The Lazy Ballerina Bistro will put a spring in your step – but don’t think that the name has anything to do with ballet. The term “lazy ballerina” is part of the vernacular of the wine industry. It refers to a type of trellis system a grape vine grows on.
This beautifully restored residence-turned-restaurant opened its doors with a soft opening on February 8th. Becky Kern-Garbus and Rae Ellen Hayo are the two masterminds behind this laid-back wine bar with a southern charm. Don’t believe for a second that food selection is an afterthought, though.
Every dish we ordered on our first visit was comparable to some of the best restaurants around. Becky and Ellen recruited Chef Gary Trant, former Executive Chef at River Wilderness Golf and Country Club, to create the menu with them and run the kitchen.
Becky has a lumber business and Rae Ellen is a realtor, but they still had time to bring this beautiful concept to life. Rae Ellen tells me they were chatting one day when they realized that Bradenton needed a place to meet and casually enjoy a glass of wine and some good food without having to drive out to the island, Anna Maria that is, or battling the parking limitations of the downtown area.
Literally the next day, they focused on this property until they got it. The property wasn’t on the market but they recognized its potential. It has plenty of parking, it’s near downtown, and it has a welcoming feel to it. They both worked together on this project for about 3 years, battling the struggles of Covid, personal setbacks, and supply chain shortages. Today, they’re proud of their accomplishment and are ready to present how they’ve brought their vision to life.
This location was once home to the popular Latte Luna, which closed in 2018. After an extensive renovation, the restaurant space has a welcoming feel with a large bar area in the center room, where you can relax with a glass or bottle of wine.
Smaller tables line up the enclosed front porch and a private dining area occupies a side sunroom. Colorful and comfortable stools line the bar, and matching cushioned chairs are arranged with small tables for casual conversation and farm-style tables for dining. Our table was on the sun porch, this room is arranged with a long banquette on one side and chairs on the opposite side. It’s a very comfortable and relaxed setting.
This evening, we started with wine and some appetizers. Their wine selection includes a solid selection of red, white, rose, and sparkling wines. The menu has a strong southern comfort food influence and it offers Starters, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Flatbreads, Small Plates, and Desserts.
We had the Deviled Eggs and French Onion Soup to start. Both were delicious. The deviled eggs are traditional in preparation but flavorful in their execution and presented on a bed of arugula. There were also several other appetizers that I’m looking forward to tasting – for example, Pimento Cheese Fritters served with pepper jelly or Hoecakes (cornmeal cakes served with crème fraiche and scallions).
The Prime Rib Sandwich is a dish I plan to order soon and the Ultimate Grilled Cheese, which my friend ordered, was highly recommended. This grilled cheese sandwich is served on thick slices of sourdough bread with melted gouda cheese, caramelized Florida sweet onions, and sautéed portobello mushrooms.
On this visit, we settled on a couple of “Small Plates,” which I have to tell you are not actually that small at all. We enjoyed the Open Faced Meatloaf and the Steak & Frites. The meatloaf is served on a buttermilk biscuit with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans. It was all ground beef, no fillers, just as you would make at home. The Steak & Frites was something else too, a generous steak with crispy herb-roasted multi-colored potatoes.
You can never leave a southern table without dessert, and we certainly didn’t resist. We ordered the homemade Bread Pudding a la mode and Carrot Cake, which is made with Rae Ellen’s own recipe. The cake was moist and soft and the cream cheese frosting was just perfect.
We all enjoyed the hospitality, good service, and great dishes at The Lazy Ballerina. It’s a refreshing spot among the busy hustle of Manatee Avenue. A place where you can unwind and meet a friend, make new friends, or simply sit back and relax.
Now is a great time to remind ourselves that local businesses are what define our community. I’m so glad to be able to share this excellent dining experience with all of you.
The Lazy Ballerina Bistro is located at 2715 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 pm – 9:00 pm and later on the weekends. They are closed Sunday and Monday. You can reach them at 941-920-6126 for reservations.