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Chez Bryce, Davis Islands (Tampa)

SO and I dined at Chez Bryce on Davis last night, wondered if anyone else has opinions to share.

We liked it, but weren't blown away. Appetizers were almost absurdly generous in size, but while the truffled mac and cheese arrived alarmingly hot, the cod beignets were too cool. The moules frites entree was just the right size and tasty, although the fries arrived a bit cold. The scallop entree was a misfire, and very overpriced at $25: the diver scallops were tough, and the three small caramelized leeks were inedibly sweet and oily. There was nothing else on the plate besides a bit of fennel and a few small mandarin orange slices! We fared better with desserts: a hot rhubarb crumble was a hit, served with a dollop of sour cream in a very large portion; and the chocolate tart was the real French deal, rich and smooth, not too large a slice, served at room temperature just as it should be. OK, I could complain about the utterly tasteless fresh raspberries on top--when they're that bad, why bother with them at all?

Anyway, all of the above plus two glasses of wine at $9 each brought the bill to $110 before tip, and left us with a vague feeling of having paid too much for the experience. It's bistro food, but those are not bistro prices!

The room is small and horrifically noisy. It also has a lighting problem: the dim lights in the dining room would be cozy if it weren't for the flourescent glare from the open kitchen. The decor is simple, with a country French flavor.

The wine list is well-designed and priced, offering all the usual American and Australian reds and whites by the glass and bottle as well as a nice list of Old World wines, many by the glass.

Service was well-meaning but lacked some attention to detail.

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  1. I've been twice - once for dinner and once for lunch. Dinner - service was good and the food was decent but over-priced for what it was. I also tried the diver scallops - mine turned out very well, but I agree with the comments above about the garnish. I think Chez Bryce fares much better for lunch - a lobster club with homemade potato chips. The lobster was done perfectly, sandwich well seasoned and tasty. You cannot beat the patio at Chez Bryce - great island locale, but Chez Bryce needs to work on the kinks in their dinner menu.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SouthTampaKit

      Good point, Kit, we'll give it a try at lunch, on the patio. Last Saturday was COLD, so the patio was a nonstarter even with the heaters they had. Lobster club, yum.

    2. Had dinner and brunch. Brunch was great..yummy and reasonable. Dinner, give me a break. The food was just ok, though the panzanella was undersalted, the bread with the charcuterie pathetic. Grilled romaine with a creamy caeser dressing..basic. But the management is the real issue. They came out with a $9 Pinot noir glass, half full. We let the first one go and then the second came out with even less. We called the waitress over, she said the measure was broken and would take the glass back. Then she brought it back out again, saying the manager wouldn't let her put more in! We called the manager over, indicated that this was a total rape and she, obviosuly very green, said we use a measure. I told her I thought it was broken, and she paused. She then said yes, but we have a line on a glass that shows us what 5 oz is. She went inside to get it and came out 10 minutes later with a glass with masking tape on it that said "fill to here"...how very sad. The girl was clearly out of her depth and argued incessantly. Two other parties were complaining (one overcharged on a bottle of wine..the other who knows) The chef and owner need to be alerted to what is going on here,..it had promise but won't last with this kind of oversight.

      1. After several visits to this restaurant we feel an obligation to report our experience in the hopes that you will be aware of the horrible manners and rude service that is common place at this establishment.

        One our first visit was on a Sunday Morning some time around 11 am E.S.T, .The restaurant barely had 12-15 customers, and yet when we place our brunch order we notice that they did not have and rhyme or reason to how the food orders where placed. We noticed that people who came in 20 -30 min after us were being served their food before us, and trust me we ordered off the menu and to top it off our server which we had (name withheld) was very rude and non caring about his customer. We came to find out he was fired when we returned for our second trip. Lesson 1 lack of customer care and Lack of professionalism.

        So we decided to give them another chance.

        Again our second visit was on Sunday Morning. This time we had a new waitress (name withheld) we placed our order as usual, and it seems all was going right. BUT WAIT ALL WENT WRONG yet again part or our order which was our main part of the order was given to another table. Now this place is a little pricey. The reason I bring this point up is because our order was given to two kids which by the looks of all the servers hanging around their table it was very easy to see that they all knew each order very well, But yet when this two teenage kids got the mistaken plate of food, and mind you by what we saw them eat they would have never have ordered this plate that was taken to them due to the price. But both the waitress and their friends said nothing. As we mentioned from our first visit this place is very, very rude on customer service and the lack of even common sense is very noticeable, needless to say once again a very horrible experience.

        The straw the broke the camel’s back.

        On our 2nd visit we decide to try them one last time but this time during dinner, so we made a reservation a week in advance with our waitress from our 2nd visit and requested a particular table. They assured us 3 times that we could reserve by table number and we also knew this to be a fact because from our past visit we saw several customer walk in and just sit at any table in the patio area and they were told “ Please go inside this table has been reserved” and made them get up. The day before our reservation the restaurant called and we confirmed our reservation. We arrived 15 minutes early and they had just sat another party at our reserved table. We waited until our 8 pm our reservation time to ask for our table since the other party might have only been there for drinks since the bar was full. Once we arrived at the hostess desk our waitress can over to say she was sorry and that they gave our table to someone else. Again a LACK OF CUSTOMER SERVICE and LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM and just good old fashion customer courtesy

        And at an average price $50 per person not including drinks, you would expect more of a professional service. Do yourself a favor STAY AWAY there are many more better places to dine and not suffer these event.

        1. Sadly I had high hopes for this establishment. Great space, indoor/outdoor seating, a chef with a very impressive background and experience.

          But the reality is that I have tried again and again to have a satisfactory experience there and failed.

          The service is pitiful - no one seems to know what they are doing and, even worse, no one there seems to care.

          I have yet to see the chef interact with patrons in a positive manner. I have witnessed him being rude and even send messages back by third party when a patron has asked to speak with him directly. Oh and the message was that he was too busy to step away from the kitchen.

          If everything else was perfection, the food consistent and the service spot on, I could almost accept the arrogance.

          But I don't and won't and can't imagine ever going back.

          3 Replies
          1. re: peanut

            Sadly, I highly disagree with you. Due to my experiences there I have had above satisfactory service and food there. The Chef comes out pretty regulary when he can get away from making perfect culinary delights - why are you uspet that the chef can't come to you, don't you want great food? Do you realize just how many restaurants there are where the chef doesn't even cook at all? My interactions with him have been extremly positive and I have never seen him get rude with anyone. More often then not they stand up and thank him for being here. As for the service, the waiters make wonderful recommendations and have clearly tasted their way through the menu.

            1. re: peanut

              I have to agree with the above posts...been there twice,a nd for the price, I woudl expect more, better trained and quality service, the meals were just ok, but I would expect a higher quality and vlaue for the price..after all its not just great service you would expect, but top quality food as well. THis palce has a lot of potential, im not sure its being capitalized.

              1. re: peanut

                How many times have you been to the restaurant? I have seen the chef many times interact with the public and even sent out free drinks to the couple next to us at our last dinner. We had a fantastic meal and would highly recommend (we had a prime sirloin and Guinea fowl).

              2. I have been there on 2 occasions ( once for a cooking demonstration and once for a business meeting) both times I met the chef & owner Bryce. I thought Bryce was pleasant and you could tell he is very passionate about the food. I thought the food was good but, personally french cuisine is not my cup of tea. But the group that I was with really enjoyed the food.
                However, he needs a better staff. The wait staff seemed disorganized and I did have a problem with the manager bending down and having her underwear show. I didn't think that was too professional for such a nice restaurant-maybe at hooter's but not there!
                But don't let that stop you, my wife and I always try out a restaurant at least twice & if the problems still persist than obviously we wont go back there anymore.

                1 Reply
                1. re: philg

                  that was the whale tale appetizer hehe ; )

                  Sorry, bad joke. But I totally get what you're saying.

                2. We went for brunch and really enjoyed it - excellent panzanella, great green gazpacho... the pork sandwich was worth it -they were fairly busy and the service was friendly and effecient - the prices for lunch and brunch were reasonable - haven't been for dinner.
                  Looking forward to going back for lunch and trying the lobster club. Love the courtyard -- you don't get that much in the States. Definetly recommend fro lunch or brunch I'll keep you posted when we go for dinner.

                  1. Some unfortunate truths about Chez Bryce...

                    Frozen bread...all of it...from Sysco.

                    Frozen pizza crusts from Sysco.

                    I'll leave it at that because that is certainly enough to keep me from dropping another $130 on a meal for 2. The chef seems to have a pretty good history so that is either a fabrication or he has just lost his passion for food. Charging $21 for a pizza on a frozen crust is a crime.

                    1. Had brunch at Chez Bryce Memorial Day weekend, reluctantly b/c our first experience had not been positive (see OP).

                      This visit was even worse. Our waiter was inappropriately boisterous and smelled of liquor--buzzed on mimosas? Who would blame him: at noon on Sunday, there were 4 parties in the entire place. Gazpacho was bland and served too warm; oysters were good. Omelets were mediocre, oily and served too cool. Eggs Benedict, 2 varieties, were awful: hollandaise had pockets of straight lemon juice, and the eggs were so tiny that the yolks were actually difficult to locate! Wild mushrooms on one serving were good, but the soft-shell crab on the other was tough and greasy. Worst of all, all 4 servings of hash browns were blackened; mine had actual bits of char sprinkled throughout. We did complain, and the waiter offered a dessert for the table: a really lovely lemon tart that would have been even better if the center had not been frozen. If they can produce a nice lemon tart, why can't they avoid burning the hash browns?

                      All this for $120 plus tip for 4. And a touch of gastrointestinal upset for me that lasted the rest of the day.

                      This restaurant has given up, plain and simple. The only question remaining is how it can afford to stay open.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Miss E

                        ouch. Their bar is the real money maker there.

                        1. re: andy huse

                          Really?! I hadn't thought of that. It IS arguably the choicest location on the island. I hear through the grapevine that monthly rent is $10K. Add in staff, other overhead, all the food costs... the bar must rock!

                        2. re: Miss E

                          We had brunch there last Sunday. I thought the Hollandaise sauce was very good on my Benedict, but our potatoes were overdone (but not to the point of charring) as well. Overall, I thought it was only "okay". $75 pre-tip seemed kind of high for breakfast for two people, even with 5 mimosas (overpriced, I thought, at $6 each). I had a $25 restaurant.com gift cert, which took away some of the sting...but I doubt I'll go back (with or without a coupon).

                          1. re: sweet_polly

                            Bungalow Bistro has champagne for a dollar per glass on their Sunday Brunch. That's a deal!

                            1. re: rhnault

                              I read about that...and that IS a great deal! That's next on my list. I haven't been to Bungalow Bistro since right after they first opened, but I really enjoyed my lunch there...everything I had was definitely above average in quality and creativity. I've gotta get back over there.

                        3. Looks like they rolled out a bit of a new menu. Has anybody tried it yet? Looks pretty enticing.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: digyourself

                            We went last night and were presented with two menus. One did look pretty enticing, but we were told to order off the other menu...the one with fewer choices.

                            1. re: South of Gandy

                              That's weird... was the smaller menu the bar menu? Why give you a menu you can't order from?? Very weird.

                              1. re: Miss E

                                The smaller menu wasn't a bar menu. Apparently many items were discontinued and we were given both an old and new menu by mistake. The old one really looked good...the new one, not nearly as good. I guess it didn't matter though. The cassoulet that I ordered looked and tasted as though it came from a can.