Pomona Bistro & Wine Bar

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** Note from SarasotaFoodies  – Pomona Bistro recently sold to new owners.  This post is from our visit in 2012.  We will revisit the bistro after it has been opened a few months and post a new review at that time.  Mart & Jill, June, 2017

A few days ago our Broker, Pauline Bennett, and her husband Gary, invited Jill and I out to dinner on the condition we choose the restaurant. After careful consideration, (being the consummate negotiator that I am), I made reservations to one of our favorites haunts, Pomona Bistro and Wine Bar, recipients of a Florida Trend Golden Spoon Award a year after opening.  Got to impress the boss, right?

True to form, we are greeted warmly at the door by culinary co-genius and co-owner, Arthur Lopes.   The other half of this Epicurean dynamic duo, Chef Ryan Boeve, gives us a friendly wave through a large window of the bustling kitchen.  You’ve got to love these guys.

For perspective, these two opened the much applauded Zoria Restaurant on Hillview Street to universal raves before relocating to the Main Plaza downtown, where they enjoyed an eleven year successful run.  After decades working impossible hours they took a well deserved hiatus to focus on family, while their past customers clamored for them to return.

So, when Gary posed the question “How we choose the restaurants we write about”, in many cases it’s by following great local chefs like Arthur and Ryan.

Once settled in at our table, Arthur runs down the evening’s ‘off the menu fare’ as well as his Grand Marnier souffle dessert, which requires advance notice for preparation. Be still my beating heart – and can I get one as my main course?!

For the starter we decide to share the large cheese plate, a delectable selection of Spanish Valdeon blue cheese, a semi-soft French Le Merlemont and Mon Sire brie, as well as Umbriaco del Piave cheese from Italy.  Crisp green apple, grapes, and strawberries adorn the wooden platter, as well as a sweet quince paste and an accompaniment of light-as-air croutes.  We made sure to leave one single slice of apple on the platter when we were done, so as not to appear gluttonous.

Pauline encourages us to order as we please. I’m game, so I opt for the South Texas Antelope. (OK, I’m reaching here.) I’ve had this dish before, so I know what a winner it is with the mole sauce, cherries, apples and pearl onions.

Jill chooses the Rack of Colorado Lamb with fava bean and artichokes, while our gentile host Pauline selects the Lobster Pasta, a heavenly combination of Maine lobster tail and claw, lobster butter and a delicious fettuccine that Arthur explains was made in-house.   I have to give Pauline credit here. . . she really loved the pasta but was still kind enough to give us each a taste (or two in my case.)

From the moment he opened the menu Gary was drawn to the Beef Flatiron Steak graced with a shallot puree, maitre d’hotel butter and the “best French Fries I’ve ever had.”  Evidently, Gary knows his fries, because Pauline and I agreed with him wholeheartedly as we helped ourselves to more than a few.

The familiarity, food, and friendship make for a perfect night, and finished on an even sweeter note with Chef Arthur’s Fresh Berry Tart, and the aforementioned over-the-top Grand Marnier souffle.

As a post-script, since opening Pomona Bistro has added a wine room and expanded the outdoor dining to include a fireplace.  I’m thinking my next visit has to include dinner in the private Kitchen Table dining room, located to the right of the kitchen with floor to ceiling windows that allow up to eight guests to witness their meal preparation and service by Chef Ryan and his talented staff.  Like Arthur says, “Watching a cooking show on television is one thing . . . this intimate experience leaves you feeling like celebrity judges on the Food Network!”  Our next visit can’t come soon enough!

The Pomona Bistro and Wine Bar rocks, in that elegant, seductive and sophisticated way you’ll need to experience yourself.

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