We’ve been waiting, and waiting, and well waiting for the new Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie Lakewood Ranch to open its doors and were elated when we learned that it was opening on November 7th. We finally made it out to experience it this past weekend after attending service at Bayside. Now mind you, it was one of the coldest evenings we’ve had this season (around 55°), so you could imagine how surprised we were to see the side doors wide open when we pulled into the parking lot. No outside heaters, no walls or overhead covering to shield from weather or wind — yet surprisingly, people were on the “patio” sipping on wine and engaged in conversation. Now it doesn’t take a huge drop in temperature for me to start bundling up… being here for 20 years and trying to put those cold Pennsylvania winters behind me, anything under 75° is cold to me! I’m sure the snow birds that have come south for the winter thoroughly enjoyed the warmth of our cooler 55°.

Stella Draft, Meiomi Pino Noir and Don Julio on an Ice Block

As we entered, we were greeted by a couple of very friendly hostesses — very attentive and both adorning genuine smiles. There didn’t seem to be an empty table within sight, and only a few guests waiting to be seated. We were told a 20 minute wait was ahead of us as there were quite a few tables squaring up their tabs. So we found the bar which was also full (6 stools at the most), but were fortunate enough to have a server wait on us beyond the bar. As she was getting our drinks, two seats opened up, so of course we nabbed them — right beside the open doors! I thought I was going to freeze to death and was pleasantly surprised at just how comfortable the temperature was inside. No breeze. No chill. It was actually perfect!!

Dr. Pepper Ribs with Creamy Mac N Cheese

The bartender had a great personality, but unfortunately, no name tag — and we never did have the opportunity to get his name. The bar had plenty of elbow room so we decided to stay here for dinner; we asked for menus and informed the hostess that we would not need to be seated. As questions came from the patrons beside us, the bartender seemed very versed in the menu, able to give recommendations either based on his own experiences or those that others shared with him. The menu showcased starters, soups, salads, pasta and mains — Vegan and gluten-free options were clearly noted. We started with the Crispy Brussels and Lemon Tree Aoili — and were very pleased with the portion size, presentation and flavor. For our main course, David ordered their Dr. Pepper Ribs and I kept it light with their Grilled Tuna and Green Beans (the chef veggie of the day). The ribs were very tender and fell off the bone and David loved the flavor — mind you I don’t meat so I didn’t sample them ;). He upgraded his coleslaw and fries to their Creamy Mac N Cheese which the bartender shared was super delish! The tuna was seared perfectly, raw on the inside just like I like it and the grilled lemon added that perfect finish.

Grilled Tuna with Green Beans

We decided to indulge in an after dinner drink — David enjoyed a nice Don Julio Tequila with an ice “block” and I was craving a nice chilled Disaronno. Needless to say I was very disappointed to learn that they don’t carry that brand behind the bar. There was one choice for Amaretto, so I opted for another glass of their Meiomi Pino Noir. They sold out of the Josh Cellars Craftsmen and house Cabernets, so this evening I punted and tried something new.

Overall, it was a pleasant experience — the staff were friendly, the food was tasty and cooked well and the ambiance was quite nice. We learned that they are now opened for lunch and started Sunday Brunch — which has us both excited… $10 endless Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm. A nice place to escape to just a few minutes outside the gates of The Concession — maybe we’ll see you there sometime! Enjoy!