Retropolitan is a super romantic, quaint little restaurant in the Burns Court area of Sarasota, FL where you can fill up on some Southern favorites with a fancy twist! You won’t be disappointed with your visit here.
This review is part of a series of restaurant reviews that follows The Watering Mouth’s restaurant review guidelines, which strive to bring you detailed, unbiased reviews. Read our philosophy on this to find out this process works.
Background Info on the Review
An excerpt from my Cloaked Reviewer’s experience gives you an idea of the location and setting. I couldn’t have said it better, so I didn’t try!
“The Burns Court area has always been a hidden trove of intimate, upscale shops, entertainment and eateries. On a single street tucked behind Pineapple downtown, a hidden world holds great finds, if you’re willing to explore a little. Retropolitan is one such treasure, located in a converted house just across the street from the theatre. Approaching it gives you an immediate impression of arriving at someone’s home for dinner, and going inside doesn’t dispel that feeling. Although there’s seating outside, the interior is like a living room cleared of furnishings and given small tables with a fireplace and beautiful bar. Some may worry that it’s too small, but it’s completely comfortable without feeling crowded. The staff is friendly, the decor is dark and elegant, and the food…”
Before I get to do a review, I have the pleasure of meeting the restaurant owners to find out a little more about the background of a restaurant. Chad, one of the owners of Retropolitan, let me know that there is some exciting news coming up about Retropolitan in the next couple of months. That is that they are re-doing the already-nice patio area to make it more comfortable in the hot temperatures, and they will also rebrand Retropolitan and the restaurant next door called Galileo, which they also own, into one delicious entity maximized for efficiency. I’m excited to see these changes because I already love what this place does so much.
Cheri’s Food Review
The Dixie Shrimp ($9) was my foray into the Retropolitan menu, and I think it was a great place to start. I am a bit of a shrimp snob and these totally hit the mark. They are coated in a light yet substantial batter, and fried to create a nice coating around the shrimp. The shrimp are cooked very well, leaving them tender and juicy with a great texture. The mango salsa was a great complement on the side, if a little spicy. I think I was just so enamored with the shrimp that the salsa just created a barrier of one-too-many hand movements to get them into my mouth, but I persevered!
The Shorecake ($8) was a crabcake, that featured an excellent crust on the outside with chunks of crab, shrimp and scallops inside. The chunks were a definite plus to me because they created a diversion from your average, heavily-breaded crabcake consistency. It was well-cooked and if you’re a big crab cake fan, these will hit the spot. I thought a fresh squeeze of lemon over top made for a nice depth of flavor and both Dad and I loved the tartar sauce that came with it. Don’t tell anyone, but we even dipped the Dixie Shrimp in the tarter sauce.
Okay, let’s talk about a sensitive subject. I’m going to be honest and admit that I actually enjoy the taste of liver. Quit judging me. I converted myself by eating way too much pâté when I lived in France a few years back (sue me, I lived across the street from a butcher). And my Dad really likes liver too…so much so that I might go so far as to call him a connoisseur! And Dad thought that Retropolitan’s Southern Fried Chicken Liver ($6) was cooked really well, had a great texture, and was not too greasy or overcooked at all, which he says can be an all-too-often occurrence. He did say he would’ve preferred no sauce, or sauce on the side, because he is hard-core like that, though I really liked it on top. It’s a type of sweet and spicy pepper glaze sauce, and he’s not really used to that. Served with an English muffin on the side and a light salad with some onions.
The Guinness and Goat Burger ($11) was one of the big hits of the night. I’m a sucker for anything caramelized and having Guinness caramelized onions on a burger like that is really the best thing you could do for a burger. And just check out all that meat on there – tender, juicy and flavorful with a huge slathering of goat cheese on top to give it the perfect tangy kick all on a dense, white grilled bun done just right. The fries, in our opinion, were the perfect blend of some crispy, some mushy, all salty, oily and delicious – not exactly health-food; I mean, you know you shouldn’t be eating it, but who’s gonna stop you?
Pan Seared Lemon Sole with Brown Butter ($16) After that burger, I wanted to balance it out by having a bit of light fish with vegetables, but I forgot that I was in Southern-cooking heaven for a second. This is the type of food that you don’t eat every day, but when you do, you do it right. The Sole was lightly breaded with a covering similar to the Dixie Shrimp. This was a preparation that Dad really loved, and I had to remind him to slow down a bit because of the rest of the food to come. I liked that they mashed the capers on top as well because sometimes the pop of capers is a little much for me. The potato salad was good and sweet. And the side of green beans actually was a nice balance to the heaviness of the other foods. They were cooked perfectly for my taste – not mushy, a bit crispy yet, so you can still get the idea that they’re fresh green beans, but they had some onions and bacon in there as well, and that always makes everything better.
The Bourbon Street Filet was a tender steak with excellent flavor. I have to say that this meal was my least favorite of the night, but it was by no means not worth eating! Ha! I think mainly it was that I wasn’t a huge fan at all of the bourbon sauce, but Dad actually thought it went well with the steak. And when I have a choice, I don’t order collard greens, but these were cooked very well, and as I said, bacon makes everything awesome, so I rather enjoyed these. Neither of us were huge fans of the fried green tomatoes because we thought the cornmeal coating was just a little too, well, cornmeal-y? But if cornmeal FGT’s are your thing, you’ll be pleased – they were cooked very well and not mushy at all.
The Southern Fried Chicken ($14), oh my god. I mean just look at that picture. This fried chicken is piled so high that it’s higher than like….it’s like the size of my head! It’s got a really crispy, crispy batter which was incredibly pleasant to munch on. On the inside, the chicken meat was perfectly juicy and tender, cooked so well. Dad and I both love the fries, as we said before. And the cucumber salad served on the side was so very light and refreshing; it was great to have alongside the heavier food. I noted a tiny bit of spice in the crispy batter, which hits you later, and if you ate the whole thing (good luck) you’d definitely feel the heat. A great meal. It lives up to the cliché – finger-lickin’ good!
The Carolina Fried Chicken Salad ($13) would have really hit the spot if I hadn’t just eaten enough food for 27 people. Imagine the amazing chicken from the previous meal on top of a delicious and hearty salad with sweet pecans, tomatoes, cheese, hard-boiled egg and a really great honey mustard dressing. It’s about 3 meals in itself and is so satisfying, even if you did just consume your body weight in Southern goodness. If you’re into salads, this one is a great choice.
And then we still had the Butter Fried Pork Chop ($16) to go! It’s got their consistently wonderful crispy, fried batter on the outside. Silly to say but with the Mushroom Country Ham Cream Gravy on top, it really is like a party in your mouth. The huge Vidalia onion rings were very good but needed a little bit of salt, not too greasy. And the watermelon and feta salad with mint…I just have to say that is one of my favorite flavor combinations and it is so unreal with this meal. Gives such a fresh contrast to everything else. If you’re not used to these flavors though, it might not be your favorite – Dad didn’t dislike it, but it was a little too “out there” for him. Ha!
And then, because you know I approach my reviews with the highest journalistic integrity – I feel it is my duty to experience dessert and pass on my findings to you. I know, I know, it is a sacrifice, but I am happy to do it for you, Dear Reader.
The Apple Cobbler was served in this cute little ramekin and actually made you feel a bit of relief knowing that you won’t have a ridiculously huge piece of pie to tackle after the giant-sized main events that you just partook in. We both loved this apple cobbler and we swore it had some sort of like grits on top or something, but we were assured it was just the cobbler topping. Doesn’t matter because either way, it was really good. Very sweet delicious sauce bathing the apples. And best of all, I am told that all of their cobblers are actually gluten-free and come in four different delicious flavors.
Key Lime Pie is always my favorite and this one hit the spot – light-colored and fresh flavored, it was a great refreshing treat after the entrees. We found the crust all the way down the bottom so you have to dig to get there, but now that you know the trick, you don’t have to worry. Very sweet with some fresh whipped cream on top. Loved this one!
And my bonus dessert that I asked for separately because I just love it so much is Creme Brulee. I’m having lots of fun comparing these dishes around the town, and this was a fantastic specimen. Loved the browning of the sugar on top and the creme underneath was a sweet, subtle smooth treat. Definitely a good idea that we made sure to order it!
Cloaked Restaurant Review
This is the part where I have an anonymous review done to critique the entire restaurant experience in a undercover way so that you can get a good idea of what it’s like for the typical restaurant-goer like yourself! It keeps us all honest!! Here’s what they said:
Repeated from above: The Burns Court area has always been a hidden trove of intimate, upscale shops, entertainment and eateries. On a single street tucked behind Pineapple downtown, a hidden world holds great finds, if you’re willing to explore a little. Retropolitan is one such treasure, located in a converted house just across the street from the theatre. Approaching it gives you an immediate impression of arriving at someone’s home for dinner, and going inside doesn’t dispel that feeling. Although there’s seating outside, the interior is like a living room cleared of furnishings and given small tables with a fireplace and beautiful bar. Some may worry that it’s too small, but it’s completely comfortable without feeling crowded. The staff is friendly, the decor is dark and elegant, and the food…
We started our meal with the Dixie Shrimp ($9) and the Sweet Potato Pancakes ($6). Both were delightful, and somehow managed to be delicious comfort food without feeling too heavy to start a dinner course. The shrimp being served on a plate shaped like a fish was a cute, whimsical touch that worked. The pepper jelly that came with the Pancake turned out to be an excellent pairing for both appetizers, and the tomato mango salsa that is normally paired with the shrimp, although certainly good, came in second to the jelly. We moved onto the main course, and although the burgers looked extremely appealing, I opted for the Maryland Shore Cakes ($18). Certainly a different take on a northern classic, the cakes were prepared with shrimp and scallop meat mixed in, and pressed flatter than a usual cake. It was an unexpected change, but it worked, and the cakes were certainly tasty. I chose the Fried Green Tomatoes and Shoestring Fries as sides, and was pleased by both. The tomatoes came breaded in a cornmeal-type breading instead of the usual batter, and I enjoyed it, even if my partner didn’t. She chose to go the way of the Butter Fried Pork Chop with Mushroom Ham Cream Country Gravy ($16). She got a thick pork chop that was cooked perfectly, and was crispy while staying moist and rich, not drying out. The Greenbeans with Bacon and Onion and the Onion Rings were perfect compliments to the dish, and gave you an feeling of comfort food that was done with more sophistication than butter and oil. A light Pinot Grigio was also a great pairing, and made the entire meal a completely delicious experience. We finished the evening with the Chocolate Lava Cake, which was as rich and decadent as you might imagine, and the Apple Cobbler was delicious – light, airy and sweet.
Retropolitan is a perfect little spot to have an intimate date or just a quiet meal with family. Although small, that’s a quality to the restaurant’s advantage, and the small number of tables just feels enjoyable and private, not crowded or cramped. The staff and management are extremely pleasant, so be prepared to answer some non-invasive, friendly questions about what brought you to the restaurant and the area. It’s a tad pricey, but the food, ambiance and staff make the experience worth it.
Cloaked Review Ratings
|Food Quality & Menu|
Go to my Flickr account to check out my Retropolitan, Sarasota, FL, Restaurant Review images set to see the full set of pics.