Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Deep in the Jungle, tasty tapas emerge....The Black Palm

In a former life time I was known as "Tina, the Tourguide."  Maybe I gained my nickname because of my penchant for telling 'people where to go' or maybe not.   My former employ as a resort front desk manager allowed me to indulge in tasting, trying and then recommending restaurants for our diverse base of guests. It was the favorite part of my job....investigating what was new, what was popular and what would be a good fit for the diner.  I was not compensated then or now for my dining choices, it is purely my personal opinion on finding the best tasting restaurants, value or splurge, family or intimate, to recommend to either guests or friends.  That being said, I do have a personal bias to the old St. Pete establishments as a life long resident of a city I love.  I am drawn to visit and review the places that have been re-vitalized into something new from my recollections.

I never had the honor of eating at the Black Palm at its former location, therefore I have no preconceived notions of the intimate setting in Pass-a-grille.
Black Palm Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I have had several dinners at the Jungle Prada, in many of the other guises and establishments.  I am very happy to report that the Black Palm has graciously taken root in the historic building.  It is lovely to see the building, scrubbed and restored to glory.  The terrazzo floors and the arches are uncovered and beautiful to behold.  The bar is generous in size and sparkles with lights.  The room evokes an understated elegance with an old world panache that feels organic.  It honors a long ago treasure polished for newcomers to embrace.

The day was wet and blustery and just plain dreary.  We wanted, nay, we required a pick-me-up to lift our sodden spirits.  Aha, let's try the Black Palm.
I would have put the top down on the convertible to make the drive but the skies were too grey.

The parking lot was jam-packed and we were worried about getting a table.  It was five thirty pm.  We entered and lo and behold, we had a beautiful vision of multiple tables for the taking.  Apparently, the savvy owners of the Black Palm realize the benefit of schmooze and had the homeowners association meeting for the tony Jungle Prada area in their banquet room.  Smart move.

We were seated in the back corner (our choice) on one of the banquettes.  It allowed us full view of the dining room.  Our drink order was taken swiftly.  We were offered a bottle of sparkling water or tap.  I love Pellegrino, you know I chose that bubbly crisp water to quench the palate.

On to the menu, now this took a bit of explaining to the Mister.  The idea of tapas is quite foreign to him.  (Bar snacks at Hooter's require no explanation, hmmm).
There were so many choices, but we persevered and chose a number to share.

The Pinchos-Beef skewers
The Mister ordered TWO beef skewers and I had to fight for one bite.  That man!
Quesadilla de Mer
This was another tug of war dish.  Tortilla with seafood filling, avocado and crema topping.  So good.....do not nibble that jalapeno garnish.  It will make you cry.
Lovely soft sweetly starchy plantains, fried and topped with a light crema. The slight sweetness balanced the heat from our other choices.  
Fried Chorizo slices on unripe fried plantain chips, topped with a garlic aoili
The chorizo slices were delicious.  We loved the sauce and it was not overpowering in garlic, a nice complementary tidbit to our selection of little bites.
Pretty Huevos de Diablo
Okay, this was a bit of miss, it did not live up to the Diablo name....a good egg, but it lacked the spice I had hoped for.  
A wonderful beet salad, complex and earthy, a salad of my dreams.
A saute of tender steak tips with onions, garlic and peppers, served with black beans and rice.  We found the flavor to be spot-on and the beans were aromatic and earthy, with cumin and onion.  A very nice dinner entree. 
Volcano lava cake...it was the coup de grace for the Mister.
Oh there are no words to describe the beauty of a "Natilla," a Grand Marnier brulee.  It was so good, I nearly moaned aloud.  Maybe I did.  The table adjacent asked "what are you eating?"  Hmmm.

Our dinner was very good, service was impeccable.  There is a team of servers and each is efficient, swift and personable.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and look forward to visiting the Black Palm again.  Our meal with drinks, dessert and tip was $180.00.  Worth every cent!

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  1. Nom, nom, nom! I love that place! Great review!

    1. Oh, Polly, it was too much food, but oh so good. Your review of their food convinced me to get Fred to expand his horizons. We had a blast. We followed up dinner with a drive in the convertible to Rococo for a perusal of drink and food. For a former funeral home and YWCA, Rococo looks sleek and inviting. Put it on our short list of places to try.