Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Alternative Hospital Cuisine

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Alternative Hospital Cuisine

Article excerpt

Bashing "hospital food" sort of misses the point. The hospital isn't trying to wow you with flavor; it just wants to give you some fuel to get through whatever it is you're going through. Take what's being served at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Mother-Baby Unit these days.

A holiday-themed dish of turkey cooked in the style of roast beef isn't going to set the world on fire, but you know what? The salty, juicy hunks of meat are tasty, providing a solid dose of protein in a simple broth. On the side sit some plain steamed peas and carrots and a dollop of scalloped potatoes, light on the cheese and dairy. Would I order it in a restaurant? No. But my plate is packed with enough nutrients to get me through another evening, and that counts for a lot.

But say you, like me, are craving something a bit more flavorful during your hospital stay. That's what 1700 South is for. The cafe is located on the hospital's first floor and is open crazy hours, from 7 a.m. till 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the weekends, perfect for odd-hour grazing and decompressing.

1700 South's main function is to keep the hospital caffeinated -- that much is clear. Scrubbed-up nurses sip Starbucks on their breaks, while a white-coated doctor takes notes on an iPhone while slurping foam from a cappuccino. Family members balance multiple drinks in each hand as they scoot carefully back to their loved ones' rooms.

While a big bowl of fruit reminds you that you're in a hospital and that you should be eating healthy, 1700 South also displays its impressive of pastries and sweets. A raspberry scone ($2) is terrific, nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. More decadent is the cafe's seven-layer bar ($2.25): butterscotch and chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and shreds of coconut mixed up and set atop a graham cracker crust. On top lie stripes of chocolate, the surface studded with walnuts. It's so sweet my teeth hurt, and I mean that in a good way.

1700's desserts are actually well-regarded enough that the shop sells whole takeout pies around the holidays. A flyer by the register promotes Thanksgiving delicacies like a pumpkin cheesecake ($15. …

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