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Bar Tab: Made Restaurant

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Made duck and Manhattan wide MAIN PIC

M.A.D.E. Manhattan with confit duck wings at Made Restaurant in downtown Sarasota. STAFF PHOTOS / WADE TATANGELO

It’s a sunny and refreshingly cool Friday afternoon and I’m ready to ditch the office and get my weekend started. The computer screen has turned into a blur of nonsense and for the past 45 minutes my keyboard has produced nothing but gibberish. It would be foolish to sit here and feign productivity, right?

I crave the winning combination of a smart, stiff drink and comfort food that goes beyond mere fatty decadence. After consulting with a couple envious coworkers, I opt for returning to Made. It’s a full-liquor establishment that served me an outstanding burger back in May.

I walk out of Herald-Tribune headquarters in downtown Sarasota, make a left on Main Street and arrive around 2 p.m. at Made. A couple is seated at the bar near the window facing the street. I plop down on stool as far away from them as possible. Perhaps they want some privacy. To be honest, I’m not feeling too chatty, myself, at least not yet.
Made’s new winter menu has cocktails printed across the top and I’m pretty sure I’ve come to the right spot.

Made Manhattan

M.A.D.E. Manhattan

The impressive drink list opens with the M.A.D.E. Manhattan ($9). It’s Woodford Reverse Bourbon, Carpano Antica Vermouth, bitters and Amarena Cherry Juice served with Filthy Cherries. I’m sold. My friendly bartender, Tim Barrett, soon brings out a beautiful rocks glass filled with all the right stuff. A Manhattan, which dates back to the New York bars of the 1870s, typically contains whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters garnished with a Maraschino cherry. It’s a winning combination of sweet and spiciness that Made wisely elevates rather than alters.

I take a few sips and smile. A smoke-and-honey vocalist can be heard on the speakers performing an uplifting number from The Great American Songbook. The computer and the keyboard and all the other office weight lifted, it’s time to eat.

Made stands for “Modern American Delicious Eats.” The restaurant serves red, white and blue comfort foods given a fancy, but not too fancy, makeover. It’s the kind of brilliantly basic menu my personal chef will master when my amazing wife Kristin makes us millionaires. For now, though, we will have to settle for stopping by to see chef/owner Mark Woodruff at Made.

Made Duck Wings close CROP

Confit duck wings

Woodruff works wonders with my wings ($12). Mind you, these aren’t chicken wings but a half dozen, hulking confit duck wings fried to a crisp and tossed in a homemade peach barbecue sauce that I could easily enjoy straight up with a spoon. Same goes for Woodruff’s buttermilk green goddess sauce I use for dipping both the wings and vegetable sticks.

“Now, those look good,” says the tall gentleman who sits down near me as I stuff my face with tender, flavorful, pleasantly textured bites of fowl. We get to talking and soon I’m instant pals with Daniel and his eating companion Jennifer. They also order the duck wings and are equally impressed. Alas, the three wings – half the order – I plan to save for Kristin mysteriously shrinks to two while we’re all talking about the wings’ awesomeness.

Our bartender, Tim, meanwhile, can’t quit gushing about the cheese steak ($11). Finally, I relent and order one. It’s as magnificent as he says for several reasons. We will start with the bread, which Mark says gets flown in from Philadelphia. Then, there’s the seared ribeye covered with caramelized onions and smoked mushrooms that smack of freshness. But here’s what really makes Made’s cheese steak sandwich worth busting the diet: the parmesan and gruyere cheese on top. Gruyere is a Swiss cheese with a serious bite that works fantastically to undercut the greasiness of the meat.

Made steak and drink CROP 46

Cheese Steak and Cheesy Tots with The Barnum

For my side, I go with the Cheesy Tots. These are basically deep fried balls of mashed potatoes and cheese. These are tater tots on a whole new level of charm. These are also worth destroying your diet.

While Tim neatly packs up all my leftovers in big, brown bag I sip the remains of my second and final cocktail of the afternoon, The Barnum ($8). It’s Farmer's Botanical Small Batch Organic Gin judiciously complemented by the refined Caribbean breeze burst of Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb, summery dandelion preserves, bitters and a few squirts of soda. It’s a Made original and fine addition to the canon of first-rate Florida cocktails. Plus, as Tim noted, it pairs nicely with the cheese steak.

I don’t want to encourage anyone to leave work early Friday but, you know, if you do, let me highly recommend Made. It’s a place for cocktailians and foodies and strangers who might soon become friends. It’s also where you just might find me back at the bar, but this time with Kristin - definitely with Kristin next time. After eating those leftovers she really wants to return. ASAP.

Made Restaurant
1990 Main St., Sarasota; 953-2900; Maderestaurant.com

Made Restaurant
1990 Main St., Sarasota; 953-2900; Maderestaurant.com

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013 Wade Tatangelo created what would eventually be called Bar Tab while working as a correspondent for the Herald-Tribune in 2003. He would continue writing about bars for Maxim, Tampa Bay Times, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, OC (Calif.) Weekly and The Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune as a staff writer in 2013 and has happily returned to writing our weekly column Bar Tab. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: January 28, 2014
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