Circus Eats

Good Bite

5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota

The Ringling Grillroom at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota opened to rave reviews last month. The goal was to honor the rich history of the Ringling brand and the legacy of John and Mable Ringling with a dining concept as unique as its namesakes. The overall vision and menu were developed by the Metz culinary team in collaboration with executive chef John Metz, Jr., CEO and Co-owner of Marlows Tavern and Sterling Culinary Management. It was inspired by the around the world trips of John and Mable Ringling, who frequently traveled through Europe in search of acts for the circus. SRQ spoke with Chef Chef Curtis Hawk about his culinary background and what guests can expect from their visit to The Ringling Grillroom. 

Hawk, started out by cooking in Italian kitchens, and was schooled and trained in French techniques and cuisine. While most of his background is cooking Mediterranean style food, working in a Cuban restaurant also helped him to expand his palate and has influenced his cooking even to this day. 

SRQ Magazine: With such a visually inventive and creative namesake as inspiration how did you incorporate “whimsical influences from the Circus and Arts” into the food at the new Ringling Grillroom? 

Curtis Hawk: We used our plates as a canvas to bring that namesake to life in our restaurant. We use bright colors on our plates. We feature "Big Top" sandwiches that are over the top in the presentation and ingredients. We did not let anything box us in when we were creating this menu. First and foremost, we made sure we were having fun at all times along the way. 

SRQ: What do you hope guests takeaway for their time at the Ringling Grillroom? How will their experience there be unique? 

CH: I hope they go home feeling like they have been entertained. We want to make them smile and laugh while they enjoy dishes they can't get anywhere else. Everything from Roasted Colorado Lamb to Hong Kong Style Triggerfish. There is something for everyone to love. I don't think you can go anywhere else in this area and enjoy a property as pristine and beautiful as The Ringling.

SRQ: If John and Mable Ringling were to dine at the new restaurant, what do you think they would order and why? 

CH: Well, I hope he would order JR's Crispy Chicken, considering it carries his initials. Mable has world class taste, so I envision her ordering our Ahi Tuna Nicoise, a dish that blends some of our finest and favorite ingredients.

5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota

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