Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cafe Dufrain, Tampa, FL

Cafe Dufrain...I wish I could shower a little hate on you, if sheerly for the reason that you've kept yourself so well hidden from me.  My stalkerish reputation must've preceded me and you were probably fearful that you'd need to take out a restraining order once I had a bite of that Satan-inspired Chicken and Waffle dish.  You're on my radar now, so you'd better get your arse to the courthouse posthaste.

Being the Baby Boomers that we are, UD and I enjoy taking our largest meal of the day early on weekends so we can rush back to our recliners and heating pads by 6:00 PM...and Cafe Dufrain nicely accommodates our decrepit lifestyle by serving Saturday lunch until 3:00 PM with a menu that includes a nice selection of "supper" offerings for the heartier early afternoon appetite.  Not to imply that Dufrain is an "old people" resto...quite the contrary, actually.  This chic-looking little bistro overlooking the Hillsborough river was still half-filled with pretty patrons of all age groups when we arrived at 2:00 PM on this particular Saturday afternoon.

While the selection of wines by the glass and draft/bottled beers is not huge, there is definitely something for everyone to be found on it (wines by the bottle offerings are more extensive).  I slurped away at the lightly-oaked L De Lyeth Sonoma Chardonnay while UD guzzled the delightful Swamphead "Wild Night" Honey Cream Ale.  I may need a nap this afternoon.

Okay...who's ready for some Corn Porn?  Sounds crazy, but the $13 "Corn Tasting" was ridiculously good. I'll get back to low-carbing tomorrow, now that I'm done freebasing the sweet Anson Mills Corn Pudding (Anson Mills being a corn product I've only found served locally at Datz to date), the tender Cornbread with crack-like Maple Apple Butter and the savory mind-and-taste-bud-blowing Anson Mills grits with Tasso and Smoked Cheddar.  We had to hold ourselves back to keep from making a meal of this mammoth offering.  Happily, I won't have to cook tonight.  Time to carbo-load, UD!

Being a native Tennessean, I love both traditional and kicked-up Suthren fare, so Chicken and Waffles on a menu always sets my redneck heart to racing (although I generally find chicken breast to be dry and uninspiring, whatever the application).  Not the case here!  This huge breast portion (with some bones still intact, which probably served to retain its flavor and moistness) had an orgasmically crunchy crust and was beautifully presented atop two golden-brown waffle quarters.  Did I mention it was drizzled in Rob Seal's spiced honey (sweet met heat in this match made in heaven)?  Despite my daintiest intentions to eat only half, my inner lumberjack put my inner Jiminy Cricket in a headlock and nary a crumb remained after I had my way with it.
Our stellar server suggested a side of Collard Greens with Smoked Bacon, which perfectly complemented my entree. I haven't enjoyed a bowl of such fresh and pork-forward greens in 25 years.  Here's how you obtain four times your MDR of Vitamin K while still ratcheting your cholesterol level ever-upward.  Good meets Evil, and look how nicely they play together!
Underdog ordered the Meyers Teres, Lardo ‘Persillade’ with Ricotta Whipped Potatoes, Garlic Confit, and Roasted Cauliflower.  I will begin by saying that the spousal unit would pretty much eat his own leg before he'd consume a cruciferous veggie (except for that one time at the French Laundry), but he actually nibbled on a couple of the caramelized sprigs of the cauliflower presented with his entree (somebody pass me the smelling salts lest I faint from the shock of it all).  His tender slab of shoulder steak was juicy, flavorful and pink...and heartily snorted along with its dreamily creamy mashed potato carrier.
Jiminy must've momentarily extricated himself, because I strongly suggested that we forgo idea which was quickly shot down.  Dogboy had a hankering for the "Donuts and Coffee" offering (Warm Churros, Amaretto Pastry Cream, Espresso Foam and Lemon Curd Ice Cream)...only problem being, he hates coffee in any form.  Our highly efficient server didn't blink when UD requested this dessert sans the foam.  As it turned out, this was the best rendition of the whole "doughnuts as dessert" movement I've seen popping up on menus over the past couple of years.  While not being generally a fan of the concept, these tiny, perfectly fried little churro bites, delightfully offset by tangy scoops of lemon curd ice cream and accented with Amaretto pastry cream, graham cracker crust crumbs and chocolate nibs, were pretty damned tasty.
The view from outside (notice the death grip on the Corn Porn remnants).
A huge lunch plus two draft beers and three glasses of wine set us back right at $100 before tip and I may not need to eat again for 48 hours. I loved this place...what more can I say?  Highly recommended. 

Cafe Dufrain on Urbanspoon

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.


  1. Dearest Sweet Polly,

    You are a brave little girl to post a picture of collard greens. While the greens may look good to the amateur greens aficianado, I must remind you that somewhere "out there - way out there" lurks the greens Führer. You remember "it", don't you?

    If "it" sees those collard green stalks, I am sure you will get an ear-load. Woe is you!

    As usual, a great review. Our best to Mr. Dogboy.

  2. LOL! I forgot about him. I'd better hunker down in the trenches! ;)