Lakewood Ranch Polo Grill gets new look, new executive chef, new menu items

srocco@bradenton.comSeptember 25, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Polo Grill and Bar, a Main Street destination for parties and power lunches, is completing a massive renovation project and has named a new executive chef, Stephane Pierre. The restaurant will have its official re-opening Nov. 1.

Among the renovations are an updated look and feel, a smaller main dining room, an additional private dining room called the Tack Room, a revamped, fully stocked 6,000-bottle wine cellar and a new menu.

"We've had a vision ever since we took over this building from the previous owners," said co-owner Jaymie Klauber. "The building was practically new, but we didn't feel like it was complete."

Jaymie and her husband, Tommy Klauber, have traded in a dark color scheme for something much lighter, brighter and more comfortable.

"The restaurant is still going to be considered fine dining, but the surroundings are going to be very approachable," said Chris Kohatsu, director of marketing and communications.

The main dining room has been downsized by half. The back section will become a private dining room able to accommodate as many as 75 guests for parties or meetings.

"That's where the biggest amount of our bookings is," Klauber said. "We have our regular restaurant customers, but we didn't need that many seats. The demand is for parties, seminars, events."

Klauber won't officially reveal any items from the new menu, but will allow that some dishes are inspired by a recent trip to Peru, where Jaymie and her husband, also a chef at the Polo Grill, cooked with Peruvian chefs and learned about the cuisine there.

"We'll freshen it up, but we're going to keep favorites like our sea bass and tuna tacos," Klauber said.

The new executive chef, Pierre, was chosen after a rigorous interview process that involved several interviews and tastings.

"(Pierre) has classic training, but he has modern edges," Klauber said. "The dishes that he presented us in his tasting far exceeded anybody else's that we tried."

Pierre, who has 25 years of culinary experience, began as a fish cleaner in a restaurant in Belgium before working his way up to executive chef for the Royal Family of Brussels, reaching the rank of Certified Master Chef, a prominent designation made by the American Culinary Federation.

The previous executive chef, Andrew Thompson, will open his own restaurant, Roast, at 1296 First St. in Sarasota also on Nov. 1, it was announced Tuesday.

The Polo Grill's grand re-launch party on Nov. 1 will feature hot and cold appetizers, live entertainment, dancing, raffle prizes and giveaways. Tickets for the grand re-launch party are $20 per person.

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.

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