During the Savor Sarasota preview I realized just how little I know about the dining scene in Sarasota. Clearly there are some great projects underway and several places I have never heard of in Sarasota. One of those places is Michael’s On East, located near Downtown Sarasota. Normally my family/friends and I will drive into Sarasota and head to Lido Beach or Siesta Key and then head straight home or just walk around St. Armand’s Circle. Visiting Michael’s On East was an entirely new experience as I drove on some local streets in Sarasota off the beach trail.
I wasn’t sure what I would find when I showed up for lunch, but the preview tasting was enough to make me interested in booking lunch. First I took a tour of the ballroom that is used for special events by the restaurant and Michael’s Wine Cellar which has a vast selection of wine and spirits from around the world. Then I returned back to the restaurant bar and lounge area to begin lunch.
Freshly squeezed juice was the first thing I tasted. Michael’s prepares different juices daily for customers. The juice of the day contained mango, watermelon, carrots, and celery. It was refreshing and a nice change, nowadays it seems restaurants only have soda or water to serve. Sometimes you want something besides water, but not the carbonated sugar rush of soda as well.
For those that do want water, Michael’s serves Vivreau still and sparkling water.
The House-Cured Salmon Crostini ($10.95) was literally the best salmon crostini I have ever tasted. It was served with Montchevré goat cheese and drizzled caper oil. Salmon crostini tapas (especially smoked salmon) are a common find for food mixers or tastings and none have ever had so much depth and flavor as the one I enjoyed as an appetizer for lunch at Michael’s On East. What made the crostini so great was the capers. I had my first crostini without the capers and it was good, but it could not compare to my second bite with the capers. It was literally a party in my mouth. I highly recommend you order this no matter what you get at Michael’s. Do not leave without trying it.
Michael’s features a monthly Epicurean Adventure menu that showcases different culinary flavors from around the world. During my visit Mexico was featured on the menu and I enjoyed Oaxacan-Style Pollo with a tamale, crema fresca, and yellow rice. I didn’t stop hearing about this dish at the Savor Sarasota preview so I just had to have it. I was really impressed with the quality of the rice and mixture of flavors. The crema fresca was insanely good – I wanted to lick the plate.
The Butter-Roasted Flounder ($17.95 lunch) features Grain Mustard Beurre Blanc, Brown Butter Sage, Toasted Almonds, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts & Potato Allumettes. The brussel sprouts almost gave it an Asian taste, this dish excellently prepared and is on the specialty lunch menu at Michael’s.
Two desserts were featured on the Epicurean Adventure and I tried both during my visit. The Guava Cream Cheese Chimichanga with Strawberry Salsa and House Sour Cream Ice Cream was my favorite. Guava is a huge thing in my household and we regularly buy it at the local Latin market. The strawberry salsa was a fresh change, while the sour cream ice cream was like nothing I have ever tasted before. The after-taste had a cooling effect on the tongue.
What would a taste of Spanish or Latin American cuisine be without Tres Leches. Chefs proudly beat their chest and claim they make it better. This Tres Leches dessert was incredibly rich and certainly a delight to eat, although the Guava Cream Chimichanga wins between the desserts based on creativity. However, a well-crafted Tres Leches shows a handle of the traditional and Michael’s showed that in this dessert.
During lunch I also had a chance to speak with restaurateur Michael Klauber. He was also at the Savor Sarasota preview, but this was my first time sitting down and speaking with him. Mr. Klauber is a leader in the Sarasota dining scene and also around the world. He leads the Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club which travels to a different country every year in what seems like a food and wine lovers dream. This year they will visit Italy and next year South Africa. As someone who loves traveling, I really enjoyed talking with Michael about his past culinary adventures abroad to faraway places such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Michael Klauber is also the founding President of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals that supports keeping business local in Sarasota and Chairman of Visit Sarasota County. From talking to Mr. Klauber, it was obvious that he is a very important person that has revolutionary in shaping Sarasota. I was impressed and honored to be a guest joining him for lunch. Michael and his partner, Phil Mancini, have also been recognized locally, regionally, and internationally for helping more than 500 non-profit organizations throughout Sarasota and Manatee County and giving back more than $1 million through in-kind donations, contributions, and partnerships.
For June 2014, Michael’s is featuring a special Epicurean Adventure that is a part of the Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week until June 14th, 2014. Diners can enjoy a 3-course prix fixe lunch for $15 and a 3-course prix fixe dinner for $29 which is a steal at Michael’s and a great way for people to try the restaurant out. The “Farm to Table” Pan-Roasted Mote Sturgeon from the Savor Sarasota preview is on the list. A full list of the menu is here: http://www.bestfood.com/2014/05/sarasota-epicurean-adventure-june-2014/
Give Michael’s a shot, you will not regret it!
Restaurant Name: Michael’s On East
Cuisine: Seafood, Steakhouse, Cocktails
Address: 1212 S East Ave Sarasota, FL 34239
Phone Number: (941) 366-0007