Saturday, March 17, 2018

MARCH 18, 2018


SPRING BREAK is officially here.   Maybe not the crowd as shown here, but hundreds at our many beaches and restaurants.  The good news is our visitors will add plenty to economy; The bad news is traffic until the end of April.

 SARASOTA Fairgrounds is once again host to COUNTY FAIR.  Open today (Sunday) until 5:00pm, and 10 Monday-Thursday.  Closing day is Friday when gates open at 2:00 and close at 11:00.  If you are thinking of going tomorrow (Monday) or Friday 5-close admission is only $1.  There is of course a Midway with several rides along with special events every day.  Food is plentiful, and along with livestock, plants, fortune teller your time there will be well occupied. For a complete entertainment schedule and guide to exhibits click here

Bryon Stripling Guest Conductor
Those of you who were at last week's at Sarasota Orchestra's sold-out Van Wezel Best of Broadway concert left cheering and singing.  Along with Broadway stars Norm Lewis and Laura Osnes, the orchestra performed music from hit musicals South Pacific, The Producers, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and many more.

One concert remains next month Swingin' At The Club.  A tribute of sorts to Ella, Cab and The Duke, selections range from Dinah to Stormy Weather, St. Louis Blues and Minnie The Moocher.  Playing April 20 and 21, tickets do remain, but they are going fast.  For tickets the box office can be reached at 941-953-3434 or you can click here to purchase tickets on line. 

 Most restaurants are busy this time of year some deservedly so, some not so.  One of those who deserves the crowds every day of the year is Michael's On East.  A Sarasota original, Michael's is easily one of the best choices for a sandwich or three course dinner.  And if you go on Friday, and love lobster, their special will fill you long after the last shell is cracked.  For $39.95 you get two Maine lobster, corn, along with mussels and clams. Their service, bread and desserts are also outstanding.  For reservations call 941-955-1945.  

Outside dining at Dry Dock

Dry Dock revisited.....Much better experience this week.  Had reservation booked for 6:00 pm.  When we arrived a line had already formed at the front door.  Upon checking in we were immediately ushered to our table. We'll be back, but probably after the season rush is over.

There is still time to purchase tickets and join one of the seasons' best events; JFCS Celebrity Chefs and Wine Tasting at Longboat Island side.  For $100 you get to sample food from 125 of the area's best restaurants along with some of the best wine available anywhere.  Under a tent; festivities begin at 5:30 and your out the door at 8:30.  To purchase tickets call 941-366-2224 NOW!!!

Mark your calendar now for the upcoming SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL.....It's their 20th anniversary and promises to have many gems among the 100 or more films.  As always, there will be stars, entertainers and musicians attending with easy access to the public.  Taking place at Hollywood 11 April 13-22, an announcement of scheduled events and attendees should be announced this week.  If it is, check back here for details next week.

Steve Guttenberg, Eric Stoltz and Rory Kennedy are the early Hollywood participants.  A complete list of movies, parties and panel discussions will be listed here next Sunday.  If the films are equal to the just concluded Jewish Film Festival we're in for a treat.

 Chasing the Blues is a comedy built around the search for a missing blues record.  This one stars Guttenberg and will play at Hollywood 11.  More on the brand new stadium theatre down to 11 screens from 20 next week.

 JIM'S RANT....This Herald headline caught my attention this week..."Curtains for arts programs?"...the article suggests that the recently passed  state budget  could lead to job and program cutbacks at FST and Asolo among others.  I know our generous community will not let that happen.  The diminished appropriations are due to a shift in priorities since the Parkland shootings.  A state rich in the arts should find a way to protect that along with our children...don't you think??  Thanks for reading...JIM...See you next week

Friday, March 9, 2018

MARCH 11, 2018


 Losing an hour of sleep sucks, but think of the fun you'll have next Saturday when everyone becomes Irish for 24 hours.  Start with the Downtown Farmer's Market and then you're on your own.

Looking for a different Paddy's experience, then get down to Venice and join the fun at BRITISH OPEN PUB & RESTAURANT, 367 Jacaranda Blvd.

 Twenty beers on tap and a full selection of fine wine and spirits.  Entry to the event is $5 with re-entry allowed all day and night.  Under a tent with continuous entertainment along with your favorite food.....Reubens, Irish Stew, Traditional Corned Beef Dinners( NO!!! Sol is not catering here or bringing his famous cheesecake.  Call 941-492-9227 or click here for more information.  

There are several Sarasota-Bradenton restaurants and bars offering similar packages.  Choose your poison and drink and drive sensibly. 

The Colony 2006
Two articles in last week's Sarasota Herald-Tribune caught my eye; especially the one about" Colony property gets closer to overhaul."  Who can ever forget The Monkey Bar restaurant or Murf's  famous Beach Buffet along with fireworks on July 4?  Vacant for over 10 years, The Colony is a step closer to long overdue make-over by company who plans a five-star hotel and residences on vacant, ugly Longboat site.

The other article is regards to legend and former Colony pro Nick Bolletari who is featured in Showtime movie Love Means Zero premiering in June. Already getting high marks from Toronto Film Festival , speculation has it when Sarasota Film Festival announces its April 14-22 titles, this will be one of them.  Love is already scheduled for a March 15 screening at Miami's Festival of Films.

Most of you know Bolletari's local presence looms even larger over the area with his hugely successful IMG Academy growing daily in Bradenton.

When Michael and Victoria Calore several months ago sold their extremely popular Mazzerella Fella they told me "stay tuned."  On March 3, Roberta and  I tuned into their newly opened Pazzo Southside 1830 S. Osprey Av.  When arriving around 11:45, we were surprised with the number of tables occupied at that  time of day.

What we were not surprised with was the food.  Exceptional, outstanding, delicious, and every bit as good if not better than their former restaurant.  The difference here is an enlarged menu with Pasta, Salads, Pizza and several entrees, young energetic servers, and the excitement of a happening place you need to bring your friends to. 

Open for lunch and dinner Mon-Sat.  The good news is they take reservations at 941-260-8831. Even without a reservation, your wait will not be long.  Grab a number and discover Morton's down the street or one of the many shops on Osprey.   Michael and Vickie know how to manage a restaurant!!!

  Had a not too pleasant experience at one of Longboat's most popular restaurants,  Dry Dock.  Nothing to do with the food, which as always was outstanding; but their lack of respect for RESERVATION policy.  Yes for those of you who are unaware, they now take reservations by phone or Open Table.  When arriving a few minutes before 8:00 reservation, we were given a pager and told we'd be seated close to our reservation time.  Is 8:40 close enough???

My suggestion is to avoid them during this popular season, and go back, as we will, in April when a call ahead is just as good as a reservation.


 An exceptional setting for ANY occasion, Indigenous 239 S. Links ranks among the best dining experiences in all of Sarasota.  Though outside seating is limited, if you reserve well enough in advance, this is the way to dine; especially on mild spring nights. Their menu, while distinctive and creative, is comparably priced, if not lower, than many high ranking restaurants, and not much more than an upscale chain restaurant. 

Mushroom Bisque
We shared a bottle of red from their ample wine list.  Then onto mushroom bisque which was thick and creamy along with a black garlic caeser salad. The  portions are not skimpy and our party of 4 could have easily split one salad.  All had a "hook to fork" entree which we devoured.  I was forbidden to order their burger, but according to Sarasota Magazine, it's #1 in town and comes with "duck fat roasted potatoes" for $17. The special dessert was a homemade butterscotch brownie with ice cream.  And here's the good news, Indigenous is kind to your wallet.

Reservations should be made well in advance; even out of season.  Call 941-706-4740 for yours.

JIM'S RANT.... Florida's Governor has finally signed a long overdue gun control bill into law. Not perfect,  and coming too late to save the children of our state who were slaughtered last month, it is a small step in the right direction.   I am looking forward to March 24 and "A March4 Our Lives" in  Washington that could finally begin to bring  broader National CHANGE!!!!..............
Another week getting us closer to Easter and Passover...Until next week...Thanks for reading....JIM


Friday, March 2, 2018

MARCH 4, 2018



There are several outstanding movies nominated for this year's Best Picture Oscar.  Pleased to say saw all 9, and though I question some of the nomainaitons, enjoyed them all.  Most were dark and art house, but for me Three Billboards...., The Post.....and Lady Bird stood out.  My nod goes to Billboard.

Frances McDermand
With that said, I think best actress will go to Frances McDermand who is commanding her role as mother of murdered daughter.  Sam Rockwell as town sherrif should get Supporting Actor, and Mary J. Blige will win for her role in Mudbound.  Best actor has to be Gary Oldman. His portrayal of Winston Churchill was spot on.  Best Director will go to Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water...not one of my favorites!!!
Gary Oldham

The two movies that I enjoyed among the rest were The Post and one not nominated Mollly's Game.  Lots of movies, but not a great season for Hollywood.  If you missed some of the nominations you can still catch them at Parkway 8 for $2.  Three Billboards, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread(a total bore) and not nominated Molly's Game. 

Seen from Three Billboards

 SARASOTA ORCHESTRA continues its exceptional Pops performances at Van Wezel next weekend with POPS: Best of Broadway.  Music from old favorites Phantom of the Opera, Chorus Line, The Lion King and Hello Dolly to the new of Beautiful, Mormon and soon to open Frozen.

Along with the Orchestra, will be two Broadway stars Norm Lewis and Laura Osnes.  Their credits include Phantom, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Bonnie and Clyde and South Pacific among many others.

Performances are Friday March 9 at 8:00 and Saturday March 10 at 2:00 and 8:00.  Call 941-487-2740 for tickets.

Looking for lunch a sports themed restaurant that is relatively quiet with good food, then I suggest OAK & STONE, 5405 University Parkway across from CVS and near Starbucks.  I'd never been for lunch, but have had pizza and beer in the evening when the noise level was high though tolerable.  Their lunch menu is no different than dinner, but you can get salads or burgers, watch some TV and have a conversation without surrounding noise. 

With so many restaurant choices in SARASOTA, every once in awhile you make a bad one!!!!  Such was the case on Saturday when faced with an eating decision at 6:30 we chose CARMEL KITCHEN.  Though they eventually filled most tables, there was ample seating upon 6:30 arrival.

Serving Mediterranean and "modern" cuisine, this was easily the poorest meal we've had in Sarasota in quite a long time.  Our only happiness was when the bill came and we left.

For several weeks now, I have been promoting the Sarasota Jazz Festival.  Though not my music of choice, this has been a major event here for 37 years.  You would think by now they would have their act together...NOT.  The same ad without dates ran again this week in Ticket.  In case you're interested the Festival runs 3/7-10.  For more information click here.

Next weekend you'll have an other opportunity to visit with and purchase from several artists and crafts persons, as the Sarasota Fine Arts Festival returns for the weekend of March 10-11.  Running 10-5 Saturday and Sunday March 10-11 from Main Street & Gulf Stream Avenue.  This one promises to be different from the show a few weeks ago, as Paragon Events is the promoter. 

Rarely do I have the time or inclination to read Sarasota Magazine cover cover, but their new issue is something else.  Their cover story, and literally every story in their March issue has to do with THE FUTURE of our community.  I've been ranting for the past several years about the traffic growth at I75/University, Main St. area, Longboat and others.  Now the magazine in their feature article THE FUTURE, addresses why this is happening and while it will continue to get worse before getting better.

Especially eye-opening is the article from Editor Susan Burns:  Times Are Changing.  She says it better than anyone to date about what seems to have happened overnight to our charming Sarasota.  

JIM'S RANT....Most will agree with Herald Tribune's view "Diverging diamond a gem of a project."  Don't get me wrong here, as I am in agreement with their assessment; however have you ever tried the diamond going east or west around 4:30-6:00 pm Monday through Friday?  No Diamond can alleviate that kind of traffic this time of year.  So have patience, and use that diamond anytime but the afore mentioned hours.  Hope you have a great week and come back next week....JIM
There will be food/music/entertainment all at Jewish Federation Campus
$10 Adult/Kids under 18 free

Saturday, February 24, 2018

FEBRUARY 25, 2018


Known more for pop than flowers, Warhol  created thousands of flower paintings and images; some of which are featured in this event.  Like last year's Chagall exhibit, several of Warhol's paintings and plant inspirations are featured throughout Selby.  Running through early June, this is a wonderful outing for out-of-town guests or yourselves on a beautiful spring day.  For more Warhol information as well as Selby hours and pricing please click here.

 Over the years early-bird specials have morphed into HAPPY-HOUR, with most restaurants providing same.  Several are in the bar, but if you do some research, you can find them in the restaurant as well.  Recently went to a couple at UTC.  Here is a brief take on both. 

SEASONS 52 has Happy Hour in spacious bar area and outside dining with open view of parking lot.  Their menu is limited, and they're not kidding when they say "small plates".  The price is right at $5, but if you order two then you might as well go to their main menu.  Hours are 3-7 weekdays.

BRIO Tuscan Grille has a small bar space, but ample seating outside in a covered area; also in view of parking lot.   Their menu far exceeds Seasons, and includes a burger with chips for $6.  By far the more popular of the two, their hours are 3:30-6:30 weekdays.   With so few tables in lounge area, you should anticipate sitting at the bar.

UTC favorites, Cheesecake Factory and Kona Grille have happy hour as well.   Sad to report Capital Grille does not have happy hour, but if you're here for Savor Sarasota, the Grille has a burger special in bar which is best in show!!!

Now playing at Manatee Players is the stage adaptation of a memorable 1996 Disney movie of Victor Hugo's novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Awhile back I wrote how impressive the young performers were at a benefit, and they are equally if not more so here.  Many of the songs should spark a memory if you saw the movie.    Playing through March 15 call 941-748-5875 click here for a schedule of performances.

In last week's blog, there was an article promoting the 38th annual SARASOTA Jazz Festival and its move from under construction Art Ovation Hotel to Riverside Performing Arts Center.  Their full page ad in this week's TICKET told you that and more.  Only thing missing was date of March 7-10. For more information click here.

The most recent TripAdvisor listing of Best Beach, dropped Siesta Beach to #2, replacing it with Clearwater's  Beach.  Since their  list is based on traveler review; if  you want the #1 distinction again in 2019 get those votes in!!!! Or can it be a backlash from awful MTV program Siesta Beach????

JIM'S RANT....The recent sale of Ritz-Carlton properties caught my eye for several reasons.  The $171 million price for the hotel along with its golf course and its private club on  Lido Beach is an historic figure for a Sarasota project of this type.  I can remember when the hotel idea along with a Tower Residence was floated in the late 90's.  It was said at the time, Sarasota was going to change.  WELL??????  Thanks for reading....See you next week...JIM 

Mark your calendar for Saturday's Sun Circle Art Festival  10-5 in the Indian Beach/ Sapphire Shores neighborhood near Ringling Museum. Over 80 participants........... 

Friday, February 16, 2018

FEBRUARY 18, 2018

This week we celebrate the shopping holiday: PRESIDENTS DAY.  By lumping both Lincoln and Washington's birthday together, we get bombarded with sales advertising for nearly a month.  So happy shopping, but as you do, stop to think about two GREAT American Presidents!!!!
DARWIN's newest restaurant featuring what he calls "evolutionary cuisine" is alive and kicking.  So much so they have outgrown their 4141 Tamiami Trail location and are expanding next door!!   If you haven't been you're in for a treat, as all meals are unique and served with sauce and sides not regularly seen in Sarasota. 

 The night we were there, the menu special was Whole Snapper including the head.  Our friends loved it.  I could not watch them eat it!  However, my salmon was served with special Peruvian sauce and along with a plantain side, I went away happy.

Located within walking distance of Trader Joe's, Darwin is open 7 days with early and late happy-hour.  Another very positive note: You can talk without shouting; something we're finding more difficult in today's modern restaurant.  Learn more about Darwin by clicking here.

If you read the TICKET in this week's paper and didn't come away overwhelmed by the number of theatre, live performance, street fair, baseball promotions, etc. then you didn't read the entire insert.  What with the ORIOLES, PIRATES, RAYS and YANKEES all within a few miles from here your baseball appetite should be satisfied.   Spring games begin in a week or so; BUT a word of caution, most games have limited availability.

I know many of you are into JAZZ; especially with all the rap and hip hop music now invading our space.  The 38th Annual SARASOTA Jazz Festival takes place March 7-10 at The Riverview Arts Center at Riverview High School.  This is a change from original venue Art Ovation Hotel due to construction delays.

   For more information on schedule click here.

The 9th Annual JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL is less than a month away.a few weeks away.  Featuring 12 outstanding Israel themed films, including the un-cut director's version of one of our all time favorites EXODUS.  How do you think that one would fare against today's BLACK PANTHER???

 There are 11 other movies including the Southwest Florida Premier of Ben-Gurion, Epilogue, a rare and intimate reflective interview with Israel's founding prime minister.  Though filmed 50! years ago; his vision for the future of Israel stands the test of time.  Tickets will be on sale soon. and when I have that information, I will pass along.  Click here to learn more about the movies and events for the Festival.

This week's fifth Masterworks is called Midori Honors Bernstein Feb 22-25.  Join Sarasota Orchestra with guest conductor Michael Balke in a romantic post Valentine program featuring a tribute to Leonard Bernstein who if alive, would have been 100 this year.

Balke  is an internationally known conductor, regularly appearing with symphonies in South Korea, Russia and Japan.  Call 941-953-3434 for tickets. 

World renowned violinist Midori joins the orchestra for this special program.  You can click here to purchase tickets and see upcoming events.

JIM'S RANT....The year was 2004, and in  September, the ribbon was cut opening Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.  Mickey Fine and myself were just two of the many volunteers working there.  Visitors to our front desk position were few and far between, and time spent uneventful.  Fast forward to this week's announcement of a $28.5 Million Dollar expansion. One more clue to the rapid growth of this community........Thanks for reading.  Have a great week......JIM

CORRECTION...The February 25 screening time for ITZAH  at Jewish Federation is 4:00 PM.  For Perlman fans, this is the one to see.  Call 941-706-0033 for more information.