Friday, April 20, 2018

APRIL 22, 2018


Believe it or not, this is an annual event where we celebrate our environment, with the intent of keeping the world we live in CLEAN!!!  Use the trash cans wherever you can and don't litter.  It's as simple as that.

EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS.......................YUMMY HOUSE Location at 3232 N. Tamiami Trail will close for good April 30 and reopon in new location 1737 Tamiami Trail May 4!!!!!!!  More information next week......
WBTT's successful season has come to a close with the opening of Nate Jacob's new musical revue SOUL MAN.  Featuring the classic music of 60's, 70's, and 80's from some of that era's most popular musicians Sam Cooke, James Brown, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and of course The Temptations.

 This group of versatile performers brings the house down with their version of the title song and more.  Playing through May 26 you can reserve your tickets by clicking here. Or call 941-366-1505.  Look for summer season information next week.

 I've told you several times of my lunch at TOO JAY'S.  Really never think much about them for dinner; however this past week went with another couple and encourage you to try as well.  

Not only was the service exceptional so were the menu offerings.  Their specials which come with salad or soup along with vegetables or potato are priced so inexpensively could have easily had two.  Had my favorite of matzo ball soup and 1/2 corned beef sandwich with slaw.  Side of potato latkes and rugelach for dessert.

In a recent Blog, I wrote a rant directed at Allegiant Air and asked why they did not offer direct flights to Baltimore during Spring Training.  Good Friend Joe Marsh commented "Frankly I think there are many more Sarasota residents that hail from Chicago who would welcome a non-stop flight from SRQ on Allegiant."   This was  before a 60 Minute report on their not too favorable safety record.  By years end though, Allegiant will have replaced all craft responsible for poor record.

A few days after Connors Steak&Seafood opened we had dinner there and wrote negatively about the experience.  Undaunted, along with another couple we went back to see what if any improvements had  been made.  Sad to report none!!!  Though the service was good, the food again was overpriced for what was delivered.  Bottom line Capital Grill, Hyde Park, or Ruth's Chris are far superior and cost only a few dollars more.

Not too early to begin planning for next weekend.   The first Lakewood Ranch Fine Art Festival will be on Main St. 01am-5pm Saturday and Sunday.  If you've been to this type of event downtown Sarasota, then you know what to expect.  A virtual outdoor gallery with art from local and national artisans.  Along with the paintings you'll see sculpture, jewelry, glass , ceramics, and more.   Add entertainment and food both at the show and along Main street and it's a plan!  See you there.

The VAN WEZEL concludes its highly successful 2017/18 season this week with four unique performances.  And, the good news is with so many leaving Sarasota to head back north there are decent seats left for all of them.  I'll tell you about two,  but for additional information and to purchase tickets click here.

One of the all-time Broadway classics makes a stop Tuesday and Wednesday for 3 performances.  The movie is always available, but seeing A CHORUS LINE on stage is the best way.  With very few props and costumes, this is the perfect show for VAN WEZEL.

YANNI was here a few years ago and filled the stage with musicians and spectacular music.  Billed as Acropolis 25,  this WORLD tour celebrates the 25th anniversary of one of the great live concerts of all time.  One performance next Sunday 7pm.

JIM'S RANT......We've  survived another season of snow birds, tourists and spring breakers.  The roads are passable most hours of the day; the supermarket aisles are easily accessed; the restaurants are less crowded and semi-less noisy; and tickets for most performances are available day of show.  And best of all our sensational weather continues into spring and summer...Have a great week....JIM


Saturday, April 14, 2018

APRIL 15, 2018


James Comey many months ago!!
Not only will James Comey sit down with George Stephanopoulos TONIGHT, but in less than 10 months he will be here in Sarasota promoting his book and speaking at RCLA TOWN HALL......

At last week's final lecture of their 37th season, their 38th speaker schedule was announced, and it's a whopper!!!  Comey will be here February 4, but before him comes Shaquille O'Neal.  I remember him as an outstanding NBA super-star turned media personality. 

 What many do not know is he's become an astute businessman with his name on restaurants, athletic shoes and much more.  Add Caroline Kennedy on March 4 along with founder of Wikpedia Jimmy Wales February 18 and Editor at Large for Time Magaizne, Ian Bremmer April 11 to close the season.

Subscriptions are available now for current series attendees.  If you are not one of those you can join RCLA and have an opportunity to purchase tickets before general sale in June.  To learn more about this outstanding organization as well as bios on guest speakers pleas click here. 

 This season's last Sarasota Orchestra performance is this Friday and Saturday at Van Wezel.  If its as good as their last Broadway show featuring Norm Lewis who starred in the recent NBC live broadcast of Jesus Christ Super Star, you're in for an entertaining evening.

SWINGIN' AT THE CLUB, with guest conductor Byron Stripling recalls the heyday of the Cotton Club with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald showcased the classics of the Great American Songbook.  With season winding down, there are several great tickets available starting at $35.  To purchase tickets the easy way click here. Or call 941-953-3434.

 You've read about two of my favorite restaurants  many times, but they are worthy of mention again.  The Rosemary continues to thrive in their Orange St. location with a full dining room for lunch and dinner most nights.  Their menu rarely changes, but with nightly specials and chef Scott's special touch their meals are always a treat.  Call 941-966-7600 for reservations. 
Toasted Mango Cafe continues to thrive in their Trail location.  Long lines for their short hours of operation.  Open daily 7am-3pm and serving breakfast until close with lunch added around 11.  They do take call ahead at 941-388-7728.

In other restaurant news this week, YUMMY HOUSE received their liquor licence putting them one step closer to opening.  A new name to Sarasota, Pascone's Restorante will open soon in the former space of Square One Burger adjacent to Buffalo Wild Wings on University.   Kruk's Philly Cheese steak is still under construction.  AND,  SOL has new and improved rye bread!!!

 Don't miss the 36th SUNCOAST Boat Show next weekend April 20-22 Downtown Sarasota.  Featuring boats of all varieties, you can't miss it at Marina Jack's on the Bay.  There will be hourly performances, seminars along with hundreds of boats and accessories from the Gulf Coasts leading boat dealers.  Admission is NOT free, but with this special code HERALD you will receive $5 off each ticket.  For tickets and information you should visit here!!

Congratulations to those of you who were able to attend last week's PBS Antiques Roadshow at the Ringling.  You will have to wait until 2019, when the three episodes taped here will air.  The Herald had a terrific front page Barbara Peters Smith article in Friday's paper.

JIM'S RANT...With great fanfare Allegiant Air began service into SRQ this past with year-round non stop flights to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.  With seven carriers and 15 non-stop destinations SRQ is moving in the right direction.  But where is a non-stop to Baltimore, home of our spring training team as well as thousands of year-round visitors.  Don't the millions generated by their baseball games deserve more than a 45 minute drive to and from Tampa???????  Thanks for reading...see you in a week....JIM

Saturday, April 7, 2018

APRIL 8, 2018


While awaiting my anticipated  fresh look at Jersey Boys and A Chorus Line, VAN WEZEL, announces their 2018-19 Subscription series; and it's a WHOPPER!!!  The eagerly awaited THE LION KING will be making an unprecedented two plus week engagement there along with an extended run of ON YOUR FEET, RENT, STOMP and more.  It's being called the best season in memory with more to come.  Get your subscription now by calling 941-953-3368 or going on line here. 
We are only days away from the 20th Anniversary Sarasota  Film Festival.  Their official program guide was distributed in last Sunday's Herald, but  You can also pick up a copy at Hollywood 11 and several other locations, including Whole Foods. 

 Two  films of note, Eighth Grade and Class Rank are running trailers promoting their area premiers immediately
Nick 2018
after the Festival closes.  Love Means Zero, The Nick Bolletieri documentary is the closing day film screening at the Sarasota Opera House.

Announced this week an appearance by Jon Heder will accompany the World Premiere of his new film "When Jeff Tried to Save the World.  Date is April 16. The screening is at 9PM at Hollywood 11, with bowling party to follow!!  Also added, an acclaimed Sundance entry Leave No Trace.  This one is showing at 8:45, Monday April 14.  Also at Hollywood 11.

 For a complete schedule, including parties and luncheons click here.

We are now into the second week of SOL at the STARLITE. In his fourth attempt at creating the ultimate delicatessen experience in Sarasota, his product stands the test!! 

 On my only visit, the corned beef was hot and lean;  the chopped liver tasting home-made; the potato latkes cooked to perfection; the pickle deli quality, but oh that bread!!  Sol promises to improve, as his supplier, Bavarian Bakery is new to the game of rye bread.

  And best of all, the cheese cake is as good as I can remember. 

If you are in the mood for this type of meal, than I can happily suggest a visit to 1001 Cocoanut Avenue this week.

Many of you are regular Westcoast Black Theatre subscribers.  Others go show to show; whatever if you did not see Lady Day At Emerson's Bar&Grill, you missed a grand performance by Tony winner Melba Moore.

  So many exceptional shows at Westcoast, it has become mandatory for a season subscription.  Starting with In The Heights,  then in rapid succession, The Mountaintop, Lady Day and closing with Nate Jacobs World Premier Soul Man.  Keep watching here for next season's attractions. For as little as $125.00 you could have been a subscriber.  To purchase tickets call 941-366-1505 click here. Every seat is a good one!!

Another subscription for your 2018-19 consideration is Sarasota Orchestra Great Escapes.  Their sixth and final will be Wednesday April 11-Saturday April 14.  Mavericks of Rhythm, showcasing familiar American composers, Bernstein, Copland, Mancini and Ellington.  This blend of pops and light classics is available by calling 941-953-3434 by going to their website here.

More late breaking restaurant news.  As first reported here months ago,  Polo Grill and Bar is closing the end of May.  At the time, it was rumored Nancy's BBQ was expanding and taking over part of their location along with other unnamed restaurants and retail.  Stay tuned.

It was officially announced Yummy House is closing its North Trail location once new South Trail location is ready for business.   As first reported here, the new Yummy will have a full bar and will be able to accommodate 100 diners for lunch and dinner.  Their new location is in the former Square 1 Burgers building across from Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Chef Rolf is now hiring for his new restaurant in the now shuttered site of Roy's 2001 Siesta Drive location.  More information as it becomes available.

JIM'S RANT....As a passive user of Facebook, I am not as disturbed as most of you are about the exposure of personal data.  It happens everyday with on-line sites.  That Facebook didn't do a better job in protecting that information is sinful.   But now if you really want privacy on Facebook you are going to be charged for that privilege.  Oh, and by the way, this has been going on for over 2 years!!!.....As always, thanks for reading. Until next week...JIM

Saturday, March 31, 2018

APRIL 1, 2018



Everybody's busy with the Holiday.  And so am I.....

See you next week........


Sunday, March 25, 2018

MARCH 25, 2018


Playing at Sarasota Opera House and Hollywood 11, this year's event promises some outstanding feature films as well as well-received documentaries.  Stars galore including Oscar-nominated Virgina Madsen and familiar favorite, Steve Guttenberg will be in attendance and receive Awards at two gala receptions during the Festival.

As previously reported last week, the Nick Bollettieri documentary "Love Means Zero" will be shown and Nick will be on hand to meet and greet.   You can see this now or wait for its Showtime debut in June.  In addition, some of the better documentaries from 2017 Sundance Festival will be shown along with the eagerly anticipated 1985 and Eighth Grade.

Lots of  restaurant news this week.  Metro Diner opened its second location at Lockwood Ridge and University; several of us re-discovered a Main St. gem, Prague; and a familiar name on the Sarasota restaurant scene, Sol Shencker is starting anew with lunch and cheesecake at The Starlite Room.  

Had dinner at Metro, and came away unimpressed.  The menu and decor match their Siesta Key location; however the service and food have a long way to go.  After waiting at least 7 minutes to see a server,  and another long wait for food, we were none too happy with our meal. 

Meatloaf along with smashed potatoes was semi-warm; the egg-sandwich also semi-warm.   We did spot our food on line for several minutes before it was served.  Would I go back? NO!!!  Possibly their Siesta location.  If I want real diner food, I'll find it in Baltimore.

I'll say this about SOL, he is a survivor.  After three failed
attempts at a genuine Jewish delicatessen, he's back for his forth.  Sol is bringing his unique style to the Starlite Room 1001 Coconaut Avenue. 

 Plans call for incorporating some of Sol's deli items  into their dinner menu as well; especially his "celebrated" cheesecake.  This seems like a strange departure for Starlite, known more for their live entertainment, rooftop lounge and eclectic clientele. 

Quoting him, ..."as everyone knows I love to cook NY style deli.  I tried it here in three locations, one was too small, one was too big and one was a joint venture. They all started good and for some reason fizzled out"....Let's hope the fourth time is long lasting.

Beginning this Tuesday, lunch will be served 11-3 through Saturday, with brunch Sunday 11-4.

We are almost into April, and time to start thinking about ALL FAITHS FOOD BANK Campaign Against Summer Hunger feeding 40,000 students throughout the Sarasota area.  More information on Summer campaign as well as volunteer opportunities by clicking onto their website here.

Asolo Reperatory Theatre is well into its 59th season with sold-out performances the norm this year.   Now, before Jungle Book concludes Asolo's  schedule in June, comes an announcement of their 60th season productins.
76 Trombones
  Leading off is an all-time favorite of mine and yours, Meredeth Wilson's The Music Man with Jeff Calhoun returning as director.  The closing show is Stephen Sondheim's classic musical  Around The World in 80 Days.  A few of the other titles are The Crucible and A Doll's House Part2.  Sounds like another winning season for Asolo Rep.  To order tickets for the remainder of this season, or get in line for their 6oth season click here to check schedule and order tickets on line,

The recently opened ROE, a frank play about the Supreme Court decision that changed lives for women all across this land has seen positive reviews.  It's been 50 years since that landmark day, and as witness by the audience response, the country is still divided in opinion on abortion rights.
This is an astonishing play about two women caught up in the 1970's decision and how  their lives forever that day. As we go forward in the Trump-Pence leadership, the right  for women to have an abortion faces uncharted water.  An entertaining as well as thoughtful night at ASOLO.

It's been far too many years since visiting our gem of a Main St. restaurant.  PRAGUE was a nice change from the too predictable restaurants most of us frequent in Sarasota.  And coincidentally several friends went the same week and came away with same impression.  The review is a compilation of their thoughts:
  ".......Absolutely fantastic!!  The food was very good and the portions were big enough to share.  Soup, salad, potato pancake order big enough for 4.  Wiener Schnitzel. Beef Stroganoff, Hungarian Goulash, spaetzle.  Beer wine; no liquor. Save room for the home-made apple strudel with ice cream.  Four forks will do it.  Open dinner only 5-9 Mon-Sat. 

One word of caution.  The restaurant is small and noisy when full.  Call 941-392-2882 for reservations.

 JIM'S RANT.......The cancellation of Tuesday's 14th annual Celebrity Chefs event and wine tasting at Longboat Key Club was called off late afternoon due to tornado and thunderstorm warnings. A charity event for JFCS, with over 400 ticket purchasers were disappointed.....but not to be disappointed were the homeless served by Salvation Army.  The food along was delivered there along with several chefs who did the serving!!!  JIM......Thanks for reading...see you next week.......