Thursday, June 6, 2013

Birch & Vine - downtown St Petersburg, FL

I paid a visit to the newly opened Birch & Vine, which is located on Beach Drive in downtown St Pete.  Before getting a table, we went to check out the rooftop lounge.  The view was spectacular and I loved the canopy covered sofas that will come in handy, if you can get one.  It was a weeknight and very crowded, so I can't imagine a weekend.  After checking that out, we headed inside to dine because it was way too hot for the patio, but that is Florida weather for you.

The inside dining room wasn't too crowded and it looked beautiful.  First thing we did is take a look at the drink menu.  One thing that I thought was odd was that there were no prices listed for the drinks, with the exception of the wines.  They had some lovely signature drinks and I decided to try the Floradita, which was very refreshing and pretty.  We started with the soup of the day, which was cream of cauliflower, and the sous vide butter poached lobster.  The soup was very good and we really liked the poached lobster, except for the fried leeks on top.  The fried leeks looked pretty, but I didn't like the texture as I chewed it, so I pushed them off to the side.  The vegetable pasta we went on to order was very good, and a excellent choice for vegetarians, or you can add a protein if you like.  The other entree  we tried was the sous vide citrus Chilean Salmon.  The salmon was excellent, but the quinoa and spinach that came with it didn't really impress me.  To finish off our meal, we decided to try the chocolate hazelnut cake with salted brown sugar ice cream.  The dessert was yummy and we could have started a fight over that, but we were in public and had to share nicely.

Up to this point you can see I don't have any major complaints, and I only had a few small problems. Yes, food was good, and pretty equal to what you can find at other restaurants on Beach Drive in that it is no better or no worse.  Wine menu by the glass is the usual stuff you find and I would have liked to have seen another french in the reds. I did have a problem when we ordered our drinks to go with dessert.  We ordered drinks specifically that would pair well with our dessert.  Our dessert came and no sign of any drinks.  After a while, we decided we should go ahead and eat it because ice cream is just going to melt.  We had ordered a Dow's 20 year port and a coffee with different liqueurs that was to be topped with whipped cream.  They were out of the 20 year port, so finally they came to our table with a 10 year port and asked if we would like that instead.  Not a problem, they are newly opened and I am sure a one doesn't know how fast they are going to go through stock.  Restaurants can't just run out to the liquor store when they run out, they have to buy through a distributor, so no big deal.  Major gripe is the drink finally made its way to our table after dessert finished.  However, I can't excuse the coffee.  The coffee made it to our table, after the dessert was finished, without whipped cream, which to me is half the yumminess of these kind of drinks.  So, I flagged down the server and pointed out the missing whipped creamed.  She checked the menu in front of me to confirm it was supposed to be served with whipped cream and then she went off with my coffee in search of whipped cream.  After a little wait, the same cup of coffee, that is slowly growing colder, came back without the whipped cream.  There was no whipped cream, which should be a staple, to be had at bar or in kitchen, but would I still like to have this coffee that has been carried all around?  A suitable response would have been to comp the coffee.  Yes, I know the cost is in the liquor, but again the whipped cream is part of what completes the drink and I think it is one of those gestures that builds goodwill for a newly opened restaurant as they iron out the glitches.  I just thought that was a no brainer.  I refused the coffee, so away it went.  Overall, I loved the food and I have a few other complaints that I will leave out of this post because I am going to cut some slack for them being new.  Next time I go back, I expect things to be ironed out and if the same problems exist, then I will post about it.  Try it and let me know about your experience.

The Birch & Vine 
340 Birch Drive NE
Saint Petersurg, FL  33701

Birch & Vine on Urbanspoon

Witches BBQ Den - downtown Saint Petersburg, FL

The Witches BBQ Den just opened in April, but I have been back many times to try out the menu.  Obviously, repeat visits mean I love it.  So far, I have tried the dry rubbed and smoked chicken wings that come three to an order.  Those three wings are HUGE, and I am usually full after two, but this is all according to appetite.  I have also tried the cheddar jalepeƱo grits, and I like those so much that I always get an order.  On my most recent visit, I tried the blackened shrimp that comes as five large shrimp served on top of the grits and the smoked salmon dip.  Both were delicious and perfect with a cold brew.  And before I could even finish this blog post, I got a chance to taste the pulled chicken, and like everything here, it is delicious!

After telling you about the food, let me tell you about the place and why you should visit.  The Witches BBQ is owned by Brett Andress, the same owner of The Ale and the Witch.  Brett gives back to the community and I think his employees are among some of the most satisfied employees I have ever met with.  Both businesses are in the same courtyard, only the Ale and the Witch is downstairs, while the Witches BBQ is located upstairs.  The Ale and the Witch has a huge selection of American craft beer, with changes to the lineup everyday.  They also serve some gluten free beer.  If you don't fancy beer, there is some wine on the menu.  For those who don't drink alcohol, or for the kids, they serve craft ginger ale and root beer and a couple of green tea choices.  Grab your drinks and your food from upstairs and the courtyard is the perfect place to relax.  If you are a live music lover, they have music going on every night of the week.  Bring the kids or the pooches along because this is a good, clean environment where  everyone is welcome!

Witches BBQ Den
111 2nd Avenue NE, Suite 209
Saint Petersburg, FL  33701

Witches BBQ Den on Urbanspoon