The Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau hosts the sixth annual “Savor Sarasota” through June 14, and if you’re in the area, it’s well worth checking out. I visited the city last December when the weather was chilly but found the Sarasota restaurant scene deliciously hot.
“Savor Sarasota” features $25 three-course dinners at more than 30 restaurants, ranging from elegant to casual. I can vouch for three on the list that I visited: Mozaic on Main Street, Vernona in the super-elegant Ritz Carlton; and the Polo Grill and Bar in nearby Lakewood Ranch (the complete list is at the “Savor Sarasota” site).
Mozaic serves modern American cuisine rooted in the flavors and traditions of eclectic origins, including western Mediterranean. The restaurant, with its mosaic theme, is long and narrow, seating upstairs and down, open and airy with lime-green walls and pink columns and beams. And they know wine: Mozaic won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence last year. Delightful amuse bouche here includes things like lemongrass shrimp bisque with truffle-scented oil, and chicken saltimbocca in a tiny squash. I followed up with a triple-play entrée of fork-tender duck breast, lamb chops and a big fat seared scallop with cardoons on the side.
I had breakfast at Vernona, and like all Ritz hotels, the service was superb, classy, and quick. The Mobil Four-Star signature restaurant serves all meals and a Sunday brunch that draws diners from miles around, and breakfast here, served in elegant digs with arched windows overlooking a marina, is more than filling, with things like a meat-and-veggie stuffed three-egg omelet. The Ritz is only about 11 years old, but so elegantly appointed with period furnishings and designs, it looks like it’s been here since the days of John Ringling, the circus baron, who came to Sarasota in the early 20th century, loved it, built a home here, attracted many rich friends, and brought to the city an arts-and-culture scene that thrives today.
I had lunch one day at Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch, a planned community that is a giant, sprawling parcel of upscale homes, golf courses and polo fields. The restaurant is huge, with a towering curved floor-to-ceiling glass wine case that allows patrons to join the wine club here, buy what they want and get it stored there, with emblems bearing your name marking your stash. It’s what the polo set does, I guess, and they sure know how to eat. I had the pressed roast beef sandwich, a flat bread filled with shaved prime rib, Havarti cheese, horseradish cream and caramelized onions that was exceptional and filling.
You can’t go wrong hitting these or any of the great eateries on the “Savor Sarasota” list. The weather should be warm this time of year, and the food, it’s always hot.