Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Japanese and Thai at a Slow Pace

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Japanese and Thai at a Slow Pace

Article excerpt

As an attention grabber, the name of The Drunken Poet Cafe certainly works, although on my visit I encountered neither drunkenness nor poetry. What I did find was an attractive restaurant where both the food and the service wobbled in quality, but not too seriously so.

The Drunken Poet certainly pleases the eye. It's a large high- ceilinged room using an industrial design above, except in this case the ductwork is painted a cheerful white rather than the severe black you usually find in this layout.

The color scheme adds to the cheer, with walls in shades of cayenne, pumpkin and apple green. Details like a string of small paper globes festooned above the front window and miniature parasols hanging from the lights contribute to the overall effect.

The Drunken Poet bills itself as specializing in Thai and Japanese cuisine, the latter mostly showing up in sushi offerings and some teriyaki dishes.

We tried a Spicy Tuna Roll ($5.50) -- it acts as a measuring stick -- to start and found it satisfactory enough. The tuna itself had a good, firm consistency, nice solid pieces, not the mushy ones you sometimes find, but the rest needed perking up. The restaurant uses a 1-5 scale of spiciness, with an afterburner option of Thai Hot, which was what we requested. On this one the kitchen needed Emeril to come in and tell them to kick it up a notch.

The Sea Urchin ($7.75) delighted me with its creamy unctuousness, but the Albacore ($4.25), a mild tasting cut, suffered from dryness.

The Drunken Poet deserves credit for carrying Hamachi Kama ($9.95), grilled yellowtail collar, among its appetizers. For a long time in the U.S. this cut went in the discard pile, but its popularity in Japan stirred interest here. It's a bit bony, but the reward for that is a deeply flavorful fish. My serving had the flavor but had been a tad overcooked so that it was on the dry side. …

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