Let’s play a quick game. This won’t be too tough, I promise. I’m going to toss out a few names, and you’re going to see if you can name the Sarasota neighborhood where they used to reside. Ready? Here we go… Derek’s Culinary Casual, The Mad Crow, Sierra Station Cafe.
See? No problem at all. Especially if you’ve lived here for any length of time. Or bothered to read the headline! The correct answer, as we all know, is The Rosemary District.
Chef Derek Barnes was just a little ahead of his time over at Derek’s Culinary Casual. He was serving some of the best and most creative dishes around town at the time. He was on the front edge of a neighborhood that was supposedly on the verge of gentrifying. That was almost 15 years ago. 514 Central is now a yoga studio.
Chef Eric Bein owned the breakfast spot across the alley from what is now the Oasis Restaurant and Bar (before that, Darwin’s on 4th). But before either of those, Chef Bein opened the Mad Crow Brewery & Grill. I always struggled with the name (I always thought it was just a little too close to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). The food, on the other hand, was pretty special. Just in case you forgot what 2011 tasted like, here’s something to jog your memory. If you want to read what we wrote at the time about the Mad Crow Brewery & Grill, you can read that HERE.
Enough looking back. Let’s look forward, shall we? It’s 2022 and this north of Fruitville Road neighborhood has finally started to come into its own. It wasn’t nearly as quick as a lot of people thought. But I think its time to shine has finally started to arrive.
With that in mind, let’s take a little culinary tour of The Rosemary District
BREAKFAST AND LUNCH
It’s a little strange that an area this size has so many breakfast and lunch-only places. But they do!
Chef Mica England’s new breakfast and lunch concept just opened its doors very recently. In that short time, they have become a fan favorite on dineSarasota.com making it into our Top 5 from the past month. They have a menu that’s on the smaller side. But what they serve is delicious. The Croque Madame or Monsieur should not be missed!
Just re-opening its doors on February 3rd after a fairly long closure. Omelets, crepes, and quiches. This is a cute little breakfast and lunch spot. Casual, yet elegant. For lunch, the pan-seared tuna salad or the smoked duck gumbo are both excellent choices. It’s really hard for me to pass on a great bowl of soup, gumbo, or chowder. They will be serving dinner in the near future.
Back in the day (2011), this was The Sierra Station Cafe. Ten plus years seems like a long time ago. Since then, Station 400 has been forging its own great reputation. A great truffle eggs benedict and lots of pancake creations highlight the breakfast menu. For lunch, a big selection of wraps and sandwiches. They also have a location in Lakewood Ranch, if you happen to be out that way.
WHAT IF I WANT SOMETHING OTHER THAN BREAKFAST?
Of course, you can get dinner in the Rosemary District. Here are some of our picks.
This is the sister restaurant to The Rosemary. Serving dinner in an upscale and comfortable dining room. You really can't go wrong with the "Lobster-Cargots". The menu has lots of choices and a good wine list! Insider Tip - They also serve a nice Sunday brunch.
I will be the first to admit that I didn’t think I would be writing about The Overton in 2022. This place has really surprised me over the years. It started a little slow, but they have built a very loyal Sarasota following. And with good reason. I just love the avocado toast (OK, I know that avocado toast's time has passed, but I still like it), and the jackfruit tacos are delightful and a little different. You’ve got to try those. That's their menu at the top of this post.
Every neighborhood needs a good sushi and Asian cuisine spot. And The Rosemary District has Spice Station. There is no weak spot on this menu. The inside is cozy, but the real seating treat is the outdoor space. Large, comfortable, and right on the courtyard they share with The Overton. You can get sushi, I think the real gems are the curry dishes.
A FEW PLACES THAT DEFY A CATEGORY
Yes, The Rosemary District is a little quirky. So, these places fit right into their home neighborhood.
Lots and lots and lots of beer. If you can’t find something that you like here at Mandeville, you might want to think about switching to another type of adult beverage. Yes, they have food to accompany all of that beer. They have three different kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches, a bunch of burgers, and house-made pork rinds! Yep, I know this is not health food, but any of those are an excellent accompaniment to an ice-cold brew!
Known for their "Southern Comfort Food" and their live music. They have a menu that includes Brunswick Stew and fried green tomatoes in addition to their locally famous fried chicken. How about some pecan pie for dessert? The “Happy Hour and a Half” Wednesday through Saturday is always fun. Insider Tip - They have a Sunday Gospel Brunch that you will not want to miss!
This brings us to the final stop on our culinary walk around The Rosemary District. Last, but absolutely not least, is the Artisan Cheese Company. I LOVE cheese and this place has it all! (They carry my current favorite cheese, Bijou by the Vermont Creamery.) They have an extremely knowledgeable staff to help guide you through what can sometimes be an intimidating selection process. They serve a small lunch menu, but the real star is the cheese counter.
It’s loaded with harder to find domestic cheeses. There are lots of places to buy cheese around Sarasota. The Artisan Cheese Company is right at the top of the list!
So, that’s it. Are you tired? Hungry? Thirsty? If you happen to be any of those things, then you read just the right piece! Next time you’re wondering where should I go for ______ ?? Remember the Rosemary District!
We’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you! All you need to do is make that reservation. Here are some upcoming local food events that we think you might find interesting…