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Louies Modern: Setting a Sarasota standard for mod cuisine

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  • | 8:43 a.m. May 23, 2013
  • Arts + Entertainment
  • Eat + Drink
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One current food and dining trend  is the emergence of modern American cuisine. A multitude of new Sarasota restaurants are touting modern American in their descriptions---but what does it mean? Of course, the definition is open to interpretation, but we define modern American as follows: A casual, upscale eatery, offering a “foodie-focused” menu that includes a range of appetizers and small plates. The menu is structured to complement the restaurant’s specialty bar offerings, craft beer and wine list, while encouraging conversation, food exploration and sharing among diner.

Opened only a short six weeks ago, Louies Modern, located on the ground level of the Palm Avenue parking garage, is already setting a standard for modern American dining in Sarasota. With a high-ceilinged room, a large open kitchen, a well-appointed, carefully-designed dining space, and the natural and hustle bustle of the wait staff, you feel a certain level of energy, excitement, activity and anticipation as you are seated. Some have said the dining room is too noisy. Although we found the space to be a bit louder than most restaurants, we believe the energy and activity is part of the experience.

With the placemats pulling double duty as both food and drink menus, the anticipation builds with tantalizing food descriptions and enticing beverage options. The menu is large, offering a wide range of meat, seafood, vegetarian and gluten-free items. For our meals we chose the following:

  • Hawaiian Hearts of Palm:  Roasted beet, sunchoke, shaved fennel, radish, cucumber, pressed ricotta, Banyuls.  $10.00 The ingredients were all fresh and very thinly sliced so that the flavors melded together. Very good.
  • Artisan Romaine Wedge:  Heirloom apple, candied pecan, duck cracklings, cherrywood dressing.  $8.00 A steakhouse presentation. Great color and textures with a salty-sweet dressing and taste.
  • Burrata:  Local tomato salad, pickled cippolini, focaccia stick, salt plate.  $14.00 A beautiful, artistic, “foodie's” presentation: fresh tomato with a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth burrata. This should be a signature salad. If you are sensitive to salt, remove your salad from the salt plate upon presentation, because the longer it lingers on the salt plate, the saltier it gets.
  • Kale Caesar:  Parm-anchovy dressing, croutons, reggiano.  $8.00 A wonderful presentation of fresh and tender kale which had a distinct lemon-citrusy taste. Very refreshing.
  • Spicy Tuna Roll:  Daikon, avocado, kimchee kewpie.  $12.00 Artisan presentation, not very spicy. Could use a little more tuna.
  • Vegetarian Farro Minestra:  Brussels sprouts, sunchoke, marcona almond-mint pesto.  $4.00/$6.00 This dish was a twofer: rich layers of nicely contrasting bitter and sweet flavors punctuated with a semi-crunchy texture. Great color.
  • Lamb Meatballs:  Rocket salad, Greek yogurt tahini, harissa, zhatar pita chips.  $9.00 One word: delicious.
  • Black and Blue Flatbread:  Short rib, blue cheese, black truffle, medjool date, red onion.  $14.00 A great combination of rich flavors ... smoky, tangy, and sweet. A definite crowd-pleaser.
  • Spicy Veggie Pizzetta:  Wood grilled mushrooms, olives, angry red sauce, pecan smoked mozzarella.  $10.00 A firm, crunchy crust. We expected it to be a bit soggy with all the veggies but it was crisped to perfection and remained so, with a nice spicy kick to the sauce.
  • Fire Roasted Sea Scallops:  Veal chorizo-black lentil hash.  $22.00 Rich, dark, and spicy, this dish is hard to share because you want it all for yourself. The lentils add a definite base texture which is complemented by the spicy chorizo and offset with the tender sweet scallop … a definite home run for me.
  • Wood Fired Scottish Salmon:  Blood orange confit, hearts of palm, pomegranate.  $22.00 A beautiful presentation. Although very fresh and filled with fresh citrus flavors, it was a tad too salty for me. The fish was a little well done, so if you prefer, ask for it to be on the moist side.
  • Boneless Beef Short Rib “Bourguignon”:  Cheddar farro risotto.  $24.00 This is the ultimate winter meal for me: rich, hearty, stringy beef served with a cheesy farro side … warm and filling.


  • Honey-Sage Chicken Breast:  Citrus wheatberry salad, walnuts, medjool date, goat cheese.  $11.00 Nothing like I expected, a nice surprise and delicious! One piece of chicken breast with the skin on came out moist and tender. The wheatberry salad had a number of different textures and flavors.
  • LM “Club” Chicken Salad:  Canadian duck bacon, avocado, tomato, tobacco onions.  $12.00 What a sandwich! Large, beautifully presented, fresh and very satisfying---a definite reorder for me.


  • Crème Brulee:  Spring lavender honey infusion, organic blueberries.  $4.00 Cream custard with an initial burst of lavender followed by the honey. Delicious. Serving size is on the small side.
  • Chocolate Mousse Cake:  Chocolate chiffon.  $4.00 An intense but light chocolate. The small portion makes it a tiny bit of chocolate heaven.
Louies Modern offers a full bar service with specialty cocktails, beer, wine and soft drinks to enjoy before, during or after dinner. We found the wait staff to be attentive, fast, friendly and welcoming. There were some tentative service moments, but to be fair, this restaurant is new and we expect the staff to become more proficient with increased experience. In fact, we noticed increased confidence with our successive visits.

Proclaiming such a young restaurant as a standard-setter for modern American cuisine may be bold, somewhat premature and perhaps even a bit unfair by raising levels of expectations. However, Louies Modern has all the right ingredients. With its well-designed dining room, downtown location, hip bar, creative menu and outdoor space, not to mention the experience of the team, Louies Modern is poised to set a Sarasota standard for mod dining. We are looking forward to seeing how it evolves!

Louies Modern

1289 Palm Avenue

Sarasota, FL 34236