This week’s local restaurant and bar news includes a new Irish dining and drinking destination in Lakewood Ranch, a wine-focused franchise coming to downtown Sarasota and a new breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Bradenton, plus several other exciting items. Let’s begin with the new Irish ale house.
McGrath’s Irish Ale House opens in Lakewood Ranch
Fans of Irish cuisine and libations have a new place to visit in Lakewood Ranch.
McGrath’s Irish Ale House recently opened on Lakewood Main Street in the former home of the Scottish-themed MacAllisters Grill & Tavern. The new restaurant features Irish dishes along with traditional European selections, often with creative twists.
The new build-out includes additional patio seating overlooking the lake and a larger inside bar area, plus a private dining room that will also host live music on Fridays and Saturdays. And that exposed stone inside that gave MacAllisters a dark kind of castle-y feel? Yeah, that has been removed.
“We wanted to offer a modern Irish ale house with home cooking and a place for people to hang out and enjoy themselves,” said co-owner Adam Myara. “Nothing stuffy, but with really good food.”
Myara co-owns McGrath’s along with his father Albert Myara. The Myaras previously opened the local restaurants Mojos Real Cuban and The Angry Rooster Wing Company, and currently own and operate Captain Eddie’s Seafood in Nokomis, which they bought several years ago, as well as Bogey’s of Venice.
In addition, the Myaras co-own Ed’s Tavern, also in downtown Lakewood Ranch, with Bob Bender, who is their partner at McGrath’s. Bender co-owns Sixty East Italian Cucina & Martini Bar in Ellenton with Bruce Mahnke, the fourth business partner behind McGrath’s.
“Bruce is actually the Irish guy in our partnership and it’s his grandmother’s recipe for the shepherd’s pie that has been so popular,” Adam Myara said.
The shepherd’s pie consists of lamb, carrots, peas, onions, and parmesan with a potato crust. Other popular menu items include the chicken pot pie (bechamel sauce, English peas, carrots, leeks, flaky pie dough), the Waterford burger (with mushrooms and Swiss cheese, topped with caramelized onions and gravy), and a burger smothered in “Guinness cheddar cheese.”
“We play on some classic Irish dishes and make them unique to us,” Myara said. “Like Guinness wings, the French Onion Shire Dip or the charcuterie and cheese board that’s so good. It’s not a completely Irish menu. The Waterford burger, for instance, is just an incredible burger and we finally have the lamb burger on the menu. I think Isaac did a real good job on it.”
That would be Isaac Johnson, McGrath’s esteemed new chef whose former job titles include chef de cuisine and sous chef at venerable downtown Sarasota restaurants Indigenous and Lila. Johnson said he has implemented sustainable seafood and antibiotic free chicken at McGrath’s. He looks forward to working with local farmers to use local produce on the menu, which includes the veggie sandwich “Veg of Thrones” consisting of eggplant, zucchini, squash, roasted pepper, mozzarella, arugula and pesto.
For adult beverages, there are Irish favorites like Guinness, Smithwick’s, Kilkenny Harp, and Magners Irish Cider on tap.
Patrons should find about 20 Irish whiskeys among the liquor lineup. Specialty cocktails include the ubiquitous Moscow Mule variation (“McGrath’s Mule”) as well as an Old Fashioned made with Jameson Black Barrel, a Bloody Mary featuring a a house-made green mixture, and an Irish Sour Whiskey consisting of Jameson, lemon juice, honey simple, egg white and bitters.
In addition to the new patio for outdoor dining lakeside, as well as the previous al fresco sidewalk seating facing Rodeo Drive, McGrath’s offers curbside pickup and delivery via Bite Squad.
“We just want to bring something to Lakewood Ranch where people can have a good meal and enjoy themselves,” Myara said.
McGrath’s Irish Ale, at 8110 Lakewood Main St., is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, staying open until midnight Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 941-210-4398 or visit mcgrathsirish.com.
Waters Edge Winery to open in former Social space
A new location for a national wine-focused franchise is set to open soon in the former space of a popular downtown Sarasota restaurant and bar, with an acclaimed Bradenton chef joining the new business.
Waters Edge Winery Sarasota will take over the 1219 First St. location that previously housed Social Eatery & Bar, with hopes to open by late December. The business partners are Michael Hayja and Sean Castellucci, as well as Rich Knowles, who will also serve as culinary director and was chef/owner of Bradenton fine-dining establishment EnRich Bistro until it closed earlier this year during the pandemic.
Hayja and Castellucci have respective backgrounds in financial and medical fields, but both had longtime interests in wine production. They were attracted to the model of the California-based Waters Edge Wineries, which also has locations in states like Texas and Oklahoma, where owners don’t grow grapes but are involved in wine production.
“So Waters Edge Wineries was appealing to us for many, many reasons, because their business model is different,” Hayja said. “We have the ability to actually source grapes from all the best wine-growing regions in the world, from France, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Napa Valley, Temecula, the South American regions as well.”
WEW Sarasota doesn’t plan to produce wine onsite like other franchise locations, but will work with partners in the brand, and hopes in the future to open a production site in Sarasota or Manatee County. It will have the ability to produce around 50 or more wines and offer about 30-40 at any time, ranging from sparkling wines to full-bodied reds.
It also plans to offer lunch, dinner and Saturday and Sunday brunch, with Knowles composing the menus as well as training the kitchen staff. Knowles said the menu will have a global cuisine feel, heavy on tapas and small plates, with signature items such as New Zealand red deer chateaubriand, Cornish game hen, spicy tuna poke and braised lamb shoulder tostada.
“The more I looked into what they were doing with Waters Edge Winery, I really liked it,” said Knowles, who plans to still operate his separate catering company Innovative Dining. “I like the concept, and I love the location they found in Sarasota. You can’t ask for a better location, in my mind.”
Though WEW Sarasota is renovating the former space, it will keep the outdoor area that was one of Social Eatery & Bar’s most popular components. The business plans to have around 150 seats in total, about 90 outdoors and 60 indoors.
Waters Edge Winery Sarasota intends to initially be open Wednesdays through Sundays and closed Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, visit facebook.com/wewsarasota.
Salt & Pepper Cafe opens in Bradenton
Salt & Pepper Cafe, a coastal-inspired eatery serving breakfast and lunch, has opened in downtown Bradenton. Co-owners Matthew Smith and Lisa Prather remodeled the former Theresa’s Restaurant into a colorful, “Miami eclectic” space with a hot pink (passion fruit) accent wall, lime green cushions and tables of distressed wood with metal chairs. There’s seating for 70 inside and out with a dog-friendly, covered patio. Also, early mornings (from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m.) there’s a sunrise breakfast bar providing contactless, fast breakfasts with ordering from a tablet and meals popping through a window.
“We decided on opening here because we love the feel of downtown Bradenton,” said Smith, who also owns Florida Chefs Workshop in St. Petersburg, while his partner has A Fresh Connection Catering, which covers the St. Pete/Bradenton area. “We truly have enjoyed every single person we have met.”
Among breakfast favorites on the varied menu are upside-down pineapple pancakes, Floribbean eggs benedict, house-made corned beef hash and crunchy French toast with honey butter. For lunch, house specialties include a corned beef sandwich, wedge Greek salad and wraps. Guests also may enjoy gluten-free, Keto diet or classic pastries, cakes and pies. Plans are underway for serving beer and wine.
Salt & Pepper Cafe, at 608 14th St. W., Bradenton, is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 941-216-4096 or visit facebook.com/saltandpeppercafefl.
Mademoiselle Paris is new name for C’est La Vie at UTC
Mademoiselle Paris is the new name of the C’est La Vie location at the Shoppes at University Town Center, which is no longer associated with the original C’est La Vie on Main Street in downtown Sarasota.
“We are no longer associated with C’est La Vie on Main Street, which is more Provence than Parisienne,” said Mademoiselle owner Myriam Dandonneau, who, along with her husband, Jean, founded the restaurant and bakery at UTC as a franchise four years ago. “We have French chefs, and we have new additions to the menu.”
The two are Paris natives, and Jean is from a long line of French chefs, having grown up in the food industry.
The charming bistro has seating for 70 inside and on an outdoor terrace. French accents add to the Parisienne ambience. Mademoiselle Paris offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, plus wine tasting dinners each month and live music Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant also offers curbside takeout, delivery and catering services.
Mademoiselle provides specialty breakfasts like eggs benedict, tartines, croissants and custom omelettes and crepes. Among lunch favorites are croquet mademoiselle (with smoked salmon), salad Nicoise and Lyonnaise, quiches and paninis. Dinner choices range from escargots, French onion soup and fromages for appetizers to canard a l’orange, mussels or boeuf Bourguignon for dinner, among many other options. For dessert, there is decadent profiteroles, chocolate lava cake and peche melba crepes. The restaurant also provides an appealing beer and wine list.
Mademoiselle Paris, located at 8527 Cooper Creek Boulevard, is open Monday and Tuesday from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday until 9 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 7:45 to 3:30 p.m. For more information, call 941-355-2323 or visit mademoiselleparisutc.com.
Laredo Taco Company opens at 7-Eleven
Laredo Taco Company restaurant, in 7-Eleven, is inviting local residents to their first restaurant in Parrish (the second in Florida), on Thursday, Dec. 3, for the official opening. The special day will include a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m., free Big Gulp drinks all day and a $711 Project A-Game donation to a local charity. Various other giveaways will continue for four days after opening day such as free small Slurpees, chips and salsa, coffee and $1 off any taco.
Laredo Taco Company, 7-Eleven’s Mexican food restaurant, specializes in tacos served on flour tortillas made in on-site kitchens every day. Tacos and meals include specialties chorizo, carne asada, carnitas, breakfast tacos and protein-packed bowls. The restaurants also feature salsa bars with a wide selection of salsas and pico de gallo.
Located at 12060 US 301 North, the new Laredo Taco Company, in 7-Eleven, is open daily from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 941-803-6245.
Toys for Tots Celebration
Taste Dining & Travel is hosting its Annual Toys for Tots holiday celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 9, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Flavio’s on Main (formerly Beulah). The festive dinner will take place on the restaurant’s charming outdoor patio with limited seating ensuring safe social distancing.
Guests are asked to bring an unwrapped new toy to be donated to Toys for Tots. The special evening will begin with greetings from Mr. and Mrs. Claus and an array of appetizers accompanied by two glasses of prosecco. Next, dinner will be served starting with a salad, then entrée, two glasses of wine, dessert and coffee. Among entrée choices will be shrimp and lemon cream sauce over pasta, grilled lamb chops with Barolo sauce and roasted potatoes, seared salmon with fresh veggies or osso buco alla Milanese.
Price of the evening event is $100 inclusive. Phone Taste Dining & Travel for reservations at 941-366-7950. For additional info, visit tasteweb.net.
Walking Historical and Food Tour of Bradenton
Taste Dining & Travel is currently sponsoring Walking Historical & Food Tours of Bradenton each Wednesday and Thursday. The outdoor walking events include visits to restaurants and art galleries, shopping, architecture, and history.
Tour No. 1 on Thursdays: Includes exploring Village of the Arts, a charming mix of galleries and shops located in 1920s and ’30s homes. A “Meet and Greet” will provide culinary samplings at Bird Rock Taco Shack, Ortygia and Cottonmouth or Sugar Cubed. Participants should meet at Motorworks Brewing in the beer garden, where craft beer will be served at the tour conclusion. The tour begins at 1 p.m. at Motorworks, 1014 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. Cost is $45 and includes food from each restaurant and non-alcoholic beverages except for the beer at Motorworks.
Tour No. 2 on Wednesdays: Gives guests a glimpse of Old Main Street in a river town with a dynamic history. It includes a 1926 shopping arcade, Carnegie Library and classic, century-old buildings. Chef’s specialties will be offered at Sage Biscuit Café, and desserts are from Sugar Cubed artisan bakery. Guests should meet at 1 p.m. at the Bishop Museum, 201 10th St. W., where they may enjoy a full tour. Cost is $50 and includes food from each restaurant.
Guests at both tours are asked to wear comfortable clothing for rain or shine along the 1.5-mile historical tours. Reservations are required by phoning Taste Dining & Travel at 941-366-7950. For additional information, visit tasteweb.net.
For the latest Sarasota-Manatee restaurant and bar news visit heraldtribune.com/entertainment/dining. Email restaurant news items to [email protected]