Social Eatery & Bar (1219 First Street, Sarasota, 444-7072, Socialonfirst.com) has generated a fair amount of interest in the months leading up to its opening last Friday, so I was eager to stop by for a drink on its second night. Turns out, the buzz was right, at least when it comes to the look of the place.
Owners John Tassotti, Jason Lefrock and David Goldman hired Dehart Design Studio to tailor the look of Social, which is easily one of the nicest looking restaurants to hit the area in a long while. There’s liberal use of concrete, sealed and polished to sheen, on the floors, the bars and planters scattered around the place. There’s also plenty of wood to temper the modern concrete surfaces, in a framework over an outdoor dining area and in many dividing panels.
The interior boasts a couple of distinct spaces, including a modern and cozy bar area – lined with milky white subway tiles - all separated from the outdoor spaces by walls of glass that give Social a sense of space. Outside are two dining areas, one covered in a retractable awning, and a bar equipped with long outdoor couches facing modern gas fireplaces.
While sitting on those couches I noticed things I didn’t expect: the roof of a house converted to an office, a beautiful modern three-story building hidden on a downtown alley, and old fashioned power lines strung from pole to pole. It manages to feel urban and very Sarasota at the same time.
I suspect the menu is still in flux, and it’s too early to comment on the food anyway, but you’ll find a selection of wood-fired pizzas, a few simple entrees and an array of sample plates covering cheese, olives, charcuterie and the like. (One request, maybe combine a few of those items on a single plate, so we could have olives and cheese without ordering a lot more food?)
There’s also a selection of craft cocktails that’s interesting enough to catch the eye and let Social join some of the other new bars and restaurants that are paying more attention to their drinks.
I do feel a little bad for the servers, however, who are all young, attractive women in short black dresses. The dresses seem fairly reasonable to work in, but the shoes are all cute canvas Toms. They may look nice, but no arch-support might make for a long shift for their feet.
Maybe it’s a case of style over substance? If so, it’s difficult to say at this early stage whether that extends to other aspects of the restaurant. In the meantime, Social looks great and obviously has some good thought behind it, across the board. Can’t wait to see how it tastes.