Sarasota foodies, residents and visitors, alike, are making their lists and checking them twice in anticipation of Savor Sarasota, the annual summer promotion Visit Sarasota County hosts. The organization kicks off its eighth season June 1. Even the most ambitious eater who goes out to lunch and dinner every day for the program’s two weeks won’t be able to sample all the options because there are 45 participating restaurants — the largest number ever. Each one is offering a prix-fixe luncheon of two or more courses for $15 and a prix fixe, three-course dinner for $29.
Decisions, decisions, decisions! Whether ’tis nobler to experience established favorites such as the Bijou Café and Café L’Europe or to experiment with newer places such as The Blue Rooster or Darwin’s on 4th; whether ’tis wiser to go casual to Barnacle Bill’s Seafood (one of 12 newcomers to the program this year) or the Dry Dock Waterfront Grill; or to go for the stature of Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse or Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, visit YourObserver.com for a full list of participating restaurants and visit SavorSarasota.com for menus and more information.
The best news is that it’s hard to go wrong. The remarkable value is everywhere. And restaurants go all-out for this much-anticipated and highly regarded promotion.
Michael’s On East, which has been part of Savor Sarasota since its inception, has created a complete menu for the promotion, an extension of the eatery’s series of monthly epicurean adventures to places as distant as Greece, France and Morocco. For Savor Sarasota, it has made an adventure out of our own backyard, featuring “The light and local coastal cuisine of Sarasota,” according to Executive Chef Jamil Pineda. He calls it, “our own melting pot, influenced by what grows in our climate and Caribbean cuisines including Jamaican, Haitian and more.”
Some examples are:
Lunch entrées … Selby sugarcane-skewered pork tenderloin salad of coffee-rubbed, grilled meat on organic greens with Florida orange segments, oven-dried plum tomatoes, green apples, toasted peanuts and citrus ginger mojo vinaigrette, named in honor of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Arts-y ahi tuna panini on grilled Cuban bread with beefsteak tomato, red onion, leaf lettuce and cheddar cheese, a little doggerel rhyme celebrating local arts activity.
Dinner entrées … Longboat Key snapper with lump crabmeat, basil and sundried tomato beurre blanc, sweet potato spears and sautéed haricots verts, a dish Michael Klauber created during his tenure at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort in the early 1980s. St. Armands citrus roasted jerk chicken with grilled red onions, mango, orange-and-ginger salsa, sweet plantains and red-bean rice, celebrating John Ringling’s St. Armands Circle.
Desserts … Lido lemon and coconut bombe of lemon mousse on a coconut macaroon base garnished with whipped cream and local blueberries.
There are additional options in all the categories, plus two specialty drinks: a Siesta Key kiwi mojito with local rum hand-crafted in small batches by Drum Circle Distillery and Mabel’s rosewater cocktail of champagne, St. Germain (elderflower) liqueur and edible rose petals. The drink and wine pairings are $5 during lunch and $10 during dinner.
Pineda developed the Savor Sarasota menu with co-proprietors Michael Klauber and Phil Mancini, as well as pastry chef Catherine Tighe. They bounced ideas around for a couple of months before deciding to pay tribute to Sarasota’s own cuisine. Their test market is the restaurant’s wait staff, about whom Pineda says, “They know their customers; they are right 100% of the time.”
The official time period for Savor Sarasota is June 1 through June 14. However, the Michael’s On East menu will be available through June 30; Mattison’s Forty-One, Mattison’s City Grille and Pattigeorge’s run all summer through September. Other restaurants start their own summer-long specials at the end of Savor Sarasota, among them Savory Street, Bijou Café and Euphemia Haye. That’s good to know if you can’t savor as much of Sarasota as you’d like in just two weeks.
Savor Sarasota 2013 Participating Restaurants
List courtesy of Visit Sarasota County (current as of May 22). Visit www.SavorSarasota.com for menus and more information.
Barnacle Bills Seafood
Blu Que Island Grill
Café Venice Restaurant & Wine Bar
Caragiulos Italian American
Currents @ Hyatt
Darwin's on 4th
Dry Dock Waterfront Grill
Duval's New World Café
Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Harry's Continental Kitchens
Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse
Libby's Café + Bar
Mattison's City Grille
Michael's On East
Ophelia's on the Bay
Polo Grill and Bar
Pomona Bistro & Wine Bar
Roy's Hawaiian Fusion
Sangria Tapas Bar
Siesta Key Oyster Bar
Super Nova Café