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The Bijou Blog

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Bring Bijou’s Savory Side Home for the Holidays

Serve your guests our famous Pommes Gratin Dauphinois from your own kitchen table this holiday. Just bring in your favorite casserole dish and we will fill it with our scrumptious potatoes. You simply finish the dish at home with directions we provide. Your guests will be savoring the aroma of crusty baked Gruyere cheese, fresh cream, garlic and potatoes all evening.

Tasteful Holiday Parties

Host a holiday party in one of our beautiful private dining rooms. Elegant touches such as hand crafted passed hors d’oeuvres and exquisite table settings will delight hosts and guests. We are happy to accommodate special requests to make your celebration a memorable one. December openings are filling up so please call Karen Thomson, our GM and party coordinator for available party dates. 941-366-8111.

Holiday Gift Cards

Give the unparalleled gift of a Bijou Cafe gift card this holiday season. Gift cards are available in any denomination and they never expire. We are happy to mail gift cards anywhere in the U.S., or can FedEx cards for next day delivery for a modest fee. To purchase gift cards online, visit our website.

Holiday Hours

Our holiday hours are as follows: 
Christmas Eve December 24: Open 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM (closed for lunch)
Christmas Day December 25: Closed
New Year’s Eve December 31: Open 6:00 PM; seating until 10:00 PM
New Year’s Day January 1: Closed
Sundays: Starting January 8 – Open 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM Only 

bijou exec chef

Chef Ryan Williams brings a wealth of experience working at fine dining establishments across the state.

(Sarasota, Florida) J.P. Knaggs, owner of the award-winning Bijou Café in Sarasota, recently appointed Ryan Williams as the restaurant’s new executive chef. Williams brings a wealth of restaurant experience to the position.

How did Williams, 34, discover his passion for the culinary arts?

“Believe it or not, as a dishwasher,” he laughs. “I was 14 years old and got a job washing dishes at a neighborhood restaurant. I was fascinated with everything that went on behind the scenes and never looked back.”

Williams followed his passion by completing a culinary degree from Florida Culinary, now known as Lincoln Culinary Institute. He started cooking professionally at the age of 20 as the sous chef at Tommy Bahamas in West Palm Beach. He further honed his craft at Cafe Chardonnay and Vic and Angelos, both in Palm Beach Gardens and at The Breakers, the celebrated Palm Beach resort. During this time, he developed his flair for multicultural cuisine and for combining ingredients to create fresh, bold flavors. “Innovation keeps life interesting, both on and off the table,” he says. “But I still believe in old school techniques.” William’s most recent position was executive chef of Pietros on the Ocean in Jensen Beach. He moved to Sarasota with his wife, Tanya, and their son Kai.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the Bijou team,” says Williams. "I look forward to working with J.P. and Shay creating some new menu items. It’s going to be an exciting journey!”

Knaggs says he met Williams when he and his wife were visiting Sarasota a year ago. “We met by sheer coincidence when they were strolling in downtown Sarasota,” he says. “I noticed his wife’s South African accent and introduced myself—and we quickly started talking about food and fine dining. Ryan’s 100-watt enthusiasm for the possibilities of exceptional cuisine was obvious.” Knaggs adds that he and his wife, Shay, eventually traveled to Jenson Beach to try William’s food at Pietros on the Ocean. “Ryan cooked a seven-course tasting menu for us—and he knocked our socks off! We knew right then that our guests would love him.”
Williams’ culinary talents impressed Knaggs. His business talents did, too. “Today’s restaurant industry is highly competitive,” says Knaggs. “Skilled management is imperative on every level. Ryan’s management skills are second to none. He kept costs low and quality high in a busy 300-seat restaurant with multiple menus and venues. His rare combination of creativity and practicality make him the perfect fit for our team.”

According to Knaggs, Williams will continue to evolve The Bijou’s menu through the fall and winter seasons. “Our new selections will reflect Ryan’s artistry and background cooking at four-star restaurants,” he says. “I can’t wait to give our guests a taste of his creativity.”

new menu

Changing the menu for most restaurateurs is a daunting task. There is always the fear that regulars are going to revolt and want the old items back on the menu. On the other hand, there are also the customers who want change and new items to try. So what is a chef to do?

After 30 years (we opened in June 1986) we have become very familiar with our guests tastes and preferences. Sure, there are trends that come and go, but we feel our guests know exactly what they want and what to expect from our kitchen. Quality and consistency is foremost! Cutting edge, experimental cuisine not so much.

With this in mind, we paid homage to my French heritage and introduced our version of some traditional items from France such as Escargots Bourguignon, Soupe a l’oignon gratinee, Ris de Veau, and a Salade Nicoise. On our dinner menu we have added a true Mediterranean style Bouillabaisse served with croutons and rouille, and a Lobster Ravioli with asparagus. For appetizers we're now serving Hudson Valley Foie Gras and a tantalizing Charcuterie Board featuring our own pate. To keep our most ardent traditionalist guests happy we have a section called “Vintage Bijou” with our all time favorites, Roast Duck, Pepper Steak and Lamb Rack. We’ve made a few dessert changes as well and added suggested dessert wines to accompany them.

The most noticeable difference on the menu is a clean, bold, new typeface and minimal writing and descriptions. Research shows the average diner spends about 102 seconds looking at the menu before making a decision to either order or ask the server for more information. Our new look will make your menu perusing easier, although the delicious new choices will still challenge your decision making!

For a close up look at the new menus please see our new menu.  We’re sure you’re going to be very pleased!

wine tasting 

Join us for the return of First Friday wine tastings at the Bijou Café on Friday, May 6th.  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 on some of the downtown corners! 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! 

Bijou Cafe Valentines Day Menu Sarasota Restaurant


French Onion Soup Gratinee 10
Our Famous Shrimp & Crab Bisque 8
Puree of Parsnip with green apple emulsion 6
Chilled Raspberry Champagne with Crème Fraiche 6


Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras - savory brioche French toast, kumquat marmalade 18
Red and Gold Beet Salad - With Buratta cheese, Arugula, basil and strawberry balsamic glaze, olive oil croutons 12


Bijou Surf & Turf - 5 oz Filet Mignon with grilled asparagus and Bearnaise sauce,
Fresh Maine Lobster served out of shell, with drawn butter 48
Pan Roasted Prime Veal Chop - Wilted spinach, celery root puree, dried cherry/Port wine Demiglace 46
Seared Florida Grouper - With shiitake leek fume, haricots verts and potato puree 36
Grilled Rack of Australian Lamb - Three double chops chargrilled and served with a roasted shallot minted demi-glace 39


Flourless Dark Chocolate Terrine - With hazelnuts and passion fruit Anglaise, macerated strawberries 12
Meyer Lemon Curd - Berry compote, shortbread cookie, toasted almonds, crème Chantilly 12


Francoise Montand
Glass 8 Bottle 28


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.


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 




A beautiful light pink colour, fresh fruit aromas and refreshing acidity. Miraval’s pure expression of the terroir of Côtes de Provence.
The Miraval Rosé has an attractive, soft blush robe and is beautifully bright. On the nose we are greeted by delicate notes of raspberries, peaches, and white flowers. The expression of the soil is revealed on the palate by its impressive freshness bringing minerality and salinity, a signature of 2014.
Great balance, good length and character.  Now available at the Bijou Cafe by the bottle only!

Learn more about the hollywood connection here !

Served at the bar in the Gossip’s Lounge and outdoor patio.
We do not take reservations for Happy Hour, it is first come first served!
5:00 – 7:00pm Monday thru Saturday
$5.00 well martinis (Cosmos, Margaritas, Lemon Drops, Appletinis, Manhattans)
$5.00 well drinks
$5.00 select red and white wines by the glass (change weekly)
$1.00 off craft and domestic beers
Bar Bite Menu
All $5.00 each
Trilogy of Soups
Pepper Steak “Frikadelles
Pommes Frites
“Bello” Stix
Boerewors “Stukkies
Waffle chips with blue cheese and balsamic glaze
Burger slider
Southern Fried Chicken Bites, Asian Slaw
"I distrust camels, and anyone else who can go a week without a drink. "--Joe E. Lewis


prefix-summer 1


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.


See Prix Fixe Menu HERE





From time to time we have to make room in our wine cellar for new wines. In order to empty the bins we hold a tremendous sale and offer these wines at drastically reduced prices. They are all perfectly good wines, we simply don’t have enough of each one to take up a whole bin, hence the “Bin End” Sale!


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!


SuncoastWhat 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!


Bijou Flowers WeddingThe 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 for wedding checklists, bridal tips, hotel accommodations and other great resources. Some tips for planning your wedding event include:

Bijou Wedding  •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. 


  For inquiries, contact Karen, our General Manager and Event Co-Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


chef bob 3One 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.


desssert vday

Confectionary delights are an excellent way to show your love and affection for your special someone, as is a trip to the Opera!


February 14 happens to fall on the night of a performance of "The Marriage of Figaro" at the Sarasota Opera House and to make the spectacular simple, we’ve chosen our top three desserts for this romantic evening:


Bijou’s Assorted Authentic Italian Gelati and Sorbettos: a taste of Italy sets the stage perfectly for an after-dinner date for the Italian-sung comedy opera The Marriage of Figaro.

Amarula Crème Brulee: try your tongue at the language of love, French, while ordering this decadent delight, s’il vous plaît! Share your spoon and let your date crack the golden caramelized shell.

Callebaut Finest Belgian Chocolate Mousse: celebrate National Chocolate Month and show your date just how sweet you think he or she is with this whipped cream topped delight.


Want to go the extra mile? Impressing your Valentine can be as simple as surprising your date with a small card with a heartfelt message or a bouquet of roses. A single rose works too!


Since Valentine’s falls on both a Saturday and an opera night, we suggest you reserve your tables early and rest assured that your Valentine’s plans are taken care of.


Friday Hours: 5-10pm
Saturday (Valentine’s Day) Hours: 5-10pm
Sunday Hours: 4-8pm



bijou2014It's hard to believe it's already the holidays. The year has flown by and it's time to celebrate! Whether you have friends coming in town, are ringing in the new year with family, or are just enjoying a nice relaxing holiday, the Bijou has the perfect, easy, and delicious plan for you!


Be the hit of the holidays this season by hosting your holiday party in one of our exquisite private dining rooms. We add the extra little touches that make your celebration a memorable event, from passed hors d'oeuvres to an elegant sit down dinner party and everything in between. There are rooms still available, please call Karen Thomson, our GM and party coordinator at 941-366-8111 for more information.


If you can't make it to the Bijou, at least you can still bring The Bijou home to you! Serve your guests our famous Pommes Gratin Dauphinois at your own table. Just bring in your favorite casserole dish and we will fill it with our scrumptious potatoes. It's that simple! Finish the dish in your oven at home (we give you a printed slip with all the directions), and when your friends and family savor the delectable aromas of crusty baked Gruyere cheese and fresh cream, garlic and potatoes they'll thank you lovingly. You can take all the credit, of course!


Gift cards are also available in any denomination you wish! They do not expire and one size fits all! We mail free to anywhere in the US. We can also Fedex next day for a modest fee. Visit our website and order your gift cards on-line by clicking right here!


The entire Knaggs and Bijou Cafe Family wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year.


Holiday Hours at The Bijou:

Dec 24 Christmas Eve: open from 5:00pm until 8:00pm, closed for lunch

Dec 25 Christmas Day: Closed

Dec 31 New Years Eve: open at 6:00pm, seating until 10:00pm

Jan 1 New Years Day: Closed to recuperate!

Sundays: Starting Jan 4, open on Sundays for dinner only from 4:00pm until 8:00pm

Call us to make your reservations today at 941-366-8111 or RSVP online!



holidays2014After a long, hot and thankfully uneventful summer (weather wise) we are truly ready for fall! Up north the leaves are displaying their majestic golden hues while here in Florida we know it's fall when the license plates change color! It's not too early to plan your Thanksgiving Dinner or even Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve at the Bijou Cafe.

If you don't feel like cooking for your whole family, we are offering our full a la carte dinner menu on Thanksgiving Day. We will have several chef's specials and, of course, our famous Roast Carolina Turkey with all the trimmings. The tasty, festive turkey dinner is $28.95 per person and $12.00 for children under 12. Secure your reservation (and turkey!) today. We will be open from noon to 8pm.

If you are looking to host your thanksgiving at your home instead, don't forget to swing by the Bijou to pick up our "Pommes Gratin". Bring your own casserole dish and we will fill it up so you can present it as your own home cooking. You simply finish at home and your family will be truly "Thankful"!

Holiday parties are so much fun, but even better when someone else organized it all for you. Our two private dining rooms are the perfect venue for this. Call Karen Thomson, our General Manager at 941 366-8111 and let her expertise in event planning will help make your event memorable!

If you have been away all summer, welcome back! If you are a permanent resident, it's always good to see you, so please give us a call!


Monday-Friday 11:30AM-2PM
Monday-Saturday from 5PM
Sundays from 4:00 until 8:00pm
Bijou Cafe © 2017 Copyright
1287 First Street
Sarasota FL 34236
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