Some nights deserve special handling, like a quiet dinner in a place where everyone is treated like a big wig, even if you’re not. This night was one of those times. After being under contract for many, many months, we finally closed on a long, arduous short sale and knew the best way to cap off such a stressful day was a sumptuous dinner at Mozaic Restaurant on lower Main Street.
I’ve always enjoyed Mozaic. Mart describes it as a place where you’ll get great food and great service 100 times out of 100. Ever since opening a few years back, Chef Dylan Elhajoui has earned kudos and rave reviews from foodies and celebrities alike, including Maria Sharapova who called out the couscous at Mozaic as “the best” in an interview with ESPN. Me? I’m no Sharapova, nor even a local celebrity, but when I’m at Mozaic, the staff sure knows how to make me feel like one.
We’ve been to Mozaic for birthdays and numerous client dinners, and in all those visits we’d never dined in the upper loft, so I was glad the hostess headed to the upper dining room. I’d wondered what the upstairs was like, and was pleased with the intimate setting, still reflective of the colorful decor on the main floor, only with sheer curtains separating the tables. Romance, anyone?
When seated at Mozaic you’ll find a table with a white table cloth, cutlery and very little else, which makes for the perfect backdrop for beautifully plated food. And once seated, the pampering of the customer begins. No sooner were we seated and looking through the menu, were we greeted by our server, who took our wine order and moments behind him another server appeared with a piping hot mini-loaf of bread, olive oil for dipping, and a complimentary Amuse Bouche, on this evening a pumpkin flavored chilled soup featuring fall spices, apricot and mint. Mmm-mmm!
We decided to order two starters, the first being my choice, a special of the evening which featured a duo of tuna tar-tare with a crunchy crostini. A big fan of any tar-tare or carpaccio, I dove into this appetizer with great enthusiasm. The egg yolk on top of the tuna was an ideal paring with the tuna, as the texture of the egg and fish complimented each other beautifully.
Since we’d been to Mozaic before, Mart had already decided he was going to order the escargot even before we left the house! Chef Dylan pairs his Fricassee of Escargot with shiitake mushrooms in a white wine, fresh chives and creme fraiche sauce. Ever diligent, our server brought two spoons for this starter, which is a good thing! Once we had savored each of the escargot, we were happy to drench our bread in the creme fraiche sauce and spoon it up as if it were a soup!
Main courses are always the hardest thing for me to select at Mozaic. There is always a tempting selection on their nightly specials, but we know we’ll be blogging about a place, we try to stick with the main menu so when we recommend something, you’ll be able to find it as well. That being said, even the main menu at Mozaic had me torn between a number of mouth watering choices. So Mart ordered first, choosing the Pan-Seared Diver Scallops over Confit Aubergine with Mango Verjus Vinaigrette. We have to tell you, very few things are like a perfectly cooked Diver Scallop! Chef Dylan is known for hand selecting his seafood, another ear-mark of this great restaurant. Grilled to perfection with just the right amount of sear on the exterior, tender and meaty inside and sitting on a delightfully sweet mango vinaigrette, this dish was truly special.
Being that Mart went with seafood, I leaned towards beef, and happily ordered the Coffee and Cocoa Spiced Australian Wagyu (Kobe) NY Strip with asparagus and sage barley risotto. Wow! The photo I took really doesn’t do this meal justice, especially if you don’t like your steak medium rare, like I do. But let me tell you . . . it was divine! The steak was so tender it just melted in my mouth. I barely needed a knife! And the risotto, which is hidden under the steak and the wonderfully fresh vegetables, was a knock-out! Every bite was better than the bite before – (which is hard to say since the first taste was perfection.) If you’re a beef lover, there isn’t much more to say about this dish other than — ORDER IT!
As I said at the beginning of this blog, Mozaic loves to thoroughly pamper their guests, so even though we didn’t have the appetite for dessert, we weren’t surprised when our server brought us a complimentary chocolate truffle with cayenne and cloves. Made by Chef Dylan and the masters in his kitchen, I could have eaten an entire box! Well, maybe not an entire box — I’d have to share with Mart.
Suffice it to say that Mozaic continues to be one of our favorite restaurants in Sarasota. They have monthly wine dinners and other events which we’ll have to try someday, but in the meantime, we’re just thrilled that Sarasota has such a wonderful place to celebrate the pleasures of food while being treated like royalty. Bravo!