This was my first time visiting the Ritz-Carlton, and it is one gorgeous resort hotel.
(photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota website)
Rather than get a babysitter, I ditched Chad in favor of taking the other Caroline as my date.
We were ushered through the opulent lobby of the Ritz-Carlton…
to the curtained-off entrance of the brand new Jack Dusty restaurant.
It’s was not yet open to the public (opens this week!), so we felt lucky to get this sneak peek of the beautiful restaurant.
We were immediately greeted by a very happy waiter serving custom cocktails and wine.
Darn you stupid Whole30 with your “no alcohol” rule! I really wanted one of these cocktails with a raspberry on top, which was three kinds of rum, red wine, and a pomegranate infusion.
Luckily I had the other Caroline there to do all my taste-testing and to rub it in.
I knew that I would not be able to eat many of the things being offered due to my Whole30, but when a waiter described the ingredients of this ceviche topped with plantain, I had found something I could taste!
And it was delicious. I snagged a few more of those throughout the evening.
The other Caroline (it’s actually pronounced “Carolyn” in case you didn’t realize that, and why would you) got to try one of these fried green tomatoes topped with crab.
She really seemed to like it, but whatever. My Whole30 willpower was standing firm.
We were highly entertained by the DJ who I’m pretty sure thought he was Chris Brown.
While it was still light outside, we decided to check out the patio.
The view out there was amazing.
It was a gorgeous evening, perfect for dining al fresco.
When I took the following photo I yelled up at the guy you can barely make out about four stories up to “Smile!”
I think he just frowned more deeply.
As we ventured back inside in search of more food and beverages we took a loop around the bar area which is a focal point in the center of the restaurant.
Well hello there mermaid.
The bar included a raw bar…
where I found something else I could eat. Oysters!
I also found my cocktail for the evening:
The other Caroline tried caviar for the first time.
Right around this time I had my Whole30 slip up. I tried a bite of sashimi, afterwards realizing that it had soy sauce on it.
I swear the bite that I had did not taste like soy sauce at all! But dang, it was good.
Then I saw something that I KNEW I could eat…olives!
I may have eaten a dozen or so. Many were stuffed with roasted garlic. Mmmmm.
As the evening progressed things got crowded around the bar.
Everyone seemed to be having a great time and we kept making loops through the restaurant and back out onto the patio.
I met the executive chef, Jeff Thomas, aka “Chef Gator”.
I also ran into my friend Kat of Sneakers and Fingerpaints.
We got up close and personal with King Neptune.
Kat and her cute husband on the patio, where the view may be even more gorgeous at night:
About this time there were waiters walking around with trays full of desserts…
that we couldn’t eat! They were just for looks, and the waiter gave us an explanation of each of them.
Ice cream in a tin, beignets, chocolate cake in a jar, some kind of English toffee in a cauldron (?), sorbet on a stick, and I can’t remember what that was in the far back left. But my Day 13 Whole30 brain was thinking that it needed it.
They were passing around ice cream cookie sandwiches which were not off limits for the other Caroline, and although she tried to resist (why???), she finally caved in and had one.
She said they were good but would have been better if the cookies had been soft instead of crunchy.
Brett, the Yelp Tampa Bay community manager, seemed to think they were pretty good.
Brett is the one who arranges all of these amazing Yelp events for us here in Tampa Bay, and he outdid himself once again. Thanks Brett!
The other Caroline tried one more cocktail just to make me jealous…
and then we called it a night.
We left with goody bags from Jack Dusty…
When I got home I opened the bag to discover that we had been given a Jack Dusty t-shirt.
Expect to see this shirt at Bodypump soon.
So, do you know the answer to this question?
If not, let me tell you about this neat little website called Google.com . It knows EVERYTHING!
Thanks for being my date CC! You are the best. And thanks to the Ritz-Carlton, Jack Dusty, and Yelp Tampa Bay for a fun evening with my bestie.