This innovative new European cafe in Sarasota, Florida, is my kind of place.
It is small, unassuming, and tucked into an annex in the Coral Cove Mall along South Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Yet, is has character… the simple old world charm of a corner cafe.
The staff, and hostess, Joanna, is personable and knowledgeable, the service perfect.
The classically trained chef, Kris Chinielewski, originally from Poland, was a chef in my Connecticut hometown to rave reviews.
Now Kris is the chef-owner of the Dream Cafe. A dream come true for Kris, as well as many happy customers. The food lovers I met, with oohs and ahhs for the dishes, were local, U.S. visitors and natives from Eastern Europe.
It is, always, all about the food. I have been twice in the same week and cannot wait to return. Every tasty morsel is made fresh, in house. There was no opening of a freezer door, or the rattle of a can… only the intoxicating aromas of authentic ingredients, made to order, hot and delicious.
Although there are delightful German, Russian and Hungarian influences (the cabbage rolls are the best I have ever tasted), I think of Kris’s innovations as Polish country, comfort food. Many folks come for the homemade pierogis, filled with meat or sauerkraut and mushrooms.
Whether you order the already famous Golabki (stuffed cabbage)…hot and sizzling from pan to plate… with homemade potatoes and beet salad, or the goulash…rich, thick and oniony, with potato pancakes you are first treated to freshly made bread with cucumber, yogurt and garlic dip. Then one, two or perhaps three sides of crispy, colorful, salads complete the plate.
The Greek salad is filled with fresh cucumbers, juicy red tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, black olives, crisp green lettuce and feta cheese… a meal in itself and the perfect summer lunch.
My other favorite lunch or starter is the Chlodnik soup… Polish cold soup with sour cream, yogurt, small, sweet, young, garden beets, cucumbers and radishes.
Another new taste sensation was the hot noodles, a cross between a noodle and a dumpling, free formed, melt in your mouth delicious with only a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Dream Cafe serves domestic and European wine and beer, Perrier, tea and coffee. My mellow French red wine of the house was perfect for every course.
I never made it to dessert, although I heard raves for the hot poached pear in rich chocolate sauce served with vanilla ice cream.
Just another reason to return to Dream Cafe the third time in one week.
And now I am going to break one of my few rules as a food writer, and former NYC food critic… I never mention price. For me, it is only about the chef and the taste. However, The Dream Cafe is the best value that I have found in all of Florida.
To my knowledge Dream does not advertise, but they do have a website, dreamcafe.com. I found Dream Cafe by word of mouth. It is located at 7252 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231. There telephone number is 941 923-4511 and you can e-mail [email protected] I will return for a more deliciously authentic Eastern European tastes. But if you’re in the area, just follow your nose.
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