Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I have my Fetish, do your have yours? Fetishes delivers in style

We went to Fetishes for first time after experiencing a terrible, no-good horrific week.  It was the perfect evening of delicious food and wine to ease our tattered & battered nerves. Fetishes is a lovely restorative, an impressive throw-back to the continental dining style that nourishes our soul.  We were impressed from the calm, quietly elegant interior to the impressive cork bar laid by hand by Bruce, the cordial owner.  Fetishes has an excellent wine list, offering many two glass pours, which is a lovely option when you have divergent tastes at the table.  We sat at a quiet table, in the corner, it was delightfully semi-private.  Jenn was our more than competent and attentive server, along with tableside service from Bruce.
My apologies, this is the only photo available from our meal....I neglected to charge the phone, hence the camera was not available.  It only means that we have to return to Fetishes to correct this abomination of a blogger error.  There is a method to my madness.  Did I say that?  Oops, need to use my inside voice.

I was thrilled to see blonde Lillet as an aperitif (now I want Lillet rouge).  I rarely see this offered in restaurants.  I can remember many a supper with a former beau, that started with a glass of Lillet with fresh radishes, soft butter, salt and toasty baguettes.  I digress, again, where is that  pesky inside voice when I need her?   As a former fine dining server, back in the day, I have to confess that the tableside service was my culinary weakness at first.  I used to carve and flambe tableside, with my own horror stories to share of my initial mistakes.  I once flipped a rack of lamb to the floor and in one (151 rum) flaming mistake took off my eyebrows and lashes.  Remember, a mistake is never a mistake as long as it isn't repeated.  Errors are lessons learned as my motto and I'm sticking to it.  That said, I love the intimacy and cordiality of fine dining with the host/owner as your guide.   Tableside presentation is truly an art, not only in preparing the food, but in having the patter, and personality to engage your diner.  I have to say that Bruce "does it right."  It was downright delightful to exchange our collective memories of our serving past.  Bruce has impeccable "street cred."  We do share many friends and that just added to the "feel good sensation" at Fetishes.

While discussing our dinner choices for the evening, Jenn overheard my concern with the Mister regarding the escargot appetizer and the possible garlic overload content.  She quietly mentioned to us that since the food is not pre-made, accommodations can be made to the dishes to adjust the sauces to the particular taste of the guest. Hooray!  It sure bets the "no substitutions or alterations" decree printed on other menus. It is nice to know that special orders don't upset us at Fetishes.

My husband indulged in the Lobster Newburg as his appetizer, while I had the lump crab cake, appetizer portion.  Both were delicious and the Mister could not stop scraping up the delectable sauce from the gratinee dish.  To my chagrin, he threatened to lick the plate.  (If the dish is offered with a few bread slices, we could the avoid the threat of dish licking and finger scraping).  There were huge chunks of lobster and it was worth every cent.  My Maryland crab cake had no filler evident to the eye. (Bruce is from Baltimore, who would question his crab integrity?)  I only questioned how it stayed in shape with a crispy crust.  It was served with a tangy Dijon sauce that was a perfect accompaniment.   We had a most impressive salad with a delightful mustard honey dressing, sliced green apple, romaine and pine nuts.  As a house salad it was superb.  I must return for the Caesar, it requires two for service.  I'm trolling for takers.  The Mister does not like Caesar, silly man.

I chose to have two appetizers as my entree.  The duck liver pate served with a tangy relish and seeded flat crackers.  It was superb.  (I'm a liver pate snob from my days at Rollande et Pierre; spreadable and Le Pompano; loaf style and sliced.)  My second was the bisque, a velvety creamy, intensely lobster flavored heavenly creation.  There was a sherry shooter to add to the bisque and it was wonderful.  The Mister chose to have the steak Diane.  The filet with the mustard, brandy, veal stock, cream sauce was spectacular.  It was beyond tender and flavorful. This supper was plated with Duchesse potatoes and sugar snap peas and carrots.  To say the Mister inhaled his dinner would be an understatement. We did have nice crusty French rolls with soft fresh butter topped with a sprig of dill.  We also indulged in a lovely bottle of Cote de Rhone.  Jenn was attentive but not intrusive, our water glasses were never empty and our wines were decanted to allow each wine time to bloom into a more fragrant tasty libation.  I concur that a wine decanted tastes infinitely better than the wine left in the bottle.  A lesser wine becomes much more open to the nose and it tastes better.  Bravo Bruce for adding the decant service to your wine presentation.  Truly how can a wine breathe through a bottle neck?  It needs the delicate pour into a decanter to breathe life into the captured grape.  I am also, impressed with the delicate touches of real herbs added to the foods.  There is a lovely little herb garden just off the kitchen and it is nice to see the dinner plating includes these touches of freshness that are delightful to the see and taste.

I have to mention that the music tracks that played during our meal was an eclectic mix and a perfect background to a superb, or as the Offspring says, phenomenal dinner. There was even a touch of Bob Marley, thank you.  People do not appreciate a good background music.  Bruce, thank you for adding another delightful dimension to the fine dining experience.

Jenn brought over the dessert and port/sherry selection.  I had a bit of a struggle because the Mister again said, "I'm too full for another bite."  I ordered the Key lime parfait and when Jenn brought my decaf espresso and dessert, he perked up and started eyeing my dish with ardor, nearing on passion!  Bless Jenn, she was prompt with another spoon so he could taste (eat half) of the parfait.  It was light and delicious. Enough tartness to finish the meal with a punch to the tastebuds.  I must return for the Bananas Foster.  I'm trolling for takers.  The Mister will again, be too full to partake.  Hmmm, bring the extra fork and bowl early, please?  Our Offspring stopped by after our dinner to share a glass of wine.  She was burnt to a lobster red crisp from her day at the Alden Beach Resort and she enjoyed her two-glass pour of wine.  It was a celebratory ending for the three of us to be together, so the Mister and I topped off our meal with a nice 1/2 bottle of Piper Heidsieck.  Nothing can make this girl happier than a sparkly champagne finish.

Please note that the restaurant does have a small side room, perfect for 8 to 10 people, that has a TV/monitor for presentations.  It is a private area that can accommodate the higher rung business meeting or a lovely private birthday party. Also there is a 17% gratuity added to the tab.

Fetishes Dining & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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 the city I love.  I am drawn to visit and review the places that have been re-vitalized into something new from my recollections.

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  1. The visual images inspired by your written words render a camera about as necessary as a bag of wet mice. I do not know which Tampa Bay blogger I admire the most. It is a toss-up between you and Sweet Polly. I read your restaurant reviews and seriously consider tossing my computer into the bay.

    My bride and I still remember our visit to Fetishes as one of the best dining experiences we have had in Florida. Nevertheless, I must query, why are all of the best and most innovative dining venues on your side of the bay?

    1. Dear Jon, thank you for the lovely compliments. I read with ardor your foodie adventures. Sir, you are no slouch at the keyboard. There are many nights I wish we could break Fred's (not too far) dictate and venture South of Gandy.

      Our dinner at Fetishes was sublime. It was a trip down memory lane with Bruce, we have had overlapping careers but never quite at the same establishment. I was a bus girl at Rollande et Pierre, he did the valet. I made cheese cake at 10 Beach Drive, his wife worked there as a cocktail waitress and my sister was the bartender. I worked at Tierra Verde Island Resort at the front desk, he was the bar keep for Giggles, the comedy club. And so was such a lovely evening. I am looking forward to going back.