Sarasota Foodies

At-a-Glance: Cafe Epicure

Taste: Healthy and delicious!
Service: With a smile
Price: Priced to please
Attire: A little of everything
Type: A-Listers: Out & About; Bars; A-Listers: Deli; A-Listers, Italian: Out & About; Pet friendly

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2013, by jberg

Down on lower Main Street, a block or two before you cross Mound Street/US 41, is a popular cafe, where — if you closed your eyes and listened to the accents of the waiters and staff — you’d swear you were in Italy or France. But you’re not. You’re at Cafe Epicure, an unpretentious bit of coziness on one of the best corners in town.

Cafe Epicure has become a local institution, of sorts. Featuring a large central dining room, ample seating along the sidewalk, a vibrant deli/dessert counter, and a slick, sexy bar area, Cafe Epicure will appeal to you for different reasons. Looking for a ‘be seen’ locale to enjoy your coffee in the morning, a leisurely lunch or a glass of wine at night — try the outside seating area. Too warm or raining? There’s plenty of room inside, with two dining rooms to pick from. Wanting to snuggle up for quiet conversation with someone special? Head to the back dining room and bar.

This blog covers two lunches your SarasotaFoodies enjoyed at Cafe Epicure. The first was enjoyed outside, the second inside the main dining room. I say this only because I don’t want anyone to think I ate all that food myself. . . but I did enjoy it!

Our outside lunch at one of the popular bistro tables found Mart and I enjoying complimentary slices of Epicure’s delicious warm bread, one a sourdough, the other an olive loaf, served with an accompaniment of virgin olive oil and an olive tapenade. Don’t you love it when something so simple is incredibly delicious that it’s irresistible? (And here I am trying to cut down on carbs . . . what was I thinking asking for more!)

Our original thought was to order a sandwich and share it, so we both focused on the appetizer menu, with Mart ordering Cafe Epicure’s Insalata Di Mare, a seafood salad of shrimp. octopus, calamari and mussels. Believe me when I say it was every bit as sumptuous as it looks.

I hadn’t enjoyed a truly delicous carpaccio in quite awhile, and just knew that Cafe Epicure would do it right. So, with that in mind, I ordered the Carpaccio con Rucola e Parmigiano, which is paper-thin raw beef with arugula and shaved Parmesan. Delightful! And being mostly protein, I want to think it made up for the second order of bread I scarfed down when I sat down.

Oddly enough, these two light courses satiated both of Mart and I, meaning we’d have to come for a repeat visit to order one of Cafe Epicure’s pizzas or sandwiches. And that’s exactly what we did. Second visit – same as the first – we gobbled up the bread and even asked for seconds on the olive tapenade. Will I ever learn? (Don’t count on it!)
This visit we shared an order of the Prociutto E Melone. Now I have to ask you . . . What could be more refreshing on a warm spring day than fresh, cool cantaloupe melon and parma prosciutto? That bite of sweet melon taken with a bite of slightly salty prosciutto brings to mind one word . . . “Bellissima!”

A big fan of fennel, which you rarely see on a sandwich menu, Mart was excited to try the grilled sausage, provolone and fennel sandwich on Epicure’s fresh ciabatta roll. Again — the taste was everything he’d hoped for, but this ample sized sandwich (after all the bread and the shared appetizer) was enough that he wrapped up half to enjoy later.

Never one to turn down speck, another sandwich ingredient I don’t see every day, I ordered the Speck, Brie and Arugola Sandwich, also served on the crunchy ciabatta roll. Speck, if you’ve never heard of it, is a distinctively juniper-flavored ham originally from Tyrol, a historical region in Italy. Described as a smoked procuitto, speck can be compared to bacon in someways, though the taste is distinctly Italian. Neither sandwich came with a sauce, what with all that hot melted cheese, certainly wasn’t needed.

Being that both our recent visits were for lunch, we’re going to have to have dinner at Cafe Epicure in the near future. I look forward to relaxing in their lounge/bar area and sampling one of the delicious wines or cocktails on their bar menu. Lunch has been a pleasure. . . I’m confident dinner will be too!

Grazie, Cafe Epicure!