Recently, I went on a much needed vacation with my family to the beautiful Florida Gulf Coast town of Sarasota. We decided on Sarasota to visit a good friend who recently moved to the area permanently. I wanted to see Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island this time around. They are connected to the Lido Beach area of Sarasota called St. Armand Circle, named in honor of John Ringling of the Ringling Brother’s Circus family. I was told that Longboat Key was owned by John Ringling and that he brought wealthy guests to his magnificent mansion on the bay built to resemble the homes on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Once there, they would be taken outside on the expansive marble veranda overlooking Longboat Key, probably with a good Cuban cigar, nibbling a smorgasborg of hors d’oeuvres with expensive Cognac in hand only to be whisked off in the Ringling yacht to stake out their own piece of paradise! While we were in Sarasota we toured the Ringling grounds and mansion, a must see when in Sarasota to really get a real feel for what the area was like and how it evolved into the vibrant arts center it is today.
I knew I wanted to eat on Longboat Key and had been told about a fabulous restaurant that wasn’t to be missed. Euphemia Haye is the kind of place you know just by looking at it, is going to be all that you have been told it would be. A charming locale surrounded by tropical plants and flowers and massive Banyan tree large enough to live in! Once inside this lovely establishment you are welcomed with aged wooden wine boxes covering the walls and the dining room with intimate tables, each with its own lamp, ours a converted silver sugar bowl. The artwork around the room has a collected feel and creates a fine old home feel.
As soon as we were seated we were served a wonderful spiced bread, so moist it ate like cake. Yum! The menu offerings were very attractive to my family with lots of oohs and ahhs. The Classic Caesar Salad table-side grabbed us, so reminiscent of fine dining back in the day. We weren’t disappointed. Both the performance and the dish were just as I remembered. The entrees we chose were the Famous Roast Duck, Pistachio Encrusted Red Snapper, and Homemade Gnocci’s with Gorgonzola Cheese.
We decided to order vegetable sides for the table, Creamed Spinach and Old Fashioned Mashed Potatoes. The duck was perfection, crispy skin, juicy and oh so rich with a perfect bread stuffing and fruit compote. My son ate everything and even asked if he could chew on the leg bone! My huband’s fish had skin beautifully crisped with tender moist fillet. The pistachio crust gave the fish a wonderful nutty crunch. My handmade gnocchi were light as a feather caressed by a creamy, flavorful Gorgonzola sauce. The side veggies were sheer heaven! Mashed potatoes pureed with cream and butter and just the right amount of seasoning and the creamed spinach braised in cream and perfectly seasoned were the best I have ever tasted anywhere! When the main meal was over, our plates were embarrassingly clean. Our server discreetly removed our dishes and thankfully made no comment.
We were so full when the dessert menu came we opted out. However, when we heard you had to go upstairs to see all of the options we made a beeline just in case. They bake their own pies and cakes and they were gorgeous! We ordered some to take back with us for later! The pictures are great, but do not do them the justice they deserve. We ate the apple and cranberry and the peach crumble at the condo within the next two days! A wonderful restaurant not to be missed when visiting the Sarasota area! It is always nice to back home in New Jersey! Back on the road to find my next great food find.
5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, Florida, 941-383-3633
Michele Errichetti is from South Jersey born and fed. She comes from an Italian family where they eat, live, and breathe FOOD. Michele was cooking and eating under her grandmom’s feet every Sunday for “gravy” and at home with her mother (a Medigan or American) during the week. Nowadays, she cooks for her two sons, husband, and father most days of the week. She takes “Girl Road Trips” with her friends at least once a month that always culminate with you guessed it, FOOD. She hopes fresh, local, organic, and free range will become the norm. Michele is searching Atlantic County for everything that has anything to do with good food and she’s taking you along for the ride.