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Eating with Emma

Paying tribute to Dad with a sampling of his favorite eateries

These Sarasota spots are great to take Dad for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

Perq Coffee Bar serves breakfast and lunch with a family-first mantra.
Perq Coffee Bar serves breakfast and lunch with a family-first mantra.
Photo by Emma Burke Jolly
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Dear Dad,

You are the first man that I ever loved. 

You're the mentor who taught me life lessons such as people are like plants and need to repotted once in a while in order to grow. You're the coach who guided me on and off the field, the role model who continuously inspires my work ethic, the king who built a castle for his princesses and queen. 

You encouraged me to learn twice as much from failure as from successes. The list of your influences on the world, our family and me goes on and on. In short, you're the dad every daughter deserves.

This Father’s Day I planned a day around your favorite dishes. Simple yet special, salty and sweet, significant and sensational — just like you.

Let’s dig in for old times’ sake, shall we, Dad?

Love always, Your Little Girl

Perq Coffee Bar

1821 Hillview St., Sarasota; 941-955-8101;

When I reached out to owner Erin Zolner, who has run the shop with her husband for 10 years, she said, “We are closed on Sundays (including Father’s Day). We have a bunch of kids, so we're definitely letting my husband have Father’s Day off,” and laughed. I knew you’d like her family-first mantra, Dad. So while we can't ride our bikes over and grab a cup of Joe at this shop on Father’s Day, we can go any other day, Monday through Friday (until 2 p.m.) and Saturday (noon). Fun fact: They serve soft ice cream made from their own coffee.

Perq's egg, ham and cheddar on a tasty ciabatta.
Photo by Emma Jolly

The JKB Special: Dad, I know your appetite has evolved, but there is one dish that dominates all meal decisions: breakfast sandwiches (and not just for breakfast). My guess is you would order Perq's egg sammy ($11) but add nitrate-free ham and organic New Zealand cheddar to the baked egg and secret sauce on a tasty ciabatta. Or we could split the hash brown sammy ($15) with parmesan baked egg, thick-cut bacon (extra crispy, just the way you like), pimiento hash browns, light slab of the shop’s secret sauce on griddled brioche and the biscuit sammy ($8-plus) with parmesan baked egg and thick-cut bacon with special sauce on a flaky, fluffy and fantastic biscuit. Eat and repeat for the weeks to come.

Gluten-free doughnuts that look and taste good? Thank you, Perq.
Photo by Emma Jolly

Your Little Girl’s Order: As you know, there was a time in my life when I was gluten-free. Perq has the most attractive and appetizing gluten-free donuts ($5) around town. Choose from flavors like cinnamon sugar, blueberry, chocolate peanut butter cup, maple pecan pancake and my destined-to-devour-in-one-bite favorite, the lemon poppy crumble. I do not know how Perq makes these sugar-free as well as gluten-free, but my mind, body and foodie soul thank the chef for creating guilt-free choices to start the day.

Owen's Fish Camp

516 Burns Court, Sarasota; 941-951-6935; 6515 University Parkway, Lakewood Ranch; 941-951-5052,

We know it, we love it, we wish they took reservations. Unless this is the first Sarasota food column you’ve read, you’re aware of the delicious destination located in Burns Court (and now Lakewood Ranch too!). Open at 4 p.m. daily, the landmark eatery is loved by locals and visitors alike. In Sarasota, the larger-than-life banyan tree that dangles over the eclectic and homey backyard, the talented live musicians and the Southern hospitality are three reasons why my family will wait for hours during season to smash some of our favorite savory spreads — not to mention the mouthwatering menu inside.

Dad's perfect order of fish and chips with Jack Daniel's (not Jim Beam) on the rocks, and not with one big ice cube.
Photo by Emma Jolly

The JKB Special: If you need to know just one thing about the Burke family, it's that we’re a big fish and chips tribe. We’ve tasted them in England, Ireland and all over the United States. One of my father’s favorite renditions of the simple fried fish basket is found right here in Sarasota, at Owen’s. When you’re at certain restaurants, we have to make sure to order the meal “extra crispy." At Owen’s they have perfected the proportion of locally caught fish to crispy, crunchy beer batter. The best part, Dad? They now have Jack Daniel's on the rocks.

The best chargrilled oysters in town, three for $8, at Owen's Fish Camp.
Photo by Emma Jolly

Your Little Girl’s Order: If you told me 20 years ago that our table would be ordering the char-grilled oysters, I would have guessed it was a choice made by you and my little sister, Maddie. But nope, these are for me. I will share if we get at least two orders (maybe three). Head out to the backyard at the Burns Court location and order the out-of-this-world oysters (three for $8) that are hidden under a beautifully decadent blanket of jalapeno bacon butter. Continue the Jack Daniel's by ordering a Bourbon Tea and Lynchburg Lemonade ($9).

Shakespeare's Craft Beer and Gastro Pub

3550 S. Osprey Ave, Sarasota; 941-365-5938;

I warned you foodies that I would be speaking about Shakespeare’s frequently. Like I’ve said before, Shakespeare’s is a place where you go when you’ve had a bad day to make it better and a place you go to continue celebrating the wins, big or small. Our family has sat at these tables for nearly seven years and I wouldn’t change a thing about any meal we've ever had.

Father and daughter always order the bread pudding at Shakespeare's elsewhere.
Photo by Emma Jolly

The JKB Special and Your Little Girl’s Order: My Dad and I have a lot in common. We’re both Leos. We both will fight to the nail that Michael Jordan was a better basketball player than Lebron James could ever be. We plan our work and work our plan. If there is bread pudding on the menu, we order it — especially if we’re sitting at Shakespeare's, our favorite place to dine in Sarasota. This dessert defines decadence, delightful and dynamite. Traditional English bread pudding ($6.25), made with raisins and cinnamon, paired with a velvety custard and topped with a pile of whipped cream. The perfect ending to a dreamscape meal.

Happy Father’s Day to the man, the myth, the legend — my hero, John Kelly Burke.

Happy Father's Day to my hero.



Emma Burke Jolly

Emma B. Jolly has worked at Observer Media Group for five years as the digital fulfillment specialist with previous experience at Sarasota Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and even "The Jerry Springer Show" (yes, that's right). In her spare time, she enjoys doing anything near or on the water, being a cat mama and, of course, being a foodie with her new hubby.

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