8105 Cooper Creek Blvd. has seen a lot of looks over the years, but there's one common denominator: Lesley Harb, who, together with her husband, Michael Harb, has operated three different restaurants in the space going back to 2003. That's the year the Harbs opened Bamboo Bistro, which they later sold. After the new owners folded during the onset of the Great Recession, the Harbs reacquired the space and retooled, opening the salad-sandwich-soup spot Fast n Fresh there and eventually taking the concept west to downtown Sarasota and east to Lakewood Ranch.
Which brings us to Plated Modern Kitchen, which took over the Cooper Creek Fast n Fresh last month. It's fast-casual, with a customizable pick of roasted and braised meats, salads, sandwiches and sides. The idea: simple and healthy. "A lot of the menu items derive from the way we cook at home," says Lesley, who is responsible for the recipes at all the Harbs' properties. That home-cooked vibe is a fit for the neighborhoods nearest the restaurant. It's easy to imagine harried parents dipping in for a straightforward meal with the kids on the way home or picking up takeout on their way out to the 'burbs.
The Harbs redid the space a couple years ago and it's sharp, with wood and grass details and farmhouse lighting. Another nice touch is the soda fountain, which dispenses picks from Idaho's Tractor Soda Co. Their fuzzy beverages are less sweet than are typical, with flavors that range from lemongrass to cucumber. Nice.
Plated Modern Kitchen is located at 8105 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park, and is open 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more info, call (941) 315-4500 or click here.