After undergoing a $22 million re-design and renovation, Hyatt Regency Sarasota’s Currents restaurant has re-emerged as a contemporary and chic dining spot. The lively colors and simple décor that greet diners are a breath of fresh air. One of my dining companions said she felt as if she were on vacation — which is a nice feeling after a long workday.
After a stop at the bar, we were seated at a window table and were quite impressed with the atmosphere and décor — despite the lack of a of crowd. The long, communal tables on the top level were appealing, especially if you are with a big group, but we preferred the water view (even if it is somewhat blocked by the Boathouse restaurant). Our service was excellent from the beginning, and we were ready to dig into the Floribbean menu, which focuses on local ingredients with Cuban and Caribbean influences.
We started out with the small-plates menu, and although buffalo wings seemed an out-of-place item, we had received a recommendation by foodie and chef Judi Gallagher, so we went for it. Although expensive for wings ($11), the sweet, honey barbecue sauce, with a kick of Louisiana hot sauce made this a great starter. We felt a bit strange eating with our hands and licking our fingers in an upscale restaurant, but it was worth it.
We also tried the Florida spring roll ($14), filled with crabmeat and accompanied by habanero-pineapple dipping sauce. The crab-lovers at the table loved the roll, but we all agreed that it could have used more of a dipping sauce, not just a decorative swoop on the plate.
For entrées, one diner ordered a Brazilian nut salad ($12), with baby greens, hearts of palm, orange, avocado and shaved Brazilian nuts topped with passion-fruit-mango vinaigrette. She was impressed with the fresh salad and pleased with the proportion. The next entrée seemed to follow an unfortunate trend we’ve come across — chefs afraid of too much flavor. Two diners ordered the shrimp-and-scallop linguine ($26), which was tossed with Meyer lemon cream and topped with Romesco sauce. They both agreed that either the seafood or the pasta needed more flavor because it was too bland.
The final entrée was the grilled mojo chicken ($22), with warm tomato-and-corn salad, black-bean coulis and cilantro crème fraîche served with sweet-potato sticks. This dish was different, and the chicken was cooked perfectly. However, the hit of the night was the sweet-potato sticks, which everyone tried to grab from the plate.
Although the dessert bar was appealing, we were even more enthralled by the Häagen-Dazs ice-cream menu and we agreed on the chocolate ice cream tiramisu ($9), with espresso-laced ladyfingers and to-die-for whipped cream, and the apple tart with dulce de leche ice cream ($9), which featured a delectable, warm tart. The desserts were the right proportion and a refreshing ending to the meal.
Currents (and the Hyatt Regency Sarasota in general) is a chic spot and could easily be the hot, new gathering space. You don’t have to stay at the hotel to experience it — locals, get over there and pretend you’re on vacation.
Where: 1000 Blvd. of the Arts, Sarasota
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week
Renovated and renamed in 2008
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
All major credit cards accepted
Meeting up after-work for drinks and small plates
Communal dining and dessert bar
Order this: Buffalo wings ($11)
What We Said:
“Walt’s is a family business … and not surprisingly, Walt’s has had a busy season. If you want fancy, buy your fish from the market and fix it at home. In town, Walt’s is in a category of its own; it is what it is and darn proud of it.” — Walt’s Fish Market and Restaurant, Sarasota
“While the food isn’t over-the-top or extravagant, Hillview Grill provides a menu full of variety with dishes for everyone, along with good service and a convenient location, which together is the perfect combination.” — Hillview Grill, Sarasota
“If you’re looking for a great late-night spot or just a quality meal with friends, try the Haye Loft. Euphemia Haye’s brochure says, “Experience bar food as it is now meant to be.” You will not be disappointed.” — Euphemia Haye, The Haye Loft, Longboat Key
“The star of our evening was braised lamb shank … we did not find it over-sauced, and it was not at all greasy, as this dish can sometimes be. The beetroot risotto was perfection.” — Arosa, Sarasota