Thursday, April 13, 2006

Savor the flavors of Sarasota during “Spirit of Sarasota” restaurant week

Sarasota, FL

A weeklong dining event in May will showcase Sarasota’s chefs and dining establishments that have helped the city earn the distinction of having one of the highest concentrations of Zagat-rated restaurants in Florida.

Spirit of Sarasota restaurant week is designed to introduce locals and visitors to the eclectic mix of restaurants found in Sarasota and its surrounding islands.

Spirit of Sarasota, which is scheduled to run May 16 - 21, 2006, will offer patrons fixed-price lunch and dinner courses and interactive chef demonstrations.

The Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is instituting the weeklong dining promotion to encourage new and frequent patrons to spend more time and money in Sarasota’s restaurants and make the public aware of the region’s award-winning restaurant scene.

The Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has recruited 18 restaurants, many that have earned Zagat ratings, to participate in the inaugural event that is poised to be one of the most popular culinary events in the state. A consumer-based restaurant review guide that features some of the best restaurants around the country, the Zagat Survey reviews restaurants on a 30-point scale, covering cuisine, décor, service and cost.

“Sarasota is recognized nationally for our beaches, culture and circus heritage,” said Virginia Haley, executive director of the Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “Spirit of Sarasota opens our visitors to the creative cuisine our talented chefs prepare.”

Restaurants taking part in “Spirit of Sarasota” restaurant week include Fred’s Restaurant, a neighborhood-style bistro that mixes European, Asian, and Latin influences with American classics, and Hyatt Boathouse, Sarasota’s landmark waterfront restaurant for 29 years that offers fresh seafood and regional American cuisine.

Chef Paul Mattison, creator of three acclaimed Sarasota restaurants, has signed on all of his eateries for the Sarasota dining event.

His restaurants include Mattison’s City Grille, which offers an al fresco menu with an Italian edge, Mattison's Siesta Grille, which features Mediterranean-flavored fare, and Mattison’s Steakhouse at the Plaza, a charming steakhouse on Longboat Key with a 1,000-bottle wine list.

Michael Klauber, owner of trendy near downtown eatery Michael’s on East, is enthused about the city’s first restaurant week.

"Michael's On East is already on board for Spirit of Sarasota, as we believe it is important for all local restaurants to unite for this wonderful occasion," he said. “We are thrilled that the Sarasota Convention and Visitor's Bureau has introduced an event that will showcase the exceptional restaurants of Sarasota and Her Islands."

Patrons will be able to enjoy multi-course meals at participating restaurants for $15 per person for lunch and $25 per person for dinner.

Each restaurant will make a donation to the University of South Florida’s School of Hotel and Restaurant management and feature a Liquor Group spirit in a signature cocktail or dish during the week.

Liquor Group, the sponsor of this year’s Spirit of Sarasota restaurant week, operates in 21 states and several Canadian provinces and represents more than 400 liquor products that are distributed through various channels.

Participating restaurants will feature the following Liquor Group products: Red Rum, a Virgin Island Rum infused with mangos, cherry and coconut; Mazama Infused Pepper Vodka made from hot and sweet peppers; Licor De Banana, the only fermented Licor on the market made with all-natural bananas; Crater Lake Vodka, the only aged Vodka on the market; Crater Lake Espresso Vodka made with 100 percent sugar cane and espresso beans, making this Licor safer for diabetics.

Interactive cooking classes will also take place throughout the week.

Vernona Executive Chef Yves Vacheresse invites locals and visitor’s to participate in a two-hour demonstration and dining experience that will offer tips on preparing and presenting seasonal and locally-grown food. The lunch and learn class takes place 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 16 and costs $65 per adult. Participants will receive a complimentary glass of organic wine. To reserve a spot, contact The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota at (941) 309-2008.

Whole Foods Market Chef Mel Ruberg will teach locals and visitors how to prepare some of her favorite recipes using all-natural and organic ingredients. The class begins at 2 p.m. May 17 and is free.
Call the Whole Foods Lifestyle Center at (941) 955-8500 to reserve a spot.

Vacheresse invites locals and visitor’s back to The Ritz Carlton Sarasota for an organic wine dinner that will feature a selection of exceptional organic wines to complement his regional organic cuisine. The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. May 18. The cost is $95 per adult. For more information and reservations contact The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota at (941) 309-2008.

Several hotels are offering discounted room rates from May 16 – 21 in conjunction with Spirit of Sarasota restaurant week. AmericInn Hotel & Suites and Holiday Inn Express are offering rooms for $79. The Hampton Inn will feature $89 room rates and the Hilton Garden Inn will have rooms available for $94. Contact these individual hotels to receive these special rates. The Hyatt, Sarasota will be offering a standard water view room for $169 and a deluxe water view room for $189. Please contact Cecilia Maddi at 941-363-2601 or by e-mail at to reserve your room at this very special rate.

For a complete list of participating restaurants, events, pricing and contact information, please visit

Home of the famed Ringling Museum, endless miles of sugar white shores and captivating culture, Sarasota and surrounding islands are diversely comprised of Sarasota, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, Casey Key, Venice, Manasota Key, Englewood and North Port.