Sunday, March 28, 2010
Cafe L'Europe, Sarasota, FL
Cafe L'Europe is my favorite lunchtime treat. It's an hour south of me, but it's located on the fabulous St. Armand's Circle in beautiful Sarasota, and its ambience and multi-national uber-professional waitstaff transport me back to a European bistro on every visit...so I drive. UD and I enjoyed a wonderful, leisurely rainy-day lunch today with our friends Brian and Paula, who are fortunate enough to actually live in Sarasota.
I would love to try this place for dinner, but I've never managed it since wine is always involved in my dinners and it's quite a haul from home...so for safety's sake, we'll just blog lunch. We basically had a soup, salad and dessert lunch, which still came to $100 a couple with 2 cocktails per person...but we're not bitching because everything was top-notch.
Okay...maybe they've slipped a tad on the bread, which used to be individual rolls infused with various herbs, olives, seeds, cheeses, etc., but the basic slice of French served with good herb butter was still not worthy of complaint.
I started (as I always do) with a bowl of Cafe L'Europe's amazing lobster bisque...it's unfailingly creamy and flavorful with a generous portion of sweet lobster morsels floating in its midst, along with a lovely drizzle of creme fraiche (just in case it's not already rich enough for you).
Paula declined soup (which is probably why she gets to enjoy the honor of being "the skinny one"), but the boyz both hoovered down their Cafe Onion Soup Gratinee, which was beautifully presented in a large, baked, hollowed-out onion.
I can't ever seem to veer from Cafe L'Europe's delicious Blackened Shrimp and Bourbon Pecan Salad when I visit. Dear GAWD...it's a $15 salad (which always has me seeing stars) but it is SO wonderful! It consists of baby greens, homemade cornbread croutons, candied pecans, and bourbon maple vinaigrette garnished with artichoke hearts, chopped tomatoes and hearts of palm...and let's not forget the large and succulent blackened shrimp!
Jimbo went for the Monte Cristo (a battered and fried sandwich comprised of black forest ham, roast turkey, cheddar and gruyére) served with sauce supreme and lingonberries. Oh, and there were also fried potatoes of the white and sweet varieties. No complaints were registered.
Brian and Paula both opted for giant caesars, with chicken and tomatoes on Brian's and shrimp, tomatoes and avacadoes on Paula's (our servers were only too happy to personalize the traditional salads for these two).
No one was even able to finish the salads, but the Y-chromes still wanted dessert (and who were WE to argue)?? ;) Dogboy's seasonal mixed berry and apple cobbler with a sugared shortbread crust topped with really good vanilla ice cream almost made me weep.
Brian's key lime pie was so rich and creamy that it was almost the consistency of cheesecake. Both desserts were outstanding.
We iz happy campers!
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.