If you don't have enough on your plate with the John's Pass Seafood Festivaland Circus McGurkis this weekend, Sarasota is serving up a food festival Sunday. A Taste of Sarasota will offer samples of the specialties of 30 restaurants, from Crusty Louie's Pizza to the French Hearth, with live music and crafts.
Admission is $2 for adults, with tastes selling for 50 cents to $2. The tasting will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in City Island/Ken Thompson Park (between St. Armands and Longboat Key) in Sarasota. If you're heading south on Interstate 275, take the Fruitville Road exit and head west.
Summaries of recent reviews by Times Restaurant Critic Chris Sherman.
BITE OF EUROPE. This tiny Bohemian bistro is actually a large, affordable helping of Continental charm, borrowed from Eastern Europe as well as France and Italy. Start with baked cheese or soup and duckling or the special sauerkraut goulash. If dumplings or spaetzle aren't included, they're worth ordering a la carte.
_ 14203 Gulf Blvd., Madeira Beach; 397-7465. Beer, wine. No non-smoking section. Prices: $8.90 to 11.30.
COCKLES CAFE. Some of the finest light and creative dining hides in a newish Howard Johnson's. No clam rolls, but do have some of the namesake mollusks. Chefs do striking turns with pasta, seafood and grilled meats by adding fresh herbs and mushrooms, all at affordable prices. Breads and salads are tops.
_ 3600 34th St. S, St. Petersburg, 867-6070; full bar. Non-smoking area provided. Prices, $4.50 to $14.50.
SAM OH JUNG. To find out what sets Korean food apart from other Asian cuisines, try the bul gogi and other beef dishes here or the fish. You'll find four seasons of flavor, from fiery kim chee pickle to sesame and sweets. Most entrees come with a tableful of condiments and rice so you can combine your favorites (there's also sushi for appetizers).
_ 602 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; 871-3233; beer and wine. Prices, $7.95 to $13.95.
NICKEL CITY BAR & GRILLE. At last, the sweet taste of Buffalo in Tampa Bay is more than chicken wings. Here you can feast on beef on 'weck, Locker Room chili, curly fries, blackened hot dogs, Mother's cheesecake and a Friday night fish fry. Wash it down with Molson's or Genesee and you feel you're in a regular neighborhood place, not an imitation. If you can still hear the roar of Niagara, sign your name in the Buffalo book.
_ 7658 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park; 545-9325. Beer, wine served. Prices, $1.95 to $12.95.