Thursday, April 27, 2017

MAY 1, 2017


Next Saturday, the grandaddy of all horse races, The Kentucky Derby kicks off Horse Racing's Triple Crown.  Early betting has established Classic Empire and Always Dreaming as 6-1 favorites with McCracken 9-1.  I'll be watching NBC Saturday.  Grab your hat and go!!!

Well look who's back, and in a big way.  Debbie Y heard the rumor, neither confirmed nor denied by Nancy's BBQ, of their considering a move to a bigger location in Lakewood Ranch.  According to Debbie's source, negotiations are underway with The Polo Grille which will retain Fete Catering, but relinquish restaurant space to Nancy and another unnamed restaurant.  

The second restaurant will supposedly cater to the craft beer crowd, which is growing all over Sarasota; especially the Lakewood Ranch area.  The name Gold Coast Liquor Distributors was mentioned,  but could not be confirmed.   Stay tuned! 

I can tell you this for sure, Nancy is now serving bbq ribs in her Lakewood Ranch location, Friday and Saturday.  A word to the wise:  ORDER AHEAD!!!  941-362-2833 11:30am-8pm.

Opening Friday at Asolo Rep is the World Premier musical BEATSVILLE.  From the writers of The Little Mermaid, School of Rock, and Sister Act, this one has the pedigree and talent to go beyond Asolo.  Beatsville is a co-production with acclaimed Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, where it will play immediately after its Asolo run.  Unlike last season's Josephine which is no longer touring, Beatsville is highly anticipated to head to Broadway next season.

Beatsville is Greenwich Village in 1959-the world of" subterranean coffee shops, goateed artists, turtle neck poets, and bongo playing beatniks."

Beatsville, currently in previews, opens May 6, and continues to May 26.  Call 941-351-8000 or click here for tickets on line.  

Those of you who frequent Starbucks at University and Honore have met Barista Mike Spellman.  He is the cheerful manager of this location.  Mike told me of his new business venture last week which is far removed from coffee.  Mike's Home & Garden LLC has everything from landscape lighting, garden designs and home repairs.  Replace your old lawn with a new one.  For a free on-site estimate you can reach Mike at 941-923-2131 or get in touch with Mike through this email link.

So many restaurants this week, I'm having difficulty choosing a few.  A good number of you are familiar with Longboat's best casual restaurant DRY DOCK.  Having been a customer for more than 15 years, even with new ownership, nothing has changed about this place.  The food is terrific, and reasonable.  The servers are pleasant and not pushy.  The noise level is as good as it gets in a large and open restaurant.  And, the wait can be intolerable during season.

Had dinner there this week. Arrived early, seated immediately, and had a wonderful meal along with perfect service.   When we left the wait, even at this time of year, was over an hour.  They do take preferred seating when available at 941-383-0102. Dry Dock is located 412 Gulf of Mexico Drive.  

Antoine's newest creation sits unceremoniously in a strip mall on 12th and Tuttle, across from Ed Smith Stadium.  His neighbors are Peruvian, Mexican, Italian and American.  But Antoine's has no competition for his many varieties  of mussels, for which he is famous and popular.  If you don't recognize the name, what once was Brasserie Belge on Main and Washington, then Fruitvlle and McIntosh has morphed into this location.  I didn't expect such a charming interior from a restaurant fronted by a gas station.  Somewhat pricey, but with much more than mussels.  For a complete menu click here.

Reservations are a must at 941-331-1400.  Closed Wednesday, but open every other night for dinner 6-10. 

There's only 2 weeks left to purchase tickets to OUTDOOR POPS/HITS AND HOME RUNS
May 12&13 Ed Smith Stadium.  This annual Sarasota Orchestra event features an American Idol favorite from season 14, Clark Beckham.  Hot dogs, popcorn, soft drinks, beer, peanuts; all that's missing is a baseball game.

The Orchestra will be performing music from the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Mama Mia, the 1812 Overture and many more.  Be prepared for a few hours of music topped off by a spectacular fireworks display.  We've been to this event several times in the past and recommend!!!  So popular, they've  added a second night this year.

To order tickets call 941-893-6300 or click here to pick your seats on line. 

 JIM'S RANT.....With no fanfare the two new  I75 north bound lanes from Fruitville Rd. opened to traffic this week.  So far, so good.  I even had the courage to try that route Thursday.  No accidents reported.  No backups.  Let's hope a month from now I'm not ranting about the Diamond catastrophe.  Bring on those 40,000 rowing visitors;  Sarasota is ready...

No Jim Knows Sarasota the next two weeks.  Back the week of 5/22 for a few more weeks of publication before summer break........JIM


Friday, April 21, 2017

APRIL 23, 2017


VOGUE magazine, with its May issue on newsstands now, extols the virtues of Sarasota.  In a featured editorial, praise is heaped on our community for sandy white beaches, architecture, dinning, shopping and attractions.   Highlighted are Sarasota Museum of Art, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Ringling Museum along with Owen's Fish Camp, Shore, Star Fish Company, Ritz-Carlton and more.

Several months ago, I had many unfavorable comments about then recently opened BOCA restaurant 19 S. Lemon. This week, I am doing a complete 180 degree turn.  After two trips back for lunch and dinner, I am happy to say their act is not only together, it is in my estimation SHOCK,  one of the best new eateries in the Sarasota downtown area.

Their modern interior and prime location is reason enough for a large millennial turn-out.  Sure it's noisy with little room between tables.  However, their outstanding menu is locally inspired with emphasis on farm to table. You are provided with a long list of local farms supplying BOCA with fresh vegetables, fruits and meats daily.

Even with outside and two level seating, there is normally a wait.  Open daily 11a.m. to 11p.m. daily with an additional hour on weekends, call 941-254-3565 for a reservation.
Long time friend and blog reader Joan Blum writes about her recent discovery of Marietta Museum of Art and  WHIMSY 2121 N. Tamiami Trail. I'm sure many of you have passed this location and wondered what was inside. 

Joan  did the other day and writes, ..."If you love whimsical, sometimes unusual art, you will really enjoy Whimsy.  Filled with paintings, sculpture and one-of-a-kind art objects never seen before.  There is no admission cost, just a request for $5 donation used to maintain this free attraction. Open Thursday-Sunday 1-4p.m.  Closed for summer May 27 and reopen early September."

Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump on SNL
If you haven't been watching NBC's Saturday Night Live this season, you've missed one of their best.  For Alec Baldwin playing the role of President Donald Trump, it's been a boon for his career.  First with a hit movie and now a best selling book Nevertheless; a candid and honest look at  a very public entertainer.   You can catch the last Live for this season next Saturday 11:30.  If you are adventurous, most of the shows are On Demand.

In a few weeks, schools will close for summer break leaving 40,000 children without their free or reduced price school meal provided by ALL FAITHS FOOD BANK.  With your help, the program continues through the break. Every dollar you contribute will be matched!  You can make a donation now by clicking here.

A growing trend in the food service industry are pre-made meals.  Since the closing of Let's Eat,  this concept has only been available to us on line.  No more, as Fitlife opens Thursday.  Their location is The Market at UTC 5275 University Parkway   If you are unfamiliar with this location, among its occupants are Kohl's, Peltz, and what is already a strong contender for pre-made meals, Fresh Market.

Fitlife Chef
With several locations in Tampa and St. Pete, Fitlife is well positioned for success.  They claim their meals are "healthy, with more than 65 items including gluten-free, vegetarian, and other options."  Prices range from $5 to $13 and include breakfast, lunch and dinner.  To view complete menu click here.


JIM'S RANT.....To all you nay-seyers and doubters regarding UTC, you can take that egg off your face now.  A few visits over several weeks was more than enough to convince me the Mall was thriving.  The stores are busier than when first opened.  The restaurants are packed for most peak hours and the parking lots are pretty full.  The coming summer will be a test, but Rowing visitors will more than make up for any shortfall.....

Once Again thanks for reading....see you next week....JIM


Thursday, April 13, 2017

APRIL 16, 2017

                                 HAPPY EASTER...HERE'S TO A HOPPING GREAT DAY
Don't  celebrate too much if still contemplating filing a tax return Tuesday the 18th.  We all received a 2 day extension due to the 15th falling on a Saturday and a Washington Holiday on Monday.  No excuses after tomorrow!!

If you're up to adult nonsense,  and tired of your old couch, then head to the  nearest cinema for 2 hours of Going In Style.  This remake of  1979 comedy starring Art Carney has been updated to fit its three aging stars; Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.  Along with an unrecognizable Ann Margaret ( too many face tucks)  they set out to rob a bank responsible for robbing them of their pensions.

When plan is hatched, just sit back and enjoy this one.  No need discussing what director was thinking after movie,  Style is easy to view and leave with a smile on your face.  The real GOOD movies are due in a few weeks.

A great way to spend next weekend is with the Sarasota Pops  Orchestra Andrew Lane returns to lead them in their last performance of the season:  The Music of Sinatra.  Tickets begin at $35, with several remaining for all three weekend programs.  Friday and Saturday evening at 8 and Saturday 2:30; with the best seats Saturday matinee. 

Up and comer Michael Andrew joins the  Orchestra , recreating some of Sinatra's better known songs.  Luck Be a lady, New York, New York, I Only Have Eyes For You, and In The Still of the Night along with many others. Clips of some of Sinatra's greatest moments from cinema to television will be shown as the music plays.

You can hop on line Now by clicking here. Or you can call 941-953-3434 and reserve your tickets over the phone.

Here's  a date worth saving. The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is sponsoring an exhibit of the incredible life of Anne Frank.  Starting Tuesday and running through May 17,  you are invited to visit  The Selby Public Library 1331 First Street, downtown Sarasota.  

Exhibit hours are  9am-8pm Mon-Fri, 5pm Sat.  Before arriving in Sarasota, this exhibit has  been on display in over 40 countries and seen by over six million people-the same number who perished at the hands of the Nazis!  It tells the story of Anne Frank against the background of the Holocaust and World War 11.

By visiting Selby Library you will gain a better understanding of the Holocaust and the lasting impact this event has on today's society.  Just witness the JUSTIFIED outcry from Trump Press Secretary Spicer's comments of a few days ago. 

West  Coast Black Theatre  concludes  its successful season with a drama, Dearly Departed. No music with this one, but critics are  calling Departed  a "delightful and heartwarming comedy"  about a dysfunctional family gathering for their patriarch's funeral.  As we all know from personal experiences, family situations are seldom tidy, but often extremely funny.

Dearly Departed runs through May 17.  You can easily order tickets for all performances by clicking here.

When it comes to Southwest Mexican cuisine, there is only one place that I know of in Sarasota that creates a one of a kind dining experience that keeps me coming back for more.  Family owned and operated EL TORO BRAVO, combines fresh, flavorful food along with honest prices and outstanding service.

Whether you're in the mood for specialty menu items like Tampaquino Steak or the classics (my favorites) like fajitas, enchiladas, burritos and tacos done to perfection, this is the place for you as well.  The restaurant is small and cozy with every table only a few feet from the serving area. 

On a recent visit, owner and chef Ruben Caban was our server and helped make the entire experience rewarding; especially the chocolate dessert which I still dream about today.  I wouldn't think of eating Mexican food on a weekly basis, but once a month this is the place to be.  Located 2720 Stickney Point Rd.  For reservations call 941-924-0006. Open lunch and dinner Mon-Sat.  A new location is under construction, and I'll give you that address when it opens. 

Many of you are going to see KINKY BOOTS playing April 25-30 at Van Wezel.  With matinees on Saturday and Sunday;  there are tickets left for most performances.  I saw this in NY several years ago when it won Tony for best musical.  This is one of those rare occasions Sarasota gets to see a show that's also  running on Broadway.  It's still not too late to order tickets on-line. Click here or call box office at 941-953-3368. 


JIM'S RANT.....Our long winter season is over!!  The streets are less crowded, the better restaurants have immediate seating, stores are already offering discounts, people who live here year round have come out of hiding, and it never rains!!!  Can you believe it, but nary a drop of measurable rainfall the month of April.  If this keeps up, I'll have to break down for that sprinkler I saw recently at Home Depot.  Have a great Easter.......

See  you next week as we head into MAY countdown....two weeks to go....have a great week in PARADISE.....JIM

Friday, April 7, 2017

APRIL 9, 2017

Passover begins Monday at Sundown and lasts until next Tuesday.  If  you haven't made those Easter brunch and dinner week to go.

Broadway 2017-18
Over the past few weeks, Sarasota's  many performing arts companies began announcing their 2017-18 schedules.  Add the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to that list with Monday's announcement of their Broadway, Classical and Dance schedule for next season.
As always, the line-up is impressive, highlighted by national tours of several big-name Broadway shows along with three of the finest classical  musicians in the world.  More performances will be added in the coming months.

Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell
Renee Fleming returns January 16.  Joshua Bell appears March 24; while Yo-Yo Ma's date is April 19.  They are joined by" MOTOWN The Musical", centerpiece of the Broadway season.  Telling the story of the record label that gave us among others Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and The Supremes, it opens March27 and runs through April 1.  Cabaret, Jersey Boys, A Chorus Line are on the list as well.

Subscriptions are available at their box-office or by calling 941-953-3368.

Florida Studio Theatre's main stage concludes its season with the regional premier of Rich Girl.  Running through May 26, this romantic comedy tells the story of a wealthy woman who falls in love with a penniless man and the attempt by her mother to change the dialogue.  This is a modern update of a Henry James novel Washington Square, published originally as a short story in an 1880 edition of Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 

Performances are in the Gompertz Theatre 1241 Palm Avenue.  You can purchase tickets by calling 941-366-9000.  Or click here to purchase tickets on line. Also be one of the first to subscribe to the 2017-18 season here as well. 

If you're looking for a casual restaurant, now is the time of year to head to Longboat.  Traffic is lighter, the days are longer, and the parking easier. 

It's  been several months since we've been to DRY DOCK, but met friends there a few Fridays ago, and am happy to report, nothing has changed including the menu.   From hamburger, to pasta, to soup and all sorts of sea food, there is something for everyone.  Love their chili and salmon BLT.

Open Monday to Sunday 11am-9 pm.  Dry Dock does not take reservations, but allows preferred seating when available.  You should plan to call a few days ahead for that feature;  however in a few weeks the degree of difficulty diminishes.  Located at 412 Gulf of Mexico Drive,  941-383-1012.  Just a few miles down the road....
Taomina Talk/Marjorie Sayer

The annual WCA(Women Contemporary Artists)  Spring Exhibit is on now and will be through May 11.  Located at Longboat Key Center for the Arts, 6860 Longboat Key Drive South.  Hours for Exhibit are Tuesday-Saturday 9:30-4:00pm.

This Exhibit showcases the work of WCA whose membership includes painters, sculptors, print makers, collage artists, fabric artists and more.  If going, you are sure to enjoy the variety and quality that this exhibition will present.

Congratulations to friend and neighbor Marjorie Sayer for earning 1st place two years running; and  to another friend, Janet Mishner, who won a Merit Award.

The countdown is on for spring/summer movie releases.  Several look promising this year.  One that opened in recent weeks, comes from a best-selling book.  Starring  Jessica Chastain,  The Zookeeper's Wife, tells the story of an amazing woman who along with her husband, saved hundreds of people and animals at Warsaw's zoo during  World War 11.  If you wait a few weeks, I'm sure this will land at the $2.00 Parkway.

An eagerly awaited juried showcase, 2017 Best Of Ringling began Saturday and will run through April 22.  Exhibitions are open  to the public free of charge, Monday-Saturday 10-4pm.  There are twelve exhibits including Advertising Design, Computer Animation, Interior Design, Motion Design and photography. Call 941-359-7563 click here for list of exhibit buildings along with their address.

JIM'S RANT.....Hats off to Florida Department of Traffic for its efforts to educate many on the traversing of soon to open Diverging Diamond.  At presentations in Lakewood Ranch and University Park they are putting a light-hearted spin on a very serious issue. Opening well ahead of schedule in a few months, the Diamond at University and I75 should be easy to travel for those of us who pay attention......

Thanks again for reading.  Enjoy the week, and I'll see you sometime next Saturday.....JIM

A few more hours for this one!!!