Monday, January 18, 2016

Sarita Opens in Lakewood

Ok, well, winter is officially here in Cleveland. If you're finally crawling out of your post-holiday daze, and this weather has you feeling a bit down, then I have something right up your alley today.

Right before Mr. H and I scooted to NY to spend the holidays with my family, we attended a blogger event at the newly opened Sarita restaurant in Lakewood.
The restaurant opened in the location of the former (and well-loved) Players on Madison spot. However, fans of Players won't be disappointed, because its longtime Executive Chef, Anthony Romano, is the one behind Sarita. He and his business partner, Sandy, met at Players, and have been friends for 15+ years. The restaurant space has been overhauled, and it has a clean and modern feel to it now.

On that particular evening, the bloggers and our guests were treated to samplings of various dishes. Most of which can be found on the Sarita menu, like the Cast Iron Cornbread, Sarita Salad, Lime-Coriander Dusted Sea Bass, Espresso Crusted Bison Strip, and incredible desserts.
There was not one bite of food that I wasn't happy with, with the exception of the tomato-basil sauce paired with the stuffed dates. It just didn't need it. This was one of the best meals that Mr. H and I have had in a long time, and that's sayin' a lot. Because, you all know, we dine out a LOT.
I had never dined at Players on Madison, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but I love the look of Sarita. White, black, and pops of red give the space a clean and crisp feel to it. Sandy herself designed the wall installation of various plates and bowls, and the utensil fixture above the communal bar table.

Confession...the food was so good that Mr. H and I had to immediately go back and try Sarita again on our own. Like, the very next night. 

It's been a while since a restaurant menu just sounded so tempting from start to finish. We had an empty fridge at home and one evening left with no dinner plans before we loaded the car up for the holiday break. Enter Sarita. Perfect timing.

Mr. H and I shared the Oysters of the Day ($12 for 6 or $20 for 12).
We also couldn't resist an appetizer special that evening, the Butternut Squash Pierogi with bacon, caramelized onions and creme fraiche. The portion was so large that it could have been an entree. On a chilly December evening, this hearty dish warmed me up from the inside out.
I ordered the Horseradish Crusted Grouper with chantrelles, corn, tarragon, whipped potatoes, and a orange-pommery vinagrette ($29).
The fish was a tad overcooked and dried out, probably in an attempt to really crisp up the horseradish crust, but the flavors were delightful. More sauce on the plate could have helped mask the dryness. That aside, the dish was so enjoyable. I loved the flavor and texture of the whipped potatoes, and the mushroom and corn mixture was wonderful.

Mr. H ordered the Ancho BBQ Pork Chop ($24), and he loved it. It was thick-cut, prepared expertly at medium-rare, and the flavors were spot-on.

The price point is a bit high on a few of the dishes, in my opinion. However, the food quality is there and the portions are a good size. You never like to feel cheated on portions when paying a high price tag.

The atmosphere is fresh and modern, but still inviting and warm. The staff was incredible during both visits. Their attentiveness and knowledge of the menu were appreciated. We also enjoyed a couple of craft cocktails, and I had a lot to choose from on the wine list. I've already sent some people in since our December visits, and I hope that you'll go check them out too. I think that this restaurant will now be thrown into our rotation of "special evenings out" destinations.

However, they are also offering daily Happy Hour at the bar from 5-7PM, which is hard to find. $6 - $10 food items, and drink specials daily.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a blogger tasting with a guest, and all food was complimentary. We paid for our drinks, and the second visit on our own. I also received a $25 gift card. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

14523 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, OH 44107