Date: November 27, 2013
by: June LeBell | Contributing Columnist


+ A dream is a wish your heart makes

Here’s a tidbite that’s as irresistible as a song. A group of Sarasota restaurants is donating part of what we spend on their food to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central of Northern and Central Florida, Sarasota region. Calling it “Dishes for Wishes,” MacAllisters, The Lobster Pot, Madfish Grill, The Table, Ophelia’s on the Bay, The Grasshopper and several other excellent local restaurants have each cooked up clever ways to give money to Make-A-Wish in the next several weeks. For example, Ophelia’s, the beautiful restaurant on the bay near the south tip of Siesta, will host a “Give Back Night” Monday, Dec. 16, donating a portion of the proceeds from that evening’s sales. Madfish has a different idea. It has come up with a gift card giveback and, for every gift card sold through the holiday season, Madfish will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish. The Lobster Pot in Siesta Village, which has some of this town’s most luscious lobster bisque, by the way, is selling “stars” for $1 throughout the holiday season. MacAllisters Grill on Main Street Lakewood Ranch has devised a signature dish it’s calling “Scotch and Salmon Delight” and, from every order, the restaurant will donate $2 to Make-A-Wish. (Maybe they should call this one “Make a Fish.” Or not … ) And The Table, which is about to reinstate its Sunday brunch (see right for more information), will donate a portion of every patron’s brunch check Dec. 8.

Every year, some 27,000 children are diagnosed with a medical condition that makes them eligible for a wish experience. Last year, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted the wishes of nearly 14,000 kids. Those wishes have included everything from one child’s desire to “meet a real ballerina” to a trip to Paris. Allen, a 17-year-old with leukemia, said he wanted to design cars, so Make-A-Wish helped him and he presented that car to GM. Four-year-old Lauren, who had cancer, had only one wish: to give back comfort and hope to others, so, with the help of Make-A-Wish, she made and gave away a cozy bunny blanket.

Our local restaurants’ Dishes for Wishes benefits everyone. We eat beautifully, and part of the money we spend goes to make children’s wishes come true. Definitely a win-win situation.

+ The Table is bringing back brunch

Last year, The Table Creekside initiated one of the best brunches anyplace, anywhere. We missed it this past summer when the charming restaurant with great views and even greater food decided to forgo brunch and stick with dinners. But now, back by popular demand, is Sunday brunch. Starting Dec. 1, we can sit inside or out, hovering over historic, idyllic, peaceful Phillippi Creek, and enjoy the stuffed French toast panini we drooled over last season and attempt to choose among the six different variations on a theme of eggs Benedict. Or have them all because, this year, Chef Pedro is introducing an intercontinental buffet that will do amazing things for your waistline. Trust me. Amazing.

For us, the incredible part of Sunday brunch at The Table is the combination of great service, magnificent views and the enormous variety of tempting dishes Chef Pedro manages to invent, all at reasonable prices. They tell us we could eat Sunday brunch at The Table Creekside every Sunday, all season, and never eat the same thing twice. You do need reservations because last year’s brunches gained The Table a reputation among Sarasota’s brunch-of-foodies.

+ Eat Here opens for lunch

You’ve been reading in The Observer about the new roof-top lounge service that recently opened at Eat Here. Where is here? It’s on Main Street, downtown Sarasota. Well, now Eat Here is serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every Monday through Friday, and Sean Murphy, the heart and soul of Eat Here, is giving you a choice of eating inside at traditional or community tables (a great way to make new friends), on the covered deck or in the park patio around the fountain.

Wherever you choose to sit, though, the menu is perfect for lunch. From the double burger to the fish tacos, this is great food — comforting, fun and fabulous. If you’re one of those who likes to eat lightly for lunch but can’t stand wasting food, Eat Here has a clever doggie bag. The “Keen Wa” (aka quinoa) salad is served in a Mason jar. So, if you can’t finish your portion, just take it home, complete with the reusable jar. Do that often enough, and you’ll have a whole set for your homemade jams and jellies to give as Christmas and New Year’s presents.

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