Sushi, celebrities, frozen yogurt, McCurdy’s and more.
By Hannah Wallace
So check out how jam-packed with Sarasota-osity my Friday night was: Big J, Little J, CCB and I met up after work at Utamaro for some nori and unagi. For an added bit of flavor, we again saw AC/DC’s Brian Johnson getting his sushi on. I don’t want to start rumors or anything, but the man likes his bang-bang shrimp. I’m just sayin’.
After dinner we walked off the spider rolls, heading down Main Street to Whiteberry, where we were greeted by a selection of fresh fruits, as well as Cliff Roles. You know it’s going to be a good night when you get frozen yogurt and Cliff Roles. He’s such an energy boost, and it’s nice to be recognized with such enthusiasm. Big J and Little J had no idea what to think. Cliff, of course, was excited to see “the famous” CCB and insisted on snapping all of our pictures. (He also spoke warily of the new exercise regimen he and Mr. Chatterbox have embarked upon.) The other patrons must’ve thought we were some kind of sidewalk improv troupe.


Big J, Little J and me at Whiteberry, courtesy of photog Mr. Roles.

After all that deliciousness, we headed down to McCurdy’s. Big J’s birthday is coming up (well, mine is, too, but more about that next week), so he’d landed free tickets through McCurdy’s brilliant mailing-list marketing.


The Famous CCB...perhaps a tad too excited for
chocolate yogurt with Cinnamon Toast Crunch?


So here’s the thing: I’ve been to McCurdy’s at least a dozen times and never had a bad experience. In fact, for a long time I’d never even seen a bad headliner. That whole operation is crackerjack: You’re in, you’re seated, you’re waited on; you’ve got short movies to occupy the pre-show and get the requisite “shut yer hole during the act” message out there; the checks come before the show is done, so once the lights come up you’re on your way.
Unfortunately, they’ve changed some things since we were last there, which led to us standing at the front of the wrong line for 45 minutes before being told to go to the back of a different line, and then to the back of the original line. Combine that with a full bladder and a heat index of 102 (at 9:30 p.m.) and you get a grumpy Hannah. Our waitress was in a fog, too, but the point of the story is, we still had a great time. The headliner—Jon Reep of Last Comic Standing and “That thing got a Hemi?” fame—had us rolling. That place is a wonderful world unto itself.
It’s great, too, to see Sarasota take its licks, to hear Les McCurdy stand up there and warm up the crowd by making fun of things we all experience here. It’s sort of like the hockey locker room attitude—clever, raunchy insults can be heartwarming signs of affection (or so I keep telling myself). Constant praise feels patronizing. And if you can take your worst possible quality and turn it into a joke…well, what’s there to be afraid of then?
So anyway, an evening like that—Utamaro, Whiteberry and McCurdy’s—makes me want to fill a hat with quintessential Sarasota experiences and pick three every time I can’t figure out what to do with myself: Epicure, O’Leary’s and the Palm Avenue Art Walk? The YMCA, Zoria and the Hollywood 20? Salty Dog, Scoop Daddy’s and sunset at Marina Jack? Somebody smack me the next time I settle on Chili’s for dinner.