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Dec 17, 2009 08:56 PM

Sidebern's Tasting Menu (Tampa) - Outstanding!

Last night for my wife's birthday dinner I took her to Sidebern's and we had an unbelievably great experience with the tasting menu and I wanted to share. We really don't eat out much in Tampa because frankly, we're underwhelmed with the mediocrity of the food. And about four years ago I had a NY Times reporter take me to Sidebern's and we had a dissapointing meal that was mentioned in the paper, so I was a bit apprehensive about last night's dinner. It blew us away.

Seriously, every course was done perfect and the wine pairings were great. The service was decent, but since our waitress didn't eat half the things on the menu, she wasn't great at explaining them. However, we kept the menus next to us and it worked out well. The amuse bouche was pretty mediocre but the rest of the meal was great.

Anyway, it is rare that I get on here to rave about a meal, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to talk about the best meal I've had in Tampa this year. In fact, it is on my top 5 of the year. Check it out!


2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

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  1. Where were the other 4 top meals?

    3 Replies
    1. re: rhnault

      Ok, it's a little off topic, but just to help with a comparison about my meal at Sidebern's, here is my top-10 for 2009:

      1. SNOB (Slightly North of Broad)- Charleston, SC - Dinner
      2. Sidebern’s - Tampa, FL – Tasting Menu with wine pairings
      3. Pelican Club - New Orleans, LA – Dinner
      4. Luke - New Orleans, LA - Lunch
      5. Charley G’s - Lafayette, LA - Lunch
      6. Veritable Quandry - Portland, OR - Dinner
      7. Clyde Common - Portland, OR – Dinner at Bar
      8. 39 Rue De Jean - Charleston, SC – Lunch/Snack
      9. Ten01 - Portland, OR – Happy Hour at Bar
      10. Jarochita (Mexican Food Cart) - Portland, OR - Breakfast

      1. re: UptownKevin

        Oh, I thought you meant top 5 in Tampa. Since you find the food here mediocre I wanted to know where the other 4 places were.

        1. re: rhnault

          Ok, well here's the best I have got for Tampa, in no particular order...

          Ceviche - S. Tampa - Brunch
          Island Way Grill - Clearwater - Anniversary Dinner
          California Tacos - Tampa - Carne Asada Burrito for lunch
          Capital Grille - Burger and Truffle Fries for lunch (best burger in a LONG time)

          tampa, FL, tampa, FL

          California Tacos
          1450 Skipper Rd, Tampa, FL 33613

          Island Way Grill
          20 Island Way, Clearwater, FL 33767

    2. "Anyway, it is rare that I get on here to rave about a meal, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to talk about the best meal I've had in Tampa this year."...

      No disrespect Brother Kev, but you forgot to!

      I have no idea what you ate!
      The tender meats, the sauce you wanted to drink as a beverage, and the perfect crust on the potatoes!

      I actually 'lost' weight reading your post!


      5 Replies
      1. re: Mild Bill

        i was wondering the same thing! i want DETAILS :) make my mouth water, Kevin! make me WANNA go to Sidebern's. ;)

        1. re: Mild Bill

          Sorry about the lack of descriptions. The tasting menu changes often so I didn't want to talk about any one dish, but rather show my respect to the chef's abilities and the excellence of the food. Check out the tasting menu at for the whole thing.

          There were six courses and my wife and I got different dishes on (almost) every course. I started out with the Bigeye Tuna Crudo, which was a beautifully seared piece of tuna, with a nice creamy lobster salad and a tangerine vinaigrette that added just enough acidity to bring the whole thing together and wake up my tastebuds. It ended up being one of the better dishes of the evening. My favorite however was the "Oysters Casino," which was a single oyster, accompanied by pork belly and spicy pancetta. The flavors were amazing and the smoky and salty flavor of the pancetta was a great way to make it all happen. The lamb was great, consisting of a combo of braised shank and crispy sweetbread, paired with a moroccan spiced sauce that added an interesting and rare flavor to the dish.

          All in all, every course was great. And as mentioned, the tasting menu will change with the seasons, so I would prefer to emphasize the fact that it was well executed and well balanced, regardless of the individual dishes. The tasting menu was $70 per person and the wine pairing was another $35. Well worth the money.


          p.s. Andy, I am definitely not an educator and never claimed to want to educate anyone about Tampa food. But I guess you were referring to my old blog and food writing, which lasted for probably around six months. Not a lot going on in the Tampa food scene to write about, as evidenced by the two main food critics who fight to be the first to review two-week old restaurants and regurgitate press releases on blogs to fill dead space...

          1. re: UptownKevin

            I am still interested to know about the other 4 meals.

            1. re: UptownKevin

              Kevin: nice review!
              I'm really glad you've brought up the issue of critics, too. That is probably worthy a whole new thread.

              1. re: UptownKevin

                With the Braised Lamb Shank; were the Sweetbreads also Lamb???

            2. yeah, what happened to "educating Tampa Bay about food one meal at a time"? and what did it cost?

              1 Reply
              1. re: andy huse

                haha ditto. I do hear that Sideberns has gotten considerably better as of late tho.

              2. compared to the 90s Tampa food has improved greatly however there is still lots of room for improvement as I was shocked when I moved down in 1989 when a sandwich which cost almost the same as in NY which was piled with meat and cheese, was served down here with a 2-4 thin slices of meat and a single slice of cheese and called it a sandwich.
                my term was an abomination that would make the earl of sandwich ( the creator of the sandwich) turn in his grave