Wow! The needle on the Sarasota “Cool-O-Meter” just moved up again with the recent opening of Blue Rooster. And let me tell you, this joint has a southern, urban, upscale, bluesy flavor so very much all its own.
We had stopped into Blue Rooster for a sample of their southern inspired cocktails just after they opened, and knew within an instant the place would be a hit. Only three days open and they were packed! After viewing the menu, we decided to come back with my daughter and son-in-law so could we sample more features from the menu than the two of us would normally share. So, on this occasion we came, we saw, and we stayed to savor the menu of local executive chef Michael Yoder’s amazing southern-inspired cuisine and crafted cocktails. Cool!
Now, where do I begin?
First, let me say we were advised to come early, as they don’t take reservations for parties less than six, and 7:00 is pretty much “prime dining time”, no matter where you go. So, just to illustrate a point, when we got to Blue Rooster at 6:30 or so, the dining room looked like this:
And an hour or so later, when the kids arrived around 7:30, the dining room looked like this:
Just sayin’. . . if you want a table before the 7:00 dinner crowd, or want to grab a good spot for the night and watch the live music that starts every night around 9:00, you’ll want (make that need) to come early. You’ll not only get a table, you’ll have time to order lots of their Southern classics before the music takes center stage.
So, arriving well ahead of the kids, we started our fete with a traditional southern treat of Fried Green Tomatoes. Mm-MMM! Crispy, crunchy and gone in an instant! And what is a southern starter without one of Blue Rooster’s awesomely great cocktails? Jill just adored their New Orleans Fizz; made with gin, fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice, simple syrup, cream, and egg whites. And me? I’m not complaining about any beverage called the Bourbon Waffle, made with maple-flavored Crown Royal.
Once the kids arrived, we were more than ready to get down to the business of eating. . . ordering Blue Rooster’s Crazy Cajun Shrimp and Macaroni and Cheese Au Gratin appetizers the moment they arrived. The Cajun shrimp was absolutely killer and the mac and cheese, well . . . let’s just say the ramekin it came in and the shrimp dish were both wiped clean by the time we were done.
As mentioned before, Jill and I don’t normally get a chance to go all Full Monty on a menu, but on this occasion we certainly tried! My daughter ordered the Pride of the Delta Catfish, crusted with cornmeal, lightly fried (and we mean lightly – nothing greasy at this place) and served with smothered collard greens. She added a side of succotash for the table, which we all dug in and enjoyed.
As the Executive Chef Mike Yoder was on the culinary team at the late, great Fred’s Restaurant, he wisely brought the Applewood-Smoked Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf recipe from there. It was a hit then, it’s still sensational now, and will be just as delicious 20 years from now! A nice twist on a classic, the meatloaf was made with Angus beef and lightly spiced sausage, onions, carrot and celery, and served over smashed potatoes with a portobello demi-glace. The demi-glace probably should have been called gravy, (just ‘cuz this is a southern place) and was the perfect sauce for both the potato and the meatloaf. No tomato ketchup needed, or even welcome here!
Seeing that fish and beef were already ordered, I went for the Brunswick Stew, a classic Georgian stew made with chicken and smoked ham shanks, butter beans, corn, okra and fresh tomatoes. Blue Rooster calls this it’s ‘stew for the soul’, and I have to agree. I’ve always enjoyed a good, hearty and delicious bowl of stew, and can happily say the Brunswick Stew smelled every bit as good as it looked, and tasted even better. It was perfect for what passes as a chilly winter evening in southwest Florida, with temperatures dipping into the 50’s. But I digress.
Jill has always questioned what the big brouhaha was over Fried Chicken and Waffles, so she had to give it a try. Blue Rooster serves up a breast, wing, and leg over their Belgian waffle, along with a side of a delicious (as in order two) maple bourbon cane syrup and seasonal fruit. The chicken was hot and crispy, the waffle golden brown, easily holding up to a good drenching of the syrup.
It occurs to me that Chicken and Waffles makes for a great choice for those of you can’t decide if you want to order an entree or dessert. . . Like THAT would ever be an issue for your SarasotaFoodies!
Between the four of us, we shared two desserts, a chocolate mousse pie on special that night, and the Buttermilk Pie from the menu. You can’t go wrong with anything chocolate, but if you want to try something out of the ordinary, and really yummy, try Blue Rooster’s Buttermilk Pie. Not quite a custard, this pie had such a sweet, delicate flavor, that we almost talked ourselves into ordering another.
But with the band setting up, on this night it was popular southern blues band Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones, we saw more and more guests crowding in and decided to give up our table so others could enjoy a tasty southern meal, just like we had.
You know what they say about the folks from the south . . . they are just so hospitable that way, so with all the Southern flavor we’d just enjoyed, why not go with the flow! Blue Rooster — welcome to town!