Michael’s on East – Sarasota, FL

We have been looking forward to dining at Michael’s on East for a while now.  We have attending numerous events at Michael’s Wine Cellar which is adjacent to the restaurant, as well as been to a brunch at the restaurant, but until last night had never sat down and eaten a meal there.

On Monday’s they have an special Italian menu, and last night a new singer was performing Italian in the lounge.  The singer is part of Allison’s fitness class and so we went to support him in his new venture.  We were amazed at how packed both the restaurant and lounge were; whether this is typical, or just because of the holidays we do not know but suspect that it contributed to the lackluster service we received… more on that in a bit.

The food was absolutely amazing.  Allison started with Hoisin Duck and Crispy Vegetable Spring rolls.  These were amazing.  Full of meat and vegetables, then cooked perfectly.  A lot of times spring rolls can be a bit greasy but these were not at all.  Served on a large plate with plenty of sauce, these could easily be shared by two.  I went with the Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi plate.  At first I was hesitant to order this, as it appeared to be on the expensive side but the plate was full of top-notch tuna.  While cut into smaller than normal sashimi sized pieces, there was probably the equivalent of 4-5 large pieces on the plate.  My only complaint about this dish is that there was insufficient hot sauces to go with it — the small bit of wasabi was hard and dried out, and there were but 3 small drops of sriracha sauce.  Minor point overall, but still noticable.

For dinner I had Pan-Roasted Atlantic Salmon, which came with shittake mushrooms, shaved brussel sprouts, bacon, black eyed peas, baby root vegetables, heirloom carrots and a pinot noir reduction.  The salmon was perfectly cooked to medium and the vegetables all were fantastic.  No complaints about this dish at all!  Allison chose Pan-Seared Scallops which were accompanied by Maine lobster, house-made ricotta, Gnocchi, roasted butternut squash and sage brown butter with crushed amaretti.  She thought it was delightful and said no complaints about this one either.

We had several different wines by the glass, rather than going with a single bottle.  Between us we had a Cotes du Rhone, Malbec and a Montepulciano.  All were good, but not great… though that is not all that unusual with wines by the glass.  The wine prices were reasonable, but leaned towards the high end.

So, I noted above that both the restaurant and the lounge were very busy.  And we were a party of eight.  But the service was just plain slow.  The waiter was very attentive when he happened to be around, but more often than not he was no where to be found.  And after we finished our meals, it took 10-15 minutes to get our bills and then another 20 minutes or so to go run the cards and return them.  No matter how busy, I can not understand why it took so long.  And to boot, there was an automatic 20% gratuity tacked on.  Now, I understand that for larger parties this is customary (I understand it, but do not agree with it), but the level of service was definitely no up to that large of a tip.

Bottom line?  We had a good time and a great meal.  The prices were a bit on the high end, but we expected that and the quality and quantity was there so we were okay on that point.  The wine prices also were on the higher side, but not out of line for similar restaurants.  Service was not good, but there were some factors that probably played into it on this particular evening.  I suspect that we will go back at some point, especially since we have a gift certificate and also get points for the Connoisseur Club as well.


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