WhenIndigenous first started serving its creative cuisine to an eager Sarasota dining crowd in 2011, I found Chef Steve Phelps' vision simply ingenious.
Using locally sourced, sustainable and seasonal ingredients, Indigenous provides a fresh, flavorful and unique dining experience. Located in the Towles Court area, Indigenous fully renovated the former Canvas Café.
By using reclaimed cypress and other woods, Indigenous projects a warm, comfortable and naturally relaxed setting, featuring both indoor and outdoor seating. With such an excellent backdrop for the food presentation, one immediately anticipates a unique dining experience.
The Indigenous experience begins with the building and flows right through the menu. Since the American seasonal cuisine is dependent upon peak ingredient availability, the menu changes seasonally. It's not large, but it does offer a wide range of food, both in the type (meat, vegetables, salads and seafood) and size (small plates and entrées), which should please most palates. For our meals, we chose the following:
Parmesan Beignets: Crunchy pears, orange blossom honey and thyme. $8Very light, flavorful, rich and creamy — a very nice appetizer.
Beet “Tartar”: Summer apple, breakfast radish, pea shoots and creamy horseradish. $8Very refreshing, crunchy and tasty.
Wild Mushroom Bisque: With truffled rye croutons. $6Rich, earthy, creamy and flavorful. Very well prepared. Perhaps the best I've ever tasted.
Wild Mushroom Salad: Wild mushrooms, delicata squash, seasonal greens, pecorino, bacon, cornbread crunch and maple sherry vinaigrette. $7A wonderfully flavorful combination of flavors and textures — robust.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts: Butternut squash, pecans, Nueske's bacon, raisins and maple vinaigrette. $7Crisp, sweet, smoky and delicious! One of my favorites.
Quinoa (GF): Roasted beets, blueberries, goat feta, watercress and lavender honey vinaigrette. $7Wonderful mixture of textures and flavors; sweet, nutty and soft.
My Uncle's Burger: Special mix of grass-fed beef, Great Lakes cheddar, Indigenous sauce, cornichons and herb home fries. $12Different flavors...sweet, rich, incredibly filling, and delicious.
Braised Beef Short Ribs: “Kimmy Chi”, molasses and black pepper. $26Very nice presentation. Meaty, and not too spicy. Fall-off-the-bone goodness.
Hook-to-Fork, Gulf and Atlantic Species: Flounder with cauliflower and carrot gratin with fingerling lime caviar. $28Flounder was lightly breaded and fresh; the fingerling lime provided a refreshing burst of citrus.
Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp: Okonomyaki, cucumbers, nori, fish sauce aioli, sweet soy and curry peanuts. $23Oh my! Six very fresh shrimp over an Asian-style pancake. Beautiful to look at, and even better to eat. Filled with layers of flavor.
Sweet and Savory Cream Biscuit: Vanilla-roasted peaches, lavender crème, honeycomb and caramel. $8A very nice presentation and mix of flavors. Very satisfying.
Chocolate and Almond Butter Brownie: Nutella ice cream, burnt banana, raspberry powder and marshmallow. $8Dense and rich — A chocolate-lover's dream.
Inspired Seasonal Sorbet: Peach. $5Nice color and flavor. Very peachy.
Key Lime Curd, Ginger Basil Shortbread: Coconut milk ice cream, sea salt and dark chocolate “magic shell”. $8Tremendous combination of flavors. Rich and sweet. Would definitely order any time it's on the menu.
With a passion for food, finely honed culinary techniques and locally sourced, sustainable seasonal ingredients — not to mention a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist nomination for Best Chef of the South in 2014 — Chef Steve Phelps and his team are delivering on the vision: a simply ingenious Indigenous.