After 30 years of being in business on First Street, the City of Sarasota has decided to give our street a facelift.
This long overdue spruce-up will include the replacement of rusting lamp posts, tired landscaping and utilities.
New wider sidewalks will be installed, which will allow for more outside dining space, better traffic calming and stormwater control. When completed, the corridor connecting the Bijou Café to the Ritz-Carlton will be as grand as the Ritz itself.
Of course all of this comes at a price: Customers may choose not to dine with us because of the construction conditions.
An old joke about rural Maine goes “A lost tourist asks an old farmer for directions, to which the laid back ‘Down Easter replied, “Mister, you can’t get there from here.”
What’s not funny is “You can’t get there from here” has become an idiom that’s repeated every time a driver is lost, confused, or detoured by highway construction.
Businesses, like the Bijou Cafe, rely on customers having an unimpeded path to their doors. “You can’t get there from here” can easily become a convenient excuse for diners to take their business elsewhere.
“You can’t get there from here” does not exist in our current state of mind. It has been replaced by a can-do attitude. With a little imagination think of the Pilgrims and other immigrants who crossed treacherous oceans to get here or pioneers who pushed westward across mountains and plains to find new homes in the West. These were not people easily intimidated by challenge; they wouldn’t be intimidated by today’s orange barrels at road construction sites. The barrels would be welcome beacons to safely guide them to their destinations.
To deal with these perceptions, we offer a few tips:
While the street is under construction, there is no on-street parking on First Street. All other parking on nearby streets is unaffected and the Palm Avenue free parking garage is only half a block away.
We have complimentary valet parking for lunch and dinner. If the valet is not posted at the front door, he will be stationed right around the corner on Pineapple Avenue. Look for the bright red umbrella. You will still be only a few steps from our entrance.
We have established a great working relationship with the construction company and the city liaison. They are doing their best to keep the dust, noise and inconvenience down to a minimum. Should you have any concerns about getting here, please let our management know, and we will address them immediately.
We are cooperating with other businesses on our street and will soon be offering fun, value-oriented incentives to keep traffic flowing.
We’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, “Please pardon our dust!”
French onion soup is a wonderfully warm soup identified by many as comfort food. Onions have long been a part of cooking, and were often identified as food used by the poor since they stored well, grew easily and were plentiful. The reason this particular onion soup gets labeled as French is due to several “origin” myths regarding its creation. It is said that King Louis XV or XIV created the dish at a hunting lodge after returning from a hunt and finding the cupboard bare of much beyond some stale bread, onions and champagne. Though the story may be myth, the soup endures.
Classic French onion soup begins with beef stock. Our version uses a combination of beef and chicken stock. We slice Vidalia onions and then caramelize them very slowly which allows them to become sweet. They are then added to the heated stock. We add dry red wine and sherry to the soup to yield a richer flavor.
The French onion soup is topped with a toasted crouton, and then is layered with gruyere cheese. It is placed in an oven proof crock so the cheese gets bubbly, brown and melty, when broiled for a minute or two, before being served. When served in large portions, the heartiness and richness of the soup is a meal in itself. It can also make a lovely beginning soup course when served in smaller portions.
For a special treat as the weather gets cooler, be sure to try our French Onion Soup Gratinee.
Learn more about the hollywood connection here !
J.P. Knaggs, owner of The Bijou Café in Sarasota, recently announced that his restaurant has launched Le Jardin Cuvée Prestige, a Loire Chardonnay vinted exclusively for The Bijou Café in collaboration with the renowned Les Frères Couillaud winery in France.
How did it come about?
"We wanted to introduce our own signature wine to take our fine dining experience to the next level," says Knaggs. "Our good friend and wine guru and importer, Freddy Matson, helped us establish a partnership with Les Frères Couillaud winery to bottle their celebrated Le Jardin Cuvée just for us,” says Knaggs. “For me, this is deeply personal,” he adds. “The wine is a tribute to my mother’s French heritage.” Knaggs’ mother was born in the north of France, near Dieppe in the Normandy region.
Knaggs notes that sense of place and person profoundly informs his philosophy of fine dining. “In the case of this wine, it's about knowing a variety of elements that influence the vine, including the type of soil it grows in and the people who grow and harvest it. By cooperating with the vintner and importer, we're able to bring a taste of real French wine to Florida at a great price. We hope our guests will enjoy the new wine as much as we enjoyed collaborating with Les Frères Couillaud."
Les Frères Couillaud produces high-quality wines on its family vineyards in the Loire Valley. "The Couillaud family is one of the outstanding winegrowers of the western Loire Valley, "says Knaggs. "They produce Muscadets, Chardonnays and Sauvignon, which are renowned around the world. They follow the tenants of sustainable agriculture, which is very important to me."
Knaggs describes Le Jardin Cuvée Prestige as: “100 percent Chardonnay. It’s refreshing, thirst- quenching and perfect for the Florida climate.” He says the wine offers tropical fruit aromas of pineapples, yellow peaches, apricots and tangerines, which leave "a clean, citrusy fruit in the mouth and a hint of white flinty stone on the finish." Le Jardin Cuvée Prestige is now available by glass and bottle to restaurant guests and will also sell retail by the case or bottle.
Renowned for its award-winning line list, The Bijou Café offers wine tastings on the first Friday of each month during the summer months through October. "With three wine experts pouring at least six wines each, there is always a copious amount of succulent wine to sample," says Knaggs. "Our chefs also prepare a plethora of tasty tidbits to tantalize your taste buds, along with a groaning board of domestic and imported cheeses. It's the perfect time and place to unwind from a long week and savor the delightful pairing of tastes and textures."
For more information or reservations, call 941-366-8111
We do not take reservations for Happy Hour, it is first come first served!
$5.00 select red and white wines by the glass (change weekly)
$1.00 off craft and domestic beers
Pepper Steak “Frikadelles
Waffle chips with blue cheese and balsamic glaze
Southern Fried Chicken Bites, Asian Slaw
We started the Bijou Cafe in June 1986 as a small 50 seat restaurant in a downtown location that many people were hesitant to visit. Things changed dramatically over the years and we are now in the heart of a thriving and exciting urban center… and for that we are truly grateful!
In honor of that date 29 years ago and to thank our loyal Bijou family and friends we are offering our three course “Customer Appreciation Dinner Menu” all summer long for the “last century” price of only $32.86 in addition to our “Customer Appreciation Lunch Menu” for $19.86.
If you buy 12 or more at one time (a case) we offer an additional 10% discount! For the summer only…. you can purchase a bottle from the bin end list and enjoy it with your dinner or lunch without any corkage fee! Now that’s a deal!
What does it mean to be a suncoast local? Suncoast community members enjoy the best that Florida has to offer. Prime beaches, exclusive Gulf access, an abundance of arts, cultural attractions, and of course, leading dining experiences. We are proud to be a part of the flourishing Sarasota economy for almost 30 years. From museums to aquariums to plays and operas, there's no shortage of exceptional establishments.
The Bijou Café has been a part of downtown Sarasota's fine dining foundation for over two decades. We are one of the eight original independent restauranteers from Sarasota and Manatee County who assembled to preserve and celebrate our community's culinary identity. Collectively, the Sarasota-Manatee Originals form some of the most highly regarded restaurants in the nation. The Bijou has been awarded top ratings from food critics, local publications and national surveys.
More important than the ratings, we are honored by the privilege of being part of the local community. We live here, we shop here, we dine here, we form real connections here. Whether it's the local business owner who comes in for a meal, or the out of town guest who supports us during season, we're all contributing to help Sarasota flourish.
There are fine dining establishments across the nation, but the suncoast is unique. We live where people vacation – it doesn't get much better than that! Sunshine is plentiful, wildlife is everywhere, the sands are white, the people are friendly and the food is exceptional.
Tourists come to relax, fish, golf, explore, shop and experience culture. Residents stay for the same exact reasons! Why is suncoast dining superior to the rest? Sarasota offers a small town feel with the shopping and dining variety of a larger city. A mellow, beach vibe with the excitement of great businesses all around.
We are proud to be a part of the suncoast community!
You're always welcome to dine with us at The Bijou Café! But we understand – the comfort of your own home is the perfect setting to enjoy a nice meal! We've come up with five simplified, easy-prep dinner ideas inspired by our award winning menu for you to try at home! Anyone can make these dishes and we encourage you to add your own flair to spice things up and make these recipe basics your own.
1. Chicken Paillard
Drizzle chicken with olive oil and garlic, making sure to cover evenly. Add salt, pepper and lemon as needed. Place fresh cutlets in a skillet on medium heat and cook each side for several minutes. In another pan, melt butter and stir in a couple tablespoons with all purpose flour. Whisk in two cups chicken stock. To serve, add the sauce to your plate, followed by greens and the chicken cutlets, garnish with tomatoes or add sautéed spinach and veggies to compliment the dish.
2. Crab Bisque
In a skillet, add several tablespoons butter and flour to create a roux. Whisk in 1 1/3 cup chicken broth. Sautée onions and stir into sauce, adding a cup of cream, lemon juice, cayenne and salt (to taste) or optional cognac and sherry - simmering for 30 minutes. Add blue crab and baby shrimp (optional) and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until heated and serve!
3. Roasted Duck
Rub duck with salt and pepper and desired seasonings. Roast duck at 375 degrees in a deep pan for an hour. Remove duck, pour out the fat and place in the pan. Lather in butter, rotate and continue cooking for an additional hour or until skin is crisp and brown. The Bijou adds a special bread pudding stuffing and cherry Merlot sauce for extra flavor!
4. Filet Mignon
Bring wine to a boil in a sauce pan, then simmer for 20 minutes. Brush sauce onto steaks and roll in peppercorns. Grill for 5 minutes on each side. Sautée mushroom and garlic in a separate pan. Serve steaks with sautéed veggies and enjoy!
5. Oven Roasted Salmon
Rub fillets with oil, then salt and pepper to your liking. Cook at 450 degrees for a minimum of 8 minutes, and make sure to check back frequently so that you avoid overcooking (up to 15 minutes should do it). When fish starts to flake easily with a fork, remove. Top with a creole tomato glaze and serve with a side of fresh, homemade mashed potatoes!
Have you made your plans for Mother's Day? Join us at The Bijou Café – make your reservations now! In addition to our complete award winning dinner menu, our chefs will be preparing the following special a la carte menu for Sunday.
Cream of Asparagus with Almonds Soup
Chilled Mixed Berry Champagne Soup
Our Famous Shrimp & Crab Bisque
Pan Roasted Florida Grouper
Semolina gnocchi, arugula and fennel salad with tomato citrus vinaigrette
Australian Rack of Lamb
Crusted with Dijon mustard and Herbes de Provence, sauced with a
Cabernet lamb reduction and topped with mint "gremolata"
Veal Scaloppini Beaumaniere
Tender prime veal scaloppini with mushrooms, prosciutto, artichoke hearts
Fines herbes butter sauce
Mom's Special Surf & Turf
Grilled 5 oz filet mignon and butter poached fresh Maine lobster tail, served with
Bearnaise and drawn butter
Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Frangelico Chantilly cream.
Make your reservations!
CALL (941) 366-8111
or visit our website
It's that time of year again! The weather is heating up, summer is getting closer and we're gearing up for this season's monthly wine tastings. The traffic has slowed down a bit, there are parking spaces available and we kind of enjoy having our town back for a while!
Join us for the return of First Friday wine tastings at the Bijou Café on Friday, May 1st. Admission is $20 and this gives you access to some of the finest wine selections in town! We'll pick some of our favorites to delight your palette and wine merchants will be pouring some of the best juice for your enjoyment.
The tasting starts at 5:00 pm and we recommend showing up fashionably early! It's first come first serve and you'll want to savor every last drop. Our always pleasant Bijou team will be passing around delicious hors d'oeuvres as well as a plentiful cheese board to accompany your wine selections. Your taste buds will be exploding with gratitude.
Interested in wines by the bottle? As a bonus, we're offering special promotions during the event. We offer competitive pricing and an added 10% discount when you buy by the case. This way you can mix and match!
We look forward to seeing you at the wine tasting! Drop us a line if you have any questions 941-366-8111. No reservations needed, just show up and enjoy. Most of the art galleries and shops have extended hours on First Fridays, and there is almost always free entertainment! So grab your friends, stop by the tasting, join us for dinner afterwards and top off your evening with a stroll around the block.
The Bijou's First Friday Wine Tasting – the place to taste, have a great time and get some amazing wine deals!
The Bijou Café is open for all your favorite holidays – including Mother's Day! Wondering where to take the special lady in your life to show your appreciation? We've got you covered! Come celebrate and treat Mom to a night she'll remember.
There are so many reasons to give thanks to the beautiful women in our lives. Our mothers are the ones who nurtured us as children, nurture our own children, teach us right from wrong and support us though the ups and downs. Mom is the one we call for advice and for inspiration when we need it most. Take the time this mother's day to show your mother, sister or wife how appreciated she is!
What are some thoughts that come to mind when you think of your mother? Beautiful, caring, kind hearted, unconditional, strong, wise, radiant, loving. These are the qualities we are acknowledging this Mother's Day!
Fun fact! Did you know that the American holiday of Mother's Day started in 1908, while other cultures have been celebrating similar holidays for centuries? The modern holiday as we know it grew from one woman's desire to honor her mother in the early 1900's, while we continue to spread the tradition today. Mother's Day occurs on the second Sunday in May, and is recognized as a national holiday. Though the celebration has become commercialized over the years, that doesn't take away the heart of what the day is all about, expressing gratitude to our loved ones.
Mother's Day is a holiday for the whole family. We welcome you to spend your Sunday dining with us as we bring you the best cuisine and atmosphere Sarasota has to offer. We're open on Sunday, May 10th from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm and serving our full award winning menu as well as the chef's specials! Call 941-366-8111 to make your reservations now! Booking also available online at Open Table.
Here's to you, moms!
The Bijou Café is the perfect venue for weddings and receptions. Did you know the Bijou is able to host wedding ceremonies? Yes, it's true! In addition to our main dining rooms, we also have access to a lovely courtyard across the street for small weddings.
We can accommodate up to 40 people for private dining or buyout functions for 150+! We are experienced event planners here at the Bijou Café and would be honored to host your next event.
We are members of Weddings of Sarasota, a group of the area's finest wedding and event professionals. The artisans at Weddings of Sarasota are seasoned veterans with the ability to make your event exactly what you imagine. Together with our party planners, we will answer all of your questions and handle all of the most important details of your big day. You'll be able to relax and let us do what we enjoy the most – create wonderful wedding celebrations and help make all your dreams come true!
In addition to partnering with Weddings of Sarasota, other businesses we work with include elegant floral arrangements by Flowers by Fudgie, custom creations by local Sarasota cake maker Cakes by Ron, hair stylist and makeup artist Tammy Gamso and tent specialists Rental Depot.
Visit www.weddingsofsarasota.com for wedding checklists, bridal tips, hotel accommodations and other great resources. Some tips for planning your wedding event include:
•reserve your wedding location as soon as possible
•book your wedding officiate
•determine number of guests
•establish a budget
•determine attire for attendants
•make a guest list
•choose a reception location
•choose a caterer, videographer, florist, makeup specialist and DJ
The Bijou Café is your wedding event go-to for your Sarasota wedding. We'll host a beautiful
ceremony and reception for you, as well as be there with you step by step through
all the other details.
Spring is here and there's no better excuse to try some new Spring cocktail recipes! If cocktails are your pleasure, try one of our exclusive mixology creations at The Bijou Café. Find our signature mixed drinks here on our "Latest Gossip" menu. Or try these fun new recipes at home:
1) Spring Sangria
3/4 cup limoncello
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup diced fresh local strawberries
1 bottle chilled demi-sec rose champagne
1 sliced lemon
In a large pitcher, combine limoncello and strawberries. Top with champagne and stir in half the lemon slices. Pour over ice, and add a scoop of fruit to each glass.
2) Spiked Sweet Tea
8 cups water
6 tea bags
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp backing soda
1.5 cups chambord liqueur
1/2 cup vodka
your choice herbs and fruit for garnish: mint, raspberries, oranges
Boil water and steep tea bags for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags and add sugar and baking soda. Allow sugar to dissolve and add chambord and vodka. Let the tea cool and then pour over ice and add garnish!
3) Blueberry Bourbon
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 cups blueberries
4 shots bourbon
1 cup fresh mint
Bring sugar, water and ginger together to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Add blueberries, mint, bourbon and heated syrup into a food processor. Pulse and serve over ice. Add club soda and mint garnish.
Winter wreaked havoc up North this year while we basked in sunshine enjoying our usual Florida balminess. However, as I write this the outside temperature is hovering around 85° and it's not even April yet!
That means it's Spring and Easter is just around the corner! It is a wonderful time to enjoy our many blessings: family, friends, health, our beliefs, and, of course, chocolate!
Please consider bringing your family to The Bijou Café for our outstanding Easter Dinner. We will be offering our award winning dinner menu from 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm on Sunday, April 5th.
For the day's specials, our chefs will be preparing our famous Australian Rack of Lamb with minted demi-glace sauce as well as maple glazed Virginia baked ham with all the trimmings.
For the catch of the day, we will be featuring the freshest, local and most sustainable fish we can get. Our seafood presentations are the talk of the town and on Easter Sunday our chefs will once again amaze you with their talents!
Be sure to save some room for our delightfully delicious and delectable desserts! Click here to see our full menu.
Be sure to call right away for reservations as this holiday sells out quickly.
The Bijou Café congratulates Sailor Circus on another successful season!
This past weekend, The Bijou Café's very own J.P. Knaggs had the honor of presenting as Guest Ringmaster at Circus Sarasota with Key Chorale and Cirque des Voix Orchestra. It was an invigorating experience to be a contributor of such an incredible show. The highlight of the performance was a five person high wire act led by members of the iconic Wallenda family.
The circus arts are one of the most well known forms of family entertainment. The Circus Arts Conservatory, a non profit with 80% of its proceeds going to circus outreach, aims to raise awareness about its programs both locally and internationally.
Sarasota is a very special place. There's so much for the public to witness. The circus is what Sarasota County is based on, it's the history of this particular county.
In the 1920's John Ringling moved the Winter quarters for The Ringling Bros to Sarasota and as a result the circus became an active part of Sarasota's unique community. Today, Sarasota is home to The Circus Museum at The Ringling Museum of Arts, The Circus Arts Conservatory and an impressive ensemble of performance and circus arts.
The Sailor Circus Spring shows are underway and they anticipate an eventful season. This year is their 66th anniversary and we expect nothing less than spectacular performances. You can support their cause by purchasing tickets through circusarts.org, or donating to their education program, humor therapy program or Sailor Circus academy (though we highly recommend a show).
The Bijou Café is a Sarasota Original restaurant that has set the standard for fine dining since 1986. We are located in the heart of the Theatre and Arts District in downtown Sarasota, with esteemed neighbors such as Florida Studio Theatre and Sarasota Opera House, among others. We feel fortunate to be located in such a special and historic part of downtown. Sarasota is well known for it's theater and arts and this is one aspect of our city that keeps us vibrant and lively.
The Sarasota Opera, now in it's 55th season, established it's roots at the Ringling Museum in the 1920's and later joined the downtown scene in the late 1970's. In 2008, the theater underwent a major historic renovation and added magnificent features and details to the space. There is something for everyone in this world class, intimate venue. The Winter opera season is in full swing, so purchase your tickets and treat yourself to a show. The Bijou Café is a stone's throw from the Opera, so take a stroll over to visit us while your'e there!
We can attribute much of our success to the Sarasota Opera, and want to give special thanks to this thriving establishment. A typical day for us during opera season includes a packed house of Sarasota Opera patrons who are enjoying a meal before or after a show. We are proud to serve an eclectic group of patrons from all over the world at the Bijou Café. We do amazing business in part because of our arts district neighbors, and have the best seat in town to be involved in the busyness and excitement the theater season has to offer.
Winter 2015 Season
Tosca / Giacomo Puccini / Feb 7 - March 28
A tempestuous diva’s jealousy leads to tragedy in Puccini's powerful melodramma. Two favorite Sarasota Opera artists, Kara Shay Thomson and Rafael Dávila, return as Tosca and her lover Cavaradossi.
The Marriage of Figaro / W.A. Mozart / Feb 14 - March 27
Featuring the same beloved characters used in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, but composed 30 years earlier, Mozart's comedy sees Figaro and his fiancée Susanna join with Rosina (now the Countess Almaviva) to thwart her husband’s lechery.
The Golden Cockeral / Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov / Feb 21 - March 19
Once a favorite showpiece for coloratura sopranos like Lily Pons and Beverly Sills, this rarely heard masterpiece is a fairy tale filled with exotic and beautiful music.
Don Carlos (Paris Version) / Giuseppe Verdi / March 7 - March 24
The 2015 installment of the Verdi Cycle is the original Paris Version of the epic Don Carlos. This sweeping drama is one of Verdi’s masterworks.
One of the defining qualities of an exceptional restaurant is the customer service. At the Bijou Café we consider our staff to be like family, and come together to ensure that everyone from waitstaff to owner to managers to chefs are on the same page. We work in unison to provide our guests with the best possible dining experience.
Some qualities of an outstanding customer service team:
The restaurant atmosphere is warm, hospitable and inviting. From the host who greets you at the door to the server who takes your order, each of our staff members greet you with a great attitude.
The staff has an advanced knowledge of menu and wine choices. Here at the Bijou, our menu items and wine selection are always expanding. We do our best to provide you with a helpful and informative description of our specials and dining choices so you are paired with a lunch or dinner that caters to your favorite tastes.
Your servers are attentive, courteous, personable and professional. You can tell from their tone, speech and body language that they are authentically enthusiastic and looking forward to interacting with you!
The food is prepared with attention, skill and care. Our chefs at the Bijou take pride in their art. Chef/Owner J.P. Knaggs personally ensures that each plate is masterfully prepared and adheres to the Bijou's high quality standards.
The restaurant is prepared and accommodating. Even during busy season, we are never too preoccupied to provide you with distinguished customer service.
Our aim is to provide our customers with a welcoming atmosphere, friendly and helpful service, and some of the finest cocktails, wine, desserts and chef specialties that Sarasota has to offer.