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Arts and Entertainment Thursday, May 31, 2018 1 year ago

Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week brings new flavors to locals and tourists alike

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Three chefs participating in Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week share the highlights of their menu.
by: Niki Kottmann Managing Editor of Arts and Entertainment

“Summer” is often a sigh-inducing word for the restaurateurs of Florida’s seaside tourist hubs.

The sweltering months of June, July, August and September bring significantly fewer tourists to Sarasota, and local restaurants take notice via the drop in customer count.

That’s why Visit Sarasota created Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week. From June 1-14, the culinary event consists of more than 90 restaurants serving multicourse meals for a fixed, discounted price. Lunch will be $16 per person and each three-course dinner is $32.

This two-week span of deals gives locals and any tourists braving the heat the chance to sample several restaurants throughout the greater Sarasota area — from Lakewood Ranch down to Englewood — at an affordable price.

We caught up with three Savor Sarasota chefs and a few restaurant owners to learn what they’ll be cooking and what makes the perfect dish.

SHORE

Shore Executive Chef Dylan Elhajoui says when it came time to plan for Savor Sarasota, his wife would say sleep took a backseat.

Shore Chef Dylan Elhajoui’s favorite dish is his Sichuan pepper seared white Pekin duck breast. Photo by Niki Kottmann

“I started jotting down ideas, endlessly researching recipes,” he says. “I would often stay up all night doing so.”

Elhajoui takes Savor Sarasota seriously because he considers it the perfect opportunity to attract new diners and treat his regular customers with fun, surprising dishes. He loves the challenge of pushing the Shore brand while never straying too far from the restaurant’s goal of producing cool, eclectic cuisine, he says. 

His favorite dish on this new menu is Sichuan pepper seared white Pekin duck breast with miso sauteed baby bok choy, pickled kohlrabi, crystallized ginger coconut sticky rice cake and hoisin jus. He’s wanted to put duck on the menu for a long time, he says, and the fresh ingredients and East Asian feel of this dish provided the perfect opportunity.

As for his secret ingredient, Elhajoui says no successful dish is possible without fresh, seasonal and flavorful ingredients that work well together. 

“I love to work on the balance of flavors and add the element of surprise without the dish being weird for the sake of being weird.”

The French lavender-scented buttermilk panna cotta on Shore's Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week menu features moscato d'asti apricot coup and green apple sorbet. Photo by Niki Kottmann

Savor Sarasota Dinner

First course

  • She-crab potato leek soup
  • Roasted Mediterranean vegetable goat cheese mezzelune
  • Kung pao calamari
  • Spiced bosc pear baby arugula salad
  • Shrimp and mango ceviche with guacamole

Second course

  • Sichuan pepper-seared white Pekin duck breast
  • Wood grilled branzino
  • Black truffle four cheese sacchetti
  • Faroe Islands salmon pepper crust
  • Sliced sirloin caprese
  • Grilled heritage pork T-bone
  • Sushi sampler (available Thursday, Friday and Saturday only)
  • Pan seared red snapper
  • Oak grilled aged rib-eye

Third course

  • Baileys Irish Cream and dark chocolate brioche bread pudding
  • Lemongrass marinated strawberries
  • French lavender-scented buttermilk panna cotta

C’EST LA VIE — UNIVERSITY PARK

Myriam and Jean Dandonneau’s Shoppes at UTC location of C’est La Vie opened just a year and a half ago, and they’re excited to transport even more customers to Paris through their second Savor Sarasota menu.

The homemade pate de campagne on C'est La Vie's Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week menu is served with onion jam and blackcurrant cream, pickles and toast. Photo by Niki Kottmann

Most people know them just as a breakfast and lunch place, Jean says, so he hopes this menu can help give their authentic French dinner entrees the exposure they need.

French chefs Michael Deshayes and Arnaud Wallet went back to their roots to create this menu, which features classics already popular in the U.S., such as French onion soup, as well as some lesser-known dishes that are representative of true French cuisine, such as coq au vin.

Coq au vin is chicken stew made with red wine sauce and served with fettuccine pasta. Deshayes says the chicken is marinated for 24 hours with carrots and onions before it’s taken out and cooked for 45 minutes.

His secret? It’s all about the wine.

“The better the wine you put inside, the better the dish will be,” Deshayes says.

C’est La Vie will serve several dinner items for Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week such as a traditional coq au vin. Photo by Niki Kottmann

Savor Sarasota Dinner

Appetizer

  • Cassolette d’escargots
  • Soup of the day
  • Onion soup gratin
  • Homemade pate de campagne

Entree

  • Mussels marinieres or creamy
  • Coq au vin
  • Poulet a la parisienne
  • Complete crepe

Dessert

  • Traditional creme brulee
  • Apple crumble
  • Banana split

THE TABLE CREEKSIDE

Chef Pedro Flores has been with The Table for about 14 years, since before it moved from Hillview Street to its Phillippi Creek location. He calls the cuisine globally inspired, but notes his team likes to include several local items to highlight what the area has to offer.

Chef Pedro Flores says the puebla land and sea dish is another one of his favorites because it combines fresh seafood with oven-roasted beef. Photo by Niki Kottmann

The item perhaps most representative of this on The Table’s Savor Sarasota menu, Flores says, is the stuffed Florida grouper filet. The dish features a creamy pecorino risotto, summer vegetables and grouper stuffed with baby scallops, crabmeat and butter shrimp to create a dynamic entree starring the fish for which Sarasota is most known.

It’s the California vegetable stir fry with baby green beans and red seedless grapes, along with the citrus-flavored sauce, he says, that makes this the perfect dish for summer because it’s refreshing and lighter than it looks.

The way the dish is cooked is what makes it unique, he adds.

“We sear it and bake it very lightly with just a touch of butter, so it keeps all the flavors inside of the fish.”

As for his secret ingredient, Flores says it’s the same for all his dishes: collaboration.

“The way we come up with the menu is always through teamwork,” Flores says, noting that everyone is involved in tasting and offering their opinion — from the dishwasher all the way to the manager. “If you don’t have a good team, you have nothing.”

The Table Creekside Chef Pedro Flores recommends the stuffed Florida grouper filet on his Savor Sarasota menu. Photo by Niki Kottmann

Savor Sarasota Dinner

First Course

  • Barcelona gravlax
  • Calamari octopus cassoulet
  • Mediterranean watermelon salad

Second Course

  • Stuffed Florida grouper filet
  • Puebla land and sea
  • Grilled chicken marrakesh
  • Braised short ribs

Third Course

  • Caramel bread pudding
  • Catalonian chocolate custard

 

I'm the Managing Editor of Arts & Entertainment here, which means I write, edit and share stories about our multifaceted A&E scene in Sarasota. I graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism and a French minor. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 356

See All Articles by Niki

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