It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the impact Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week(s) have on our local restaurant’s bottom line. The last few weeks in May you can pretty much drop in anywhere and, on most occasions, find a table immediately or after a very short wait. Come June 1st-14th, you WILL need a reservation because that’s when Savor Sarasota 2017 is launched. And every single participating restaurant will be busy . . . often busier than they are during Snowbird Season.
Some restauranteurs will extend their Savor Sarasota menu past the official June 14th cut-off, while others roll our their special price fix menu early, as Mozaic did on May 18th this year.
I was fortunate to drop by Mozaic last week with my BFF, Kat. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with a special friend, and when she suggested Mozaic, I was all in. I’d heard a lot about the new Chef at Mozaic and wanted to experience his menu with Kat.
Mozaic’s Chef Ash Tucker has been with the restaurant for several months now, and he’s made some positive edits to the menu. (I call it Diner-Friendly!) Fortunately, he picked some of his best dishes for the Savor Sarasota menu, offering three soup choices for the First Course, 5 appetizer choices in the Second Course, and 6 entree choices in the Third Course.
When looking at the menu, I would have bet money that Kat would choose the Farmer’s Market Gazpacho, which she did. Chef Ash’s version is a bit different from the bright red gazpacho that you may be used to, and it really lived up to the Farmer’s Market name. Chunks and I mean c.h.u.n.k.s. of cucumber, watermelon, and vine ripe tomatoes dressed this gazpacho, with a fair amount of bell pepper that Kat thought was probably roasted first, leading to that darker color soup. If you want to experience a new take on gazpacho, this is certainly the one to try.
And my first-course choice? The Carrot Curry Coconut Soup. I fell head over heels in love with this dish. It was absolute perfection to me. Velvety and luscious and beautiful and tasty and sweet curry spicy . . . I could go on, but instead, I want more! The photo, as stunning as it is, (thanks, Kat!) doesn’t do this soup the justice it deserves. You just simply have to try it yourself. Wow!
For her second course choices, Kat chose the Lump Crab Cake with a Creole remoulade, slaw and . . . dare I say it?. . . bacon jam! BAM! The crab cakes were grilled to a golden crunch and just amazing with a swirl of the remoulade, bacon jam and slaw. Getting one forkful of all four components was a celebration of flavor. Definitely a great dish. Way to present yourself to Sarasota Chef Ash!
I thought to try something unique for my second course: the Warm Goat Cheese Skillet. (This was a first for me.) Under that hot, gooey goat cheese are a pistachio pesto and caramelized shallots. I missed sampling all three on my first few bites, but once I hit the center of the dish, all those flavors melded together to take simple goat cheese to an elevated level! Really nice, and fun to share!
The third course was the entree round, and here’s where Chef Ash really shined, as if he hadn’t already won us over! Kat ordered the Diver Scallop Duo, which featured two large scallops on what she called “one of the best risottos” she’d enjoyed in some time. The risotto was seasoned with lemon and thyme, and no doubt a fair amount of butter. Beside the risotto were farm vegetables that certainly didn’t mind sharing a little of that flavorful butter sauce. Seafood, butter, and lemons seem to love each other, and they certainly did in this dish.
I had a hard time deciding what entree I wanted since ALL the choices were flirting with me. I finally chose the Maple-Leaf Farms Duck Leg Confit and was quite pleased with that decision. The duck was pan-roasted, instead of being fried as I’ve experienced duck more often as of late. Although the skin isn’t crispy, pan roasting lead to a more juicy duck, one that was obviously finessed with the drippings while it cooked. Topped with a balsamic glaze, the drippings turned into a flavorful gravy that was ideally paired with whipped potato and seasonal farm vegetables. Nice take on duck, to be sure.
I’m happy to see that Mozaic is flourishing with their new chef. Mozaic has long enjoyed a reputation as one of Sarasota’s best fine-dining destinations. And with Chef Ash Tucker at the helm, I wish them every success.
And if you haven’t been to Mozaic yet, here’s your chance to enjoy a fabulous three-course meal for $32pp. I suggest you try what some other tables did . . . go in a party of six and everyone orders a different entree! Let each other sample your entree and then you’ll experience all the colors and flavors of Mozaic.
Happy savoring, Sarasota!