Knick’s Tavern is a mainstay of the southside Sarasotan restaurant scene. Over ten years I have eaten there numerous times. The consistency and quality of food and service is remarkable, and quite worthy of some praise.
Some mysteries will last forever. Why did Yoko marry John? Does Bigfoot really only drink IPA? And just what is all the fuss about soccer?
One easily solved mystery is that of what makes a successful restaurant. A long-lived and well-regarded restaurant will have the following:
~ food of consistent quality prepared from fresh ingredients,
~ competent, thoughtful service, and
~ clean and inviting premises.
Easy, right? Well, no. The rise of the celebrity chef, the celebrity restaurateur and the celebrity sommelier (!) pushes the journeymen-style eateries back into the shadows. Food Network stars cash in while the people who actually cook our food day-to-day receive less and less attention.
I blame that IQ-shrinker, the television. The big-named restaurants get all the glory because of their marketing machines. Most of us will never set foot in one of them, let alone eat food prepared by The Big-Named Chef. After all, they’re off making yet another tv show. (A theme at work here?)
So how can you turn your back on the glitz and focus more clearly on your own neighborhood? Start by having a meal or a drink at Knicks. As others noted, this place is the kind of solid local restaurant that deserves more of the limelight.
For example, whomever is in the kitchen manages all the fundamentals – that consistency thing. No, the menu’s not flashy, but frankly, neither are you.
Wouldn’t you prefer a caesar salad that you know has been thoughfully prepared every time instead of some weird molecular globule? Can we put a price on a juicy prime rib that’s done just so on every visit? And only when you don’t receive it (at that fancy place) do you notice how seamless and calm the service is here, and how the folks listen to what you’re saying.
Food preparation is a bespoke production line, if you follow me. The same dish might go out thirty times in a night, but the truly great kitchens manage to make each one taste as if it’s made just for you.
So while big city joints might be deconstructing bacon and eggs into dessert, Knick’s will welcome you with a smile and a drink, a table and a menu, and your dinner just as you remember it. Oh, and they’ll get all seven of your dining companions’ plates to your table simultaneously.
It’s not easy, but they make you think it is.