Libby’s Tuna Tataki Never Disappoints

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Pictured: Pictured: Libby’s tuna tataki is a playful tower of Asian-infused guacamole surrounded by sush-grade tuna in a bright and inviting ginger, soy vinaigrette sauce. Photo taken by Kevin Allen.

I wasn’t completely sold on living in Lakewood Ranch for the first couple of years we lived here. We were kind of stuck out in what was, at the time, the far reaches of this ever-sprawling town that loves to remind its residents that it’s one of America’s fastest growing planned communities. Having just moved back here from Chicago, Lakewood Ranch felt … sparse. There were a few pleasant dining options in downtown Lakewood Ranch, but we knew if we wanted a great meal, we’d need to head into Sarasota or St. Petersburg.

And then, a ray of sunshine: Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie.

Ahh, Libby’s. The crown jewel of the corner of University Parkway and Lorraine Road, with its bright, inviting decor full of natural light. Its menu is speckled with spiffed-up American classics and some of my favorite vegan and seafood options. I could not have been more excited when it opened. The culinary scene was on the upswing in my newly adopted home when Libby’s opened its doors in November 2019. It was tough to get a reservation. We only ate there a couple of times before, well … the pandemic hit and we found ourselves restaurant shy.

Still wanting to support local businesses and craving their entire flippin’ menu, Libby’s became our takeout go-to during the height of the pandemic. And my favorite dish — the one that made me feel a sense of normalcy, that made me confident we could weather the storm as long as I could have it — was the tuna tataki.

I revisited the dish — in person, thankfully — on a recent visit with my family. It’s as playful as ever. A tower of guacamole is topped with microgreens and crispy wontons, creating a joyous Mexican-Asian fusion. A phalanx of sushi-grade tuna surrounds the guac, and it all sits in a bed of sesame vinaigrette sauce with a beautiful balance of sesame, soy and ginger flavors.

I paired it this time with the 3 Day Weekend cocktail, which pairs Skyy vodka with St. Germaine liqueur, Triple Sec, grapefruit and lime. Together, the tataki and cocktail comprised what I can only describe as a quintessential summer moment.

The tataki is on the appetizer menu, but for me was plenty as my main course. And as I looked around at my neighbors and enjoyed the time with my family and thought about where we were in our lives, I found myself thankful to live where we do. The skepticism has given way to optimism. Was it tuna tataki that did the trick? I can’t give it all the credit, but it surely helped.

Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie, Lakewood Ranch, 8445 Lorraine Rd., Sarasota, 941- 357-1570

Pictured: Pictured: Libby’s tuna tataki is a playful tower of Asian-infused guacamole surrounded by sush-grade tuna in a bright and inviting ginger, soy vinaigrette sauce. Photo taken by Kevin Allen.

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