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There are two goals to our Savor Sarasota exercises: One, to go to restaurants we haven’t visited before; and two, to go to restaurants we don’t frequently visit because they don’t fit into our everyday price range.
First of all, how great is it that Savor Sarasota Restaurant “Week” has in recent years been two weeks long? (Sometimes longer still; click here for the list and menus of restaurant continuing their deal through June and beyond.) This makes it easier to pace yourself—something like: “Day one: three-course meal; day two: gym; day three: three-course meal”…and so forth.
First up: eat here Sarasota, falling under the “never visited before” category—which is a real travesty, considering what fans we are of Sean Murphy. It’s an interesting choice for Savor Sarasota, though, just because eat here’s regular menu isn’t really set up for “courses” as much as it is small-plates sharing. Tempting to abandon the Savor Sarasota menu and dig into everything else, but with so many incredible options, it helped on a first visit narrow our choices a bit. I went with the “one helluva soup” tomato bisque—so rich and sweet and perfectly set off by a crumble of blue cheese; CCB had a delightfully garlicky Caesar salad. For entrees, my veal meatloaf was perhaps the best meatloaf I’ve ever had next to mom’s. (I wouldn’t normally dare to even order meatloaf, but so much is my love for Mr. Murphy.) CCB had the gulf coast seafood stew, took one bite, and insisted that I try a spoonful right then and there, because he was going to eat it quickly. Key lime cheesecake made for a subdued combination of two desserts I usually don’t prefer, the tartness and cheesiness balancing each other out.
Next day? Gym.
Our second restaurant was Hyde Park Steakhouse, chosen for the specifics of its Savor Sarasota menu, although when we looked at the regular menu, we realized that it’s also a fantastic way to sample Hyde Park’s mastery for under $30. (Plenty of regular entrees top $40.) Wedge salad for me—my first ever, and dear lord, the rivers in heaven must flow with blue cheese dressing rippling over bacon and candied pecan pebbles. CCB’s lobster bisque had an impressively potent lobster flavor. For an entrée, CCB went with the crab cakes, thank goodness, because I wanted the bacon-wrapped filet. (If you hadn’t already guessed, our game plan was to order different dishes as often as possible.) Anyone who’s talked to me since the first bite has heard my recommendations to go there, have the steak, thank me later. I defaulted to the chocolate torte for dessert, but regretted it when I saw how incredibly light and fluffy CCB’s cheesecake was. And he really loves cheesecake, so I had little hope getting him to split it with me. (Alas, Hyde Park isn’t extending its Savor Sarasota menu, but I’m told they have a very similar menu deal until 6 p.m. on weeknights for $19. No dessert, but the menu includes the lobster bisque as well as the filet.)
And after all that, how ‘bout a run, hmm?
Michael’s On East was our last official Savor Sarasota stop, in part because $25 is another fantastic deal, but also because their temporary Arnaud’s-inspired New Orleans menu was right up CCB’s alley. I had a variety of baked oysters first—showing my faith in MoE, since I’m not terribly familiar with oysters—while CCB had a marinated shrimp dish inspired by one of Arnaud’s signature appetizers. For dinner? Duck, oh, lovely lovely duck, over a sweet blueberry and port sauce. And CCB’s generous filet of trout amandine was crispy (as promised) and perfectly suited to the lemon cream sauce. Dessert was a toss-up: My pecan pie went fast with equal bites of pie and vanilla ice cream; CCB had the bread pudding (and refuses to let me touch the leftovers). Michael’s menu will change geographic themes (as their Epicurean Adventures were designed to do), but the deal will continue with different dishes September.
Our plan was to go to at least one more restaurant after that, but unforeseen circumstances cut our Savoring short. Thankfully, with so many great deals still going on, we’ve still got Mattison’s 41, Derek’s, Maximo, Mozaic and more schedule in with our summer dining.
Tell us, what were your Savor Sarasota success stories?