First of all, the view overlooking Tampa Bay to the west and the Courtney Campbell Causeway is a seriously stunning, so-romantic-your-clothes-practically-fall-off-on-their-own aphrodisiac. Add in the sleek, contemporary vibe and stellar service, off-the-chain sexy cuisine and you're done. You've been successfully wooed. Any indiscretions you may indulge in after the fact are totally beyond your control.
Because my annual bogus New Year's resolution to lose 10 lbs. was already in full swing, I was forced into the heartbreaking position of trying to eat low-carb at a celebratory dinner. At the end of the day, however, it was much easier than I could've imagined.
We were presented with warm, crusty bread and tapenade right off the bat. I only know it was warm and crusty because I touched it...certainly, not a morsel of it passed my lips. Well, perhaps just a tiny crumb. A girl only turns 39 a dozen or so times.
The gleaming, swoonworthy antipasto bar made it easy to be good. We each began with the chef's selection of assorted marinated veggies, shellfish, meats and cheeses.
No celebration is complete without foie gras, which was fortuitously featured a as a special appetizer on this particular evening. Accented with a berry reduction and pistachios, the perfectly seared lobe was truly a veryfine thing.
UD selected the starter of Crab Granchio - lump crab meat presented atop a truffled pea puree. A study in elegance, it was a stunning dish and the deal of the century for $12.
As we continued to pull out the stops, hubs slurped a silken trough of sherry-laced lobster bisque laden with generously-sized crustacean morsels...
...while I attempted to stay on the path of righteousness by ordering a Caesar salad. If there was anything I tasted at Armani's that I would not order again, it would be this. One definitely needs to be a garlic-and-anchovy lover to the highest power to fully appreciate this salad. While it was crisp and fresh, it was also heavily redolent with pungent odors and flavors that might best be avoided on date night...although its powerful punch will certainly hold appeal for some.
My grilled beef filet and lobster tail with creamed spinach and charred tomato beurre blanc was a classic and perfectly executed dish. As far as I'm concerned, nothing says "Happy Birthday" quite like surf and turf!
UD never met a veal chop he didn't like, and Armani's Cotoletta alla Griglia was no exception. He proclaimed it "exquisitely prepared" and "more flavorful than most"...high praise from this carnivorous cave man. Because cruciferous veggies are his Kryptonite, the accompanying cauliflower gratin was not as well received as it could've been...but sweet, caramelized cippolini onions worked overtime to turn his frown upside down.
Although I bitterly resisted ordering dessert, our incredibly caring and attentive server, Qasim, wasn't having any of it and I was presented with a complimentary slab of creamily dreamy tiramisu. It would've been rude not to at least take a bite.
Dinner at Armani's is an exquisite, highly sensory experience. Yes, it's expensive...but somewhat less so than I expected. Highly recommended for a Big Night Out.
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