I've always loved dining at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Jack Dusty, the Ritz's coastal-themed restaurant, brings a true Sarasota experience with soft beige, blue and turquoise tones that set the tone for a relaxed, upscale dining experience—whether you're eating at a table inside or cuddled up around the fire pits on a couch outside.
And now the restaurant's new fall menu serves up tremendous flavor, as well as a more approachable, contemporary farm-to-table style. That's thanks to the talent of young chef John Ford. Don't let his youth fool you; he brings with him an approachable cooking style and a deep knowledge of delicious food and cocktail pairings.
Some favorites from the new menu: salmon crudo, usually simply plated, respects the delicacy of the fish and is accompanied by fennel, horseradish and rum-cured ikura. If you're dining with me and I order this appetizer, be warned: I'm not sharing. It's that good. Squid-ink pasta with fresh shellfish was stunning and not overly salty, even with the inclusion of bottarga and Aperol (yes, Aperol!).
But my favorite dish was perfectly seared diver scallops with savory foam and fresh corn ragout. It was simply served, with a seared crust on the scallops, yet tender and sweet at the bite with great flavor from the accompanying corn and foam.
As for desserts, pastry chef Lyndsy McDonald is as playful as ever in the sweets department, especially her creative strawberry shortcake doughnut (which is big enough for four people).
And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention bartender Vince Diorides crafted cocktails, which are sophisticated and perfect for autumn--like the Autumn Daiquiri with chai rum and apple-cinnamon syrup.
In short: This new menu of well-executed drinks and bites is perfect for these (hopefully) cooler nights.