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The Scenestress crows over The Blue Rooster

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This funny little guy greeted us at the entrance to the new restaurant.

This funny little guy greeted us at the entrance to the new restaurant.

I waited for what felt like a month of Sundays for last weekend evening, when The Blue Rooster (1525 4th St., Sarasota, 388-7539, blueroostersrq.com) finally opened to the public. I skipped the Saturday soft open with rocking Americana group Radio-Free Carmela and the Transmitters, hoping to make my first experience a regular night as an average patron ... one I guessed to be an often-repeated treat.

I corralled Mr. Date into an early dinner, thinking that there'd be a line around the block right at 5 p.m. The previous night's revelries must have satisfied a lot of appetites, however, as we didn't meet any resistance getting in the door. I'm glad there wasn't anyone charging in immediately behind us, because I had to stop and take it all in.

The Blue Rooster is cavernous, every polished wood surface gleaming warmly. My eyes traveled the long, long line of the bar, across the sea of tables and finally landed on the stage. Steve Arvey was bustling around up there, setting up the PA and his pedals while the pearl-gray light from a dimming afternoon filtered in through the tall windows behind him.The very pretty hostess asked if we preferred to sit close to the music or farther back in the hall -- you can surely guess which option I took.

The hearty Brunswick stew before Mr. Date and I demolished it. There was some contention over who got the bigger half of the mashed potato scoop.

The hearty Brunswick stew before Mr. Date and I demolished it. There was some contention over who got the bigger half of the mashed potato scoop.

Steve tuned up while we ordered a round of drinks. Our waitress was charming and very attentive, and treated us like we were sitting at her own kitchen table. Mr. Date had himself a beer; Southern belle that I am (when I'm not being a hell-raiser), I went for the mint julep without a moment's hesitation. The slender glass was redolent of the cool, green leaves muddled in the bottom, and a splash of soda water made it sparkle on the palate. They really got it  right.

Mr. Date and I took the edge off our appetite with a bowl of the Brunswick stew, rich and swimming with butter beans. I almost licked the bowl clean. Then we settled in for a serious and prolonged chow-down. Mr. Date's burger came on a hat-sized bun, and he gallantly handed me the skewer dressed with an okra pickle and cherry tomato. I had opted for the crawfish pasta dish, the full name of which I can barely pronounce. It was spicy and creamy, studded with chunks of thick-cut bacon and none too skimpy on the crawfish. I slurped up the extra-wide noodles in hardly a lady-like fashion.

Between appetizer and entree I was able to drag myself away from the table to snap this picture of Steve Arvey, performing solo at the grand opening.

Between appetizer and entree I was able to drag myself away from the table to snap this picture of Steve Arvey, performing solo at the grand opening.

Steve sang away the entire time while we noshed, one foot tapping on a plank for percussion, the other foot occasionally stomping on a loop pedal while he soloed on top of his rhythm guitar lines. He sounded like a full band up there, with the bass notes booming to the rafters and the high twang of his leads sailing over top. When he wasn't singing, he was talking up the chicken and waffles, which he declared are some of the best he's ever had. That's one of many factors tempting me to return.

As I surveyed the steadily-filling restaurant, I imagined the tables pushed back to make room for a dance floor, the balcony on the second floor crowded with folks egging on their favorite local musicians.

Truth be told, I found one fly in the ointment: When we got our check I blanched, despite the heat from my glass of Cajun Lemonade. I only wish I possessed pockets deep enough to be a Blue Rooster regular, but you bet your sweet somethin' that I'll be back on payday.

Last modified: January 8, 2013
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