All Hail the New Wink Wink Modern Lounge Menu

Good Bite

Pictured: The rabbit confit (wascally wabbit, as it is called on the menu) is a slow-roasted rabbit leg with mushroom duxelle and duck-fat roasted carrots. Photo by Kevin Allen.

It’s flirty, it’s fun, it’s mid-century modern, elevated tiki bar bliss. Yes, there’s something special happening at Wink Wink Modern Lounge, the restaurant connected with the Rosemary District’s Sarasota Modern Hotel, and judging by its new menu, we’re all in for a long love affair.

There’s a dish on Wink Wink’s new menu that is a requisite for any and all local foodies — heck, as I’m remembering it, I would say it’s necessary for any living human.

On the menu, the rabbit confit is listed as “wascally wabbit” (told you they’re having fun over there!), and for it, the Wink Wink wizards pack a rabbit leg in herb salt for 24 hours to let it dry out a bit. It’s then slow roasted with duck fat, shallots and herbs at 220 degrees for 10 hours. It’s served on a bed of shiitake mushroom duxelle, and the indulgent duck-fat roasted carrots act like exclamation points to this masterpiece. The rabbit meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. I ate mine with my fork, never touching my knife. Its flavor is rich and complex, bolstered by a lingonberry sauce that does not overpower.

The dish lacks the gaminess that rabbit can sometimes betray, but chef Donald Robinson put it best when he said, “It's like the best Thanksgiving dinner.” Robinson told me this as the smell of the roasted meat and duck fat gave me a sneak preview of what I was about to enjoy. He knew I was moments away from culinary divinity.

With no exaggeration, the Wink Wink rabbit confit is one of the best things I’ve eaten in my life. Since trying it, I have spent considerable time plotting when I can experience it next.

And the rest of the menu? If duck-fat roasted rabbit is somehow not your thing — and I’m slack-jaw shocked if it isn’t — you’re in luck. There’s a vegan kale caesar salad that I’m told has inspired a couple from North Port to make a weekly pilgrimage. Having tried it and loved every crunchy, tangy bite myself, I get it.

Wink Wink also has its take on the pork belly bao bun. Every dish at Wink Wink — including the bao buns themselves — is scratch-made. Making the Cantonese-style pork belly is a 72-hour slow-cooking process that caps the meat with a puffed chicharron exterior that couples amazingly well with its pickled garnishes.

Robinson has been working with Sarasota Modern director of culinary and beverage Joe Brugh for nearly three years (pre-pandemic!) to perfect this menu. Together, they’ve created an something that would do as well on Miami Beach as it certainly will in the Rosemary District.

Wink Wink Modern Lounge, 1290 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, (941) 906-1290, thesarasotamodern.com/dining/wink-wink-modern-lounge.

Pictured: The rabbit confit (wascally wabbit, as it is called on the menu) is a slow-roasted rabbit leg with mushroom duxelle and duck-fat roasted carrots. Photo by Kevin Allen.

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