A Burger A Week – Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie
Can a Southside Village staple deliver on a great burger?
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Welcome to PART TWO of our one-year Sarasota burger adventure. Glad you’re along for the ride! 🍔
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All the way back in 1999, Fred’s opened in Southside Village. It was quite the place. It was also the unexpected start of Sarasota’s restaurant renaissance. Our local dining community didn’t know it, but Fred’s would be the first in a wave of new places set to define “upscale casual” here in Sarasota.
At that time, Sarasota was an “early dining” kind of place. Fred’s was about to lift the curfew. It had a “grown-up” tilt. The bar scene was most definitely adult, as was the menu. Not a chicken finger or kids’ dog in sight. And people loved it.
It’s not that all good things must come to an end. But in this case, the end did come. Fred’s closed to the heartbreak of the “singles” Sarasota crowd. But what would take its place would help to anchor this little neighborhood downtown for years to come…
2008 would be the year that Steve Seidensticker (and his family) would take everything that they knew from years of running Boca Grande’s super popular (and successful) Gasparilla Inn and open Libby’s Café +Bar.
It was also the year that the former Fred’s crowd gave a simultaneous sigh of relief that they would still have a place to call home. Libby’s would now carry that torch.
The name and interior recently changed (2019). It now goes by the name Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie, but the feel largely remains. The streetside dining that greets people is still its signature calling card.
Yes, they still have a bar. It’s been updated too.
The dining room gets a little redo as well.
And as you would guess, the menu was also re-imagined. It uses more locally sourced ingredients. Yes, you can still get the Kale Caesar (OH and your kids can now get those previously banished chicken fingers!).
But what about the burger? The “old” Libby’s served a pretty damn good burger. Would the new twist on this old neighborhood favorite still serve a burger they could be proud of? We have some answers! 🍔
Let’s talk about our Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie burger experience…
RESTAURANT: LIBBY’S NEIGHBORHOOD BRASSERIE (1917 S. Osprey Ave. (941) 236-5826)
DATE OF VISIT: MARCH 29, 2023
STOP #: 27 OF 52
BURGER TASTED: THE BRISKET BURGER
📒 OUR TASTING NOTES
🍔 This burger is served as listed on the menu: Brisket blend, toasted sesame brioche, aged cheddar, lettuce, tomato, roasted garlic aioli ($18.50)
• OK, here we go. This is a “Bistro Style” burger. It’s simple, but yet has some sophisticated burger toppings. Lots of burgers in this style use a brioche bun as their burger carrier (This one also had sesame seeds. Extra credit there).
• I just loved the roasted garlic aioli. I could have used some of that on the side. I would have loved that in a tableside squirt bottle!
• The brisket blend that they use has a great “beefy” flavor. You would pretty much expect that. Some bacon would have been a fantastic addition to this burger and added another taste layer! 🥓
• Again, shredded lettuce on the bottom bun. Winner! 🥬
• Fry Time! OK, I’ll concede some of what follows may be partly my fault. My server Lola recommended the “Blackened” or “Truffle” fry upgrade. When I hear this from a server, I feel like there’s a possibility they’re just trying to upsell me (which is part of their job; I get that!). In this case, Lola was just trying to point me in the right direction. And I didn’t take the hint. 😔 My “standard” fries were OK. But I’m guessing the truffle variety would have been a great “upgrade” and probably worth dropping the extra $$$ for. 🍟
Let’s check out how all of this looked when I ordered it…
BURGER TAKEAWAYS: This is a perfect place for a date or a meet-up • If al fresco burger sampling is your thing, this is a fit for you • Libby’s still retains its small, neighborhood feel (that’s a great thing!) • At $18.50 this is not a bargain burger. It’s a little bit of a splurge, but hey… • Libby’s attention to detail still lives on. Steve would be proud! 💗
👀 SNEAK PEEK: Our next stop started as a one-location local burger + beer spot. But now, well, they’ve grown just a bit. 😁
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Here are some upcoming local food events that we think you might find interesting. All you need to do is make that reservation. We’ve provided you with a link to more info. (If you have an event, send us the details! (EMAIL IT)
ALL APRIL – Epicurean Menu, Israel – Michael’s On East
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FIRST FRIDAY EACH MONTH – Cheese & Wine – Mademoiselle Paris (Downtown)
APR 15 – Food Trucks, Tunes, & Brews 5 – INFORMATION
APR 20 – Stringer Cellars Wine Dinner – Fin’s at Sharky’s
APR 20 – Catena Zapata Vineyard Dinner – Café Gabbiano
APR 20 – Neyers Wine Dinner – MeLANge
APR 20 – ZD Wine Dinner – Element
APR 22 – Bubbles & Big Reds – Mattison’s Forty-One
APR 22 – Saturday Wine Tasting – Michael’s Wine Cellar
APR 20 TO 24 – Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival – INFORMATION
MAY 5 – 18th Annual Dick Vitale Gala – INFORMATION
MAY 10 – Walking Progressive Dinner – Taste Magazine
MAY 14 – Mother’s Day Brunch – Michael’s On East
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EVERY WEDNESDAY – The Phillippi Farmhouse Market (Oct-Apr) – DETAILS
THIRD THURSDAY NIGHT – RADD Night Market – DETAILS
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EVERY SATURDAY – Venice Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
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