The restaurant is huge and boasts an open-air atmosphere with large windows and many tables partially inside and outside. The decor is somewhat tropical and historic, since the restaurant itself dates back to 1905.
The menu is very large, with everything from red meat dishes to pastas, chicken, and lots of seafood. Florida is known for its grouper, and the restaurant showcases many different grouper entrées.
You'll find an extensive wine list bound in a heavy book, with prices all over the board, from $28 a bottle to over $800 a bottle. We enjoyed the Cakebread Cabernet at $80, and I also had a glass of Carmen Souvignon Blanc (private label) for only $6 that was very good.
I enjoyed the mahimahi that came with fried plantains (plantos) and yuca potatoes (many might not like these if they are used to regular mashed potatoes, as these are much more dense). It also came with what the restaurant calls "good rice," served with almost every entrée. It's a type of wild rice with a soy-tasting flavor. It is, in fact, very good. The fish was a large filet with a citrus dipping sauce similar to lemon juice.
The Syngria seemed to be a tradition, along with the 1905 salad that is made at the table.
The restaurant is able to accompany large groups, although a reservation is highly suggested.
Give yourself time to see the shops around the restaurant. St. Armands is a very nice area.
Results 1-7of 7 Reviews
February 28, 2005
From journal Weekend Trip to Sarasota, Florida
by Laura Z
Somewhere in NJ
February 13, 2004
You can't visit Sarasota without enjoying at least one meal at Columbia's. You can dine outside on the sidewalk and watch the action on St. Armand's Circle or inside in a more elegant setting. Don't expect to be seated when you arrive unless you come early or late. I like getting there around 5pm so that I can watch the crowds descend from my perfect seat. Lunch is also wonderful, and a great way to have that famous 1905 salad made at your table (lettuce, Swiss cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, etc., etc.)
For dinner, I ordered a steak for my young sons to share. Not only did the waiter serve them the steak in seperate dishes, saving me the trouble of splitting it, he actually cut the steak into small pieces for them at the table! This was the first and only time anyone has made my dining such a relaxed and easy experience!
After eating at Columbia's in Sarasota, I made a point of also trying the Columbia's in Celebration, by Orlando. It was equally good, same menu and same excellent service.
Before you leave Sarasota, make sure you pick up a bottle of the 1905 dressing at the restaurant's gift shop. They also sell the special sangria (with the little bull hanging from the label), which is difficult to buy elsewhere. Why not splurge and get one of their souvenir ceramic pitchers so you'll be able to recreate your wonderful trip when you're home? It helps satisfy the craving...a little!
Monday - Saturday (11am - 11pm)
Sunday (12 noon - 10pm)
Open 365 days a year.
Full bar and children's menu available.
For more information, check out their website.
From journal Sarasota -- The Ins and Outs You Need to Know
January 26, 2004
It didn't take us long to make up our minds as to what we wanted.
We started with the Columbia's 1905 salad with its world famous salad dressing and Merluza, "Rissian Style." Our server, Nikki, mixed our salad right at our table. The 1905 salad is a mixture of crisp lettuce, with julienne of smoked ham, natural swiss cheese, fresh tomatoes, olives, grated romano cheese and topped off with the restaurant's famous garlic dressing.
"Delicious" is the best way to describe the salad, which is served with fresh, hot Cuban bread. Both the Cuban bread and the salad dressing are available for purchase in the gift shop next door.
Our Merluza arrived just as we were finishing up our salads.
This dish was created in the 1930's by the restaurant's famed chef, Francisco Pijuan, and is a delicate white fish that is lightly seasoned with Cuban bread crumbs and then pan fried and toppped with lemon butter, chopped egg and parsley. The dish is served with yellow rice, that is also available in the gift shop. This was not the first time for me to have merluza and it will definitely not be the last, as it was just as good or not better than the last time I had it at the St. Augustine location.
The Sarasota location was opened in 1959 and is the oldest restaurant in the city. The restaurant is open 365 days a year and serves lunch and dinner.
From journal Sarasota - a crowded place over the holidays
July 9, 2003
The restaurant has open sides leading to its patio seating, which affords you the benefits of air conditioning and people watching at the same time. The menu is Cuban (and Russian) inspired. It is a very popular spot, so I would recommend making reservations.
From journal Sarasota, Florida
February 13, 2003
From journal Lido Key, Relax, Restore and Recreate
October 9, 2002
From journal HAVE YOU REALLY SEEN LONGBOAT KEY
October 15, 2000
From journal Come to Sarasota to enjoy, relax, eat well and escape.