Arts and Central Adds a Creative Flair to the Rosemary District

Good Bite

Pictured: The tuna poke appetizer is served in a sesame cone with avocado, soy gastrique and garlic red pepper cucumber. Photo by Laura Paquette.

The Rosemary District in Sarasota is experiencing a renaissance, as exciting new businesses move into the area. A new development, called Parkside, on the corner of Central Avenue and Boulevard of the Arts, is bringing several restaurants to the community, including Arts and Central. This 200-seat establishment, where patrons can enjoy an inventive meal in a tranquil indoor or outdoor setting, officially opened yesterday.

Arts and Central is the brainchild of father and son team Dan Henson and Dan Henson Jr. The Henson family has lived around the world, from the United States to Mexico to the United Kingdom. During their travels, they developed an affinity for unique cuisine and toyed with the idea of opening their own eatery. “This was our hot tub conversation for a long time, and we would always come back to ‘We should open a restaurant,’” says Dan Jr. “We fell in love with the vibe of restaurants like this. During COVID, my parents bought an RV, did a cross-country trip and ended up in Sonoma. This kind of restaurant thrives there, where it’s an elevated experience, elevated food and not stuffy. It provides a nice, comfortable atmosphere where you can enjoy fun and creative food at an approachable cost point.” For Arts and Central, the Hensons partnered with Executive Chef Erik Walker, a former engineer who decided to go to culinary school and has since gone on to work at major restaurants across the country.

“We’re really big on supporting the local arts scene, so all the paintings and prints you see are by local artists,” says Dan. “Every lunch menu has poetry by Sarasota-based poets, and every dinner menu has full-colored paintings by local artists. Dan Jr. will host a reception once a month with that month’s artist. It will be open to the public with free wine and hors d'oeuvres where people can meet the artists and get to know them.” On the flip side, the menus feature innovative dishes by Walker, who merges bold flavors with playful presentation. The tuna poke appetizer served in a sesame cone with avocado, soy gastrique (a sweet and sour sauce) and garlic red pepper cucumber, delights both the eyes and palate, as does the “dirty rotten” fruit basket, with seasonal fruit, whipped kimchi mascarpone, quinoa, fermented garlic honey, candied walnuts, herbs and flowers. Meat lovers will adore the sticky finger ribs, as well as the backyard Bahn mi, which features smoked chicken and pork belly pate. “There’s a ton of variety, we’ve got options that are vegan and vegetarian friendly, and a lot of healthy options, but you can also get some prime rib,” Dan adds. The cocktails and mocktails list is also impressive, providing options sure to whet any guest’s appetite. For big flavors with a fun twist, be sure to check out Arts and Central.

Arts and Central, 611 Central Ave., Sarasota, 941-306-2356, artsandcentral.com.

Pictured: The tuna poke appetizer is served in a sesame cone with avocado, soy gastrique and garlic red pepper cucumber. Photo by Laura Paquette.

Arts and Central

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