One meal was enough here. The memory is enough to trigger internal hemorrhaging, not just because the food and service were ordinary, but because of their bloated website claims. Simplicity and quality are the rarest elements in the restaurant periodic table. Humility and honesty are the next couple. Places like this survive on what they think is cool. Blech.

When a tort lawyer, a flight attendant and a ski bum decide to open a restaurant in Sarasota together, Social is the result. From this unlikely combination a carefully understated mission arose:

“By…taking a creative and innovative approach to Italian-American cuisine, we hope to provide unforgettable cuisine…”

“Our goal in creating such a restaurant…features this new approach to Italian comfort food, as well as incredible specialty drinks…”

“Social Eatery & Bar takes an inventive and original approach to traditional Italian-American comfort food…”

This story reminds me of Salvador Dali. Dali, like many artists, was only partially accepted in his lifetime. All that dreamlike surrealist imagery confronted people, offended some and downright puzzled others. The point about Dali is that as well as being visually visionary he was an accomplished draftsman, a master of perspective and quite able to draw in the traditional style. He could create crazy because he had the foundation from which to build.

Social is no Dali. When you expound (at length) about your adoration of Italian food, serving a “ragù bolognese” that a fellow diner compared (unfavorably) to Chef Boyardee dings your credibility. Likewise, a salad of arugula with salmon was almost absurdly unbalanced, with a minnow-like chunk of fish perched on a gargantuan pile of green. All of our dishes had some kind of bum note. Maybe the kitchen really was aiming for Dali, but there isn’t one restaurant south of the Gotthard Tunnel where you’d find such an indelicate touch.

Italian food (or Italian comfort food, which varies from the other, uncomfortable version I know not how) doesn’t need fixing. Or if you absolutely must charge punters for a “…creative and innovative approach…” then please find someone who knows the fundamentals of cooking, plating and serving.

Social, perhaps; better called Dilettante. Worthy of two stars. One removed because the plaintiffs’ bar costs us all billions.