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The Bijou Blog


In 1980, I was working as a chef aboard a luxury yacht when the owner decided to send me to work in some of his favorite restaurants in Europe and learn their recipes.

One of them was L'Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux de Provence.

In the heart of Les Alpilles mountains, just minutes from Arles, Avignon and Saint Rémy de Provence, this five-star hotel/restaurant is a unique destination where gastronomy and well-being are the key to an experience immersed in the Provencal art of living.

For over 60 years, dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth and celebrities including Jean Reno, Hugh Grant, Bono, Pierre Arditi and Johnny Depp have enjoyed the cuisine and ambience of this extraordinary place.

I learned how to make their famous Pommes Gratin Dauphinoise from the late Chef and owner Monsieur Raymond Thuilier and when we opened the Bijou Café in 1986 I adapted the recipe to American tastes and put in on the menu.

We have probably served tons of the creamy, cheese-covered potatoes over the years and have even sent them on a private jet to the owners of the Ritz-Carlton in Kansas!

In "How to eat out and feel good," an article by Kristine Nickel in Monday's health section of the Herald-Tribune, the Bijou Café's potatoes were mentioned as a "whoa" food: Not necessarily good for your diet, but a great dish to splurge on for a festive occasion. And people sure do: our guests bring their own casserole dishes on holidays and we fill them with the partially cooked Pommes, then they finish them at home and serve them piping hot and golden brown and crusty.

No visit to the Bijou is complete without a serving of the "Pommes"! Join us tonight to try them for yourself! Reservations are available now by clicking here


tomatoThis week's Summer in the City lunch menu features a delicious BLT sandwich with Nueske’s bacon and Tasti-Lee tomatoes.

I will discuss Nueske products another blog-day as I want to speak a little about Tasti-Lee tomatoes: A decade in the making, this more flavorful breed has emerged to help Florida growers shed their reputation for rock-hard, tasteless tomatoes.

The Tasti-Lee, a tomato cooked up in a University of Florida research lab, is a crossbreed designed to give Florida growers, who sell three-quarters of their crop to fast-food restaurants or to be chopped into products like salsa or sauce, a way to get in the premium tomato business they ceded long ago.

"Too many premium tomatoes today have a sour, acidic taste, so I balanced Tasti-Lee with a sweetness that tested very well," said Jay Scott, the 62-year-old horticulturist who wed two strains of tomatoes never sold commercially to create the new hybrid. "Plus it's naturally crimson."

It took him five years to select and refine the breed pair, two more years to assemble and test enough seeds and almost three more years to rustle up enough growers and retailers to launch the new tomato.

Publix put them in all 1,100 of its stores in fives states.

"We're selling a lot of them," said Shannon Patten, spokeswoman for Lakeland-based Publix, which signed a three-year exclusive deal to sell Tasti-Lees in Florida.

Except for some pricey Ugly Ripe heirloom tomatoes and a few vine-ripe varieties, Florida growers — who create virtually all the nation's winter tomato crop — stick almost exclusively with varieties bred for long shelf life. They're picked green and as hard as Grannie Smith apples to endure the rough handling of long distance trucking. They are gassed to ripen to pink, while vine ripened tomatoes spend more time in the field.

Tasti-Lee gives up a week of shelf life in the swap for better taste and denser flesh.

Come in to the Bijou this week and try a Tasti-Lee BLT, you’ll love it! Click here for reservations now.

Hello Bijou friends and followers! Here's our new prix-fixe "Summer in the City" for this week (July 23-28)! 

SUMMER IN THE CITY Dinner: $32.95 per person


Choice of Starter:

SALADE MELANGE: Chopped and formed mix of radicchio and spinach, sweet onion, mushroom, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, hearts of palm and Point Reyes Blue cheese, in a creamy herb dressing

SOUP DU JOUR Hot and chilled specialties of the Chef

Choice of Entree:

GRILLED CHICKEN With grilled veggies, pappardelle pasta, garlic oil and fresh herbs

LOCH DUART SALMON Herb crusted, oven roasted, served with wilted spinach and Creole tomato-mustard

GRILLED SKIRT STEAK With mushroom ravioli and Marsala wine sauce

For Dessert:

BANANAS FOSTER with vanilla ice cream


SUMMER IN THE CITY Lunch: $16.95 per person

Choice of Starter: 

SALADE MELANGE: Chopped and formed mix of radicchio and spinach, sweet onion, mushroom, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, hearts of palm and Point Reyes Blue cheese, in a creamy herb dressing

SOUP DU JOUR Hot and chilled specialties of the Chef

Choice of Entree:

GRILLED CHICKEN With grilled veggies, pappardelle pasta, garlic oil and fresh herbs

NEUSKI’S BACON BLT Semolina toast, arugula, avocado, Tasti-Lee tomato, mayo

LOCH DUART SALMON Herb crusted, oven roasted, served with wilted spinach and Creole tomato-mustard


Come in and enjoy a dinner or lunch alongside our wine of the week for just $6 per glass, $24 per bottle. Of course our full dinner and lunch menus, including specialties like the amazing roast duckling, are available, too. Great prices and a great menu at the Bijou for our summer guests and residents, because we love you! Click here to make a reservation, or call us at 941.366.8111. And while you're at it be sure to follow us on Facebook for specials and sneak peeks inside the restaurant.


Starting June 18th is our very popular program known as “Summer in the City” named appropriately after the Lovin’ Spoonful’s hit!

We offer a 2 course lunch special for 16.95 which changes weekly. For dinner we offer a 3 course meal for 32.95 which also changes weekly.

Here are the lunch and dinner menus for next week:



To Start


Romaine lettuce, herb croutons, parmesan crisps, creamy roasted garlic dressing, anchovy


Hot or chilled soup of the day



Savory bread pudding stuffing, sour cherry Merlot sauce or Orange Grand Marnier sauce



American-harvest shrimp, cayenne, garlic, lemon, served

with creamy South-African style grits



With artichoke hearts, white wine and lemon butter and Capellini



Dark Chocolate and Banana Croissant Bread Pudding

Callebaut chocolate sauce


$32.95 per person

Exclusive of Tax and Gratuity…Please no substitutions






To Start


Romaine lettuce, herb croutons, parmesan crisps, creamy roasted garlic dressing, anchovy



Served over mixed greens



American-harvest shrimp, cayenne, garlic, lemon, served

with creamy South-African style grits



With caramelized onions, Humboldt Fog cheese and waffle chips

$16.95 a Person   Exclusive of Tax and Gratuity


So don't wait another minute. Call 941 366-8111 to make a reservation or click here OpenTable  to make one online

Summer never tasted so good!

We're known for having the #1 beach in the USA but we also have the highest concentrations of Zagat®-rated restaurants in Florida. You knew that already? Well, did you know you can plan a culinary adventure around our award-winning eateries without breaking the bank? That's right, during Savor Sarasota—you can enjoy 3-course meals from our famed eateries for just $15 per person for lunch and $25 per person for dinner. And with a spread from Peruvian to French and every flavor in between, you'll taste your way around the world in no time. From the Visit Sarasota County’s website.

The Savor Sarasota Week officially ends on Thursday June 14th, but at the Bijou Café we want to give you one more weekend to enjoy this incredible deal! We are extending the Savor menu through Friday and Saturday, June 16. Please give us a call or make a reservation on line and join us for a memorable meal.

Starting June 18th is our very popular program known as “Summer in the City” named appropriately after the Lovin’ Spoonful’s hit!

We offer a 2 course lunch special for 16.95 which changes weekly. For dinner we offer a 3 course meal for 32.95 which also changes weekly. So remember the words

But at night it's a different world
Go out and find a girl
Come-on come-on and dance all night
Despite the heat it'll be alright

In the Summer, in the City,

In the Summer, in the City!

At the Bijou Café of course!




As this holiday weekend approaches I prepared to write a blog about what’s going on at the Bijou this summer. Traditionally Memorial Day weekend signals the start of summer. It’s time for hot dogs and beer and the beach.

But I realized it is time to pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday. Unfortunately, like many other holidays Memorial Day has become another consumer driven occasion to go out and spend money. Whether it’s at the Indy 500 or buying furniture or a new barbeque grill it’s sad that we so easily forget this special day’s true meaning.

Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those American men and women who died defending our Nation and its values.

We should really honor these heroes every day for the ultimate contribution they have made to defending our Nation's freedom but we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.

So this Memorial Day please stop and pay respect to those who died protecting and preserving the freedoms we enjoy, for we owe those honored dead more than we can ever repay.


1287 First Street  1287 First Street, home of the Bijou Cafe

Well, well! The City of Sarasota on Monday afternoon at 2:30 will hopefully decide to go ahead with plans to give a face lift to parts of Downtown. While Main Street has seen many improvements over the years, little old First Street has been ignored and allowed to become somewhat the worse for wear. This is quite astonishing as First Street is the gateway from the Ritz Carlton to the heart of Downtown.

The rusty old lamp posts that date from the 50’s will be replaced with ornamental lighting, matching the rest of the lamp posts in town. The cracked and heaving concrete sidewalks will be replaced with new brick accented walk ways making it less likely that a Ritz Carlton guest heading for downtown will suffer a broken ankle.

Curbs and crosswalks will be enhanced and landscaping will be freshened up. All these improvements are intended to lure people downtown convincing them to park their cars and stroll about shopping, dining, and just having fun. Ironically this is exactly the opposite point of view the City seemed to have when the parking meters went in. The now defunct meter system said in no uncertain words: “Don’t you dare come downtown! We will make your life difficult, charge you money and punish you”! Good riddance you mean old meters!

So thank you Sarasota. We have waited patiently for this moment to arrive. Now we will be able to offer the Bijou Café guests a more pleasant, friendly and safer route to the restaurant. We look forward to working with the City and our wonderful neighbors, Florida Studio Theatre, enhancing our neighborhood.

Please come to City Hall on Monday May 21st at 2:30 and help us convince the City Commissioners to go ahead with these most appropriate plans. Read more about this here.

Here at the Bijou Café things are crazy hectic during the season and particularly during the Opera season. After we bid the snowbirds adieu we take a deep breath and make our game plans for the long and sultry summer.

Appetites tend to wane as the temperatures climb so we offer a menu with small plates and light fare

Called “J.P.’s Bar Bites”, the menu features a selection of small plates to enjoy at the bar or outside, share with friends or as a simple meal. Some of the most popular “Bites” include:

Trilogy of Soups- 3 mini cups of today’s soups, hot, chilled and bisque, Pepper Steak “Frikadelles”- mini beef meatballs in spicy sauce, Crabcake Sliders- with fresh arugula and remoulade sauce and Boerewors “Stukkies”- house made South African sausage grilled and served with mango chutney.

          Sapphire Girls

The Bombay Sapphire Girls sample Bijou Cafe's Boerewors!

Summertime is perfect for quaffing a crafted brew so we offer a selection of tasty beers from small artisanal brewers. Innis & Gunn “Rum Cask” from Scotland, Coronado “Orange Avenue Wit”, from San Diego, Highland “Gaelic Ale” from Asheville North Carolina, and Erie Brewing “Railbender Ale” from Erie, Pennsylvania ,are just a few of them.

We like to see people shift to lighter wines in the summer and love the look on their faces when they try a dry rosé for the first time. A far cry from the cloying sweetness of a white Zinfandel, rosé wine is produced with the skin contact method. Black-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period, typically one to three days. The must is then pressed, and the skins are discarded rather than left in contact throughout fermentation (as with red wine making). The skins contain much of the astringent tannin and other compounds, thereby leaving the structure more similar to a white wine. The longer that the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the color of the final wine. Toad Hollow from Sonoma makes a Pinot Noir rosé called “Eye of the Toad” which is absolutely delicious.W e offer it by the glass as well as the bottle.

So make plans to join us at the Bijou Café soon for some summer fare!

A balmy Sunday afternoon and wife Shay, and I prepare to head for Selby Gardens where we will spend a few delightful hours in the shade of the Banyan trees listening to music. Joining friends, we set up our natty folding chairs and tables and lay out a mini buffet of fresh guacamole, bean and corn salsa, mini tea sandwiches and cookies. A delightfully chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc from the Bijou Café appears out of nowhere and sets the mood for the cool jazz and blues of the Venturas. In support of the Selby Gardens we also purchase a few beers and glasses of Chardonnay from the catering booth while eyeing the fat and juicy grilled sausage sandwiches. (Next time!)

Koi Pond at Selby Gardens

The constant pleasing breeze from Sarasota Bay keeps us comfortable as the afternoon heats up. A few folks kick up their heels and dance in the grass, while giggling kids chase after each other clambering over the octopus roots of the Moreton Bay Fig tree. At the Koi pond a courageous trio of ten year old boys are dipping their toes in the water luring the giant goldfish to check them out! Back at our chair spot a large Barred Owl has perched directly above us high in the banyan. It seems to be enjoying the music, but our immediate concern has turned to how soon the owl will be letting us know what it had for lunch!

The music ends, we bid our friends adieu until next Sunday and we pack up our belongings just as a gentle rain starts. How sweet of Mother Nature to wait on us!

Another perfect day in Paradise!

I am always on the lookout for new wines to add to our award winning wine list. I spent today adding these beauties to the list:

2010 Far Niente from Napa Valley showing aromas of Meyer lemon, toasted nuts and fig with a hint of sweetness from honeysuckle. The entry is honeyed with ripe citrus, light melon and well-integrated nuttiness and a touch of mineral. A rich, full midpalate with balanced acidity draws out into a long finish. Always a popular wine!menu2

Sancerre, Cuvee Vielles Vignes”, Domaine de la Rossignole. Pale yellow in color. Spicy citrus and orchard fruits on the nose, with notes of fennel and white pepper. Tightly wound, focused grapefruit and lemongrass flavors are deepened by a note of pear skin. The finish is taut, linear and refreshingly tangy. This wine has great acidity and is a bright, fresh wine to drink on a warm day

2006 Chateau Montrose, Saint Estephe. Extraordinarily elegant and finesse-styled, it exhibits stunningly concentrated, sweet blackberry and cassis fruit with hints of flowers and minerals. Full-bodied with a savory, expansive mid-palate as well as sweet, noble tannins, this beauty is ready to drink now.

2005 Chateau les Grandes Murailles, Grand Cru Classe, Saint Emilion. Lovely blueberry, raspberry, and cassis aromas soar from the glass of this fruit-driven cuvee. In the mouth, mineral and subtle oak characteristics also emerge from this well-structured, tannic, medium to full-bodied, elegant, impeccably pure, dense, long wine. Made by the Reiffers family, it should be at its finest between 2012-2025.

The Bijou Café in downtown Sarasota is the perfect destination for a special occasion event. With two private dining rooms and 26 years of experience, we can personally customize any event and create a lasting memory of good taste.

The Bird Room, with outdoor tropical atrium, is designed to be flexible enough to allow a variety of seating Carlos wedding_002-78-600-450-100-rd-255-255-255arrangements for up to 30 guests. Entry doors are set apart from the main entrance to afford the guests utmost privacy. This room is the perfect venue for business meetings, conferences, wedding
rehearsal dinners etc.

The Patio Room is our other private dining room and can accommodate up to 40 guests. It features a delightful intimate adjoining al fresco area with fountain and lush tropical plantings. Guests can step outside without feeling they are missing anything from the function. This room lends itself to elegant
dinner parties with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served outside before dinner.

Special menus can be prepared for both rooms and our professional event planners can assist with all arrangements including flowers, table décor, seating charts, AV equipment and even valet parking. For world class cuisine, unparalleled service and award winning wine list the Bijou Café is the obvious choice.

We are excited to announce our new website produced by Destiny Group of Sarasota. The address is still and will go live Saturday April 21. The content is managed by Joomla making it very easy to add blogs, pictures etc. We are in the food and hospitality business, not computer techies, so the
simpler computer systems are the easier for us to work with them. This is my first attempt at blogging so please bear with me. Be sure to “friend” or “like”The Bijou Café on Facebook and feel free to send comments or requests to us via this new website.


Discover the Flavors of Sarasota During the 7th Annual "Savor Sarasota" Restaurant Week,

June 1-14, 2012

This 14-day dining event featuring $25 multi-course dinners and $15 lunches will showcase the region's chefs and the eateries which have helped the area earn the distinction of having one of the highest concentrations of Zagat-rated restaurants in Florida. Click here to see the Bijou Cafe's menus  Savor Sarasota Then call 366-8111 for reservations and join us for a memorable meal!  

We are also offering Special selected red and white wines or Proseco for only $6.00 a glass with the Savor menu.

What better way to enjoy the Bijou Cafe's cuisine than a special prix fixe menu at considerable savings!


How cool is this! 

Marybeth Bond, a renowned travel writer, author, contributor to CNN /ABC, and founder of listed the Bijou Cafe as one of the most romantic places to enjoy a great meal in her "Top 10 Romantic Destinations" article/infographic

Marriot International, a partner with Ms. Bond, reached out to us to let us know about the honor and share this awesome infographic with us. According to them, "Sarasota County tops the list in terms of beauty and the ingredients for sweet romance." In addition to Sarasota's Opera House, Ringling Museum and beaches, they singled us as the best romantic restaurant in the area saying: "The winning attributes of this restaurant besides the shrimp and lobster bisque is the service and outdoor tables."

You can read the full article by Marybeth Bond here or get more info on travel from Marriott.

Tell your friends! SRQ, as usual, is the place to be! 
Click here for a reservation at the Bijou.

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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