Ring in the New

Photography by Matt McCourtney By Su Byron January 1, 2010

1. When the rotisserie broke at Pattigeorge’s a few months back, fans of the restaurant’s Peking Duck were crushed. So owner/chef Tommy Klauber created a brand-new appetizer: Seared Duck Breast Satay with a piquant chili and ginger glaze. Served with a side of coconut jasmine rice and a glass of crisp, dry Riesling, Klauber’s new creation is putting a smile back on the faces of duck fans who exclaim that it’s all it’s quacked up to be. 4120 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key; (941) 383-5111.

2. What’s new at the Bijou Café? For one thing, the executive chef, Steve Phelps. Formerly of Canvas Café, Phelps has introduced a panoply of new dishes, including his tasty—and colorful—take on Pan-Seared Sea Bass. Phelps anoints this marine king with a multi-hued crown of raw beet and carrot salad and serves it atop a bacon, shallot and potato hash on a plate streaked with smoked yellow pepper purée. Complex ingredients—but the fish’s regal taste comes through loud and clear. 1287 First St., Sarasota; (941) 366-8111.

3. A sweet little number has made its debut at Lee Roy Selmon’s—Sweet Potato Fries. In a case of sweets for the sweet, the fries come with a side order of homemade sweet cane vinaigrette dipping sauce. “It’s an innovative recipe,” says Jennifer Ulmer, a Lee Roy Selmon’s spokesperson. “It’s sweet and savory at the same time.” How do they do it? A “unique, secret seasoning blend,” says Ulmer with a smile. She won’t share the secret—but it works. 8253 Cooper Creek Blvd., Sarasota; (941) 360-3287.

4. Imagine a big, juicy burger that’s low in fat, high in omega-3, and insanely rich in flavor. Just your imagination? No. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse’s new burger bar menu boasts an Ahi Tuna Mignon Burger that’s as real as it gets. This healthy and delish dish is also delightfully simple: Sear sushi-grade tuna in a spicy blend of soy sauce, ginger, cilantro, lime and honey, and snuggle atop a cushiony Challah bun. Ah, ahi. 2001 Siesta Drive, Sarasota; (941) 358-9463.

5. For a flavorful taste of Kansas City, try Harry’s Continental Kitchens’ new Kansas City Veal Chop. This bone-in veal chop is marinated in a savory sauce of basil pesto and then grilled and served over a warm, bitter salad of arugula, radicchio, endive and romaine. Watch out, Dorothy: This lean, mean succulent chop might just send you over the rainbow. 525 St. Jude’s Drive, Longboat Key; (941) 383-0777.

6. The Sun House Restaurant’s newest menu addition has a wicked name—Forbidden Scallops—but it’s perfectly legal and deliciously harmless: three pan-seared jumbo scallops wrapped in Angus beef tenderloin, served over a black rice risotto that’s dribbled with white truffle sauce. So, who forbids it? According to chef Harvey Lovejoy, black rice was reserved for Chinese emperors; peasants never tasted it. The ebony grain has a sweet, nutty flavor and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Go ahead—dine like an emperor. 111 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach; (941) 782-1122.

7. Vegetarians, rejoice! Chutney’s fabulous new Zucchini and Feta Fritters appetizers are good enough to make you order double portions and skip the main entrée. This crispy fritter is the brainchild of co-owner Ash Shukla, who uses dill prominently in the mix. “If you love potato pancakes, you’ll love these,” he says. “If you hate carbs, you’ll love them even more.” For an added spice of variety, ask for some tzatziki dip and—dip! 1944 Hillview St., Sarasota; (941) 954-0344.

8. At Derek’s Culinary & Casual, chef Derek Barnes once again pushes the culinary envelope with his Kona Kampachi Tartare. Barnes transforms this sushi-grade, yellowtail tuna into a work of art. He douses the tartare in a delicate kimchee vinaigrette and craftily arranges it on a plate with a cornet of cucumber sorbet, a burst of baby daikon radish greens and a square of watermelon gelée. A dribble of black olive caramel completes this masterpiece. 514 Central Ave., Sarasota; (941) 366-6565.

9. Some pigs just taste better than others. The British Berkshire pig, introduced to Japan in the 1800s as a diplomatic gesture and known as kurobuta there, is considered the best pork in the world.  And that’s why chef Al Massa of Michael’s on East is featuring Kurobuta Pork Chops. Massa can barely contain his enthusiasm describing his new dish, which is enhanced with cumin-spiced chestnuts and cranberry quince relish and served next to roasted sweet potatoes dribbled with black pepper caramel. Domo arigato, Chef Al! 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota; (941) 366-0007.

10. The new appetizer at Libby’s Café + Bar is Made to Order Mozzarella, an antipasto that features grilled artichokes, pickled onions, heirloom tomatoes and premium mozzarella. It’s a rustic, Old World recipe, says chef Fran Casciato. The mozzarella is kept out of the fridge so that it captures the full flavors of the surrounding tomatoes and vegetables. “Each dish is made to order,” says Casciato. “It takes a little longer to come to the table, but it’s worth it.” 1917 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota; (941) 487-7300.

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