We had a great mini vacation visiting my parents in Florida...I say mini because who can actually feel that they are on vacation when visiting their parents? We were there for four days which was just enough time. One night we wanted to explore on our own, much to my mother's chagrin since she had a pork roast all set for that night. Greg and I left in the afternoon and went shopping. When we were hungry, we both decided not to try any of the restaurants on US41, which were either huge Italian eateries in pastel stucco buildings, or big chain places like Applebees and Ruth Chris. Its hard in Sarasota to find a restaurant with some charm, but we did it. We drove through the historic Burns Arts District where there are cute bungalows with overgrown front yards and huge trees arching overhead and found a bungalow with tikki torches lit outside, white christmas lights around the windows and a warm cozy look to it, so we stopped. Keep in mind that this was Tuesday, so the place was empty...and I mean, out of 30 tables, we were the only ones in the place. It was a bit steamy outside, but otherwise a beautiful night, so we sat outside and soaked in the chaaaam. The restaurant, called Le Cafe, is on 238 South Links Ave. We were fawned over by the server who gave us all the service we wanted, but also left us alone outside for good long stretches. Greg had the tomato, basil, and mozzarella stuffed meatloaf with a red wine reduction sauce and it was fantastic. Apparently it is a favorite of regular diners. I had an osso bucco risotto that was nice, but a bit soupy, so the texture was a bit off. What was great was having a nice meal in Florida where the food is made by hand rather than by Sysco. The wine, a merlot / shiraz blend, was very smooth and quite nice.
We then walked down main street in Sarasota and popped into a gelateria and had tasty servings of gelato. We took a late night drive to Saint Armands Circle on Longboat Key to window shop. What a very nice night indeed.
Back to cold Maine