The Place: Michael’s On East, 1212 East Ave. S. in Midtown Plaza, Sarasota; (941) 366-0007.
The Fare: Michael’s long has been known for its superior cuisine, its cellar and its theatrically stylish design. Now you can add it your list of places to score a good deal, too. Wait: Make that a fabulous deal!
The Drill: Make a reservation, as always, and arrive a little early to enjoy a cocktail at Michael’s curvaceous Deco bar.
The Bottom Line: At table, pay attention when your server notes the three-course Epicurean Adventures prix fixe menu (or the Little Italy prix fixe on Mondays) for the astonishing price of just $25. Note, too, that wines can be paired with appetizer and main course for a mere $10 more. What you get is not some pared-down early bird special but a delightful trio of tastes that will leave you eager to return.
The featured cuisine changes each month, and on our most recent visit starred some Portuguese delights. A starter, one of two on offer, of young and tender calamari sautéed with fingerling potatoes, Kalamata olives, arugula and locally sourced bottarga (salted, pressed and dried mullet roe, often called Mediterranean caviar) was an aromatic triumph.
Among three main courses, the Caldeirada, a happy combination of fresh young clams, mussels and fish from the Gulf in a lovely, zesty broth, and the pork Feijoada, perfectly crusted pork tenderloin on a foundation of white beans and collards with ham hocks and fried cassava, were knock-outs. A Portuguese rice pudding and a nice eggy custard capped a fine meal.