Main Street Bistro ­ Eclectic Surroundings. Superb Menus. Valet Parking.

Eclectic is a frequently misused term suggesting a random and unassociated ambiance. However, a visit to Main Street Bistro reveals how diverse and unlike objects can be essential components of one master vision.

The Main Street Bistro can be described as an eating event that takes place within outstanding visual surroundings. This restaurant was designed to appeal to all diners, not a select few. Yet, the masterfully designed eclectic landscape of the interior, the quality of the cuisine and some very special touches makes this a fit choice for the most demanding of patrons.

Can a remarkable textured panel interpret the concepts of Van Gogh amidst electronically timed diode lighting? Can a cascading waterfall coexist with a painted sky? Or can laptop computers live and breathe amidst polished wood and marble? The answer is “yes” at Main Street Bistro, where all this contributes to diners¹ pleasures.

Thinking beyond the norm, management introduced other pleasant amenities for the special needs of customers. The Encore Menu, as one of the special touches, has a great deal of appeal for those of us who refuse to conform to “regular” luncheon or dinner hours. Another plus is the coffee blend made exclusively by Kaldi for Main Street Bistro. Thank you, Main Street Bistro, for realizing that coffee, to some of us, is not just an afterthought.

Changes to the menu occur gradually at Main Street Bistro. Patron-approved menus are proven with time and only exceptional items will be added when their time has come. The autumn menu at Main Street Bistro now includes Confit of Duck with Polenta and Goat Cheese Biscuit, a new Arugula Salad with Grilled Brie, Truffles Vinaigrette and Candied Orange, and a Milk Chocolate Mousse Pyramid with a cold shot of iced milk.

The cost of luncheons or dinners at Main Street Bistro is clear proof of how management is meeting their commitment to provide excellent meals at prices low enough to be enjoyed several times a week. On the luncheon side, a Bistro Omelet with Smoked Ham, Asparagus, Gruyere and Frites is $8.00. The Bistro Blended Columbian Coffee (by Kaldi) is $1.50. And the Pizza Margherita is $8.00. Even the Grilled Salmon with lentils and Zucchini Salad is priced at only $14.00.

The dinner menu is filled with some of the most taste-tempting entrees imaginable (also value priced); a Pan Roast Lamb Rack, a Braised Game Hen, a Bouillabaisse Bowl with clams, shrimp, mussels and Grouper in a Saffron Broth and other temptations.

Desserts are impressive. But how can one decide between desserts like Sachertorte with Cream Chantilly and Currant Coulis or Seared Fruits with Cinnamon-Brioche Costini and Dark Rum Sauce (with Ice Cream). Then there¹s the Creme Brulee. Go ahead. Skip the entree and try several!

Main Street Bistro, 1345 Main Street, Sarasota, 941-362-4427. Valet parking now available! Lunch: 11 a.m., Tues. through Sat. Dinner nightly at 5 p.m. Late menu until 1 a.m. Lounge open until 2 a.m., 7 days. And look for a great new Piano Bar coming soon.

Kit Graves

Excerpt Reprinted with permission from:

Main Street Bistro
A Starry Night in Sarasota

When Main Street Bistro opens its doors to the public – and it will most any day now – a spectacular treat awaits the patron, never mind how world-traveled he or she may be.

Utilizing the space that belonged to the former Le Cigar and Beins & Joffrey’s deli, the whole front was demolished for the 300-sq.-ft. open-air patio, with sliders to separate but not isolate this area from the indoor restaurant.

Under the able auspices of Don Sutherland of Beyond Design Contractors, the whole scheme has taken form to become the finished product, much as Vincent Van Gogh transferred his vision of a Starry Night into the art masterpiece whose message is at once enigmatic and timeless. Albeit in a slightly less frenetic manner, it’s presumed.

     It is this Van Gogh painting that is the inspiration for his bistro theme, reflected in variousencoutrements throughout the cafe. From a jet-black ceiling, twinkling stars spread their LED-lighted magic. Glass centerpieces from Sarasota School of Glass, reflecting the Starry Night motif and flanked by votive candles, grace the dining tables.

     But the piece de resistance is the extraordinary triptych –37 ft. x 8 ft. – that commands the center of attention from the east wall: Douglas Higgins’ conceptual artwork, based on the Van Gogh classic, on what he terms an “aggressive-assertive textured” canvas, in mixed media: drawing, pastels and some new techniques. The 266 square feet of panels cover the entire wall, and employ an LED lighting system with special timing to reflect the changing sunrise to sunset, twilight to night! Higgins, professor of Graphic & Interactive Communication at Ringling School of Art & Design, avows it is the largest wall artistry in a commercial setting anywhere in Sarasota. And who would argue?

     The ambitious project was the collective brainchild of Jacobson, together with architectural designer Anthony Ashford of ADP Group, and Ringling School if Art & Design head of Interior Design, Norman Hervieux. Ashford, who is also an adjunct faculty member, is a Ringling alumnus, having studied under Hervieux. Such a team could only produce the grand scale of magical ambiance as radiates from within this unique new bistro.

     Upon entering the patio, which “brings the outside in,” (as in Sarasota School of Architecture), one is entranced by a cascading waterfall and sculpture, still in Starry Night theme, by Vicky Randall. Under a painted blue sky, the patio is lined with cast iron railings. It’s covered for weather protection, but open-air in front, on “Rue de Main.”

     Even the railings are unique, from the Brooklyn Bridge, left when the span was renovated. They were fortunate in acquiring several original booths from Manhattan’s famed Stork Club, and these occupy a place of prominence in the promenade, under a striped canopy, backgrounded by lush greenery.

With executive chef Thomas Schranz at the helm, “continental but familiar” cuisine is the order of the day. “We want the bistro to personify a place where regular folk, from one end of the economic spectrum to the other, can enjoy fine cuisine, but at a decent price range.” “It’s important to me that the diversity which defines our beautiful town is reflected at our Bistro; a place where everyone feels welcome and comfortable.” There’s something here for everyone, given the eclectic fixtures and mixtures that create the unique atmosphere.

     Take the lounge-bar, for instance. Extra long, it is a marble-top with cherry base (sounds like a cocktail, right?). A “never-before-anywhere” feature, under the bar, are hookups for internet…four at the bar, two at drink-rail, and two in seating area. You may never want to go home! Then there’s an antique wooden telephone booth from France, for display only (no phone), but it’s a “cell phone booth,” where patrons may slip in for a private call, away from the music and chatter.

     In a set-back wall niche rests an English pub painting, which hung outside an alehouse in Brighton. Many antiques from England adorn the lounge, which creates a nice balance with the Gallic bistro theme, for the overall effect is Euro. Another touch of individuality is a rare espresso machine with large copper dome, weighing 1,000 pounds, suspended by steel cables. Garcon, pour me another, sil vous plait! Main Street Bistro even boasts its own java blend, made exclusively for them, by Kaldi Coffee.

     An extensive collection of vin is exhibited in two 500-bottle wine closets in the rear of the lounge, and customers may purchase these. A humidor for cigars awaits the lounge patron or diner; when the anti-smoking law becomes effective, smokers can enjoy a puff on the open-air patio, away from the indoor dining. Another Sarasota tradition, the shoeshine stand, is to be brought back, in an area off the bar, where the popular Ed Watkins holds forth in his 30th year on the job.

     Expect world-class entertainment – and you’ll get it! Starting with Jennifer & the Venturas, live bands will perform Wednesday through Sunday nights.

     Main Street Bistro is located at 1345 Main Street. 941-362-4427. Visit their website for details: Look for a Grand Opening sometime in this month, and prepare to be dazzled!

     What else could you expect from the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge – one piece at a time?

Joan Griffith

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