Derek's: Revisited.

By Megan McDonald July 16, 2012

Sarasota dining: Derek's ahi tuna

Perfect ahi tuna.

New restaurants get a lot of attention, be they good or bad, because they are, well, new, and people want to read about what’s new. But sometimes in all the excitement of covering new places, we forget to acknowledge those successful and longtime culinary innovators who deserve both our patronage and praise. Derek’s Culinary Casual is certainly one of those. 

Steak wedge salad.


It all started six and a half years ago, when Derek Barnes took those innovative steps to not only open his very own restaurant, but risk the location, too: Central Ave in a yet to be up-and-coming area. Now, six and a half years later, I find Derek's to be even more refined and creative, and the Sarasota “godfather” of local sourcing and sustainable culinary responsibility.

Chicken bun mei.


In my effort to cover so many new additions to the local restaurant scene this past year, it was during a welcome home visit to Derek’s over Savor Sarasota week this year that I was reminded of all the good things that come from Chef Derek Barnes. My husband and I have a tradition of kicking off the summer with lunch at Derek’s.  This year, as I devoured the bun mei rice bowl and the oh-so-sensual poached pear with black pepper caramel and goat cheese ice cream, I reflected back on Derek’s culinary transformation.

Bone marrow brulee. 


Derek thinks things out. In fact, I once teased him that he overthinks--but remind me of that after I scoop up every last succulent dripping of bone marrow brulee with my toasted bread and pinch of sea salt. Take that, overthinking philosophy!


So next time you are flipping through your mental Rolodex of where to go for immense flavor and perfect culinary balance, and where a great chef knows exactly how to bring it to plate, make a reservation at Derek’s Culinary Casual and nod to the innovator himself and his team. Well done.


And in even more Sarasota food news, I got to show Tampa Tribune food critic Jeff Houck just how great our local culinary scene is. Check out the article--"Sarasota is Ramping Up Its Rep as a Dining Destination"--right here

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