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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Edison Food + Drink Lab, Tampa, FL

Be still my thundering heart..."real city" food has finally arrived in Tampa Bay.  If I hadn't been seated next to a window overlooking E. Kennedy Blvd., it wouldn't have been difficult to imagine that I was dining in San Francisco, Chicago or New York without even squinting.  The creations at Edison were easily the freshest, most cutting edge and ecstasy-enducing epicurean delights I've ever had the privilege of wrapping my lips around in Hillsborough county.  Yes, things came out of the kitchen a tad slowly...but Botticelli didn't paint The Birth of Venus in a day.  Little masterpieces are worth the wait.  If you expect your food to appear five minutes after your arse hits the Naugahyde, go to IHOP.

Bona fide "cheffery" (is that even a word?) is going on here and flavors meld together like perfectly forged metals.  Menu descriptions might leave less adventurous eaters scratching their heads, but trust me...everything works, and works really well.  On paper, it may look a little like the grasping "Terrine of Pork Belly with Cod Cheeks, Malt Aoli, Edamame Essence, Huckleberry Gastrique, Aquavit Foam and Celery Root Torta" (which is the road I've seen one or two local wannabes taking, whose incongruous creations only serve to bring to mind a trailer park in the aftermath of a tornado), but don't be scared...there's real culinary cohesion in the house.  This ain't Chef Jeannie Pierola's first rodeo.

We checked in at 5:00 PM on the first Saturday the restaurant has been open.  We got a warm welcome when we entered, as well as informed and attentive service from our server, John.  I loved the minimalistic urban vibe of the place.
















A major marital conflict erupted the moment we looked at the menu, because I. Seriously. Wanted. Everything.  And Dogboy had the solid brass 'nads to tell me I couldn't have it all, which he never would've done had this been our Third Date (honeymoon's officially over, people...somebody call Dr. Phil).  Finally, we agreed to work our way through the "Sparks", "Hot Starters" and "Cold Starters" options we were frothing at the mouth to try before ordering entrees (the Chicken and Butternut Squash Waffle offering with Truffle Honey having been my wet-dream fodder for the past four days).

We started with Chicken Liver Mousse with Pistachio, Apricot, Ansho Peppercorns and perfectly toasted bread slices.  I could easily subsist on liver products alone, and this one was creamy, sublime perfection. We coupled this starter with Goat Cheese Truffles (goat cheese, dates, foie gras, fennel pollen, shattered citrus and tangerine chocolate glaze), which made me feel a little like I did back in the late '70s when I was a teen reading "The Flame and the Flower" (tingly all over).  I adore all things citrus, from Alain Ducasse's Grapefruit Souffle to Lemonheads...and although I'm not really clear on what "shattered citrus" actually is, I do know that it's my new drug.  It filled up my senses like night in a forest...like a mountain in springtime...like a walk in the rain (yes, I just made that up). Underdog felt there was enough of a foie gras dearth in the goat cheese truffles to eliminate that ingredient from the menu description, but he heartily threw them back them nonetheless.
The Migas + Tapenade delivered delightfully hot and crispy pillows of bready goodness along with the most perfect, finely minced olive tapenade we've ever tasted.  My reputation must've preceded me, because our Cava was wisely served in stemless glasses (I have been known to topple some stemware, although I blame it on my dogs whenever remotely feasible).
UD ponders his options.
It was distressingly difficult to dial down the urge to order the tantalizing Chicken and Butternut Squash Waffle with Truffle Honey entree, but so many of the small plates beckoned that we found ourselves catapulted into a serious food conundrum.  We ultimately decided that we could not NOT try the Vanilla Scented Foie Gras served atop Shrimp Toast with Curried Apple Butter and Star Anise Jus.  OMG...mind blowing.
















The still-briny, hot and fresh oysters, served enrobed in an ethereally light and crispy potato crust with dill pickle nectar and house dijonnaise will never be forgotten.












Acknowledging at this point that, due to bursting seams, entrees weren't happening...we moved on to desserts.  There was no way I was leaving without trying the Duck Confit Foie Gras Tacos with red chile and avacado tomatillo sauce, so this was my "sweet finish".   The tender, hand-made corn tortillas were swoonworthy in their own right, and the earthy duck confit coupled with more of the rich foie gras made this a must-try on Edison's menu.
















Underdog finished with the Edison Cruellers...tiny little donuts with Cardomom Glaze, Carrot Ice Cream and White Raisin Puree.  I snarkily dubbed Grille One Sixteen's donut dessert as "just donuts" a couple of weeks ago , but these babies are so much more than that. They must be tried.
Run, don't walk, to this astonishing gastronomic jewel.  Incredible.

Edison Food + Drink Lab

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4 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. I almost cried over the vanilla foie gras;-) It was a life changer as were the oysters. But I'm mostly commenting so we can give John Denver his just due, that beautiful aside is from Annie's Song darling!!! Love your blog BTW!!

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  2. You just HAD to out me on the plagiarism, didn't you? :p No worries...fellow Foie Gras fans are forgiven.

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  3. I can't wait to try edison, but as a total aside, while I agree the Grille One Sixteen donuts aren't anything extraordinary (especially relative to Pierola's mad genius), they are nonetheless pretty damn tasty.

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  4. Heard so many wonderful things about the restaurant. Can't wait to come down from NY and enjoy!

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