Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stillwaters Tavern does run deep....

Stillwaters run deep. 1.proverb~a quiet or placid manner may conceal a more passionate nature.
After very satisfying lunch at Stillwaters Tavern last week, I find that the Tavern does show their passion where it counts, in their service, sourcing of food stuffs and preparation of a lovely meal. I appreciate the calm aesthetic in the decor. The reclaimed wood and slightly nautical touches are soothing especially when the noon lunch crowd arrived. I particularly like the tall black booths. They give a sense of intimacy and you are not subjected to other conversations.
I had the delightful companionship of Denise Parker, blogger extraordinaire (The Epicurean Perils of Sweet Polly) and author of the WTFork column with the Tampa Tribune. We were seated close to the kitchen area and even though the restaurant became increasingly busy, having a conversation was easy. I liked the capped bottle of chill water presented by our waiter Paul. He was attentive and willing to answer questions about the menu. He knew when to offer a refill on our wine. (Immediately.) I like the offer of a large pour and the many choices by the glass.
We decided to share a plate of fried oysters as our appetizer. The oysters were lightly coated and extra crispy. They included a few deep fried vegetables such as carrot, cauliflower and hot cherry pepper. A mustard aioli was a spicy dipping sauce. The oysters definitely reminded me of an Italian fritto misto, mixed seafood and veggies deep fried. It was excellent.
Onto the main dish, since Denise was a repeat customer I listened to her comments on the Shrimp and grits and chose it as my dish. She chose the Airline chicken. Let me tell you THAT chicken was the single finest piece of chicken I've tasted in ages. Off the chart, flavorful, tender and juicy. Bless Denise for sharing some of the jalapeno cheddar cornbread as well. Be still my heart. Forgive me, I have to say it, "Winner Winner chicken dinner."
 I was very pleased with my Key West pinks. The shrimp were firm and properly cooked. The stone ground cheddar grits beat the pants off any other grits in town. This was notyourmommas' baby pablum. There was a nice texture and heft to the grits and the flavor was delicious. Note that the shrimp has a mustard wine sauce. It was reminiscent of Eastern NC bbq sauce. It is not a typical sauce and I thoroughly enjoyed the mustard punch.

Of course we saved room for dessert. My dining companion chose the apple blueberry crumble with whiskey cream. Don't you want to have some now? It arrived in a small cast iron skillet. The aroma was intoxicating. There is something to be said of the aroma of cinnamon and brown sugar. The crumble was not soggy as some can be. A credible crumble in my book. 

But I do believe I hit the chocolate jackpot with my dark chocolate cremeaux with peanut butter pretzel and chocolate caviar. It was chocolate nirvana. The cremeaux is denser than a mousse and we were instructed to dig down to get all the layers. It was divine. It was rich and decadent. Passion under Stillwaters, indeed.
A wonderful addition to our restaurant row and I look forward to visiting again soon.  Plus, anytime sharing delicious food with a kindred spirit is a day brightener and a highlight of my week.  Til we eat again, m'dear.

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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.