For this week’s Sarasota-Manatee restaurant news roundup we have an exciting opening in the heart of Sarasota’s most famous shopping district, a new sushi destination in Gulf Gate, an ice cream shop opening in downtown Sarasota and more, including a couple of alluring wine dinners. Let’s begin with the new dining and (whiskey) drinking spot on the Circle.
The Whiskey Barrel opens on St. Armands Circle
The Whiskey Barrel – a new restaurant, bar and live music venue occupying a two-floor building – has opened on St. Armands Circle.
It’s in the former space of Italian restaurant 15 South Ristorante Enoteca and the music and New Orleans-themed The Venue. Diane Nicolo-Gill runs the business along with daughters Samantha and Rebecca.
“We wanted to bring basically our family to the public,” Nicolo-Gill said. “We’re a very old-school family, my girls are two of five children, we do a lot of sit-down dinners together. We’ve brought a lot of our favorite meals that we do at home out to the public.”
As its name suggests, much of The Whiskey Barrel’s food and drink menu is based around whiskeys and bourbons. Dishes include a ribeye with a Jim Beam peppercorn sauce and a moonshine pork chop, as well as a family recipe sweet chili and more. The restaurant has also kept the pizza oven that was part of 15 South and The Venue.
The drink list features an extensive selection of whiskeys and bourbons, as well as signature cocktails and eight beers on tap. Happy hour runs 4-7 p.m. daily and offers $1 off wells and whiskeys, along with food selections.
The renovated building seats around 200 in total, with indoor seating on both floors and an upstairs balcony, with plans of adding ground-level outdoor seating as well. The Whiskey Barrel also intends to regularly host live music and to hold a grand opening in February.
The restaurant joins other recently opened dining and drinking destinations on St. Armands Circle including Vernona Gourmet, a full-service chophouse with live entertainment, and another location for Siesta Key eatery Meaney’s Mini Donuts & Coffee House.
The Whiskey Barrel is located at 15 S. Boulevard of the Presidents and is currently open 11 a.m.-midnight daily. For more information, visit facebook.com/thewhiskeybarrel15.
Hoshi Sushi opens in Gulf Gate
Hoshi Sushi has opened in Gulf Gate Village, featuring sushi rolls and myriad Japanese selections in the former home of Tokaj, a Hungarian restaurant that closed last spring. Hoshi, which is the Japanese word for “star,” is owned by Kevin Jiang and P.J. Tjong, who have left the attractive interior with brick walls and shades of blue much the same with plans to add Asian accents. There are about 40 seats inside, and there will soon be limited seating outside. The partners are also offering curbside takeout and catering.
“I decided to open the restaurant because I live nearby, and I need to be doing something. We can’t stay still,” said Tjong, who previously owned a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan for several years.
Hoshi Sushi specializes in raw, vegetable and cooked sushi rolls, ranging from mango avocado and yellowtail scallion to lobster tempura. In addition to sashimi, diners also may order bento boxes with choice of protein (chicken, shrimp, veggies, tofu) teriyaki-style, along with soup, salad, a sushi roll and fried rice. Among other selections are soups, salads, appetizers and hibachi options like chicken, veggies, beef and seafood. In addition, there are rice and noodle dishes and tempura.
For dessert, diners may select mochi ice cream, tempura Oreo or cheesecake. Beer, wines and sake will soon be available.
Located at 6516 Superior Ave., Hoshi Sushi is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday until 10:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 10:30 p.m. and may be reached at 941-923-8888. For more information, call 941-923-8888 or visit hoshisushifl.com.
Main Street Creamery opens in downtown Sarasota
A new ice cream shop has opened in downtown Sarasota, taking the place of a previously existing one.
Main Street Creamery opened at 1359 Main St. in the former space of Edy’s. The new business held a ribbon cutting featuring Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody.
The shop is owned by Bill Yoder, who also heads the Sarasota-based distribution company Sutter’s Quality Foods and Yoder’s Southern Creamery, which provides the ice cream for the parlor. Though Yoder’s Southern Creamery has operated since 2018 and is carried by businesses including Detwiler’s Farm Market, Yoder decided to open a storefront.
“As a child, I always enjoyed good memories of going to the local pharmacy with my dad, and he’d get me ice cream,” Yoder said. “I just always wanted to be able to create memories for children, and a place to go to enjoy ice cream.”
Main Street Creamery offers more than 30 ice cream flavors, ranging from traditional vanilla and chocolate to specialties like salted caramel praline and cookie butter crunch, along with dairy-free and sugar-free options.
The shop makes its own waffle cones, with toppings such as caramel, peanut butter and marshmallow meringue also available.
Any flavor can be turned into a milkshake, along with classic vanilla, chocolate, root beer and strawberry shakes. The menu also offers sundaes and banana splits, as well as coffee. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available, and customers can purchase pints and half gallons of ice cream to take home.
The business joins other recently opened downtown Sarasota ice cream shops such as The Fat Donkey Ice Cream & Fine Desserts, which also has locations in Indian Harbour Beach and Cocoa Beach, and Rise Coffee Co. & Nye’s Cream Sandwiches, which employs a staff with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Main Street Creamery is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday. For more information, visit themainstreetcreamery.com.
Big Olaf opens in Sarasota
Big Olaf, the ice cream shop franchise that started in Siesta Key Village in 1982, has a new Landings location in Sarasota.
“Everybody leaves here happy,” said owner Eszti Bazso, who, along with husband Peter also own a sister ice cream shop on Cattlemen Road. “All of the Big Olafs are independently owned. We are very happy with The Landings location. It’s a very good thing, and the people here are so welcoming.”
The owners remodeled the interior of the small shop, which was previously Ofkors Donuts, removing walls and painting bright colors. There are 16 seats inside with room for 10 children on stadium-like steps. Customers may eat in, or curbside takeout is available.
The Bubble Waffle, which consists of choice of ice cream flavor on a puffy “bubbled” waffle, is an original popular treat at Big Olaf. In addition to over 40 ice cream flavors (from blueberry cheesecake to salted caramel pretzel), for kiddie or waffle cones or tubs to go, there are banana splits, sundaes and cakes. Eszti says the Kahlua krunch, mint chip and cookie monster are among the most popular flavors.
Located at 4862 S. Tamiami Trail, Big Olaf Landings is open Sunday through Thursday from noon until 8:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until 9:30 p.m. The shop may be reached at 941-539-3939 or on their Facebook page at Big Olaf Landings.
Black & White Wine Dinner
Taste Dining & Travel is hosting a Black & White Fabulous Wine Dinner benefiting the Mayors’ Feed the Hungry program at Michael’s On East Wine Cellar in Sarasota. The festive event will take place Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m.
Guests are asked to wear black and white while safely wining and dining in the rooms of the wine cellar. The evening will begin with a sparkling blanc de blanc, JP Chenet, to accompany passed hors d’oeuvres including chorizo-filled dates wrapped in candied bacon, tomato/mozzarella bruschetta and Maryland lump meat crab cakes. Next, a green salad with apples, pears and candied cashews will be paired with Michael’s Select Label sauvignon blanc.
Diners may select their entree from a choice of grilled swordfish with potatoes, prosciutto, haricot verts and mushrooms; chianti-braised short ribs with cheesy polenta or caramelized scallops and shrimp over butternut ravioli, plus a vegan option. A choice of Michael’s Select Label chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon will be poured with the entree before dessert and coffee concludes the impressive meal.
Price of the event is $130 per person and includes the full meal, tax, gratuity and the charitable donation. Michael’s On East Wine Cellar is located at 1212 East Ave., Sarasota. Reservations are required and may be made at Taste Dining & Travel, 941-366-7950 or visit the website at tasteweb.net.
Tour of Italy wine dinner at Grove
Sommelier Austin Harlow and Chef Greg Campbell will be hosting the second night of Grove’s Tour of Italy wine dinner on Feb 27, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The Lakewood Ranch restaurant will offer an immersive five-course wine dinner featuring top wines from select regions paired with locally sourced ingredients. Introductions and hors-d’oeuvres begin at 6:30 p.m. with the first entree arriving shortly thereafter.
Tickets are $100 (plus tax and gratuity) with tables available for groups of two, four, or six people and tickets must be purchased together in order to properly arrange the tables. Ticket availability subject to change and more tables will be released based on demand. For questions or to request a table option not listed here, email [email protected].
Grove is located at 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch. For additional information call 941-893-4321 or visit grovelwr.com.
Starbucks coming to Englewood
Premium coffee and tasty treat fans will be delighted to know that Starbucks is coming to Englewood. With two Starbucks in Venice, three in Port Charlotte and one in North Port, plans are in the works for Englewood to have its first in the fall.
According to a Starbucks spokesperson, the 2,500-square-foot shop will include a drive-thru and covered patio and will be located at South McCall Road and Oriole Boulevard. The new shop will employ about 25-30 people.
Starbucks’ online beverage menu includes hot and cold coffees, frappuccinos and teas with a choice of flavors. The treat menu ranges from hot breakfasts and lunches to myriad sweet baked goods.
There are breakfast sandwiches and wraps with veggies, bacon, ham or sausage and egg combos, plus oatmeal and yogurt. Lunch options include paninis, wraps, protein bowls and boxes. The sweet bakery goods run the gamut from bagels, cakes and cookies to biscotti, doughnuts and muffins.
Starbucks originated in Seattle in 1971, growing to over 32,000 shops worldwide. For more information, visit starbucks.com.
For the latest Sarasota-Manatee restaurant and bar news visit heraldtribune.com/entertainment/dining. Email restaurant news items to [email protected].