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Louies Modern

It appears that Louies Modern has found its place in the downtown Sarasota dining scene.

The word "brasserie"—the French word for a casual restaurant with a big selection of drinks—is the one that came to mind when I first tried the restaurant's new menu. And after tasting many new menu items, I can confidently say that a brasserie is what Louies was always meant to be. Dining there now makes you feel like you could be in SoHo in Manhattan. Even the physical menu is sleek and urban.

After all, there's nothing more comforting than an upscale restaurant that knows how to roast a buttery half chicken—in a wood burning oven, no less—and serves it with mascarpone polenta and roasted fall vegetables with lemon herb broth. Or one that can cook a perfect cedar plank miso salmon with mountain yams and pickled vegetables. Wood-grilled American red snapper with toasted Israeli couscous and leeks, as well as a simple filet over braised escarole and sauce au poivre, also hit the mark.

Louies regulars, fear not: the famous burrata with local heirloom tomatoes on a pink salt block has made the cut, along with the classic brisket burger (another brasserie must-have). But new appetizers—like farro amandine (with dates, currants, butternut squash and lemon-caper vinaigrette), saffron arancini with veal sausage ragout and roasted tomato sauce, and carpaccio with black truffle dressing, arugula and Asiago crackers—hit just the right notes and are an excellent start to a relaxing dinner.

New salads include a crab Louies, artfully plated and a new version of a Southern classic, and a North Palm Salad with baby gem lettuces, grapefruit vinaigrette, Humboldt Fog blue cheese and local pomelo that just screams "Florida fresh."

For dessert, there are basics like a chocolate lava cake, but the real hits are the mocha tiramisu and the almond polenta cake with mixed berries—moist and refreshing, especially with a bite of lemon sorbet.

Welcome to Palm Avenue, Louies. You may not be new to the neighborhood, but your new menu is as inviting and delicious as ever.

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Editor’s Pick

Louies Modern

$$$ New American 1289 North Palm Avenue

This handsome downtown focuses on farm-fresh, sophisticated American cuisine as well as craft beer and handcrafted cocktails.