A few of our fellow Realtors asked Mart and I if we were “depressed” today.
“Why would we be?” was the obvious answer.
“Well, Savor Sarasota is over! You two seemed to be eating out at fantastic places every day. What are you going to do with yourselves NOW?”
Ah! I understand the concern. We did dine out a lot during the 2 week event, and I have to admit, there’s nothing appealing about staying in, and you can’t beat paying such low prices at Sarasota’s best spots so it feels like we’re stealing, but here’s the good news. . . Savor Sarasota may be “officially over” but many restaurants, including a few of our all-time favorites like Michael’s on East, have extended their Savor Sarasota savings to the end of the month. So, if the most iconic restaurant in all of Sarasota is still showing the love, you can bet we’ll be there!
Just to bring some of our newer residents to “in-the-know” status, Michael’s on East is the 26+ year brainchild of local restaurateurs and co-proprietors, Michael Klauber and Phil Mancini. It’s also Sarasota’s only AAA Four Diamond Award Restaurant. We won’t mention all their awards, but we’ll name-drop a few . . . like being Zagat Rated, and a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner. There’s also the cool fact that Michael’s hosts the Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club, working with Admiral Travel International to take frequent guests on culinary journeys around the globe. With such a stellar reputation, a lot of people consider Michael’s more of a “special occasion” or “destination” restaurant. As such, it’s not surprising that Michael’s dining room has hosted hundreds of romantic proposals, thousands of birthday and anniversarys, and an unequaled multitude of charity events in their ballrooms.
So, with a reputation like that, why would Michael Klauber extend their Savor Sarasota $15 prix fix lunch and $29 prix fix dinner for any longer than they agreed to? “It’s just good business,” Klauber explained when we dined there last Wednesday. “It’s good for the guest. It’s good for the staff, it’s a great for Michael’s on East! It extends the busy pace of tourist season and gets local residents out of their homes and into area restaurants! It’s a true Win-Win! We’ve been extending our Savor Sarasota menu every year since the event started nine years ago.”
It’s no surprise that a number of Michael’s most avid fans experienced the restaurant for their very first time during Savor Sarasota, and once experiencing the world-class service and award-winning food, became regulars, knowing any meal at Michael’s on East is well worth their attention. Over the years, Mancini and Klauber have seen the special summer menu evolve into their popular year-long Epicurean Adventure series, which features a new, prix fix menu each month, embracing the food and flavor profiles of different dining destinations throughout the United Staes and the globe. So far this year The Epicurian series has showcased the flavors of Japan, France, Baltimore(!), Greece and Mexico. The Savor Sarasota menu features the flavors of, what else, Sarasota, but in July the series heads to New Orleans.
So what epicurean delights did we enjoy during our $29 Savor Sarasota experience? It all started with the bread. At some places you wouldn’t think to mention the bread course, but when the starter course includes fan shaped, gluten-free papadum with lentils , and a warm and chewy sour dough, freshly baked raisin bread, why not give credit where credit is due? Bread basket = Gone!
On perusing our appetizer course, and reading the description, I just HAD to have the Sunset Watermelon and Burrata Salad with fried baby artichokes (that’s the brown crispy chips in the photo), toasted pistachios, fresh micro-mint and pomegranate reduction. Burrata is a fresh mozzarella cheese made with cream, a subtle, creamy paring against the cold, juicy watermelon. I found the fried baby artichokes a delightful new way to enjoy artichokes with every component working together to create a taste that could only be described as “Summer.”
Mart’s appetite, from the cleverly locally based theme-named menu, had him headed to the meaty appetizer versus my salad choice, focusing on the Gulf of Mexico Swordfish Meatballs with Cortez Fisherman’s Sauce and spicy mayonnaise. WOW! I don’t know how to describe the fully developed, robust flavor of this swordfish dish, but I can’t remember ever enjoying swordfish more. I never imagined how swordfish would be good as a meatball, and now I won’t ever again see it another menu without thinking back on this! Again. . .WOW!
Being so happy his first menu selection, Mart was anxious to dig into his entrée, a Selby Passion Fruit-Glazed Duck Breast with crispy yucca planks, roasted butternut squash and baby zucchini in a Sangria demi-reduction. Yikes! Can I get a witness!! The skin of the duck was crispy and delicious, holding up well to the tartness of the passion fruit glaze. There are few meats that seem to adore a sour, fruity glaze like duck does, and tasting the passion fruit after so many years of orange glaze, led this delectable dish in a tropical, delicious direction.
If the above photo of my “Farm to Table” Pan Roasted Mote Sturgeon looks delicious to you, believe me, it tasted even better. Michael’s chefs referred to the farm raisted Mote Marine sturgeon, a locally farmed fish, when creating a dish you’d more often see with chicken or roast. I have to say the miso remoulade was a brilliant sauce for dipping the sturgeon as well as the roasted vegetables. I can’t say which veggie I enjoyed most – the roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced fingerling potatoes or the roasted red pepper relish, but I do remember not liking Brussels sprouts when I was a kid. . . What was I thinking! (FYI – here’s some good news. . . you can get Chef Jamil’s recipe on Michael’s on East’s website.)
Next up was dessert. Did we even have room? Well okay, it’s our sworn duty to objectively see these things through, so…
…always a fan of strawberry short cake, I loved Michael’s on East’s take on this classic dessert. Their version is a Citrus-Zested Buttermilk Scone with Florida strawberry compote and vanilla infused mascarpone cream with white chocolate crème anglaise. And that long white straw-looking thing? More white chocolate! Score!!!
When our server, Michael (who Mart knows from Fleming’s Steak House) took our order, both he, and another all-pro server, Kimberly, gave huge kudos to the bread pudding. Mart doesn’t have to be told twice, after it was recommended by those two.
Michael’s Savor Sarasota bread pudding had another Sarasota component, aptly named the Fresh Pineapple and Siesta Key Gold Rum Bread Pudding with toasted coconut ice cream and caramel sauce leaving a sugary trail down the length of the plate. This was one of those “eyes rolling back in your head” kind of desserts. An absolutely decadent take on bread pudding. And that little “sombrero” on top of the dessert? Caramelized sugar!
Count your SarasotaFoodies as two adoring fans of Michael’s on East. We look forward to our next visit, and whether we enjoy dinner in the dining room, or grab a few appetizers or a dessert in the bar while listening to the inimitable and iconic Joe Michals at the piano, we will be back! (And back, and back…)