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“Fine dining on St. Armand's Circle”
Review of Cafe L'Europe

Cafe L'Europe
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Ranked #22 of 1,054 Restaurants in Sarasota
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: American, European, Seafood
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions, Business meetings, Large groups
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Description: Established in 1973 in John Ringling's original real estate office, Cafe L'Europe has become one of Florida's most distinguished restaurants. The original brick walls are enhanced with artwork from our Cafe Collection, distinctive archways, and Spanish terra cotta tile for a warm, relaxing old-world ambiance.Our award-wining cuisine and selection of fine wines from Europe and America strike the perfect balance of tradition and innovation that have stood the test of time and trend. Many of our signature dishes are prepared tableside for the added drama of a truly memorable dining experience.Cafe L'Europe offers indoor and outdoor dining as well as a temperature controlled veranda for the best of both worlds. Our private dining rooms can accommodate parties from 8 to 65 guests and we are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.Our many accolades include the coveted DiRoNA, Sarasota Magazine's Best Elegant Restaurant, and Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence.
Reviewed February 27, 2013

My husband and I dined at this restaurant several times during our recent stay in Sarasota. Cafe L'Europe is a little more formal than some of the other restaurants on St. Armand's Circle, but it is very good. We enjoyed the bourbon pecan salad and a number of seafood dishes, including the honey curried sea bass and the grouper provencal. At one meal, our friend had the french onion soup that was served in the onion and he said it was delicious. The bread is very fresh and is served with olive oil and their mix of herbs which was great. The service was very professional and at the same time it was warm and friendly. We enjoyed everything about this restaurant. It is definitely on our list for our return next year.

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Thank Jeanette N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Betsie C, Owner at Cafe L'Europe, responded to this reviewResponded March 1, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to review Café L’Europe. We are happy to hear that you were able to join us on several occasions and that you enjoyed it each time, and we look forward to seeing you next year!

Sincerely,

Betsie Coolidge and the Café L’Europe Staff

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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589 - 593 of 736 reviews

Reviewed February 27, 2013

Great seating options...customer service and treated as if you are a guest.....fabulous menu and extensive wine list

Thank Mere75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Betsie C, Owner at Cafe L'Europe, responded to this reviewResponded March 1, 2013

Thank you for taking the review Café L’Europe. We are happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed our ambiance, service, food and extensive wine list and we look forward to seeing you again very soon!

Sincerely,

Betsie Coolidge and the Café L’Europe Staff

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2013

My wife and I are visiting Sarasota to celebrate my landmark birthday. She planned the trip and had numerous activites to make my birthday special. She researched the local restaurants and thought that the Cafe L'Europe sounded like just the right place to make our evening special. Unfortunately, she found it to be quite the contrary.
We arrived for our eight o'clock reservation and parked with the valet. Walking in to the restaurant we did not see anyone at the host desk. We asked a passing waiter and he pointed out a gentleman who we assume was the maitre'd walking with a bottle of wine and some glasses. He told us to wait and he would be back. When he returned my wife told him that we had a reservation for an outside table. He looked and told us that he saw that it was marked as a birthday but there was nothing about being seated outside. She told him that she had spoken with someone named Marcello and he repeated that name back to her several times as if he were making fun of her pronunciation. He then proceeded to seat us inside at the railing where we could see outside. There were tables available outside the entire time we sat there yet he never offered us an explanation as to why we couldn't sit there.
We then sat for close to ten minutes with no menus, water or greeting by anyone. A busboy then brought water glasses and filled them. They were very warm as if they had just come from the dishwasher and mine had a speck of what looked like lettuce sticking to the outside.
Several minutes later a waiter approached with menus and asked for a drink order. I asked if they carried Belvedere vodka and ordered it with cranberry juice. My wife asked for a dirty martini. I opened my menu and one of the pages fell out. It was not attached to the binder. Another waiter returned and asked if that martini was with gin or vodka. Our drinks arrived and the martini was not dirty. I found out later when we got the check that I was given Ketel One and not Belvedere but was never made aware of that. We flagged down the waiter who had brought the drinks and he brought back some olive juice for my wife to add to her drink.
Our waiter returned to take the order never making suggestions or offering specials. When my wife asked if there was a fish special he told her what it was. He seemed preoccupied and neither friendly nor helpful.
We got our salad dishes which were the Salad L'Europe and the Bourbon Pecan salad. They were both delicious. She had ordered the Snapper and I got the filet mignon cooked medium. When our food arrived it was delivered by someone other than our waiter. We did not see him again for quite some time. I was surprised by the sides that came with my dinner since they were not listed on the menu or mentioned by our waiter. We were not offered additional drinks nor was our water refilled. He never came over to check on our meals. My steak was rare to medium rare at best and not done to my liking. I tried to find our waiter but to no avail. I ate the steak which would have tasted far better to me if it had been cooked as I had ordered it. My wife liked her fish but needed some water with her meal. She finally got up and found another waiter and asked if someone would get us some water. At that point the busboy refilled our glasses and our invisible waiter returned. He apoligized for ignoring us, his words not mine. He never gave any explanation for why but I think that we were seated outside of his station and he "picked up" our table. I told him of my disappointment with my steak and he offered no explanation nor apology.
He returned a short while later with a slice of birthday cake and a candle and my wife sang happy birthday. I ordered a cappuccino which came right out and he did not charge us for the cake or cappuccino.
I requested the check, paid it, and we left.
At that price point I certainly did not expect such poor and inattentive service. My wife was so upset because she wanted the evening to be so special and it turned in to a disaster. I would not go back and would certainly dissuade anyone I know from eating there. After reading other reviews I wonder if we were in the same restaurant. Their arrogance and inattentiveness should not be tolerated.

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Thank jlandarose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Betsie C, Owner at Cafe L'Europe, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience at Café L’Europe. We are sorry to hear that we did not meet your expectations on what should have been a very special occasion. We have reviewed the situation internally to ensure that a busy evening does not translate into inattentive service in the future and we hope that you will give us another opportunity to provide you with the fine dining experience that we are known for the next time you and your wife are visiting Sarasota.

Sincerely,

Betsie Coolidge and the Café L’Europe Staff

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 24, 2013

I'm sorry, but both my girlfriend and I went there today and are so sick tonight! We were on our way to Columbia and passed by this restaurant. We looked at the menu outside and thought it sounded good. As we walked in, there was no hostess to be found. We waited for about 10 minutes until finally someone said someone would be there to help. After another 10-15 minutes, someone finally showed us to a table. I must admit, the atmosphere was very nice, and definitely what I payed for. The waiter was, let's just say, rude... Maybe he had a bad day, or was really busy, but he just wasn't very kind. The food came and it wasn't anything what I expected. The hamburger tasted awful, and the lamb sliders were just as bad. We decided to give dessert a try, and ordered creme brûlée. The caramel was burnt, and there were black specks all on the bottom as if the dish were dirty. Overall, I was not happy and we are still suffering the discomfort of the food. First time experience, and last.

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1  Thank Datju
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Betsie C, Owner at Cafe L'Europe, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience at Café L’Europe. I assure you that the “black specks” in the crème brûlée were vanilla bean pieces not dirt and that the unsurpassed quality and freshness of our food is part of what has made us a Sarasota tradition for over 40 years. I’m sorry to hear that we did not meet your expectations on this occasion, but we do hope that you will consider giving us another opportunity to impress you.

Sincerely,

Betsie Coolidge and the Café L’Europe Staff

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 23, 2013

Celebrating a very special lunch with my beautiful wife of 16 years today! This occasion is befitting the Grand Dame (pronounced gränd däm) of Sarasota's restaurants... Cafe L'Europe. With fresh flowers, live music, and old-world charm, our expectations were high even before we ordered our food. Our waiter, Arnaûd, with his beautiful European accent (and flair) has been
more than accommodating for us. I enjoyed a lean and savoury corned beef sandwich with a delicious Bourbon Pecan salad: Baby greens, cornbread croutons, candied pecans, all drizzled with bourbon-maple dressing which had a wonderful mix of flavors. my wife had a perfectly seared wild salmon steak delicately nestled on a bed of romaine lettuce. For dessert we shared a flourless darj chocolate truffle torte that was chocolicious beyond description. Note to self: This is a $$$$ restaurant. When money is no object, eat here... often.

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Thank SheldonHW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Betsie C, Owner at Cafe L'Europe, responded to this reviewResponded March 1, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to review Café L’Europe. We are happy to hear that our food and service exceeded the very high expectations that were set by the fresh flowers, live music and old-world charm of the oldest building on St. Armand’s Circle and we look forward to seeing you and your wife often...

Sincerely,

Betsie Coolidge and the Café L’Europe Staff

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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