The Taste Food Tour :: Sarita [a restaurant]
For years, one of my favorite happy hours was at Players, especially the all-evening Sunday happy hour. It always was a great option for a light supper and getting together with friends, while eating local. When I first heard the Madison Avenue restaurant was closing after 30 years, I panicked.
What would happen to my happy hour and all the great non-happy hour meals on my favorite patio? I began to mourn.
Until the news that Players’ longtime chef, Anthony Romano, and his business partner, Sandy Smith, had purchased the restaurant at 14523 Madison Ave. The news cut my grief short.
The pair renovated the space, created a new, casual menu that focuses on New American cuisine and called it Sarita. The decor is clean and modern. One wall features a collage of plates and bowls. And, hanging art created from cutlery calls out the long, family-style dining table in the center of the front dining room. It fascinates me.
I first dined in the new space after the November 14 opening and quickly realized I would have a new favorite happy hour and meals on the patio. I love how Romano and his team break down the food menu into “this,” “that,’ “the other” and dessert.
I recently visited Sarita with my friend Martha for some small plates and an adult beverage on a Sunday night. Like Players, Sarita makes a mean Manhattan and features it on its happy hour menu, straight up or on the rocks. Your choice. The regular one also has an Italian twist on the traditional Manhattan, replacing vermouth with amaretto. I strayed from the happy hour menu to try it. I might have a new favorite.
Next to burgers, I love fries and why not? They go together. And I already have quality tested Sarita’s fries at least a few times, but Martha hadn’t. It didn’t take much to convince her to try them — served up with speck, rosemary and pecorino and two aiolis for dipping, spicy red pepper and lemon.
I paired the fries with crispy chicken wings with sweet soy-chili vinaigrette (I could have licked my fingers but restrained myself for the sake of propriety). It made a nice mini-meal.
We also shared a lemon crème brulee, the flavor of the day, and a truly sinful triple chocolate tart. I can’t decide which I liked better. So different from each other. I will say that I love lemon and also crème brulee but never had the two combined. A perfect pairing.
On another happy hour visit, friends and I tried the Navajo fry bread, a Sarita specialty. I particularly liked the Black Foot – BBQ-braised pork shoulder, cheddar, lettuce, pears and pickled red onion.
Now that it’s patio season, I’m looking forward to enjoying a leisurely dinner out there. I already have begun debating what to order as I look at the options online. And I haven’t even heard what the specials will be for whatever particular night I choose to go.
–Robin Suttell, Taste of Lakewood blogger