Where are we going to eat tonight? Well, with this new monthly series of progressive dinners around local neighborhoods, The Observer takes the answer one step further. This first experiment commenced in the Hillview area. Eating progressively gave us an opportunity to experience different cuisines and atmospheres without having to chose just one — and the nice stroll in between each meal helped make room for even more!
Editor’s note: We will return to the Hillview area again to continue the culinary tour and hit the restaurants we didn’t get to on this round.
1 DRINK & APPETIZER: Pacific Rim
First stop: Pacific Rim. Because we got an early start, we got a table right away, which is usually not the case if you are enjoying a later dinner.
After asking for the most popular appetizers, we sipped on a lychee martini (their specialty at $9) and a Dirty Bird martini ($9). The tuna carpaccio ($12.95) arrived first — thin slices of fresh tuna topped with owner Veth Senenoi’s secret, spicy sauce, followed by the Asian shrimp lettuce wraps ($11.95), which tasted as good as they looked.
Because we’re big fans of Pacific Rim’s light-and-fresh dishes, we were tempted to stay. But, on to the next stop.
2 ENTRÉE: Libby’s Café + Bar
Libby’s was the perfect destination for dinner — the tables outside are ideal for people-watching and enjoying the weather. The task for choosing entrées was given to co-owner Joe Seidensticker, and we were pleased with what was presented. Libby’s specialty meatloaf ($23) was the perfect portion and wonderfully cooked — comfort food at its best. My dining companion thoroughly enjoyed the cedar-wrapped organic Alaskan salmon ($25) with a maple-Dijon crust. It was excellent and won over a so-so salmon eater. As the bugs started to surface, it was time to head across the street.
3 DESSERT: Morton’s Gourmet Market
We took a stroll around inviting Morton’s to pick out dessert to take home (or you can enjoy it at one of the outdoor tables, but just remember Morton’s closes at 8 p.m.) With the choice up to Executive Pastry Chef Ruthie Betts, who, along with her team, makes everything from scratch, we couldn’t go wrong. We later enjoyed the richness of the chocolate truffle cake ($3.85) and a fruit tart ($5.50). The tart, which Betts says keeps customers coming back, was the perfect ending to our meals. It was light and topped with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
4 DRINK & ENTERTAINMENT: New York New York
The newest restaurant/night spot to hit the scene features pianos, which is a nice change of pace from the usual bar-scene music. When we arrived, the mature dinner crowd was still mingling about the restaurant, but as the night went on, the younger crowd trickled in to hear the dueling pianos (which happens at 9:30 p.m. Saturdays). We found a seat at the bar, and friendly bartender Bobby Davis served up a Mojito ($9) and a Sex and the City ($8) — it seemed appropriate given the title of the establishment. Piano player Brian Blatz got guests singing at the piano before being joined by Rob Satori on the dueling piano. The libations were refreshing, and the menu had some selections that we’ll be sure to come back and try.
if you go
1859 Hillview St., Sarasota. 330-8071.
Open 11:30 to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Libby’s Café + Bar
1917 S. Osprey, Sarasota. 487-7300.
Summer hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to close Tuesday through Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Morton’s Gourmet Market
1924 S. Osprey, Sarasota. 955-9856.
Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday (bakery opens at 7 a.m.) and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday (bakery opens at 8 a.m.).
New York New York
1934 Hillview St., Sarasota. 955-6969.
Open 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday.
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