When good impressions are paramount, make the trek to Anna Maria Island’s Beach Bistro. Tucked at the end of a beachfront condo, the restaurant, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, has won accolades from Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Golden Spoon, Zagat and Wine Spectator. Eat in the clubby bar, outside on the white sand beach or in the jewel box of a dining room. The creative menu includes bouillabaisse, roasted maple leaf Long Island duckling, Colorado lamb and butter poached Nova Scotia lobster with Hudson Valley foie gras. Top-shelf cocktails, a vast array of “estoteric” wines and other libations further dazzle the palate. Beach Bistro, 6600 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, (941) 778-6444, beachbistro.com.
The Table Creekside
Global, New American cuisine rules at this cosmopolitan restaurant on Phillippi Creek. From the contemporary chill bar to the outside tables by the water, The Table offers original and artfully presented food and imaginative, handcrafted drinks. The wine list isn’t huge, but the selective inventory pairs well with the restaurant’s global theme. Try the inventive “Global Bites” and the small but classy raw bar offerings. The Barcelona Mixed Grill, starring lollipop lamb, saltwater prawns, grilled octopus and creative garnishes, is a menu fixture, while chef’s specials such as lobster carbonara and Texas de Korea (Korean BBQ short ribs) demonstrate the kitchen’s versatility. The Table Creekside, 5365 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 921-9465, tablesrq.com.
The Capital Grille
It probably isn’t every day that you crave a foie gras crème brûlée appetizer or the “Grand Plateau,” boasting jumbo lump crab, North Atlantic lobster, shrimp cocktail and oysters on the half shell—a $100 engine starter. But when you’re throwing expenses to the wind, follow the business crowd to The Capital Grille. In the style of the great New York and Chicago steak houses, dry-aged and hand-cut steaks are king here. So are huge portions, à la carte pricing, top-shelf liquors and a broad menu that suggests you share the ultra-generous sides. Ask the sommelier to recommend from the award-winning wine list.
The Capital Grille, 180 University Town Center Drive, Lakewood Ranch, (941) 256-3647, thecapitalgrille.com.
With its bucolic, wedding-worthy, three-acre setting, Roessler’s has been a fine-dining fixture in south Sarasota for almost four decades. House specialties such as escargot à la Bourguignonne, veal sweetbreads and steak Diane stay true to the high-end Continental theme of this family-owned and operated restaurant. A Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence” list offers extensive choices. Dine in the main room adorned with Swarovski chandeliers or in the fireplace room with its brick hearth and stained glass windows. The private Wine Room can be reserved for up to 16. Roessler’s Restaurant, 2033 Vamo Way, Sarasota, (941)-966-5688, roesslersrestaurant.com.
Housed in a humble strip mall across from Ed Smith Stadium is Antoine’s, which offers a dining experience that is anything but ordinary. Billed as French-Modern European, Antoine’s specialties come from surf and turf and change regularly. Try one of the 10 varieties of authentic Belgian-style PEI moules-frites (Prince Edward Island mussels and French fries) in savory broth served with house made bread. The dish begins humbly with the traditional marinière base of celery, onions and butter embellished, depending on the order, with tomatoes and basil, curry and apple, Chardonnay, garlic and cream. Pace yourself for the finalé of decadent, Belgian chocolate-draped profiteroles. Antoine’s Restaurant, 1100 N. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota, (941)-331-1400, antoiniessarasota.com.