One of the more recent trends in dining is the “pop-up” restaurant: transient by design, showcasing new foods and culinary talent and limited in availability. One of Sarasota’s first pop-up restaurants was Ray’s, which served Friday and Saturday night dinners from Bob’s, later at The Serving Spoon, but has since disappeared from Sarasota. However, the trend has not diminished; in fact, one can argue it has expanded, often incorporating some of the world’s most famous restaurants.
Question: “When is a pop-up restaurant more than just a pop-up restaurant?”
Answer: When it involves the Ritz-Carlton of Sarasota.
Changes are afoot at the Ritz-Carlton. Verona, the signature restaurant at the Ritz for 11 years, is undergoing a complete renovation. The yet-to-be-named restaurant will be a modern-day fish house, with a debut planned for January 2013.
Recognizing an opportunity, the Ritz culinary team has stretched the definition of a pop-up restaurant with the launch of CdZ. More than just a temporary restaurant, CdZ serves breakfast, lunch and an American steakhouse-inspired dinner menu. CdZ offers a classic setting with bay and marina views from both inside and outside seating.
One of the tenets of pop-up restaurants is to showcase new fare, and CdZ provides the perfect stage. Executive Chef Dwayne Edwards and his culinary team have built an innovative, modern and highly enticing menu. Choosing from the menu is not a problem because there are so many interesting items. However, making a single choice can be more challenging for the same reason. Sharing is a good thing, however, so for our meals we chose the following:
- Local Crab Cake: With chicory-citrus mayonnaise. $18.00
A very light, fluffy version, full of crab meat with a nice outer crunch.
- House Cured Cobia: Compressed watermelon, tomatoes, Minus 8 vinegar, seasonal blossoms, borage and mint. $18.00
A very artistic presentation with layers of texture and flavor; cool and refreshing.
We chose Béarnaise sauce and SRQ (citrus) rub.
A high-end cut of beef grilled to perfection; fork-tender with a nicely charred crust. The meat was juicy and full of beef flavor … perhaps one of the best steaks in Sarasota.
14 oz. 1855 Strip Steak: With a choice of seven different sauces and eight different rubs. $30.00
- Blackened Grouper: With étoufée. $28.00
A colorful, artistic presentation. Moist, succulent, flaky fish in a New Orleans-style sauce that added a layer of flavor punctuated with sweetness from the crawfish.
There are seven “sides” to accompany your meal. Each is $8 and the serving is large enough to share between two or three people.
- Braised Greens with pancetta: Shallot, garlic and key lime.
A deep green color of bitter greens, the kind that make your mouth pucker. Moist and very flavorful
- Baked Russett Potato: Butter, sour cream, cheddar, scallions.
Need I say more: a large well done potato, rich and creamy in color and texture.
- Buttermilk Onion Rings: Cajun remoulade.
Large, thick-cut rings with the perfect batter balance, light and crunchy. They don’t fall apart with the first bite and are moist and sweet. The dipping sauce added a little kick.
- Warm Bailey’s Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ice Cream: $12.00
A perfect contrast: warm moist cake with a molten sauce and creamy rich ice cream. Decadent but not too sweet — just right.
A beautiful presentation of artistically delicious layers. A great combination of flavors with a pronounced almond taste, and not overly sweet … dare I say light?
Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Gelato: $12.00
As you might expect, the service was outstanding: friendly, respectful, knowledgeable, accommodating, helpful and anticipatory. This level of service enhanced the entire dining experience.
The pop-up restaurant concept is trendy because it is something new, innovative and exciting, with exclusivity due to its finite availability. It provides a unique dining experience, limited and not easily duplicated. So once again, I ask the question: “When is a pop-up restaurant more than just a pop-up restaurant?” The answer is very simple: When it is CdZ!
CdZ Restaurant & Lounge
The Ritz-Carlton of Sarasota
1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive
Sarasota, Florida 34236