Rumor has it that our last article about the four new restaurants that have joined under The Sarasota-Manatee Originals umbrella sent many of you into an absolute feeding frenzy. Well, hold on to your forks and knives because four new members have decided to join the party! Brasserie Belge, Pier 22 and both of Square 1 Burgers and Bar locations can now truly call themselves Originals.
A quick recap:
In 2003, a group of passionate restaurateurs, many with deep local roots, banded together to form The Sarasota-Manatee Originals (SMO), a group of over 50 local, independent restaurants that can boast more Florida Trend and Zagat top scores than any other location in the state, and is known for embodying the culture and flavors of our beloved West Coast.
Pretty much, if it’s affiliated with SMO, then it’s affiliated with good food.
Let’s go over the four new members. Let’s also concoct an exercise plan and look into pants with elastic waists because you are going to want to gorge yourself at these tasty eateries.
Belgian cuisine is known for providing America with a few of our favorite sinfully delicious treats. Waffles, of course. Sweet and creamy Belgian chocolate, considered to be the gourmet standard by which all other chocolate confections are measured. Beautiful, white wheat beers perfectly paired with orange slices on a balmy Summer day. Mussels in any kind of savory broth your little heart could desire. And fries. Dear God thank you for Belgium and and its gastronomically genius offering of ‘frites.’ You can get each and every one of those items at the gorgeously ambient, open for lunch or dinner, Brasserie Belge. Sunlit by day, romantic at night, this downtown Sarasota restaurant is the perfect spot for fries and beer at lunch or mussels and a decadent dessert at night. Brasserie Belge is owner Christian Zebier’s first restaurant located in the United States. He picked Sarasota as his landing spot after considering locations in Australia and South America and even nearby Miami. But after a drive through our beautiful city, he was sold. His beautiful restaurant, Brasserie Belge, is a testament to traditional brasserie-style dining and contemporary innovative cuisine. Be sure to check out the ‘Nightly Specials’ tab on the website where every night celebrates something wonderful, from martinis to mousse.
Appetizer: Toast brioché aux Champignons. Toasted bread topped with mushrooms
in garlic cream sauce. Mushroom fans rejoice. This dish is delish.
Entree: Cassolette de Moules. One and half pound mussels steamed with celery, onion and butter and served in an enamel pot accompanied by Belgian fries. BB has their mussels flown in from Prince Edward Island and delivered fresh each and every morning.
Dessert: All of them. Seriously. They’re made with Belgian chocolate. Order two of everything.
Pier 22’s website pretty much sums it up: “A truly unique Florida waterfront dining experience. Waterfront indoor and terrace dining, enclosed patio with entertainment and an elegant ballroom.” Located on the Manatee River, this restaurant embodies casual sophistication. And, it makes 3K very, very, very happy. Here’s why: ‘Pier 22 presents a new Butcher Board Menu. The menu provides a unique quality that no others in the region have been able to replicate. Pier 22 purchases an entire organically grown, pesticide free Angus beef cow from a local ranch that then processes the meat to the restaurant’s exact specifications. These are healthy, docile animals that feast on a “gourmet” salad bar of clover, wheat, oat, rye grass, millet and are all USDA certified organic. Pier 22 offers a variety of selected cuts of meats which changes routinely to bring only the best highest quality preparations for you and your guests to enjoy. The Butcher Board Menu is available with the regular Dinner Menu beginning at 5pm daily.’ HOW AWESOME IS THAT? If a restaurant is willing to take it upon itself to ensure that their dishes reflect quality not only in taste but in the process from farm to fork, then you can be certain that they’ve paid attention to every dining detail. With the sparkling river as your backdrop and a menu that could satisfy any taste bud, this is the kind of place that you bring visiting guests, friends or family who will subsequently think you are the most intelligent person on earth for living here and eating at this restaurant.
Appetizer: Tempura Artichokes. Artichoke hearts, tomato, lemon-caper butter and Asiago cheese.
Entree: Fresh Catch. Why not opt for what’s fresh? They also offer sushi. Kind of the same thing, right?
Dessert: Key Lime Pie. You can never go wrong with Key Lime Pie, especially when eaten at a waterfront setting. They just go hand-in-hand.
Square 1 Burgers and Bar - Tamiami and University
What could be more wonderful than a good ol’ burger joint? Sure, Square 1 offers burgers and milkshakes, but discard your traditional notions of the malt shop and check out this contemporary eatery’s delightfully indulgent twists on the classics. Kobe, Buffalo, Turkey, Portabella, Vegan and Ostrich are just a few of surprise contenders on this action-packed menu. You can thank owners Bill Shumate and Joanie Corneil for developing a new take on an old standby. This restaurant prides itself on its bold, lively and oh-so-charming ‘Cowboy Chic’ decor. Deco furniture, pony-upholstered seats and bright red chandeliers set the tone for a meal that’s meant to be enjoyed. This is not a stuffy restaurant. This is the kind of restaurant where you order burgers so succulent that the juice runs down your arms, where you laugh as loudly as you want and where you leave with a smile as big as your plate. What’s super cool about Square 1 is that they encourage you to customize their menu. Switch, swap and mix things around until your burger is just the way you want it. A plethora of cheese and toppings means you could come here for a lifetime and possibly never order the same thing twice. And vegetarians, do not despair! Square 1 makes one mighty fine grilled cheese sandwich and their portabella mushroom sandwich is just as satisfying, and possibly juicier, than any of their meat selections. Take out or curbside, kids parties or adult meetings, gourmet burgers or just plain ol’ cheddar and pickles, Square 1 is thrilled to cater to your needs. And please don’t get me started on the Sooner sauce. I don’t know what’s in it other than too many calories and magical ingredients that could only have been created by some sort of deity who was trying to earn his title as King of Condiments. PS - check out their stellar drink menu, from X-Rated milkshakes to craft beers, this isn’t your mama’s burger shop. Unless your mother is Joanie, in which case, this certainly isn’t my mama’s 50’s burger shop.
Appetizer: Onion rings and Sooner sauce. You must. They are heavy, so consider sharing...with the entire restaurant. Totally worth every bite.
Entree: You meat eaters have so many options to choose from your head will spin. Awesome toppings, cheeses, sauces, eggs, veggies and more. This gal opts for their famous X-Rated Grilled Cheese. Gruyère & sharp cheddar cheeses, dill pickle slices, beefsteak tomato and mayonnaise melted between two slices of grilled sourdough bread. Oh, and I top mine with fried egg. Because that’s how I roll. When in Burger Rome, do as the Burger Romans do - go big or go home.
Dessert: Who could eat dessert? Probably me. Opt for SQ1 Zepps. Sweet ricotta beignets with SQ1’s incredible warm chocolate sauce. Then go home, drink 100 glasses of water and walk Ringling Bridge until your legs fall off.
The Sarasota-Manatee Originals are a powerhouse of delicious restaurants. Check out the website at www.freshoriginals.com
or visit any of these amazing restaurants:
15 South Ristorante • Andrea’s • Anna Maria Oyster Bar • Beachhouse Restaurant • The Bijou Café • Blu Que Island Grill • Brasserie Belge • Bridge Street Bistro • Broken Egg Restaurants • Café Baci • Café Continental • Café Venice Restaurant & Wine Bar • Cantina Toscana • Caragiulos • Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant • Ciao! Italia • Cosimo’s Brick Oven • The Crow’s Nest • Derek’s Culinary Casual • Drunken Poet Café • Euphemia Haye • Fast n Fresh • Gold Rush BBQ • Harry’s Continental Kitchens • Libby’s Cafe + Bar • Lobster Pot • Lynches Pub & Grub • Madfish Grill • Mar Vista • Mi Pueblo • Michael’s On East • Michelle’s Brown Bag Café • Ophelia’s on the Bay • Ortygia Restaurant • Pattigeorge’s • Polo Grill and Bar • Primo! Ristorante • Rotten Ralph’s • Salute! Restaurant • Sandbar Seafood & Spirits • Savory Street • Sharky’s on the Pier • Siesta Key Oyster Bar • SoMa Diner • Square 1 • Tandoor Indian Restaurant • The Sandbar • The Savory Street • The Waterfront Restaurant • Vertori’s • Village Cafe