Vol 7 No. 23 - February 28, 2007

New location a charm for Cafe on the Bay

General Manager Ken Parsons shows one of the wines from the Cafe on the Bay’s wine list. The photo mural on the back wall recreates the view from the restaurant’s original location on the bay.

By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

The new Café On The Bay isn’t on the bay and it’s not really a café, but as soon as you step through the front door, you’ll be embraced by the restaurant’s cozy yet open feeling. The popular restaurant has long been a fixture on Longboat Key, and for many years, it was perched on the water’s edge at the Longboat Key Moorings Marina. When Titus Letschert and Betsie Coolidge, also owners of Sarasota’s Café L’Europe, moved their restaurant further north on the Key in October of 2006, not only did they take their nautical look, and great recipes, but they also took all of their traditional furniture, even the bar.

The general manager at Café On The Bay, Ken Parsons, is widely enthusiastic about the restaurant’s new location, and for good reason. The expanded restaurant, with 32 more seats than the original location, is beautifully decorated with a nautical theme right down to a photo mural on the back wall recreating the view from the original restaurant location. There is a hand-painted ceiling as well. The walls are all tastefully painted in a variety of warm colors and adorned with original art work, all of which is for sale from Abbott/Atelier Gallery in Sarasota. Even the bar in the comfortable lounge was moved from the previous location, and when it was too large for the new space, a section was removed and used as a hostess station.

For alfresco dining there is an adjacent terrace with heaters if it’s chilly and umbrellas with miniature lights, just like dining under the stars. The restaurant also has a separate dining room for private parties where dinners can be catered to patrons’ wishes or ordered off the menu.

Food is, of course, what Café On The Bay is all about. Parsons, who has been with the restaurant for six years, says the enhanced menu is better than ever. Rack of Colorado lamb, Banana-Crusted Grouper and Captain’s Choice, a blend of lobster, scallops and shrimp, are just a few of the current menu items.

Tuesday through Friday is happy hour in the Commodore Lounge with $4 imported French wines and well drinks and complimentary tapas. And don’t forget Sunday brunch, one of Café On The Bay’s long standing attractions.

Café On The Bay has a great $42.97 per couple dinner special every day between 5 and 6 p.m. consisting of a three-course dinner and a bottle of wine. It’s a wonderful before-theatre dining choice, but Parsons tells me you must have a reservation, since it is booked practically every night.

Also try its award-winning Pomegranate Salsa featured on Pama Pomegranate Liquor’s website. And since a day without wine is like a day without sunshine, Café On The Bay hosts Wine Raters Dinners & Tastings.

Since Café On The Bay no longer had a water view to depend on, Parsons says his goal was to make everything better — the food, the décor and the service. On the day I met with Parsons, one of his customers agreed.

He told Parsons, "You guys made the right move."

Make your next dinner move the new Café On the Bay — not really on the bay and not really a café, but a really great dining experience.

Café On The Bay
5350 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Longboat Key
(941) 383-0440
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday brunch: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Happy hour: Tuesday thru Friday, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Dinner: 5 p.m.
Open every day, major credit cards accepted

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