Bijou Cafe’: The Top Continental in Sarasota’s Theater District, Renowned Cuisine, and Service, a Local Gem Since 1986

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Sarasota’s Bijou Cafe has been a local landmark and favorite dining destination in the theater district since opening in 1986, and has been named a Fred Bollaci Enterprises Golden Palate Partner™ , with a recipe featured in Fred’s upcoming memoir.

The Bijou Café is a charming Continental-American restaurant located in the heart of Sarasota’s downtown Theatre & Arts District just two blocks from the Ritz Carlton. Over the years our cuisine, award-winning wine list and exemplary unobtrusive service have set the standard for dining on the Sun Coast and established us as one of Sarasota’s most sought after fine dining destinations.

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Since opening in 1986, The Bijou Café, owned and operated by Chef Jean-Pierre Knaggs and his wife Shay has grown from a small 50-seat restaurant to a seating capacity of 140 people in three separate dining rooms, and is a Sarasota area favorite for upscale, yet casual, sophisticated Continental cuisine. The restaurant features enchanting décor with French windows and doors throughout, sparkling glassware, bouquets of freshly-picked flowers and the soft glow of candlelight.

The Gossips Lounge features seating for nine at the inviting solid cherry bar with additional seating at tables for about twenty and two outside courtyards accommodate al fresco dining so you can take full advantage of a balmy Florida evening. Bijou features a popular tapas menu for happy hour, as well as popular wine events.

Bijou’s award-winning cuisine reflects Jean-Pierre’s South African and French heritage with many of his famous recipes developed and refined as he traveled the world as chef aboard a luxurious private yacht. He has won the notice and acclaim of Town & Country Magazine, Bon Appetit and Gourmet, and Bijou has consistently been ranked one of Zagat’s top restaurants in the area.

Since 1990, The Bijou Café has annually garnered the prestigious Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for their excellent wine list, featuring selections from the United States, France and around the world-including one of the most extensive selections of South African wine available in Florida.

The Bijou Café features a seasonal menu with an emphasis on fresh local produce and sustainable, abundant seafood in addition to the classics, which have been featured for years.

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Menu favorites include: Shrimp & Crab bisque, Bijou Crab Cakes with Creole remoulade and small chopped salad, Shrimp Piri Piri (American-harvest shrimp, cayenne, garlic, lemon, served with creamy South-African style grits), Mussels Knysna (Fresh PEI mussels simmered in dry Vermouth, garlic, shallots, tomato and parsley), classic Caesar Salad, Moroccan Salad (Fresh Florida citrus, dates, almonds and apples on Romaine greens, silky balsamic vinaigrette), Salad Melange (Chopped lettuce, radicchio, spinach, mushrooms, hearts of palm, Applewood-smoked bacon, egg, Point Reyes Blue, herb dressing), and Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with white Balsamic vinaigrette.

Entree favorites include: Braaivleis- South-African Mixed Grill including lamb chop and strip steak with South African grits, grilled tomato and Major Grays chutney, Chicken Paillard, (Organic chicken breast, sautéed in olive oil and garlic and served with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and sautéed spinach), Yellowfin Tuna, Herb-Crusted Salmon Crisp Roasted Duck with Sour Cherry Merlot Sauce or Orange Grand Marnier Sauce, Classic New York Strip, Pepper Steak, Australian Rack of Lamb, Braised Lamb Shank in natural jus and red Zinfandel, and Veal Milanese with arugula and shaved parmesan, among others and daily specials.

Some photos from a recent lunch at Bijou:

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Pictured: Peach and Mango Soup (chilled- like dessert!), the famous Shrimp & Crab Bisque, Tuna Nicoise, Swordfish atop salad with pesto, and the Pate’ with artisan cheeses!

Don’t miss the summer Prix Fixe lunch menu for only $19.86, commemorating the year the Bijou opened!

See you in Sarasota, and please tell Jean-Pierre and Shay that Fred Bollaci sent you!

Bijou Cafe
1287 1st Street
Sarasota, FL 34236
941.366.8111

About Fred Bollaci

I'm CEO and President of Fred Bollaci Enterprises. I lost more than 100 pounds while living "La Dolce Vita" and I'm now known as "The Healthy Gourmet." Sample the good life with me through fitness, fine food, and good wine. Meet chefs who cater to a healthy gourmet lifestyle through my Golden Palate blog.
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