It shares a kitchen with Norma Jeans, but has its own dedicated line.
We had a nice discussion with our server, Sylvia about the entree’s. The choices of steak are many and seafood is also an option. She recommended Prime Rib ($19) or Filet Mignon ($24) so we obliged. After dining at a steakhouse at the Westfield Mall, I came to believe there was no quality Prime Rib on the suncoast. My attitude changed with this selection. The Prime Rib was juicy and flavorful, obviously slow cooked. Some restaurants microwave a piece and call it Prime Rib. The gray color gives it away. My wife was very pleased with her Filet Mignon, again done medium rare as requested. Sides were creamed spinach and steak fries. Both were quite good.
Regarding wine, this is another story. There was no wine list offered, only a blackboard. There are eight selections, one each of the major varietals. Like many restaurants in Florida, spirits get the attention and the menu lists numerous cocktails. The blackboard list was created by Mark Montalbano from ABC Wines in Venice. He has been working with the Grille owner Barry to start a wine program. Barry happened to be there so we discussed the future of his wine program. He admitted a limited knowledge of wine and is wants to increase wine exposure by using Mark to make selections and slowly introduce them to his staff and customers.
Since there was little choice, I dedided on the the only Cabernet Sauvignon, a McGuigan 2016 from Australia. ($8/$27) Rich and fruity, it showed nice cherry and cocoa overtones but good Cabernet flavor and accompanied the steaks well. Australian wines are noted for their early drinkability and this was no exception. The dining experience was excellent and I would recommend this restaurant.
Asaros, Laurel Rd. Venice 11/6/18
Asaros originated on Long Island, NY. and has been at this location for over two years. Venice has been a bastion of Italian restaurants and most of them have a history going back decades. Nothing wrong with tradition, but one can get tired of heavy sauces and lots of pasta. Asaros brings a fresh, classy, and expensive decor to the area. A lot of shiny metal and suburban chic. The entre’s are creative, atttractive and delicious. Somewhat on the pricey side, they are worth it. Last night I had a special of Vitello Asaro. It was breaded veal cutlet with prosciutto in a light wine sauce with chopped tomatoes and parley. Veal is expensive and so was this dish (23.95) but the meat was delicate and tasty. My guests had eggplant and seafood combo both of which had nice presentations and were also enjoyable.
The ambiance was busy but not overly noisy. The server was attentive but not intrusive. All in all a nice experience but the wine list leaves a lot to be desired. The selections are minimal and I find it hard to understand why so many selections are from South America. There are so many good Italian wines to offer that it seems the list was concentrated by price alone. The nice thing about Florida is that restaurants will offer you a taste of wine before ordering and in some cases allow you to compare two wines (by-the-glass only). In this case, I had good ecperience with the Supertuscan, Taneto, tasted it and ordered a bottle. Supertuscan is supposed to indicate Sangioves grapes with other varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. I found out that it’s mostly Syrah with some Sangiovese. The wine had good body and character it’s a stretch to call it a Supertuscan.
Sharky’s on the Pier , Venice 10/11/18
Not one of my favorite restaurants, but my wife thought we should try it for Sarasota Restaurant Week. I personally prefer Fins at Sharkys but found it to be closed for lunch. So we tried Sharky’s. Unfortunately it was not participating in restaurant week. The main reason I didn’t like it was the noise and the unkempt condition. Those are now only worse. It may be “right on the water” but I like a clean restaurant. Having spent many years visiting countless restaurants, I can sense a dirty place. That’s why I would not eat inside. Now you have to deal with countless pigeons that roam freely around and under your table.
Anyway, I ordered Mahi Mahi Tacos which were small but enjoyable. I also ordered two glasses of Sterling Sauvignon Blanc which is usually dependable but seemed to have more citrus character than usual, When I received the check I noticed 2 glasses of “The Seeker”. I asked the waitress about it and she explained they were out of the Sterling so they substituted The Seeker. I asked why and she said “they’re very close”. Come on. Another reaon to avoid this place.