Sunday, January 22, 2012

SideBern's, Tampa, FL

Following the viewing of the epic tearjerker that is "Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close" at my beloved Cinebistro in Hyde Park, Underdog wisely came to the immediate conclusion that I needed something to help me shake my hysteria...and what cheers up a girl faster than good food and wine? After a lengthy ladies' room cleanup of residual snot strings and Alice Cooper eyes, we headed to SideBern's for some cocktails and light bites in the lounge.

I almost hate to write this post because my "foodtography" is so crappy that it doesn't begin to do justice to the cuisine or experience. You see, in my desperate attempt not to look like an awestruck Ellie Mae Clampett pulling into Beverly Hills for the first time, I was uber-hesitant to use the flash in such a chic, chill and urbane environment which was virtually oozing a beautiful, sophisticated and well-heeled looking crowd (the kind of folks I can easily imagine dining here several times a week). EPIC FAIL. I got less than stellar pics and STILL felt a little like a redneck who had just toppled off a turnip truck. One of the hazards of being a hobbyist food blogger, I suppose.

We sat at the bar and got impeccable service (in spite of fact that we were somewhat underdressed) from a heartbreakingly handsome bartender who could probably skate through his job on looks alone, but doesn't. Charcuterie is our friend, so we started with some Iberico ham accented with dates and hazelnuts and served with crusty baguette slices. These little black-hooved, acorn-snarfing Spanish porcines render the best ham on the planet, hands down. The smoky, nutty pork shavings were as good as any we tasted in Spain. Awesome stuff.

The Pate Grand Mere was also delish. Heavy-on-the-liver pates are my faves, but I really enjoyed this rustic pork variation which was liberally studded with large, crunchy pistachios and emitted the faintest taste and smell of cloves (I think)...quite lovely.

We also shared an order of the Moules et Frites...beautiful mussels steamed in beer broth with bleu cheese and caramelized onions, topped with crispy (almost certainly fried twice) truffle-salted matchstick cut French fries. My images of this dish were very poor, so I won't post them.

UD never passes up cephalopod, so he zeroed right in on the Charred Octopus served with fresh tagliatelle pasta, fennel, black sesame and juniper pork sauce. Eating octopus always makes me feel a little guilty since they are one of the most intelligent animals on earth. I took a bite nonetheless since I am a non-rehabilitative carnivore and it was really delish...tender and sweet on the inside with a nice outer char. I drank a little more wine to help me forget. Oh...perfect al dente pasta, too.

Desserts were both the perfect size and amazingly assembled. The Pecan Chocolate Bar with candied bacon (be still my heart), vanilla bourbon sauce and maple bourban ice cream was simply ridiculous in its mind-blowing perfection and will never be forgotten. Put this on your "Bucket List".

While the Pecan/Chocolate/Bacon/Bourbon Overload rocked my world, I would be remiss if I didn't lavish similar kudos on my Cranberry Cheesecake with walnut crumbles, cranberry chutney and Florida honey. O. M. G.

This was a fantastic bar experience and I can't wait to go back and try it for dinner. It's not cheap, however...$145 before tip for three drinks apiece, four small plates and two desserts. Food quality, ambiance and service do deliver for the price point, however. SideBern's is a great choice for a celebratory dinner, romantic date or Big Night Out.

SideBern's on Urbanspoon


  1. I had to google charcuterie, so there is someone more redneck than you today! ;)

  2. What a wonderful evening you shared! Thanks.

  3. Dear, my daughter hates it when I use my flash to capture a food picture. I love your Ellie May Clampett reference. The food looks delightful. I must put SideBern's on the wish list. I love reading your reviews. They are always foodcentric and humorous. Brava, dear lady. I'd love to be so creative.

  4. I am a redneck and I plan on going there for our Valentines' dinner. Can't wait to indulge myself.

  5. Oooh...what an awesome, romantic V-Day treat. Enjoy!

  6. I am doing my culinary school externship here starting late August of this year! I'm really looking forward to the experience!