Friday, May 9, 2014

Chill out at Steam, bring on the tapas!

I had worked a long shift and was ready to come home to a quiet evening.  Fat chance, not your momma.  When I pulled into the driveway, the Mister was sitting in the garage just waiting to spring into the car as I drove in.  Really?  I just spent a nail-biting 40 minute drive home, on gas fumes and needing a pit stop.  I pleaded my case, handed him the keys to go get gas and give me a 10 minute breather.  Then when I get in the car to chauffeur his Royal Highness to supper, I innocently asked, "Where do you want to go?"  "I don't know, you pick something, but it can't be too far, it can't be too expensive and it can't be Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, seafood or barbecue!" Thanks for making it easy on me, Mr.  We live in a restaurant wasteland on the southside of St. Petersburg. Head west on 22nd Avenue South, off to the beach, we go.

I have a list of restaurants on my wish list gleaned from the posts on Urbanspoon. Where to go, where to go?  Hmmm.  Turn left, SPB, turn right, Treasure Island. Straight ahead, I spot Steam.  Yep.  You are the winner, Steam/Chill on this night's restaurant lottery game.

Chill on Urbanspoon

There were only a few diners in the restaurant and we had the undivided attention of our server.  The Mister ordered his beer and I chose a vodka cucumber mint libation. I have a new found admiration for boutique cocktails and martinis.  The menu is a culinary experiment of small plates and appetizers.  Each plate is lovingly described and are tantalizing temptations to the palate.  There is a nice eating bar that overlooks the open kitchen and you can chat with the chef while he prepares your meal.  There are some comfortable booths and tables. It is cozy and has lovely pendant lights throughout the restaurant.  Another plus, was a lovely sound track playing stylish vocalizations with a smooth vibe.  It added a nice musical ambiance to our dinner.  There is a small selection of wines by the glass as well as a specialty cocktail menu.

Our first plates were the Hot stuffed olives, Stuffed dates wrapped in proscuitto, and the warmed Brie with mushrooms, shallots and brandy flambe with bread for dipping.  Now bear in mind, you are ordering small plates to share...there is no rhyme or reason to a set progression of courses, you are served your tapas when it is ready.  Fresh plates are supplied throughout our meal and extra bread was brought without request.

Now, ordering hot stuffed olives was a bit of a risk, with a non-olive eater at the table.  Aha, the warm melting asiago and kasseri cheese spread over bread was more alluring than the fear of a colossal black olive.  We both approved.
Dates stuffed with gorgonzola cheese wrapped in proscuitto, what could possibly top this nibble?  Sweet, salty and savory in two bites.  The soy drizzle was delicious and there was a lovely bed of spinach to anchor the plate.
Ohhhh, sweet heaven.  The brie with the mushrooms, shallots, bacon and brandy flambe was out of this world good.  It was everything you want in one bite, savory, herbal, cheesy goodness slathered over bread.  There is a sweet brie version offered as well, perfect for a dessert option, maybe?

I am willing to admit I made a mistake with our ordering pattern, I should have mixed it up a bit so that all that cheesy goodness was not served in rapid progression.  It was a live and learn tapas lesson.  Next visit, I'll stagger the dishes between so many that are cheese heavy to a refresher salad and then a meaty option with a veggie choice. There is a good selection of items from the sea.  There is a 'fresh is best' approach to the ingredients and it is evident in the careful presentation and taste of the small plates.  I so want to try the liver pate especial plate, with capers. Capers are my culinary weakness.  Those little sprightly pops of vinegary goodness always excite the palate.

Fred was very happy with his delicious filet once it was refired.  He ordered medium and the first delivery yielded a very rare filet.  No problem, our server promptly returned for a re-cook.  The demi-glace sauce was delicious, smooth and savory. The truffle oil drizzle mashed potatoes were hot and promptly scarfed down by my spouse. I barely snagged a forkful.  The steak was incredibly tender and flavorful.
I felt virtuous with my veggie order.  Fresh cauliflower cooked, riced and served as a pilaf with a lovely assortment of extra veggie power added to the mix.  It was garnished with a handful of cherry tomatoes.  It looked like rice but it felt so much lighter.
The only odd moment was the tomatoes as the base on the Warm Pear salad. The rounds of tomato (not fully ripe) were garnished with beautiful piped mounds of whipped goat cheese.  To my taste I would prefer a croustade as the base for the whipped cheese.  It could have used a generous grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt to bring up the flavor.  The warm pears, walnuts, fig compote and fresh spinach salad was delicious.  Even with the slight disharmony with the tomato base.
By this time, we were appropriately stuffed and near comatose from the cheese. However, with a slight arm twist we were able to order a dessert.  While the house award winning, red velvet cupcake (described as a dense cake cross between a cupcake and brownie) with vanilla ice cream and a caramel drizzle tempted me, the Mister frowned on the word "cupcake."  So, our shared order would be their flourless chocolate cake to appease his massive chocoholic tooth.
The slice was garnished nicely with a strawberry and sauce drizzle.  It was an incredibly dense, fudge-like melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake.  So very rich and quite decadent.
The Mister chose a glass of house merlot as his after-dinner drink and I had an iced Naughty Whipped mocha coffee.  The restaurant serves Kahwah coffee and has a very nice coffee, espresso, latte selection.  I love a good coffee and this was the perfect ending on a warm spring night.
Please note we had previously tried Steam/Chill for a late breakfast and while the food was most delicious, the service was incredibly uneven and slow.  It was an interminable wait for a Bloody Mary and a Mimosa.  The shrimp and grits still remains a favorite breakfast dish.
 The shrimp were succulent, the grits cheesy awesomeness, with nice bites of Andouille sausage.  The Offspring loved her eggs Benedict.
The girl can not turn down an Eggs Benedict.  The Mister had the Philly Cheesesteak Scramble skillet and he was very happy with his choice.
 The fellow is from Philly and he loves a cheese wit in every incarnation.

Notyourmomma's Kitchen Tampa Bay restaurants

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.


  1. Yummzzzz! One of the best on the Pinellas Beaches, IMO.

  2. We love it! here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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