Expect Florida ingredients interpreted into an “equatorial” menu, nods to Sarasota’s Mid-Century Modern heritage, and an always-unobstructed view of the Gulf in Longboat Key Club’s new restaurants of Latitudes and Banyan Poolside.
We weren’t kidding when we said taking guests on a journey throughout their entire stay was the core philosophy behind The Resort at Longboat Key Club’s recent top-to-bottom renovation, fully completed in December 2020. And while you certainly see that in the memorable arrival experience within the porte-cochère and lobby and sleek, yacht-inspired guestrooms, it was also a big part of the recently refreshed dining concepts of the signature Latitudes restaurant and neighboring Banyan Poolside.
A Design that Salutes Sarasota
The resort’s nod to nautical without being “too nautical” continues in Latitudes’s main dining area, featuring navy blue carpeting with a swirling design reminiscent of the lines on a nautical chart, white paneled walls, and beautiful teak ceilings overhead, including a timber-vaulted ceiling in the lounge that resembles the frame of a boat.
But outside on the expansive deck of Baynan Poolside, it evolves a little. “It feels a bit more Mid-Century Modern,” notes Bob Weil, director of food and beverage who has been with the property for just over 20 years. “And that was very intentional as Sarasota was a big part of this post-World War II architectural movement.” Think flat planes, glass and stone elements, and angular teak awnings that cover both the outdoor bar and Latitudes’s separate outdoor patio space. Even the furniture – from dining tables and chairs to outdoor couches and pillows – boast clean lines, geometric forms, and minimal ornamentation.
Evolving from One-Size-Fits-All Flavors to Oh-So Equatorial Eats
“The previous restaurant, while serving delicious food, was more of a basic three-meal period hotel restaurant,” says Weil. “It was very broad with no real signature vibe.” So that’s something that Weil, who oversaw the development of the new menu and overarching beverage program, especially wanted to address in the new concept, which he describes as ‘equatorial.’
“‘Equatorial’ as in focusing on warm and tropical cuisines – very much like you’d expect from any Florida restaurant – but with more of a world view of it,” he explains. “So not just Caribbean, but anything that falls between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, like touches from Asia, the Mediterranean, Latin America, India, and more.”
Translating That into The Dishes & Drinks
Divided by sharable small plates served in the lounge and Banyan Poolside and a la carte entrées served in the dining room area, the menu is, quite literally, a journey through different tropical cuisines. And that also means the chefs are able to take Florida’s staple ingredients to bold and exciting places. For example, Bigeye Tuna comes in a slider format featuring green apple kimchi and wasabi mayo; Key West lobster tail and Gulf shrimp are served with chorizo, yellow rice, and a sofrito featuring jicama and cilantro; even the veggie burger is a refreshing twist with a ginger cumin garbanzo and black bean patty topped with sliced avocado, tomato, chipotle aioli, crisp onions, and lettuce. And it’s constantly evolving, too.
“Because we are working with seafood from the Gulf of Mexico – whether fish, clams, coastal shrimp, spiny lobster, or others – the seasonality changes, and so must our menu depending on what’s available,” says Weil.
As for what you’re washing everything down with, the beverage and cocktail program mirrors the same worldly emphasis. This includes a wine collection with reserves from South Africa and South America and a cocktail program that uses flavors like cayenne spices, Aztec chocolate bitters, and agave nectar along with your classic rums and tequila. In fact, Banyan Poolside even offers a menu of 25 high-end sipping tequilas to choose from, featuring world-class brands like Grand Mayan and Casa Dragones.
Other Wow Factors
As if the design and new menu weren’t enough, there’s also live entertainment in both Latitudes and Banyan Poolside and a Sunset Happy Hour on Fridays that begins with the ringing of a brass bell beside the pool. But, according to Weil, the entire operation wouldn’t be the same if it were not for those amazing Gulf views. “Previously, the view was obstructed at the pool bar,” he says. “So we positioned everything to have varying elevations, almost like steps, to make sure that the view was maximized from every angle – through Latitude’s wall of floor-to-ceiling windows and the varying spaces of Banyan Poolside.”
Where to Stay The Resort at Longboat Key Club