The makeover that turned Christopher’s on Lido into Lido Beach Grille was, in the main, a success. And if views figure prominently in your plans for an evening out, you’ll swoon over this restaurant’s lofty perch on the eighth floor of Lido Beach Resort.
The bar, staffed by affable pros, looks north through a wall of glass along a grand sweep of beach. At sunset, this is a very fine place to be. The drinks, including good wines by the glass, are well priced, too.
The dining room shares some of the bar view, and its big east-facing windows overlook treetops, a slice of bay and a pretty impressive array of high-rise architecture downtown. If you haven’t seen Sarasota from such a vantage lately, you may be surprised to see how urban our town looks these days.
At table, we found uniformly excellent service and uneven execution of dishes from a fairly ambitious menu. First, the standouts.
From the appetizer list comes a bright idea called a tasting of lump crab martinis ($13). This delight features three miniature martini stems, each brimming with fresh crab meat sauced in a different way: citrus chive, tomato horseradish and mango lime. All three sauces are light and lively, performing their roles as enablers flawlessly.
The Vietnamese spring rolls ($8) served across the table were perfectly OK, if not memorable.
When it came to entrées, which we paired with a fine Albariño nicely priced at $30, the hands-down winner was half a perfectly pan-roasted, succulent free-range chicken served prettily on a plate washed in a yummy whole-grain mustard demi glace ($20). Along for the ride came adorable little lemon spaetzle dumplings, warmed whole teardrop tomatoes and crisp green beans. Bravo.
Again, across the table the results were not quite so pleasing. The idea behind the vegetarian “Zen Palate” ($20) is laudable, but its execution fails to live up to its inspiration. Half the collection of veggie-based morsels arrayed in a compartmented bento box were excellent (light and puffy sweet potato croquettes, grape leaves stuffed with herbed rice and alive with mint, and a wedge of “B-B-Q” tofu with a fiery dipping sauce) and half were forgettable (soggy triangles of vegetable bits that aspired to the status of terrine and blandly stuffed gyoza dumplings fried to a tooth-chipping hardness along their seams).
Dessert was a ricotta cheese fritter under stewed blueberries ($7) that Colette liked better than I did. Me, I was happy that I opted for a very good Irish coffee ($8.50) instead.
Lido Beach Grille
700 Ben Franklin Drive in Lido Beach Resort (ask for directions in the hotel lobby or you’ll never find the right elevator bank)
Dinner 5-10 p.m. every evening; Sunday brunch 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
V, MC, AMEX, Discover, Diners Club
Full bar and wine list
Parking on street or in hotel garage