Review: 101 downtown's new dining concept

I remember my first visit to 101 Downtown in 2008. It was a friend's 30th birthday; the place was dripping with style swanky martinis and a very thoughtful variety of dishes. Their mission then was to bring a new fine dining atmosphere to downtown Gainesville - high-quality dishes without the high prices. They accomplished this and while some may say they never left the game I think 101 downtown is back!

This summer on the heels of Gainesville Restaurant Week they launched their new dining concept and if successful I predict 101 Downtown will really put a dent in Gainesville's communal dining experience. I've seen this idea in other metropolises and when asked to sample their new menu I welcomed the opportunity with open arms.

Additions to kitchen favorites are just a part of the changes to the new 101 Downtown menu but the most noticeable thing is the portions. 101 downtown now offers dishes that range from small to extra-large plates allowing guests to enjoy any mix of flavors they desire. They say the menu will change often to reflect seasonal fare and to allow guests to experience a new dining concept with each visit.

While at first the menu may seem daunting as you're now faced with building your own meal that itself is a plus! You can select your own dishes to try or share with your table and in terms of variety I think your money goes a bit further.

Coconut Crusted Lamb Cutlets - a specialty at 101 downtown LET'S DO THE MATH

  • large dinner meat with two sides - $25
  • medium dinner meat with two sides - $18
  • an appetizer - $7
  • two glasses of wine/cocktails - $16

TOTAL= $66 of so-so

Zzzz...a boring two person two plate dinner with drinks that would have been $66 before tax can now turn into a full tasting full course dinner. I say this with confidence because I've done it. Here's how:

First grab someone who likes to eat a "chicken caesar salad" chooser would be a waste to try this with (Yup I said it. Leave the boring eaters at home with their ranch dressing).
Next figure out your shared likes and go to town. Chances are you will agree on a large or extra large dish and can share or split the small items.

On this visit I asked my Gainesville dining soulmate to join me (we like a lot of rich flavors and meats); between us we ordered the Tiger Shrimp Ceviche Avocado Mango Salad (which was more than big enough for two) Coconut Crusted Lamb Delmonio bone-in ribeye with Risotto Di Giorno. All this for guess what - $66!

  • Tiger Shrimp Ceviche - $7
  • Avocado Mango Salad - $6
  • Coconut Crusted Lamb - $11
  • Delmonio bone in ribeye with Risotto Di Giorno - $26
  • two glasses of wine - $16

TOTAL= $66 of tummy-rubbin' awesome!

I could go on and on about the food but really wanted to dedicate this post to the concept. I encourage you to try it on your next visit to downtown Gainesville and let us know what you think.

See photos of these dishes from real guests and more at 101 downtown on Foodspotting and stay tuned to CMC Noms for more reviews.