If you’ve ever visited Wim and Mieke Lippens at the historic 1913 Palmetto Riverside Bed and Breakfast, you may be familiar with the worldly west European flavors of their wine and beer, but now they are offering the same in Palmetto’s newest restaurant.
Dining at Palmetto Riverside Bed and Breakfast offers a journey through history and a meal the way it is not only meant to be eaten, but experienced.
“It feels so different in Europe,” said Jenn Sayko, restaurant manager. “They want you to stay as long as you want instead of looking at their watch wanting to turn the table. They take it as a compliment when you stay and enjoy your meal and that’s what we want here. America needs this. Palmetto needs this. Manatee County needs this.
“Take your time, and if dinner is three or four hours, then wonderful. We want people to come and dine, not just eat. We want it to be an experience, an evening. Not a stop on the way to somewhere else.”
Riverside opened in 2009 with four suites. It now has six and the couple began doing weddings in 2010 while continuing to remodel and expand. The wooden floors are original and the wavy original glass in the windows tell a tale of a simpler time.
Two years ago, Riverside added an outside living room with a fireplace capable of seating up to 40 people. There’s a reason 123 reviewers on Tripadvisor.com rate Riverside with five stars. Now weddings are booked every weekend, which is why the restaurant is only open Monday through Thursday.
Take your time, and if dinner is three or four hours, then wonderful. We want people to come and dine, not just eat. We want it to be an experience, an evening. Not a stop on the way to somewhere else.
Jenn Sayko, restaurant manager at the Palmetto Riverside Bed and Breakfast
“Couples normally check in on Friday for the rehearsal and we want them to feel like home for a couple of days before their big day,” Sayko said. “The weekends are all about them.”
The new restaurant can sit 16 diners and is available by reservation only and can be booked for private parties.
“We encourage a smaller more intimate, more romantic environment,” Sayko said. “But we can accommodate larger groups. We like the experience to be very personal, very intimate.”
With 14 years experience at Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island, chef Stephen Cottet prepares multi-course meals off two small menus. The focus is on perfection, not variety. Cottet said after cooking for a lot of people at once, he can hone in on that perfection cooking for small dinner parties.
“We take American dishes and give them a European flair,” Sayko said. “It’s approachable, but not pedestrian.”
Lippens, who is from Belgium, said the restaurant is something he has always wanted to do. Breakfast always was part of the Riverside experience, and the couple would occasionally cook for guests as requested in the evening.
“But we also had two young daughters that needed attention,” Lippens said. “So we didn’t have enough time to do dinner and the kids, so we decided to take care of the kids first. Now they are older and more independent, so it was time to offer our love of wine and good food where you take your time to dine.”