It’s Sunday morning at Georgie’s Garden Café and people are ready to celebrate. At a table near the back, two women set out birthday cards, decorations and a tiara for someone’s special day. At other tables, friends clink glasses filled with mimosas and catch up on how the weekend is shaking out. Up in the rafters, an escaped balloon from a previous party lingers until it’s time to drift back to earth. A steady stream of ’90s pop keeps the mood buoyant.
Georgie’s and its attached bar, Bar George, are located near the University Town Center mall. They’re both owned by George Wood, a Naples restaurateur also responsible for The Lily Café, a breakfast and lunch spot located in The Landings that is temporarily closed until construction in the plaza is complete. (Expect it to reopen by this summer.) Georgie’s and Lily share many of the same menu items, with an emphasis on egg dishes, salads and sandwiches, while all three businesses share a bright springtime aesthetic, with lots of artificial flowers, walls coated in green plastic vines and elegant chandeliers—perfect selfie material.
At Georgie’s and Lily, the food aims to replicate the friendly look with plenty of easy-to-love favorites for mid-morning get-togethers. The “crab and shrimp scrambler” ($19) is just what it says it is—generous hunks of shellfish tossed with scrambled eggs and sautéed mushrooms and spinach and covered with a blanket of Fontina cheese. Ditto the “one percenter” omelet ($23), a bulging package of eggs stuffed with more crab and shrimp, plus lobster and Havarti. If you’re feeling worn down after a late night, these decadent egg creations, plus a steady stream of black coffee ($4), will have you feeling rejuvenated in no time.
Another breakfast favorite is the French toast ($14.50), made with slices of challah soaked in a vanilla and cinnamon custard. Occasional off-menu upgrades include French toast stuffed with berries and cream cheese—definitely what you’ll order if your sweet tooth is calling.
In addition to breakfast items, Georgie’s offers salads and sandwiches. A “rustic Caesar” side salad ($8) is made with wedges of lettuce lightly blistered on the grill, giving the salad a lovely warmth and softness. I love a good fried chicken sandwich, but the “UTC’hicken” sandwich ($18) is disappointing. Instead of a colossal boulder of fried chicken, the meat is pounded until it’s thin. A chipotle mayonnaise delivers some heat, but it’s not enough to rescue a bland package.
Some of the dishes on the breakfast and lunch menu (like that chicken sandwich) roll over onto the nighttime selection, which also includes steaks, a burger and seafood. A filet of grilled salmon ($26) is simple, but well executed—cooked until it’s just solid throughout and paired with mashed potatoes and asparagus and slathered with a beurre blanc.
Don’t want a full meal? Head to Bar George next door, where you might encounter a DJ spinning reggaeton while a stylish crowd sips martinis. A “perfect Old Fashioned” ($15) tastes mostly like pure whiskey (that’s not a criticism), while “The M.I.L.F.” ($15) is a smoky riff on a margarita. Georgie’s may be the place where people gather to celebrate in the morning. Bar George extends the party until after dark.
GEORGIE’S GARDEN CAFÉ, BAR GEORGE | 229 N. Cattlemen Road, Unit 69,
Sarasota, (941) 952-5001, georgiesgardencafe.com
THE LILY CAFÉ | 4832 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 554-8700, tlcatthelandings.com