Sunday, February 9, 2014

Élevage, Tampa, FL

There's plenty of room in Tampa for as many Bern's restaurants as they want to I right? Élevage is located inside our city's new Epicurean Hotel (just across the street from SideBern's on Howard)...and a chic and wondrous hotel it is.  After being greeted with a level of warmth befitting visiting royalty, our car was whisked away by the charming valets and we were ushered into the stunning hotel lobby which boasted a registration desk comprised of a huge wine rack. The first words out of my mouth were, "let's get one thing straight, UD, we're coming back here and spending the night"...which left me feeling pretty optimistic as I received zero sass by way of rebuttal (rare, indeed!).

Hydroponic "gardens" of fresh greens doubled beautifully as wall art.

Service was knowledgeable and adequate, albeit a tad slow. Still, good food is worth waiting for and our brunch selections truly delivered.  The dining room is beautifully sleek and was filled with enough pretty people to talk about that we didn't get bored while we sipped our bottle of Prosecco and perused the menu.

We both wanted protein in our entrees, but there was no way in hell we were not going to taste the $13 Pistachio Pain Perdue with fig preserve and bacon marmalade (that's prissy verbiage for "French Toast", btw). These two magnificent slabs of decadent perfection (I hate French toast that hasn't been cooked through, which is not always an easy accomplishment when the bread is thickly sliced) appeared in short order, liberally embellished with syrup, jumbo pistachios, fruit and fabu smoky bacon bits.  You want this.  You want it BAD.

Being the Shrimp and Grits junkie that I am, what choice did I have when I saw the $15 offering of creamy (clearly stone-ground) grits, shrimp, scallions, peppers, pork belly and a soft-cooked egg?  None, apparently.  I've eaten many versions of Shrimp and Grits in my day and this was one fine rendition.  Maybe only surpassed by Vickery's in Charleston, but let's be law, Florida is not allowed to produce a superior "Shrimp and Grits" product than those offered in South Carolina.  Just sayin'.

UD opted for a more traditional breakfast, "The Classic": two eggs any style, amazing house-made sausage patties, perfectly crispy and caramelized potatoes and fat slices of brioche toast.  We thought it was a bit odd that the toast was served completely dry, but our server brought us a nice presentation of softened butter and a blueberry compote upon request.  I also had to ask for salt, which tends to annoy me a bit.  Just put salt on the table.  My palate is dried and withered from age and I tend to associate arrogance with a chef who makes patrons work to season dishes to their own tastes.  Just a tiny rant...this was a damned fine brunch.

I wish I could say we ordered the Macadamia Sticky Bun that our neighbors did.  I briefly thought about grabbing the bun, overturning their table and running like the wind, but a clearer head prevailed.  Next time, for sure.

One of the best brunches I've ever had in Tampa Bay and I cannot wait to go back for lunch or dinner.  Élevage is a very nice addition to the local dining scene.

Élevage 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.

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