Ok. It’s official. There’s an unmistakable buzz going around regarding the food at Painter’s Palate on the north Trail. Why else would your SarasotaFoodies find ourselves seated for dinner at the same time as fellow food bloggers Jack and Beth Littman-Quin of SRQReviews? What are the odds? Painter’s Palate only seats 22 people inside (with additional seating on the outside patio) yet two of their tables were taken up by food bloggers! That, my friends, has never happened to us!
That being said, the foodie “scoop” credit goes to the Tracy and Tina, publishers of Edible Sarasota. I believe they were the first media guests to step through the Painter’s Palate door and the photos of their entrees looked so delicious, so amazing, that Mart and I drove over the very next day just to check out the menu . . . Mind you, we had dinner plans some where else that night! But the real scoop is that all of this should come as no surprise knowing that Chef/owner Marc brings his talents from the family run treasure known as The Drunken Poet on Main Street.
Mart and I were meeting John and Lois, friends of ours who purchased a second home through me a few years back and had just returned to town from Canada. Upon hearing this, Jack (fellow food blogger) offered up two slices of his Duck Curry Pizza for our table to enjoy as an appetizer while we perused the Thai/French (!) inspired menu at Painter’s Palate. How cool was that? Believe me, if you only knew how delicious that Duck Curry pizza was, you’d understand how noble a gesture that was. So, big thanks to you, Jack! We hope to return the
flavor favor someday!
After sampling Jack’s pizza, both Lois and Mart turned their focus to that portion of the menu, while I ordered up the Thaicos appetizer for the four of us to sample.
What a delightful dish! The plate came with three, nicely portioned Thaicos, which featured a tuna tataki resting on a prawn cracker and topped with crabsticks, tataki dressing and sea weed salad. These little morsels were absolutely packed with flavor and we really loved the crunch of the prawn cracker with the tuna sashimi. They were easily large enough for us to cut them in two, so everyone had a bite or two. The Thaicos will certainly be on my list the next time we drop by.
Lois really liked the Asian inspired flavors of the Curry Duck pizza, so she went with one that was a little different: the Panang pizza, basically a thin crust pizza with curry, salmon, bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, fresh spinach and melted cheese.
The menu called for fresh spinach, so we were pleased to see it dressed on the top of the Panang pizza, instead of buried under the cheese, where the flavor would be lost during cooking. Such a simple decision made by the Chef, but it made all the difference in the world, as it was almost like a bite of salad against the hot salmon and curry pizza.
Knowing that Mart was leaning toward a pizza himself, I ordered the Shrimp Curry with Thai Jasmine rice. Make no mistake when looking at the photo below . . . the cup holding the Shrimp Curry was more like a large bowl, and so full of the red curry and coconut flavors I love that every bite made me happy. Virtually every spoonful offered up a plump shrimp with crunchy bamboo shoots jumping on for the ride. Exactly the taste I was hoping for!
However, I must confess something. As happy as I was with my Shrimp Curry. . . and I was happy. . . I had “entrée envy” once I took a bite of John’s Mahi-Mahi. WOW! This entrée featured a large, perfectly sautéed Mahi-Mahi fillet with a crunchy crust, served with fresh asparagus on a bed of homemade mashed potatoes. But what sealed the deal for making this one of the best fish preparations I’ve ever enjoyed was Painter’s Palate’s mango-coconut sauce. I couldn’t wait to write about this dish. Lucky for John, he pulled his plate back soon after I took one bite. If he hadn’t, I’d have probably finished his dinner for him and not even apologized. . . why would I apologize for something I’d never regret doing?!
Mart’s Spicy Basil Thai pizza just gilded the lily for me. Featuring a savory seasoned ground pork, Thai basil, onions, chili and cheese, the pizza was topped off with an over easy fried egg that had the most amazing bubbly edges I’ve ever seen. That griddle had to be extremely hot to fry the edges of the egg to lacy perfection, with the Chef knowing exactly how long to leave the egg on before the yolk started to cook. I’m getting dizzy just looking at the photo again!
By the end of our meal, we were all too full to order a dessert, but that didn’t stop Lois from ordering a take-out slice of coconut cake. Of course, in keeping with the spirit of the evening where even our neighboring diners shared their Duck Curry pizza, Lois offered each of us a bite of the coconut cake before we left for home. And I’m so glad she did. The consistency of the coconut cake was more like a bread pudding, it was so moist and light.
As our friends bid adieu, (as Canadians are wont to do) both Mart and I commented on how lucky the residents of the Indian Beach and Sapphire Shores neighborhoods are to have Painter’s Palate within walking distance or a short bike ride to their homes. If we lived there, I would have ordered the coconut cake with the idea that the calories could be walked off on the way home…
Folks are always asking what can be done to improve the area between the Sarasota Bradenton airport and downtown Sarasota, the area known as ‘the North Trail,’ home to a string of aging motels, tired store fronts and (happily) the Ringling School of Art. Well, this is it! Just attract more great restaurants with an international flare like Painter’s Palate, Queen of Sheba, LeAhn’s and Yummy House, and Sarasota could have our very own International Village! These small, flavor filled restaurants are turning the North Trail into a dining destination already!
There are a lot of bright, vibrant colors on a painter’s palette, and the same can be said of the tremendous flavors at the Painter’s Palate, an honest-to-greatness treasure on Sarasota’s North Trail.