Element Features Craft Cocktail Bar, Happy Hour Deals

“The actual bar features a sleek marble tabletop, lights hanging from the wall and jazz music playing in the background, providing a calm and chic feel. I could see this being an ideal spot for drinks discussing something you’ve just seen at the nearby Sarasota Opera House or Florida Studio Theatre….”

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Abby Hincker
Eat Like a Local Kicks Off- at Element

The third annual two-week restaurant promotion goes from Oct. 1 to 14

SARASOTA — Nearly 50 restaurants from the tip of Anna Maria Island down to Venice are offering price-fixed menu options for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next two weeks.

The third annual “Eat Like a Local Restaurant Week” is an extended event promoted by Sarasota-Manatee Originals, a group of locally owned restaurants with a passion for dining. Participating restaurants and menu options are being updated at eatlikealocal.com daily.

Element: Modern Mediterranean Grill, offering nostalgic European seafood and beef options, is using the two-week series to introduce regular Sarasotans to fine dining in a modern setting. Their menu includes tasty, three-course dinner options that are easy on the eyes and stomach and a wide selection of wines.

“For the last five years, I think Sarasota has made a giant boom in the restaurant facet of where we need to be and where we want to grow,” said Brian Smith, beverage director and operations manager at Element. “To offer good high-end meals in a nice atmosphere and an enjoyable evening versus just your run of the mill turn-and-burn places.”

Element is an upscale restaurant at 1413 Main Street, near the roundabout at Main and Central Avenue, inspired by Chef Nils Tarantik’s childhood in Europe. The three-course dinner menu is set at $49.

Modest September business has given the Mediterranean Grill and its peppy PBnT (Pizza, Burgers and Tacos) joint next door time to show their face before seasonal visitors arrive this winter.

“The one thing we want to provide is what people have been asking for — to go somewhere to enjoy themselves,” Smith said. “A place where you can actually have a date. This is a great first date place, an anniversary place.”

Smith acknowledges his first experience at Element was on a Valentine’s Day date with his girlfriend. They later both returned as employees.

Other Eat Like a Local partners will offer “Dine to the Nines” lunch and dinner prices of $9, $19, $29, $39, and $49 depending on the restaurant. Local favorites returning this year include Bijou Café, Mattison’s and Pier 22.

The options have something for everyone.

“Sarasota is becoming a much more youthful town, Smith said. “We are beginning to embrace that younger culture.”

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Abby Hincker
SRQ Daily- A Modern Take on a Summer Classic

To the untrained eye, the unassuming caprese salad could easily be written off; with only three main ingredients, the beloved Italian dish is deceptively simple. However, dive deeper into Element’s modern take on the already refined classic, and you’ll find a level of meticulous detail, with bright flavors and stunning presentation.

When creating a flawless caprese, as with any uncooked dish, ingredients are everything, and the bright, beautiful plate that arrives in front of you started small – very small. The fresh wedges of tomato are not your standard variety, but heirloom tomatoes; note the striking array of irregular sizes and colors. Heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds passed down from generation to generation, their marvelous flavor unaffected by the hybridization that creates the often-bland, picture-perfect produce found in the every day grocery store.  These seeds carry with them decades of hard work and family tradition, which are apparent in each and every forkful.

Not to be upstaged, the tomatoes are complimented perfectly by burrata cheese, which is a close cousin of the more commonly used mozzarella. Burrata means “buttery” in Italian, and the name serves as a hint at the creamy, delicate flavor within. The burrata is covered in a soft, thin shell of pasta filata, or stretched-curd, which is formed into a hollow pouch. This pouch is filled with fresh pulled and shredded cheese and rich, buttery cream. Nicknamed the queen of Italian cheeses, burrata offers a sweet, milky respite from the otherwise intense flavors of the salad.

Finished with micro basil, extra virgin olive oil, and a hearty drizzle of balsamic reduction, Element’s caprese salad is a proud tribute to its Mediterranean inspiration, and an impeccable overture that sets the tone for an incredible evening at Element.

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Abby Hincker