Parkshore Grill tends to kind of fly under my radar when UD and I need a downtown St. Pete food fix. Not because there's anything fundamentally wrong with it...it's beautiful (both the luxe interior and the dog-friendly, shady, sidewalk cafe dining area), there's a fine view of the yacht basin and Tampa Bay from the outdoor dining area, and the service is very good (if somewhat slow...although that's not necessarily a bad thing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon when you have nowhere to be and all day to get there). I also have a soft spot for a multi-national waitstaff, which Parkshore Grill offers, and they're very professional yet friendly for the most part. Who doesn't love a handsome man with a foreign accent (and this restaurant is crawling with them)? Sorry, UD...you know you'll always be my favorite.
Let's start with their mammoth Crispy Ale Battered Onion Rings. Ummm...UNSURPASSED. They were insane...tender Vidalia onion rings coated in a light-as-air tempura style batter...fried to golden perfection...served with a spicy horseradish and roasted red pepper (I think) creamy dipping sauce. You know how the whole onion ring will often pull out of the breading upon the first bite with some versions? This doesn't happen at Parkshore. Honestly, I am hard pressed to remember ever eating a better onion ring (and I love them, so I've sampled many in my lifetime). Check out these beauties (and, no...the size is not a camera angle illusion):
The bread offering was nothing out of the ordinary, but the rolls were tangy, warm and served with softened butter in condiment cups. Thank you. NO FOIL WRAPPED BUTTER PATS! And, yes...I'm channeling Mommy Dearest and her "NO WIRE HANGERS" rant. I didn't expect that here, but the foil wrapped pats turn up in the most surprising places and I hate, hate, hate them when they do. Unless I'm drunk, it's 2:00 AM and you're the Waffle House, please don't serve them to me. Thanks in advance. Sorry for going off on a tangent...now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.
I was most impressed with UD's lunch selection...a gorgeous, loaded up Seafood Risotto that was cooked to creamy perfection. I was bitterly wishing I was him after pilfering a bite.
My niece, who is from Georgia, probably knows a thing or two about Shrimp and Grits, and she snarfed this weekend brunch menu item down like it was manna from heaven. The shrimp were oh-so-lightly breaded in the style of the onion rings, the Andouille slab added interest and the cheese grits (of which I did get to snag a taste) were perfect. I think she shares a bit of the foodie gene with her Auntie SP.
My bro opted for Tyson's Trio...a three-course combo on one plate for around $15. It was a cute presentation of a mini salad, a small cup of chicken and Spanish bean soup (it spilled a bit as it was deposited on our table, which our excellent server apologized profusely for) and a small, nicely grilled portion of swordfish perched atop a bed of buttermilk mashed potatoes. Everything on the plate was inhaled in short order and deemed to be quite tasty.
My sis-in-law played it safe and ordered a burger. She likes 'em well-done and seemed to be satisfied with her selection. She requested the marinated veggie salad over the fries, which kind of had me questioning her sanity until I tasted it. It was actually quite good (as long as you like cruciferous vegetables). The salad was crisp without being overly crunchy (I'm pretty sure the broccoli had been blanched) and the Italian-style vinaigrette everything was dressed in was light, fresh and herbaceous. Honestly, I was surprised at how delightful I found it to be.
Out of all the lunches, I was the most unimpressed with my own choice. I ordered the the Shrimp, Bacon and Avacado Wrap with fries (and I really don't know what I was thinking because sandwiches aren't my favorites to begin with). The "wrap" was mostly that...a humongous green tortilla lined with copious amounts of lettuce. I think there were a total of four shrimp inside of this over-packaged-and-under-delivering disappointment along with a few bacon crumbles and two bites of avacado. The flavorful fries appeared to be hand-cut, but were also delivered slightly on the cold side which made me a little cranky. Since it was only an $11 entree, I'll try not to hold a grudge.
For me, the primary downside of Parkshore Grill is that while the food quality is better than average for the most part, much of the cuisine doesn't strike me as being as interesting or creative as the offerings of several other restaurants in the surrounding area. If anything, some offerings seem a little "dumbed down" in an attempt (I'm guessing) to appeal to the masses...in sort of a higher-end chain restaurant kind of way. Still, it's a respectable choice, especially when it comes to pleasing a variety of palates (which was why it was selected when we visited with out-of-town guests) and there were a few tastings that really did impress. Overall, it was a pleasant experience in a lovely venue with a final tab for five of around $125 which included three beers, a couple of teas and one glass of wine. There's not a whole lot to bitch about considering the overall quality and price point.