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“Sangria and Salad! Oh my!”

Columbia Restaurant
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Ranked #35 of 1,051 Restaurants in Sarasota
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $30
Cuisines: Cuban, Spanish
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast, Delivery, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Description: Family-owned and operated for over 112 years, Columbia has earned acclaim for its old-world charm and award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine and wine list. Casual attire is fine, but we don't allow sleeveless shirts on men. Join us for century-old family recipes like Paella "a la Valenciana," Filet Mignon "Columbia," and fresh seafood specialties. Don't miss Columbia's Original "1905" Salad(R), prepared tableside with our delicious, freshly-made dressing, a 100-year-old family recipe of fresh garlic, oregano, wine vinegar and Spanish extra virgin olive oil. Be sure to sample a fine Spanish wine like Torres, Montecillo or Campillo. Relax outdoors on our patio, or inside our Mediterranean-style dining rooms filled with hand-painted tiles and family heirlooms. We are a sister to the Columbia in Tampa's Ybor City, founded in 1905. Children's menu available. Open 365-days a year, including all holidays.
Reviewed July 21, 2013

Okay, by the title you can tell my two favorite items. In addition I suggest you ask your waitperson to recommend the freshest fish prepared in Cuban style. Mine was fantastic! Both sangria and salad prepared tableside with much flare. The taste superb.

Yes, this is a popular restaurant so it will be busy...plan for that and you will enjoy your experience much more. Only reason I did not go five stars was due to the wait for a table...when some were visibly available.

Did I mention the sangria was fantastic...Red or white...it is a must.

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2  Thank Jeff P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,731 - 2,735 of 3,526 reviews

Reviewed July 21, 2013

Perhaps the chef's are on vacation? We are not new to the Columbia, having visited the restaurant over many years in Tampa and then Sarasota at the St. Armands Circle location. We are usually very pleased with our experience. I'm hoping today is a brief anomaly, but there are so many very good consistent restaurants in the area it will take a long while before I find out.

Paulo ordered his favorite, of course, the Cuban Sandwich, and what is usually chock full of tender tasty pork, salami and ham smothered in swiss cheese with a really great mustard slathered on pressed cuban bread came to the table with meager meat and cheese and dry stale tasting bread. When he opened up the bread he couldn't find the mustand; what's up with that?

I ordered the Merluza which is suppose to be lightly breaded and grilled, but was very thickly breaded and it didn't appear grilled at all. My brother always - really always - orders the Chicken and Yellow rice. His yellow rice, as well as the rice delivered on the plate with my fish, was, instead of the light saffron laced fluffy version we were expecting, dense and sticky and way too soft with hard crusty grains mixed in. The chicken, was paltry and greasy, just plopped on top of his rice, very unattractive looking.

My sister-in-law enjoyed her Shrimp Criollo however, and I must say the Spanish Bean Soup and Salad were great as usual, but what can you do to a salad as good as that? Well, maybe you could over do the olive oil, but that wasn't the case, the salad is a sinful indulgence in the best olive oil, ham, cheese and fresh lettace and tomatoes. I wish I had just ordered the salad with shrimp on top.

Yes, it will be quite a while before we return. I know it's not "season" but just a few of us do live here year-round.

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Thank KathleenP125
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
guestservices1905, Public Relations Manager at Columbia Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded July 25, 2013

We always like to hear from guests who have visited us at one or more of our Columbia locations in Florida. But I must apologize for the problems you encountered on this visit. I don’t know what went wrong in the kitchen with all four of the meals you were served, but please know that we read all comment here, both good and bad, and will share your comments with our chef. With the details you provided about the problems with your meals, our chef can look into these issues and make corrections.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2013 via mobile

The best things about this restaurant are:
1. The location. Love, love St. Armand's!

2. The Guava sauce on the Key Lime Pie. It makes the pie. Seriously.

Everything else is about average.

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Thank StephySunshine5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2013

We were visiting in the area and decided to break out of the usual dinner mold and try cuban food. It took us awhile to read the extensive menu and understand enough about the type of food to order. Everything has a complete description which is helpful. For some reason they do not list regular beverages only alcohol. The gazpacho was excellent as were the cuban sandwich, crab cakes, and 1905 salad which is huge! Not overpriced and it has seating choices for inside or outside. A bit noisy and the tables are way too close to one another. Our waitress was rather annoyed and not friendly.

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1  Thank russofSNJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2013 via mobile

Read the reviews and decided to visit Columbia Restaurant - What a mistake!!! The service was atrocious - the waiter could not be bothered and the tables for four are incredibly small for a restaurant of such caliber. The food was mediocre for the price. What I found was a restaurant that is in decline riding on the coat tails of its past success. Find somewhere else to enjoy beautiful St. Armand's Circle.

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Thank LaurelsLovelyLiving
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
guestservices1905, Public Relations Manager at Columbia Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded July 25, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about the problems you had on your visit. Receiving poor service from your server and preparing mediocre food is not the Columbia way, and we apologize.

Columbia on St. Armands Circle recently earned a TripAdvisor 2013 Certificate of Excellence award from TripAdvisor Travelers, but we know we are only as good as our last meal, and based on your comments, we need to do a better job.

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

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