Skip navigation
ON THE MENU: Fred’s Restaurant Sarasota, Fla.

ON THE MENU: Fred’s Restaurant Sarasota, Fla.

Fred’s Restaurant in Sarasota, Fla., has garnered national recognition, including winning Wine Spectator magazine’s Best of Award of Excellence in three of the past four years as well as being named “Sarasota’s Hot Spot” by Money magazine. But Mario Martinez, corporate executive chef for parent company Epicurean Life, says the restaurant’s success is due to its understanding of the local clientele.

Martinez sees Sarasota’s dining public as a dichotomy of two major groups: young professionals and a significant retiree population. The latter group, Martinez says, tends to look for value in dining choices and favors more familiar fare, prompting Martinez and Fred’s executive chef, Gary Schwab, to balance the menu’s more ambitious dishes with moderately priced comfort food.


Cuisine: eclectic American bistroLocation: 1917 S. Osprey Ave.Opened: October 1999Seats: 160, with additional seating in three private rooms that could accommodate more than 150 peopleAverage per-person check: $15 at lunch, $50 at dinnerBest-selling items: crudo trio platter, Fred’s bacon-wrapped meat loafOwner: Epicurean LifeMenu maker: executive chef Gary

“You go broke if the clientele doesn’t go for [the food served],” says Martinez, who joined Epicurean Life in 2002 after working for The Disney Institute in Orlando, Fla. “I had some culture shock when I came to the west coast [of Florida]. To the retiree set, being gastronomically adventurous is not what it is to me.”

At Fred’s, however, the familiar food still gets a creative interpretation. For instance, the meat loaf, a very popular item with the restaurant’s older demographic, is wrapped in bacon and served with garlic mashed potatoes, haricots verts and a mushroom demi-glace.

Dishes incorporating more ethnic influences also find an audience at Fred’s with Sarasota’s young and affluent crowd, or the “high rollers” as Martinez calls them. Eager to experience new flavors and learn more about how food pairs with Fred’s award-winning wine list, the younger guests are more likely to try something like the jerk-spiced Atlantic salmon or the crudo trio platter appetizer. That starter, which Martinez describes as “one plate, three influences,” combines Indian, Latin and Asian flavors and features tandoori-spiced tuna, a scallop ceviche, and citrus-poached prawn with sticky rice and ponzu sauce.

Fred’s also offers variety in the form of in-restaurant programming for guests, such as hands-on cooking classes, seminars on topics ranging from chocolate to caviar, and winemaker dinners. The events take place in several private rooms and in the adjacent Tasting Room, a wine bar with a performing space for live music. The culinary education programs are just one way to attract more guests and add perceived value to their experience, Martinez says.

Rigorous training also is essential to Fred’s waitstaff, he says.

“The servers on the floor know more about food than most cooks,” Martinez says. “The point of our training is to empower servers to not just spoon-feed suggestions to guests, but to teach them to understand the dynamics of wine and food. When the servers are empowered, they’re making more money, which leads to happier guests and higher check averages.”


Four Cheese, Spinach & Heart of Palm Dip 6

   Served Warm with Crispy Pita Points

Southern-Fried Fresh Calamari 8

   Sriracha-Lime Rémoulade Dipping Sauce

Hummus Tahini & Vine-Ripe Tomatoes 10

   Provençal Herb Marinade & Char-Grilled Pita Points

Duck Confit “Cigars” 8

   Shiitake Mushrooms, Kiln-Dried Cranberries & Pinot Noir Reduction Dipping Sauce

Crudo Trio Platter 16

   Tandoori-Spiced Tuna Tataki with Chile-Caramel Sauce

   Scallop Ceviche with Ginger & Crispy Plantains

   Citrus-Poached Prawn with Sticky Rice & Ponzu Sauce


Fred’s House Salad 7

   Field Greens, Red Onion, Crumbled Blue

  Cheese & Grape Tomatoes with Citrus Vinaigrette

Fred’s Caesar Salad 7

   Baby Red & Green Romaine Spears, Caesar Vinaigrette, Brown-Butter Croutons & Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

Baby Spinach Salad 7

   Chopped Bacon, Egg, Exotic Mushrooms & Fred’s Tobacco Onions with Bacon Vinaigrette

Shrimp-Stuffed Avocado 12

   Brandied Rémoulade, Indian River Grapefruit, Fred’s Field Greens & Citrus Vinaigrette

Iceberg Wedge Salad 7

   Marinated Vine-Ripe Tomatoes, Crumbled Blue Cheese, Brown-Butter Croutons & Pickled Red Onions with Creamy Avocado-Herb Dressing


Pan-Seared Red Snapper 24

Herbed Chickpea Puree, Baby Artichokes, Tomato Concassée & Warm Citrus Vinaigrette

Seared Pork Tenderloin Medallions 18

Zinfandel Reduction, Chèvre Polenta, Cremini Mushrooms & Crispy Sage

Jerk-Spiced Atlantic Salmon 19

Napa Cabbage, English Cucumber & Grape Tomato Slaw with Buttermilk-Herb Dressing

Seafood Newburg Fettuccine 22

Jumbo Prawn, Sea Scallop & Market Fish Fillet Seasonal Vegetables, Spinach Fettuccine & Brandied Newburg Sauce

Braised Beef Short Ribs 23

Slow-Cooked with Natural Juices & Mirepoix, Pancetta-Scallion Risotto, Broccolini & Cabernet Sauvignon-Caramelized Onions

Pan-Roasted Sea Scallops 22

Light Brown Sugar Cure, Exotic Mushroom Risotto & Madeira Cream Sauce

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale-Roasted Chicken 17

Semi-Boneless Half Chicken, Natural Jus, Balsamic-Roasted Vegetables & Yukon Gold Potato Hash

Fred’s Bacon-Wrapped Meat Loaf 18

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Haricots Verts, Mushroom Demi-Glace & Fred’s Tobacco Onions

Grilled Yellow-Fin Tuna Steak 26

Blue Oyster Mushroom, Yukon Gold Potato & Pearl Onion Ragoût, Roasted Garlic Aïoli

Petit Filet Mignon & Jumbo Prawn 30

Shrimp-Cremini Cream Sauce, Asparagus Spears & Crispy Polenta

Twin Lump Crab Cakes 24

Roasted Corn-Avocado Relish & Cilantro-Lime Mojito

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.