Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cassis American Brasserie, St. Petersburg, FL

Since it was such a beautiful spring day on the Florida Suncoast, UD and I decided to load Gastropup and Sweet Molly in the SUV and hop the pond for some waterfront gamboling in Vinoy Park and an early dinner at one of downtown St. Pete's many fur-friendly sidewalk cafes.  I've wanted to try Cassis for some time now, but honestly have been a little put off by some of the reviews I've been reading.  After the fact, I can say that the occasional online references to snotty service and poor quality food appear to be completely unfounded (at least as far as my personal experience goes).  Actually, two- and four-legged clientele alike in our party were made to feel quite welcome.  Almost as soon as we were seated in the charming, shady, European-style sidewalk cafe overlooking the bay, water was offered...both by the glass and the bowl.

Underdog quickly settled in with his Chimay Blue Label, an $11 bottle of French beer. was almost like actually being in France!  ;)  He seemed to enjoy it, though...and to be fair, domestics were available for the fairly reasonable price of $5 per bottle.

Speaking of almost like being in France, Cassis offers a 15 oz. carafe of house wine (Chardonnay or Merlot) for $14, and I partook of the former.  I thought it was decent wine and a good value for the money...not to mention the perfect pour size for this wino.  I was particularly pleased with the "all-day-sucker" effect of the carafe (I feel so cruel when I have to make the server run laps to and from the bar).

On to the food.  Dogboy never passes up French Onion Soup, so this selection required absolutely zero deliberation.  Cassis dished up a fine, bona fide rendition...sweet, caramelized onions and savory broth served beneath the bubbly, melted comforter of Gruyere gratinee. 

The soup of the day, which was a fish and corn chowder, sounded interesting.  While not as creamy as I had envisioned, it was very flavorful and laden with salmon, chives and fresh corn.

I really enjoyed the soup, but I thought it would be best to get a second opinion.  Gastropup wholeheartedly concurred (like me, he's a food critic in his own mind...although he hasn't yet found anything he doesn't like).  It's unanimous...the fish and corn chowder is a keeper!

My better half ordered the Bar Steak Frites as his main course, which was a grilled, marinated bistro steak (skirt, flank or hanger, I'm guessing) served with herb butter and fries.  He deemed it very flavorful and quite tender for what it was, with no overpowering marinade flavor.  I surreptitiously managed to swipe a handful of the fries (miraculously, without suffering the ramification of pulling back a bloody stump) and thought they were fabu.  Thin, skin-on, nicely salted and well-done.  There should be a special place in hell for those who serve pale, limp fries...dontcha think?  And isn't this a cute presentation?

Daddydawg...I like french fries, too.  And I'm actually behaving...unlike that evil white dog who gets props just for being cute.  Everyone seems to have forgotten about how he peed next to the table the last time you took us out to dinner.  So, how about tossing a couple my way?

My Rainbow Trout with Sauteed Shrimp, Red Bliss Potatoes and Caper Brown Butter was a very fresh-tasting and delicate dish...maybe a little too delicate and light for this Southern girl.  It was very good, but I like a little more decadence in my cuisine when I'm splurging calorically (it was almost reminiscent of a spa menu dish with the exception of the buttery sauce).  Bring on the breading, the noodles, the rice, the CARBS (and, yes, the menu description said "potatoes", but there were only a few tiny pieces hiding beneath the trout)!  Which brings me to a point I didn't want to overlook making in this post. Cassis American Brasserie has a French chef and is, for the most part, a French restaurant. We're fat and the French aren't...I guess there's a reason (or a few) for that. Don't let the word "American" in the restaurant's name confuse you.  If you're looking for an Outback or Cheesecake Factory experience, this is not your spot.

Since bread pudding was on the dessert menu, I had to have it...even if it was a chocolate version which is usually too rich for me.  It was almost obscenely decadent...dense, moist, interspersed with golden raisins and nuts, and almost the consistency of a warm, fudgy brownie.  If I can come up with one complaint, it would be that Cassis was super-stingy with the brown sugar ice cream topper.

The hubster echoed a similar sentiment about his Apple Gallette with Caramel Sauce and Cardamom Ice Cream.  The pastry was orgasmic, the apples caramelized to perfection, and our lovely server graciously substituted Almond Crunch ice cream for the Cardamom at my beloved's request.  The microscopic size of the scoop that topped the Apple Gallette was the sole disappointment (if you get out your magnifying glass, you might be able to find it....Hint:  it's somewhere under that leaf).

Bottom line:  This was a positive experience overall.  UD and I both agreed that the food was quite good, but maybe a little pricey for what it was ($140 after gratuity, $40 of which was bar).  Excellent service and upscale atmosphere, though...not to mention the spectacular location.  I can definitely see us returning for drinks, apps and the view, but there are other places in downtown St. Pete that we like as much or better (which are also less expensive) for lunch or dinner. 

Oh, and just for the helluvit...check out the splendor of the monstrous kapok tree which stands in front of the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, in full bloom.  Stunning!

Cassis American Brasserie on Urbanspoon


  1. BEST PLACE IN ST PETE !!! We eat there every weekend.

  2. I was googling my site to see what images appear and this post came up because you said UD and I and my name is udandi - ha!

    Just wanted to say hello! Off to look around your blog...