Nancy’s Bar-B-Q arrived on the Sarasota dining scene not long after we moved out of the area. Too bad for us because Nancy’s is pretty darn good. Sure, it has a few minor flaws. Yet it has clearly set the gold standard for real BBQ in the Sarasota/Bradenton marketplace.
The eatery’s design is modern and appealing. Part of this operation is financed by the Caragiulo family (some might call them the first family of Italian cuisine in Sarasota). It’s a beautiful place — and well thought-out. A nice blend of retro and modern.
This tractor (parked permanently outside) provides some rustic charm.
The replica Sinclair Gasoline billboard further adds to the old school vibe.
Cooking BBQ with real wood??? What an amazing concept!
“This little piggy went to market …” and apparently didn’t come home.
The pulled BBQ pork (cooked for 12 hours) and the locally-made link sausage were outstanding. Owner and founder Nancy Krohngold obviously devotes a lot of time to her sauces too. There are several to choose from and all of them were right on point. Or should I say right on Q??? Be sure to take some home with you.
The side dishes (above) we sampled were just OK, but not great.
The link sausage had a nice kick to it. This was a highlight in my mind.
Follow this “Q” (above) on the sidewalk to Nancy’s Bar-B-Q. Stick to the meats and house-made BBQ sauces and you will surely not be disappointed. This is real deal BBQ, friends — and Sarasota is quite lucky to have them in town.
Nancy’s Bar-B-Q – 301 South Pineapple Street, Sarasota, FL
The entry to the Columbia Restaurant off of St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota. The Florida-based restaurant chain was originally founded in the historic Ybor (pronounced EEE-BOR) City section of Tampa way back in 1905.
Outdoor patio dining offers some great people watching.
Inside dining at Columbia is open air and quite elegant.
The colorful menu celebrates the restaurant’s impressive longevity.
The eatery’s decor and wall treatments are very tastefully done.
Each diner receives their own mini loaf of crusty Cuban-style bread.
We opted for the fried calamari appetizer with a lemon mayo for dipping.
The 1905 Salad (my favorite) is assembled by your waiter at tableside.
Only a large photo does this legendary salad justice. It is just loaded with garlic, julienne strips of baked ham, good earthy slabs of swiss cheese, big flecks of black pepper, red tomato chunks, finely grated romano cheese, and lots of pitted green olives. The secret to the salad dressing’s tang is a blend of fresh squeezed lemons, extra virgin Spanish olive oil, and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.
The Columbia now has 7 Florida locations. Get to one ASAP and thank me later. And as a parting word of wisdom, please don’t forget that breath mint after your meal. The 1905′s garlic dressing is pretty potent stuff that will keep the vampires away for days!
We continued our Florida BBQ quest today with a trip to the Roadside Rib Shack, which is located just off Highway 41 on Bahia Vista Road in Sarasota. They bill it as “Southern Style Barbecue,” and that is exactly what I have been seeking — with not too much luck I must add.
It is a nice-enough looking establishment from the outside. The ribs are tender and tasty … the pulled pork was flavorful but a little too fatty for my taste. I know, fat = flavor, but I’m still trying to be somewhat healthy, even when eating smoked pork BBQ. The cole slaw was OK — not great — but far better than the slop I was served at The Oaks just about 24 hours previously. The meat was served on a Kaiser-style yeast roll.
Small but comfortable on the inside, the Roadside Rib Shack gets an A for effort when it comes to their BBQ sauce variety. They offer you the choice of sweet, spicy, or mustard-based. All are good, but I preferred the spicy variety. Owner Derek Luther makes it himself and the extra care shows. The sweet sauce had a Memphis vibe to it, while the mustard sauce took me back to the 5 years I spent in the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry. This, I believe, is the first time we’ve seen this unique sauce served at a FL eatery. Nice going, Derek!
Mr. Luther was quite personable — I always appreciate that courtesy. They also have a sense of humor at the Roadside Rib Shack. I could tell by looking at the T-shirts (see below) they sell in the front of the restaurant.
This wasn’t the best BBQ we’ve had in Florida, but after our recent trials and tribulations this was definitely a step in the right direction.
I consider myself a big fan of BBQ and The Oaks Bar B Q is located only a few short miles from my Sarasota home. I have passed by this place countless times but never felt compelled to stop in for a bite. Why? Well, maybe it was my gut speaking to me. Or perhaps it was the fact that I rarely — check that — never heard anyone talking about it.
Well, today was the day when I made the commitment to stop in and give The Oaks a try. Sorry I did. To say I was simply disappointed would be an understatement. Frankly, it was pretty bad — bordering on really bad.
I ordered the large chopped pork sandwich plate, which runs $6.80 before tax, tip and beverage. A fair price, one might think. But given the food quality, I think not. The pork was bland (not smokey) and speckled with several inedible chunks of gristle. The meat itself was not hot … I’ll be kind and pretend it was luke warm. Wink, wink. The accompanying sauce was nothing to write home about either. The slaw was made with far too much mayo, which gave the side dish a really heavy taste. Imagine grated cabbage, a truckload of mayo, and a splash of pickle relish and that’s pretty much it. And the Brunswick Stew, well, let’s just say right here that I’m sure you can get better stew at your local homeless shelter or state prison. Nasty — tasted like ketchup mixed with a little water and some frozen veggies. The portion was incredibly small which, in hindsight, was a good thing. I didn’t even consider finishing it.
Needless to say, we suggest you “steer” clear of The Oaks and venture just a short ride north on Tamiami Trail to Sonny’s BBQ. You’ll be glad you did!
The mojitos at Columbia are legendary.
Lots of fresh mint — muddled to perfection.
Is there a more refreshing drink anywhere??? Doubt it!
Our Christmas dinner was really good.
Loved the roast pork & plantains. Even the bread and butter was special.
“ALIVE!!! … IT”S ALIVE!!!!” With flavor, that is.
This is actually a “TurDucKen” from Karl Ehmer’s Alpine Steak House in Sarasota. I have heard so much about the mighty turducken … especially the version prepared at the Alpine. It is said to be one of the best you’ll find anywhere. Football’s John Madden (a big turducken guy) has not stopped in yet, but Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) from the Food Network has tried it and he was totally blown away. The turducken is a man-made beast — a brilliant combo of turkey, duck, and chicken that is tightly wrapped (maybe mashed is a better word) together with sausage & dressing and then roasted (nearly bursting at the seams) to crispy brown perfection. You might say it’s the Frankenstein monster of Cajun cuisine.
A turducken platter is now offered for lunch at the Alpine for $15. Not a bargain lunch by any stretch of the imagination, but the time has come for me to take on one of these tasty beasts. The whole turducken as seen above runs about 23-26 pounds and costs around $10 per lb ($230 plus shipping). I’ll be stopping in for a little taste next week, so stay tuned sports fans! In the meantime, read about the Food Network’s visit at http://store6.geomerx.com/alpine/index.cfm?fuseaction=storePage&customPageID=8