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Mar 19, 2009 06:11 PM

St Pete Z-Grille

The Spousal Unit and I had lunch at the Z-Grille yesterday.

If you haven't been there, the restaurant is visually stunning. The whole front, street-side wall is floor to ceiling gleaming glass. The opposite wall is a sleek surface of warm-colored polished, bent-wood. The bent wood wall incorporates a banquette of bentwood. The tables are stainless steel topped. Every detail is harmonious with the modern but warm, ultra-sleek, ultra-chic feeling invoked.

Service was competent, congenial and prompt.

We tried the "California" deviled egg appetizer. The eggs were delicious and nicely presented on a glass plate with a leaf of frilly and crisp red leaf lettuce. At $4.00 for three egg halves, it did seem a bit dear.

Onion rings were ordered to go with out mains but came out with the eggs. This was only a minor service bobble, IMO. The onion rings were golden, hot and crisp. They were served with a mild horseradish dill dip. They were very good, but at $5.00, the portion was fairly modest.

The SU ordered the "Cali" burger - avocado makes something "California," I guess. It came with the "seasonal potato salad." I had the duck breast salad. The salad is described as "Maple Leaf Farms duck / baby red leaf & herb lettuce / sesame vinaigrette." The salad was gorgeous - crispy duck cooked medium rare as ordered atop frilly leaves of red lettuce with a julienne of carrot and red onion. My only complaint would be that the "baby" red leaf lettuce leaves were HUGE making the salad very unwieldy to eat. I have some odd aversion to taking a knife to my salad.

I had an iced tea and my SU had a soft drink to round out the meal. Total wallet damage came to $38 and change plus tip.

I came away from the meal asking my SU this: "The place is nice, the service is good and the food was good. So why didn't I like it?"

"This is a 'Place To Be Seen,' " was the SU's answer. I think he was right; it's just not our kind of place. Today, for the same price, we had a very different lunch in a very different place that was absolutely satisfying on many levels, but I'll save that for another post.

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  1. I had two other friends mention it to me. Has it been open long ... I had 1 good and 1 bad review. No specifics, maybe over priced and just not a comfortable setting for them.

    At the restaurant where I was co-owner/partner we did a dish where we served phyllo made into small cones. Then stuffed with seasonal (crab, lobster or shrimp ... usually shrimp with a light creamy sauce, some jicama, , cucumber, carrots and minced scallions in a light dill and honey sauce with fresh lime. This was stuffed in the small ice cream cones and you got three on a plate over baby greens in a light vinaigrette with fresh mango and avacado slices. 12.00, but it easily fed 3 people. It was very hearty even for a starter. $5 for onion rings, seemed much. But maybe I just don't eat out much. We served a healthy serving of fries with a great spicy mayo on the side of our burger for $8.

    A lot I think is just location. Every city is different. Restaurant nowadays is hard too with the economy. Seems expensive but maybe I just don't get out enough :)

    I could make a pretty damn good dinner for 38.00 dollars. I just have a hard time justifying it at times. I did a beautiful seared shrimp, some roasted stuffed tomatoes, some grilled polenta with a chili oil and avacado puree and a roasted mushroom over baguette with gruyere and arugula as an appetizer. About 40 dollars, and included a great white sangria for the same price as lunch.

    I may have to try it. I'm heading up there this weekend with a friend.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kchurchill5

      DH and I talked about how expensive that location must be downtown. I don't eat many $38 lunches either. Can I spend that much for lunch? Yes, from time to time I can, but, why do it? To justify that much for lunch I have to enjoy it exceptionally or be wowed in some way.

      We did have an equally expensive lunch today. I have a few days off and we are treating ourselves to a little mini-vacation without leaving town. Today's lunch was a different experience, and completely satisfying for reasons I'm not sure I understand completely.

      1. re: BeaN

        I totally understand, some places rather it is atmosphere, clientele or just the total experience makes it enjoyable. I know what you mean completely. And it is fun to treat yourselfs now and then. Me ... I love a low key type of place. One of the best meals I went was this 4* restaurant in Kohler Wisconsin. Very Elite at the country club, but the atmosphere was very relaxing and so was the setting. Even though you couldn't get much better food, I guess that it was so unique and even the simplist of foods were so unique.

        Well if I go to Z I will let you know.

    2. Went a couple of weeks ago for lunch with a friend.
      I am on a strict budget, ordered the "mini wedge" and she got a burger. I think my salad was $9. I have had a better one at Capital Grille for the same price. What makes a wedge great is the bacon quality and the cheese. Both were just regular, whereas the Capital Grille bacon I can STILL remember, and oh the service was quite special. My friend enjoyed her burger, did comment about the small portion of potato salad.

      I did not find Z Grille "modern but warm" - I love modern decor, but it is a challenge to make it warm. Like your aversion to eating a salad with a knife, I have an aversion to - plastic molded chairs! LOL Anyway, found the place to be antiseptic cold, but the service was friendly and efficient. Perhaps because we went at 1:30 and the place was nearly empty, it felt colder than it should?

      I would like to go back after dark, to see if the atmosphere is improved...but will have to save up a bit first!

      P.S. BeaN I love your reviews (spousal unit indeed LOL)! You've got me curious about that other place you mentioned, keep 'em coming!

      1 Reply
      1. re: joan

        I concur. Bean please tell us where the satisfying lunch was.

      2. Food is good, service has never been good, and attitude is horrible. These things haven't changed over the years.

        1. I live near downtown, and have been to Z several times. It's one of my favorites, but it's definitely not a good choice for a cheap meal! I can't speak to what you ordered - I've only been for lunch once, and we just ordered several apps for the table. The Dr. Pepper ribs are one of my favorites! I might have a strange attitude towards dining out - I choose to only eat out when I canI order whatever I want without feeling guilty about it. I'm not sure how I would evaluate their menu from a "value" standpoint - I think the appetizer route is probably the way to go there if you're trying to have a more economical meal. I like the decor but I don't think it's necessary, and it probably adds to the price point on the menu. It's definitely a "see and be seen" type of place, especially on the weekend, which is a negative in my book. I just really like the food!