Thursday, December 24, 2009

St Pete Brassiere - St Pete, FL

**Update: Wonderful experience on a Saturday night, recently. Great food and service. Watch for my new post coming soon.....

I feel like with today's post, I need to explain again about my philosophy when it comes to writing about my dining experiences. I am not a critic or reviewer because I feel that is too presumptuous of me. I love supporting local restaurants and there are people who work really hard to build a business and they are passionate about what they do and I love the choice we have here in the bay area. It is hard work and I really have to applaud people who have chosen that line of work. In my fifty plus posts that I have done I feel that I have put forth an effort to keep my posts positive. If I really don't like a place and I don't feel that it is redeemable, I don't even write about it in my blog. That being said, today I am going to write my first negative post, if only with the hope that it might do some good.

When I first read about The Table restaurant changing their name and going with the concept of a brassiere, I was very excited. I felt this was something St Pete needed and I liked their new lower prices and their menu looked great when I checked it out online. So, on a Wednesday night, my family and I headed over to check it out. When we arrived, the place was quite busy, but after a short wait, we were seated at our table. This is where the first glitch took place. One server comes and takes our order for drinks and an appetizer. Then another server arrives later and says she will be our server. We told her we had already been helped and she goes to our first server and we observe them have a quiet two minute argument about who will be our server. Finally, the second server comes back and says she will our server and we need to give our order again, because apparently the first guy couldn't tell her what we had already ordered. Alas, we gave her our drink order, but forgot to mention the order for the onion tart that we had placed with the first server. After a wait, our server showed up again and we order our appetizer. Sorry, but the customer should not have to witness the infighting and I felt like we kind of felt the fallout all evening for the argument between the two servers.

Our onion tart arrived and this was really one redeemable menu item of the evening and it was quite delicious. The only thing I would have done differently is I should have paired the tart with a chardonnay or Riesling because they would have helped to cut the richness of the tart. Instead, I had ordered a Cabernet, which was good, but didn't necessarily pair with the tart. Oh well, that was my mistake.

After the onion tart, everything really seemed to go down hill. We ordered another glass of wine, which took about twenty minutes to arrive. We waited forever to get our food, which sometimes happens and if the server is good at giving me updates I am ok with that because the kitchen is really beyond the control of the servers. However, that doesn't explain why it took twenty minutes for our glass of wine. She did come and apologize once for the delay on the food, but it was really a strange reason that she gave us. She pointed to a table with a party of twelve and said that the large table was the reason everything was slow tonight. Huh? I had seen that party of twelve there for at least a half an hour before we had ever ordered our entrees. And from what I could see, it took them forever to get their orders, too.

So, we had our wine and our entrees arrived. My son ordered the brassiere burger well-done with no vegetables on it and pommes frites alongside. The burger came with vegetables, which was no big deal because we just scraped them off. However, then he took a bite and it was blood red inside. I know some people are in to rare burgers, but if you are not into them, that can be quite gross. So, we call the server over and she takes the burger back to the kitchen. After ten minutes, the same burger with the bite out of it comes back and it was cooked with ketchup and all and the unwanted vegetables back on top. Oh, and the same french fries came back with it. At this point, my son just ate it. He is young enough that as long as there wasn't blood coming out of the burger, he was happy. If it had been me, I wouldn't have ate it.

For myself, I ordered the steak of the day with pommes frites. My steak was a rib eye and it was just an okay steak. What I had been really excited to try was the pommes frites which I had read were cooked in the traditional way, wherein they are fried for a short time once, and then a second time until they are finished, which produces a nice, crisp fry. However, these fries were more similar to a pommes allumettes, or matchstick fries. And serving the fries with the steak on top of them defeated the purpose of having crisp fries.

Last of all, my husband had the vegetable risotto. Both him and I agreed it was just a so-so risotto and we both tend to prefer a creamier risotto. Also, I must say it would have been nice to see a couple of more vegetarian options on the menu. St Petersburg does have a decent number of vegetarians in there midst and it would be nice to have that reflected on the menu.

I hope that this just happened to be on of those nights, because it still felt a lot like the Table restaurant, only with a different menu. Like I said, the new pricing is great as it reflects the current economy. On paper, the menu looks great, so I would love to go back again and try it and hope that it was just an off night. This restaurant is a great concept and I would love to see it succeed in St Pete and it would be lovely to see new decor in fitting with a European feel.

St Pete Brassiere
539 Central Ave
St Petersburg, FL 33701

St. Pete Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yacht Sales Cafe - St Petersburg, FL

I discovered this little spot when I was out for a 3 mile run with my son and husband one Saturday. Up to this point, I had never heard of its existence, and after my visit there, I wish I had known about it sooner. Just south of the Dali museum in downtown St Pete, it is an unassuming spot with a relaxing atmosphere that is helped along by the yachts along the waterfront. The food is simple, but good. There are a few beers on tap to choose from along with some bottled beer and there are 2-3 wine choices. The food consists mainly of soup or sandwiches and you can pick up chips or a few bakery items from the counter. I believe they also offer grouper. I have been there twice, and I have tried the egg salad sandwich and the philly cheesesteak, which were both good. Again, this is simple food at its finest and it is great tossed down with a cold beer. The people working there are friendly and efficient. Order you food at the counter, and they bring it out to your table outside in a flash. As an added plus for the budget minded, draft beers and food are inexpensive. It is a great place to pass a relaxing Saturday afternoon for me.

Yacht Sales Cafe
1110 3rd Street South
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Yacht Sales Cafe on Urbanspoon

Burrito Border - St Petersburg, FL

There is everything to love about this spot. First of all, the minute you walk in the door, you are greeted by the people working behind the counter and they actually seem like they are happy to see you there and not putting on an act. Second, you get untold choices to build your taco, burrito, nachos, etc....whichever way you want it. You like meat..... go ahead and build it from there. problem, build it from there. Choose your meat, vegetables, beans, cheeses, and salsas and add it to whatever you want and you are ready to go. I go there about once a week when I am having a beer at "The Independent" that is right next door. The guys wrap it all up in takeaway boxes and I am ready to go.

Burrito Border
17 3rd Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Burrito Border on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nola Cafe and News Stand - St Petersburg, FL

Just new to Beach Drive in St Pete, is the Nola Cafe and News Stand. This is the second location for Nola, which has its first store in Tampa. My family and I were just walking by and wanted to take a peek inside. However, it ended up being more than a peek when we were met at the door and invited inside to take a look at the menu, which serves up New Orleans style food. Once we saw beignets on the menu, there was no way we were leaving. For those of you not familiar with the New Orleans treat of beignets, they are a like a pillow-shaped donut that is always served fresh out of the hot oil and sprinkled very liberally, and then some, with powdered sugar. The beignets at Nola's were light and fluffy and went great with a cup of traditional Cafe Au Lait, made with half chicory coffee and half hot milk. This looks to me to be a new favorite morning treat to have at Nola's!

Nola Cafe and News Stand
(The website above is for the Tampa location, but it duplicates the menu at St Pete)
300 Beach Drive
St Petersburg, FL

Nola Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tre Amici @ the Bunker - Tampa, FL

Yay, I had the great experience of finding another great wine/espresso bar, and again this was something my family found in our quest to listen to some of the wonderfully talented singers that we have here locally in the Tampa Bay area. On this particular occasion we had the opportunity to hear Vanessa Brown, Steve Vaclavik, and Bob Forrest. I have to say, they all put on an excellent music show and that everyone who showed up at the Bunker had a great time!

Now for the location itself. It is just two blocks off the main action in Ybor, and yet it is a nice quiet spot. Huge windows overlook the street, and it looks quite cozy if you walk by the windows and look in at night. Inside, there are cozy tables for two, or some larger couches and tables to gather around with a party of friends. I really liked the black and white photography on the walls. Also, their is a neat piece of artwork hanging over the counter where you order that shouldn't be missed. If you like, there is a bar to sit at.

For drinks, one can order wine, espresso, tea, and soda, etc. I had a cappuccino that I really liked, and even better was their lemon-ginger tea. Also, we ordered some of their sandwiches, which were all very good. My favorite sandwich turned out to be the one that my husband ordered, The Pianta. This was a vegetarian sandwich with avocados, sun-dried tomato pesto, olives, and swiss cheese on cuban bread and toasted. For myself, I ordered the Avery sandwich, which had smoked turkey, greens, cucumbers, and cream cheese on cuban bread and this was all very yummy. Also delicious was the roast beef sandwich. All these were served with a choice of chips or fruit salad. If you have room for dessert, or you need something along with your coffee, we tried the lemon raspberry bars and the oreo bars which were very decadent and hard to share, they were so good.

Tre Amici at the Bunker is a very lovely place and I can't wait to go back. Every Thursday night they have live music, so it is worth checking out their schedule on their website. They love to support local talent and any local talent that wants exposure and is interested in playing should stop by and check it out, too.

Tre Amici@the Bunker
1907 19th Street North
Tampa, FL 33605

Tre Amici at Bunker on Urbanspoon