Living in Sarasota for nine years, I have seen the strip of businesses on 5th Street in the Rosemary District turn hands a few times. 1419 5th Street was at one time Allyn Gallup Gallery, Olive Oil Company, Sarasota Coffee and Tea, and back in 1927 Sarasota’s first black theatre, as for today Lolita TARTINE breathes life into the large space.
Lolita TARTINE, une production de C’est La Vie; as their menu states, open their second restaurant. It’s an urban space consisting of loft space, exposed wood, beams and lighting, white walls with red accents, and floor to ceiling windows bring the outdoors in. Bar stools, high top tables, cushioned benches along the wall, and outdoor tables with umbrellas offer a variety of seating options. Vibrant colorful local art adorns the white walls, and as Christophe; the owner points out, if you look closely the restaurant logo is embedded in the artwork.
You might wonder, “What is a tartine?” According to their website, tartine is an open-faced sandwich with refined ingredients or fancy spreads. In France, a tartine is usually served with toasted country bread and a sweet or savory spread. I ordered the MATISSE; curry chicken, pineapple, sour cream and tomato over rye bread, and as the server suggested a side salad instead of potatoes. The flavor is intense from the curry, smoothed out by the sour cream, and the pineapple adds a burst of citrus juice topped off with the texture from the rye bread. Popular on the menu is the GAUGUIN; smoked salmon, tzatziki sauce, cucumber and fresh herbs, or the DALI; onion marmalade, asparagus, smoked duck breast, tomato, walnuts, mesclun salad topped with a vinaigrette. In addition to tartine, quiche is a favorite along with their salads and of course dessert.
All baking is done off property at Christophe’s warehouse on 301. He has two chefs who prepare all the food for not only their two restaurants, but also several in the area. “Because we make everything fresh everyday at our warehouse, “ Christophe shares with me, “we have a catering style kitchen or finishing kitchen in the back of the house.”
The atmosphere is bright, food is fresh and the service makes your experience one that you’ll repeat over and over again. Beer and wine is available in addition to coffee, sparkling water and tea. For those seeking private meeting space, the loft offers a birds eye view overlooking the dining area. If you like what you eat, pastry classes are being offered in season, “Our pastry chef is very talented and loves people,” Christophe says with a smile.
Bring your laptop and enjoy complimentary wifi like I did during lunch or enjoy dinner before heading to the theatre. Whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner, are a Table for One or a group of friends – you can relax, sit back and experience the beauty of a French café in the Rosemary District of downtown Sarasota.
Lolita TARTINE, 1419 5th Street, Sarasota, Florida 34236, (941)952-3172 www.lolitatartine.com