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Derek's Culinary Casual - Sarasota Gem


viejomajadero
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While my wife has been coming to Siesta Key for over 30 years I have only made the trek three times. This trip was turning into a culinary disaster.

Had two trips to the chain Bone Fish in Sarasota. Food looked better in print than it tasted. While I could not complain about quality I found the food to be bland, with no depth of flavor, except for a steamed mussel dish. I had an amusing incident also. In making room for myself at the table, I pushed aside the bread basket, unaware that the end of the basket napkin went into the lit candle which caught on fire. I swatted the napkin to put out the flame but it flipped up throwing a hot wax drop on my finger nail. My brain did not work fast enough to put my finger in the ice water on the table. Man did that hurt.

We then went to an old standby, Ophelia’s On The Bay. The hostess was extremely over weight and under dressed, showing more than I needed to see. She had a bad attitude, kind of like –I don’t want to be here. Service was excellent, the view was wonderful, but the food was late 1950’s. It is time for a young chef, with young and creative ideas to lift this place out of the past.

Relatives visited from Clearwater and wanted to go to Euphemia Haye in Longboat Key. My first and last time there. Food wise it was the same as Ophelia’s, tired, old style, boring, etc. The Chef came to our table and asked how the food was. My wife signaled me to smile and keep quiet. I have been known to be frank and honest.

We then met a local on the beach who seemed food knowledgeable. She recommended a place. On the way there we stopped for wine at the Wine Warehouse, 1919 Southwood Street. Fabulous place, great selection and prices. They talked the kind of food talk we like to hear and recommended ----- Derek’s – Culinary Casual, downtown Sarasota.

From the outside and judging from the neighborhood I would have passed by this place and not entered. But that would have been my loss. We had no reservation and were greeted at the door by dining room manager Max Burke-Phillips. Max was appropriately dressed and cheerful (unlike Ophelia’s). He seated us, recognized we were out-of-towners and foodies and began friendly discourse. The space is warehouse like but cute and well appointed. It has about 25 tables and a Chef’s table by the open cooking area.

The wine list was small, well chosen, and for the most part inexpensive. The menu had 8 appetizers under the heading Small Plates and Bowls. It had 11 Entrees under the heading Principle Dishes. We ate there two nights. My favorite appetizer was the Sweetbreads “Club”. Pan seared veal sweetbreads with tomato jam, crispy prosciutto, baby beet greensand brown butter and mustard emulsion. ($10.00) Also enjoyed the Wild Scottish Salmon Salad. ($9.00) My wife had the House Salad “Caesaresque” but felt it was too plain. ($8.00) As for Entrees, we had the Land and Sea (Crispy seared pork confit and monkfish medallions w/ Du Puy lentils, shaved Bosc pear, watercress and pear emulsion,). ($25.00) Duck Two Ways (seared duck breast and pecan crusted leg confit w/ creamed spaetzle, bacon braised greens and burnt honey jus.). ($26.00) Prince Edward Island Mussels ( Sautéed mussels w/ chickpeas, chorizo, sweet peppers and grilled tomato butter. ($17.00) And, my favorite, Yellow Fin Tuna (Pan seared yellow fin tuna w/ fennel, orange and cippolini onion tart with pea vines, olives, preserved lemon, crumbled feta and toasted garlic vinaigrette) ($27.00)

Chef/Owner Derek Barnes talked the talk and walked the walk. He is ably assisted by Kevin Adey – Sous Chef and a terrific dining room staff. I hope others discover this gem and support it, so that on my next visit I can dine there again. I already spread the word among our friends and family.

The bottom of the menu states “At Derek’s, our mission is to introduce you to new flavors, textures, and techniques while updating some classic comfort foods.” That they did, and other area restauranteurs should take note.

514 Central Avenue, Sarasota

941-366-6565

www.dereks-sarasota.com

Viejo

Edited by viejomajadero (log)

"A dry crust of bread eaten in peace and quiet is better than a feast eaten where everyone argues" Proverbs (17:1).

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Thanks for the reviews! We don't get that far south too often, but next time we hit that area I will refer to this.

Food for thought: does the waitress's weight have anything to do with the service? It sounds like her attitude might have been the real issue. I can assure you as a fat person that I am not sullen. In fact I am cheerful, and I am service oriented when at work, and community oriented all of the time. ;-)

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I agree Derek's is a fantastic choice. Derek really knows his stuff and isn't shy about putting some things out there that you don't find on the typical Sarasota menu. There are tons of dining choices in town, it's nice to have some that are unique in the food that they prepare and the style that the serve it. - Larry

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Thanks for the reviews!  We don't get that far south too often, but next time we hit that area I will refer to this.

Food for thought: does the waitress's weight have anything to do with the service?  It sounds like her attitude might have been the real issue.  I can assure you as a fat person that I am not sullen.  In fact I am cheerful, and I am service oriented when at work, and community oriented all of the time.  ;-)

Beverly,

Actually, you got it wrong. I noted the service was excellent at Ophelia's. I did not use the word fat. But, being overweight and wearing a low cut short skirted lacy outfit in my opinion was not appropriate. And, a hostess with a bad attitude sets the tone for the evening negatively.

Thanks

Viejo

"A dry crust of bread eaten in peace and quiet is better than a feast eaten where everyone argues" Proverbs (17:1).

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
Glad everything is still well. As I wrote in the previous thread on Derek's, its the best in Sarasota IMO. I am headed back to SRQ in three weeks for a six month stay and am looking forward to my weekly dose of Derek's.

PREVIOUS THREAD HERE

I arrive there in late November, so I don't know the state of things at this point. I do love a good steak at Flemings, but that is more of a chain (albeit a very nice one)... There are some good places on Long Boat (Maison Blanche was always very nice, but I haven't been in a year), but I am leery of making a suggestion without having been in months... anyone?

Edited by twhalliii (log)
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I think I can help. For upscale on Longboat, here are some choices:

Pattigeorge's

Colony Dining Room

Euphemia Haye

Cafe on the Bay, and of course Maison Blanche

Derek's is great of course, but do check out:

The Rustic Grill

Cru Bistro and Sangria Tapas Bar, they are all downtown

You can check out a few hundred restaurants on www.dinesarasota.com

LJH

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  • 2 months later...

I would like to add my 2 cents worth living here in Sarasota, and eating out regularly, I find the following:

Derek"s--good food but very very noisy. Very hard to hear across the table.

The Table--excellent and one of the best in Sarasota

Michaels On East--Don't bother--have gone way down hill, with attitudes

Bijou--One of the best in the city. Everything is excellent

Esca: On Main St. New restaurant but very very good

Deja Vu--husband and wife team really doing a wonderful job

Euphemia Faye--Best duck you have ever had

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  • 7 months later...

Just got back from Siesta Key. Had two dinners at Dereks in Sarasota. They have not skipped a beat. Both times we were rewarded with intersting dishes. Love having a quality place to to dine in an area that should be offering a lot more.

Went to a few other places and will report them in another thread.

Viejo

"A dry crust of bread eaten in peace and quiet is better than a feast eaten where everyone argues" Proverbs (17:1).

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