Sunday, June 23, 2013

CopperFish, Tampa, FL

You know...nothing quite brings out the "cuntry" in me (oops, did I inadvertently omit a vowel?) as a venue that takes itself far more seriously than its menu offerings warrant.  I badly wanted to love CopperFish...I mean, lookit the precious sparklisciousness of the eye candy just outside the door.  I was enamored before I even entered.

After an afternoon of doing yard work and power walking in 90 degree heat, all I wanted was a nice early dinner that promised I'd be back home and in my recliner by 6:00 PM, psyching myself up for the nastiness of  looming Monday. CopperFish advertises that they open at 4:00 each evening...perfect for this AARP card-carrying couple. When we arrived at 4:00, we were advised that only the bar (with very limited menu options) was open with zero exceptions until 5:00.  Here is where the first customer-focused distinction emerged between CopperFish and my recent experience at Queenshead Eurobar, where an effort was actually made to accommodate a one-hour-before-dinner request for a non-complex evening offering.  I wanted a sandwich...not a rack of lamb, for gawd's sake.

Alrighty, then. Drinking and snacking until 5:00 didn't seem like too laborious a prospect given the happy hour price point.

"Popcorn" Shrimp for $3 was the deal of the century and the best thing I tasted on this visit.  The four shrimp were huge, enrobed in a feather-light breading and served in a pleasing sweet-meets-heat glaze with an undefinable aioli-esque dipping sauce.

We also ordered the Steak Crostini, which were presented in the form of three chewy slabs of bovine flesh served atop little round toast points.  The "cheap factor" was undeniable, the quality and flavor...not so much.

House-made potato chips were sampled along with a variety of dipping offerings:  guacamole, a garlicky aioli and pico de gallo. 
We wanted to try the "Soup du Jour", which was described by our server as a Crab Bisque but appeared in the form of a strange pork and lentil (just guessing here) version of chili.  It was immediately rejected and removed from the bill.
Finally 5:00 PM arrived and I could order up my highly anticipated Lobster Roll.  I'd already had my share of potato chips so I ordered Sesame Lime Cole Slaw on the side, at which time our server reminded me that "changes and modifications to menu offerings were politely declined". Yes, I was already aware of that menu stipulation and knew I'd be paying a the a la carte price for the slaw instead of an upcharge, so it was no biggie...outside of the fact that I find this type of regimented restriction a huge turnoff. Really? Unless Thomas Keller is cooking (which obviously he was not), I find it arrogant when a resto is unwilling to even begin to attempt to accommodate the dietary restrictions and individual tastes of its patrons.

Just like I ordered Foie Gras everywhere I dined in Paris, I thusly ordered lobster rolls everywhere I ate when I visited Boston.  This was no traditional lobster roll. While the meat was fresh and sweet-tasting, it was bathed in an acidic (as opposed to creamy) binder.  I was sorely disappointed by it. The bland, under-dressed slaw also failed to meet my expectations based on its menu description.
UD shocked me by ordering roasted chicken with risotto, but his entree probably trumped everything we'd tasted thus far.  It's a sad day when chicken does that.
The dessert...consisting of some sort of Gingerbread Cake with vanilla ice cream and fruit preserves...was dry and patently uninspiring,
Sorry, CopperFish...I don't like you very much. You're a little pretentious and not nearly as special as you seem to think you are. And, really, charging $5 for valet parking in your own dedicated parking lot without allowing a self-parking option only serves to add insult to injury. I suspect you'll be circling Samba Room down the drain in short order.

CopperFish 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. Oh dear, what a sad state of affairs. Thank you for "heads up". We are early diners too. Oh I hate that your lobster was violated.

  2. How sad that your Copperfish experience was such a bummer since we loved it both times we were there.

    But, as someone once said about dining out: sometimes you can go to a really great restaurant and have a really crappy experience on a bad night. Likewise, sometimes you can go to a really crappy restaurant and have a great meal on one of their rare good nights.

    Hopefully Copperfish will take your review to heart and make the necessary adjustments.

    And, that's all I've got to say about that.

    LUV U Sweet Polly.

  3. Agreed, JR. There was just a bit of 'tude going on there that didn't sit well with me. Food wasn't horrible, it just wasn't special (except for the shrimp snack).

  4. We know exactly what you are talking about when you mention copping a 'tude. It doesn't matter how good the food is, a 'tude'll erase an atta-boy, or girl, in a heart beat...and earn the offending restaurant a blogger stink-eye.

  5. Hi - I just came across your blog and I love it. I've had great experiences at Copperfish both times I've been there, but have heard mixed reviews from others. Have you checked out Domani Bistro in Seminole Heights? It's so unassuming but the food has been consistently great.

  6. Thanks, Fancy! I actually have checked out Domani Bistro (with Jon Rector, editor of the Oracle, as a matter of fact) and both bloggers and spouses enjoyed it very much.