I recommend that everyone check this place out — I would go back here in a heartbeat. I love the hip vibe, and any place that puts as much attention to detail into their food has my vote. State Street is one of my new favorites!
1533 State St, Sarasota, FL 34236
Cuisine: Seafood, American, Vegetarian
Price Rating: $15 to $25 entrees
Review Date: October 16 and October 26, 2012
Background Info on the Review
From the outside, the State Street Eating House is understated and casual. It’s on a quieter section of downtown, one block south of Pastry Art-ish, parallel to Main Street. I like stepping off of Main Street sometimes, and I found the location here to be quite comfortable.
Inside, the first thing I was struck with was the bartender’s get up. Very hipster chic, with a vest and striped shirt, not to mention a gorgeous interior with a jaw-droppingly cool bar. Complete with craft liquors to satisfy any aficionado!
I love the details here, from the industrial napkins (which are so much more functional than regular old linens, mind you) to the beautiful display of the water bottles and the wine room.
The State Street Eating House opened back in February. The two times that I’ve been in here, it’s been incredibly busy, which is a decidedly good thing especially since the place is so new and we haven’t even hit the crazy season yet. The concept here is…how do I put it?…something like traditional American food brought up to a whole new level, with reasonable prices — think cozy hipster, new throwbacks! Does that even make sense? It does in my head.
I’m pretty sure everything single here is made from scratch, and you can really tell. They preserve their own lemons and make their own bread. Fresh ingredients and a lot of attention to detail with all of the recipes, right down to the cocktails.
In fact, one of the most impressive things about this place is their liquor and wine: Order a drink and they’ll prepare it with housemade syrups, craft liquors and muddled fruit; sort of makes you feel like you’re in that movie “Midnight in Paris” with Owen Wilson; romantic, classy and hip. Have I mentioned that it’s hip yet?
In speaking with the owners of the restaurant, I was blown away by the fact that they designed the entire place by themselves. From the elegant, fitting font on the menu, to the hanging light bulb fixtures to the super posh wallpaper, to the beautiful wine on display. Somehow, it comes off as mixing elegant and rich with comfortable and approachable. It’s the kind of place you want to bring company when they’re in town. Let’s just hope you can get a table! And now, let’s talk about the food!
Cheri’s Food Review
We started off with a couple of cocktails (the right way to start any meal). The Classic Whiskey Sour is made in the traditional way, with actual egg whites to create the foam, housemade heavy syrup, whiskey and lemon. There’s a sweetness to this drink that isn’t too overpowering, shortly followed by a smooth whiskey aftertaste to remind you that you’re drinking something serious – cooly serious.
The signature Bramble cocktail was a great way to start our meal. It had muddled blackberries, housemade simple syrup, lemon juice, lemon gin and creme de mure. It was nice and sweet, but definitely not too sweet. The only problem with this drink is that the chunks of ice and berries tend to get stuck in your straw so it takes a bit of creative maneuvering, but once you’ve over that, this drink satisfies in a nostalgic way.
There are quite a few options for cocktails here, for every type of liquor lover, so there’s certainly something you’d like here. They’re even aging their own whiskey in casks on top of the bars!
The Fried Fresh Okra with White Truffle Oil comes in its own cute little paper bag. I found the batter to be on the greasy side, but the paper bag helps to soak some of that up, and it does make for a great little snack-type portion. Don’t confuse these with appetizers, these are only meant as little snacks. If you like okra and the ubiquitous truffle oil, then this is the snack for you.
The Mini Lobster Rolls are really a sight to behold — they come with their own little, soft, homemade tiny wheat buns cradling little chunks of lobster! Suuuuch a cute little snack, with very subtle, simple flavors and a hint of sea salt.
This beautiful pile of savory tidbits is the Chopped Butter Lettuce Salad with American Blue Cheese, Bacon Lardons, Fresh Corn, Avocado, Tomato, Toasted Walnut & Verjus-Honey Vinaigrette. It’s not just the name; the salad is a mouthful, too! There are a lot of flavors going on in this salad, which is just how I like it. You can tell that the corn is actually cut right off the cob, gotta love that freshness. The first flavor that hits you is the bacon, but that is not overpowering — bacon makes everything better. The ingredients are all very fresh, the vinaigrette is light and allows all the flavors to come through. This is a very satisfying, hearty salad, it could be your whole meal if you’re not too careful!
Next came the Catch of the Day, which was Flounder, served over a bed of Wild Rice and Sauteed Kale. This meal was love at first bite for me. It came prepared nicely seared with its beautiful, crispy brown outside and flaky, juicy inside. There was a beautifully grilled preserved lemon on top and everything rested on a bed of sautéed kale and crunchy, texture-laden wild rice, which lent a subtle nuttiness as a complement. If you’re afraid of kale, this is the perfect way to get a handle on its amazingness! And one note about the presentation here: I loved how this came in its own little cast-iron pan — a great, homey detail.
Then we were served the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Baby Spinach, Fresh Tomato, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Aged Parmesan. This meal. THIS MEAL!! This definitely goes on my Death Row Meal list — for a meal I would ask for if it were to be my last. This exemplifies my tastes — fresh wilted spinach greens with some luscious buttery sauce and cheese, some fresh tomatoes and then gnocchi! Soft, warm, a light crust and the subtlest of sweet potato flavors. It’s such a comforting dish and I really couldn’t get enough of it. Creamy, tender, delicious, satisfying but not too much or too little of anything….okay, I’ll stop rambling now.
On to dessert! We got two awesome choices here — both housemade. The Carrot was this superdense slice of moist carrot cake. It’s got a super-thick, super-sweet, creamy frosting with some nuts and powdered sugar. And the cake itself had some really great chunks of carrot to give the slightest hint that you’re actually doing your waistline a favor by choosing this dessert, when in fact that is probably farthest from the truth. But one can dream anyway! In a word: Dense.
And the last dessert was Peanut Butter Pie done right. From top to bottom, chopped peanuts and a thing layer of sea salted chocolate covering a smooth, creamy peanut butter filling that’s neither too heavy nor too light, with just the right amount of peanut butter flavor. All resting on a dense, thick chocolate cookie crust like Oreos, all resting on a buffer layer of salty, chocolate ganache. Do I even need to say anything else? I didn’t think so.
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:
Before we went to State Street, I took a look at their website (as I usually do) and saw what awaited me: a charmingly modern restaurant whose decor leaned towards the rustic and a compact menu that had items competing in my mind for who would be the best to try. I was very pleased to discover that the reality lived up to the advertisement. We came a little early because the website said that they only took reservations for 6 or more, and we were just two. Despite it being an early Friday night, the few tables for two they had were taken, and we were seated at the bar, which was only a little disappointing because we were looking forward to a service, and bartenders usually have to be waived down to move onto the next part of your meal. Our bartenders were a cut above the usual, though, and got us started right away. The decor of the bar helped, also. It’s decorated almost like an updated saloon, with apothecary bottles and mason jars of various ingredients tastefully placed throughout, which made it more like a ‘ye olde spirit shoppe’ than a stuffy bar.
If our experience with the waitstaff was to be curtailed, our culinary experience was beyond our expectations. Our bartender prepared a special eggnog drink laden with booze, and it was definitely an inventive and tasty way to start the evening. He also told us about a specialty drink they serve – the Bramble, which was very tempting but we will have to get next time.
We began our meals with a Grilled goat cheese and basil wrapped in romaine and served with tomato, balsamic dressing, and bread ($10 and sorry, no easy names for plates here). Our bartender recommended that we get a little bit of extra bread, because people usually request more and
the standard serving isn’t enough, and he was absolutely right. Our generous portion of those ingredients would have had plenty left over if not for the extra bread, which is actually baked on site. Everything was fantastic, and if I’m not a big fan of creamy cheese texture, the pairing of the cheese and bruschette-like tomatoes was an excellent choice.
For dinner, my partner in culinary crime chose the Chickpea Casserole ($16.50), which was a healthier dish that included an assortment of nuts and vegetables while delivering rich flavor that fools you into believing you’re having something more decadent. I chose the Boneless Short Rib ‘pot roast’ ($18.50), which came in a cast iron skillet with a potato, turnip, onion and carrot.
The dish was absolutely outstanding, with tender meat that was entirely delicious, and the dish it was served in kept the juices flowing to the other sides. My only regret is that there wasn’t more of it, but the portion I got left me completely satisfied (probably because I didn’t really share – it was that good.).
Dessert was a production not to be missed. I settled on the Traditional Brownie Sundae, which was anything but. A thick, home-made brownie covered in ice cream and a cherry sauce that had an almost black-cherry flavor to it made a dish that was rich without being over the top, and didn’t just resort to slathering chocolate sauce everywhere. My sidekick went for a Vanilla Malt that is mixed with a shot of top-shelf whiskey, and it was excellent in every way.
Beautiful restaurant, excellent food, and a great experience at a table or at the bar. Be sure to try their signature drinks and dishes, but with a menu like theirs, it’s basically all signature, and it never misses. We’re definitely going back to try their burger.
Cloaked Review Ratings
|Food Quality & Menu|
Review Disclaimer: This review is part of a series of restaurant reviews that follows The Watering Mouth’s restaurant review guidelines. My Tasting photographs may not show the true portion of a meal a typical customer would receive. These reviews are based on two visits to a restaurant, one open Tasting where I taste and photograph a restaurant’s best dishes, and one full, anonymous review (like the typical restaurant-goer would experience) called the Cloaked Review. We are honest with our reviews, and assume that each restaurant is consistently performing to the standards we experienced!