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Jeannie Pierola and Kitchenbar

In my humble opinion, the "pop-up" restaurant Kitchenbar from chef Jeannie Pierola (ex-Sideberns and, before that, the trailblazing Boca) was the most amazing culinary experience Tampa Bay has seen in ages. Why not a single word on this board?

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  1. The folks who went were mostly talking about it on FB. Pics were posted, etc.. I thought there was a thread here as well. I must be mistaken.

    1. i was so excited about it, made reservations for a group of chowhounds....then had to go out of state for a business trip. out of all the inconvenience and annoyance of living in a strange city for a month, by far the worst thing was having to miss this. i was kind of surprised not to see a review on here, too. our group was mostly arranged through facebook, and there were pics posted but i really was hoping for more mouth-watering descriptions.

      so as long as we're on the subject, can you provide some details? what did you have? what did you see someone else having and wish you had ordered for yourself?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Manderley

        Telstar, feel free to start the discussion. I went the first night and didn't want to post about the fact that they were having the problems that any restaurant would experience on their opening. The dishes that made it to the table were great. The veal cheeks were definitely one of the best things I have eaten in a long time. I hope Jeannie will give Kitchenbar another go or just find a place to settle down. Either way, I would be very happy.

          1. re: askdrtodd

            man you guys are all keeping the details close to your vests. can ya spill some details? would it kill ya???

        1. re: Manderley

          We went on Saturday and I was disappointed. I knew it started bad when our server almost wasn't able to open our wine bottle. She apologized and said it was her second time opening a bottle of wine. I said, " ever"? and she laughed and said yes. As I"m watching her put her entire hands all over the neck of the bottle, my husband finally helped her and explained how she needed to use the lever on the wine key to hold it in place. It was just a weird start to the evening. The food was just o.k., nothing spectacular. We started with the smoked oyster app which was the best dish out of the 4 we had. My only problem with it was there was only 3 oysters. My husband said,"If I ever own a restauraunt, I'll make sure there are an even number of items to share" :) The next item was the oxtail poutine steak fries. The fries were soggy and there just wasn't anything special about this dish. Next we had the pork belly with a red lentil puree. It was just plain and underseasoned :( At this point, we decided that we weren't going to bother with main entrees, we ordered one more "medium" dish to share, as the menu put it (the scallop chowder) and the scallops were overpowered by the potatoes and the menu said something about a corn fritter and pork cracklings, neither of which made it into the soup. We gave up, and went down the street to one of our new favorite spots, bin27bistro. We absolutely love Chef Jasons Cline and his culinary creations and we shared the steak in foyot sauce and a little more wine. At least then we went home full. Not sure went wrong with kitchen bar this time around?

        2. she is surely a darling of the press--- the fawning stories came out fast and furious. at first i was pissed i couldn't make it to the chowdown, but all turned out well, as i would have walked out after not being served for 2 hours. My appetite is too strong after work to be toyed with like that. i'm glad it turned out well for those who could stick it out and hope she opens a real restaurant and works out the bugs. i'm sure we'll hear all about it in the papers.

          1 Reply
          1. re: andy huse

            wow 2 hours. i heard vague mention of "bugs to be worked out" but never heard any details. didn't hear many details about the food, either, though, and that's what i was craving, some delectable descriptions of culinary delights. guess i'll just have to stick to food porn.

          2. Sorry I dropped the ball on responding to requests for details on my Kitchenbar experience. Been crazy busy, but, in a nutshell, let me just say that I went twice and both times were pretty astonishing. Service was well-meaning but definitely spotty (the first night in particular was extremely slow, and our table wound up not getting several things we ordered), but we didn't receive a single less-than-stellar dish -- and between the two nights we were there I must have tasted 85-90% of the fairly extensive menu. Highlights included a slow cooked egg (a small masterpiece of deconstructed tastes for $3!), baby lima bean bruschetta with smoked chevre and shiitakes (and I don't even like lima beans), Veal cheek parfait (a fav of almost everyone), Soft lobster scrambled eggs with caviar and brioche (breakfast of champions), and a kobe short rib "soup." Most were small-ish plates, with the exception of the short rib soup, and most of us thought the small and medium plates were probably a touch more successful than the large entree-ish ones (which was sort of the case with Sideberns when Jeannie was there, as I remember). Desserts, with the exception of an Autumn Cobbler, were probably the least memorable part of the meal, but hey -- you can't have everything. Try as we might.

            -----
            Sidebern's
            2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

            1. For those of you interested in where she will pop up next:

              http://www.tampabay.com/things-to-do/...

              Chefs on the Loose? Seems appropriate, eh?

              9 Replies
              1. re: Tom Scherberger

                I have to say the news is coming out the way the dishes did the first night, slow and with only the slightest hints of satisfaction. I will definitely go to the new pop-up, but not the first night. That's for sures.

                1. re: CFishman

                  CF- I agree completely, although as an experiment I'm going to make reservations to eat there on the first day and the last day, see what happens over the two weeks, that should be interesting.

                  1. re: askdrtodd

                    I suppose I should cut her a break. I, of course, love what she is doing. First night has to go more smoothly this time, right? I just keep thinking of those dishes that refused to come to papa.

                    1. re: CFishman

                      Reports of this kind of thing is what kept us away. A pop-up restaurant is not, by definition, a chaotic mess, and her attitude in her FB posts, which was "we're all in this wacky experiment together" rubbed me the wrong way. The diners, while predisposed to give a much-loved chef a break, are paying for their meals; if dinner were free it would be a different matter! I'm not going to bow at her altar if she can't get the basics organized.

                      1. re: Miss E

                        Miss E, I know what you are talking about. She stopped by our table after the meal and didn't offer the slightest indication that things might not have gone as smoothly as she had hoped. A little sweet-talking really would have won me over at that point. That said, the dishes that arrived to the table were great (except the dessert which was a disaster). Again, I am glad she is doing this and I hope maybe this second go round will be a little smoother.

                        1. re: Miss E

                          Miss E- when we ate at kitchenbar the first night, one of the first seatings, I was so excited to be there and to hang out with such a fun group (CF, Jeff from the Trib, Tom from Cigar City, etc) that I wasn't even paying attention to all the hiccups that were going on that night. Not getting some of the items I ordered was pretty annoying, I will try to be more unbiased next time. That being said, the items we did get were either good or great (I really enjoyed everything, the deserts were the only weak part in my opinion, and I got to try over half the menu with everyone at the table sharing), and the pricing was super reasonable for the quality of the food.

                          hmm... Jeannie, if you're out there- you could test drive the gig this time the night before and do "soft" dinner with some of your loyal followers to work out a few bugs in advance this time? I would be more than happy to volunteer ;)

                          1. re: askdrtodd

                            For the record, not everyone was sharing. I don't like to condone that kind of behavior. You are right though, Todd. I don't want to come off as overly negative about this. There were problems but it was nice to be with good people and the food that made it to the table was worth the hassles.

                            1. re: CFishman

                              Jeannie keeps saying "it's all about the food'' but I think most diners use a more complicated formula involving food, value, service and atmosphere.

                              1. re: Tom Scherberger

                                Exactly! The food at least has to reach the table, lol. But I will go to one of her popups one day, she's a great chef.

                2. Does anyone plan on attending the Knife & Co. iteration of KitchenBar? I have sufficient ca$$h flow this time, so I'm going to make reservations near the holidays. Reading on the Facebook page, I found out they're doing a Buena Noche feast for Xmas eve, which I am certainly interested in, although I don't know exactly what that entails. Whole roast pig?

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: austinjh

                    Austin, I would say the first week was very rough. I have a reservation for Xmas eve that I am considering cancelling if I don't hear something good soon. I say this full of regret as I really enjoyed the first three Kitchenbars.

                    1. re: CFishman

                      I've got the same impression as CF, I absolutely loved the first three KB's, but my meal at KB4 on Saturday didn't blow me away. We have a rez for Thursday, will give it another go and report back.

                      1. re: askdrtodd

                        Is the menu pretty much the same this time around? I've been to the past 3 KB's and, although I've enjoyed them all, have noticed the menu seems to get less adventurous -- and more expensive -- with each incarnation.

                        1. re: Telstar

                          I didn't see any specific dishes that were repeats, but a lot of the items that were the focus of the dish (oysters, burrata, duck confit, etc) were similar to previous incarnations. And yep it wasn't cheap...

                          1. re: Telstar

                            one thing that no one is mentioning is the price of these meals. I heard the three-oyster dish cost $12. i wonder how much the fingerling potatoes cost...

                            1. re: andy huse

                              Andy, the oysters are $14. The potatoes are $8. I was trying not to mention every grievance as I made the choice to go on the opening night. You are right, though, I would not order the oysters again.

                              1. re: andy huse

                                the buena noche tasting was $66, the wine pairing with it was thirty something. my total bill for the meal and wine was $109. i couldn't do that every night of the week, but as my Christmas gift to myself, it was worth it.

                          2. re: CFishman

                            i didn't see you there tonight, cfishman, did you cancel your res? i did see dr todd who very graciously treated me to a glass of champagne, perfect way to start my wonderful meal.

                            1. re: Manderley

                              We did cancel. I couldn't get over the bad feelings from opening night.

                          3. re: austinjh

                            We have reservations, but I am thinking about canceling them. The bad press about Pierola's questionable business practices, together with lukewarm reports about KB4, are making me think twice.

                            1. re: austinjh

                              i have reservations for Christmas Eve. Do you have any info on the Buena Noche feast?

                            2. We went on Saturday and I was disappointed. I knew it started bad when our server almost wasn't able to open our wine bottle. She apologized and said it was her second time opening a bottle of wine. I said, " ever"? and she laughed and said yes. As I"m watching her put her entire hands all over the neck of the bottle, my husband finally helped her and explained how she needed to use the lever on the wine key to hold it in place. It was just a weird start to the evening. The food was just o.k., nothing spectacular. We started with the smoked oyster app which was the best dish out of the 4 we had. My only problem with it was there was only 3 oysters. My husband said,"If I ever own a restauraunt, I'll make sure there are an even number of items to share" :) The next item was the oxtail poutine steak fries. The fries were soggy and there just wasn't anything special about this dish. Next we had the pork belly with a red lentil puree. It was just plain and underseasoned :( At this point, we decided that we weren't going to bother with main entrees, we ordered one more "medium" dish to share, as the menu put it (the scallop chowder) and the scallops were overpowered by the potatoes and the menu said something about a corn fritter and pork cracklings, neither of which made it into the soup. We gave up, and went down the street to one of our new favorite spots, bin27bistro. We absolutely love Chef Jasons Cline and his culinary creations and we shared the steak in foyot sauce and a little more wine. At least then we went home full. Not sure went wrong with kitchen bar this time around?

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: coloradosmom

                                Went last night and it was good, but not as mind blowing as previously. Had several small plates around the table and the couples split two entrees as follows:

                                Subared/Lavendar Marcona Almonds - Good almonds with powdered sugar and fried lavendar and a large portion. Nice starter for the table.

                                Hush Puppies - Hush puppies are hush puppies, the spicy dipping sauce they came with was quite good.

                                Fingerling Potatoes - 2 potatoes, a baby carrot chopped in half and 2 cippolini onions with a buttery jus. Not at all worth it.

                                King Crab Salad - 4 nice pieces of king crab leg with fennel and a citrusy vinagrette, quite good and very well balanced.

                                Burrata Salad - Burrata, kale, diced squash, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Its impossible to mess up decent burata, but the whole dish didn't flow for me. the dressing was over powering.

                                Lobster Risoto - fennel polenta and white chocolate emulsion/foam. Very, very good, was mopping the plate.

                                Yellowtail Snapper - sweet potato puree and greens. Good but nothing to write home about.

                                Chocolate Chocolate stuffed Beignets - Chicory ice cream, peanut butter crumble and black cherry compote. Looked outstanding going by the table, but the beignets were way too doughy, the chocolate stuffing wasn't actually in the beignets. The cherry, ice cream and peanut butter crumble would have been a wonderful stand alone desert as a deconstructed PBJ. No need for the beignets.

                                The service was very much meh. Water was filed only once over the course of a two hour meal, which should have been shaved by a half hour, not that I don't enjoy sitting with friends. There was no tasing menu.

                                However, I am going back tonight with some other friends and will try different things to let you all know. So far, it hasn't been as great as the past incarnations, but definitlly a nice change of pace.

                                1. re: coloradosmom

                                  OK. Kitchen Bar Part 2. Back to the KB that I've found so outstanding from the git go. Coloradosmom, you're right about the oysters through and through, delicious, but too few and overpriced for three little oysters. went to Maritana two weeks ago and got a half dozen Kumumotos for $16.

                                  I have to disagree on the poutine. Thought it was delicious, the fries were crisp and pillowy on the inside, the tandorri oxtail had a nice flavor and the mint and crema added a nice fullness and tang to it.

                                  I had the vichysoise, which was very, very good with the compressed pear. The shrimp/foie toast was more of a stuffed croquetta and I loved it. Added a very nice earthiness to the chilled soup.

                                  My wife had the crab imperial, blue crab with black truffles. Basically an amazing, earthy crab dip. Would have been amazing with toast points, but very strong on its own.

                                  We split the lobster risotto tonight, and it was a good as our friends made it seem. The white chocolate foam was a wonderful surprise.

                                  Our friends split the Kobe with beef salad, and they killed it, but who doesn't like kobe. it was a large piece and looked delicious.

                                  For desert, we had the peach blackberry milkshake and peanut butter chicory milkshake. Both were outstanding and we wanted more. The buttermilk in the peach shake added a nice little something that I just can't put my finger on.

                                  Back to old form, and I would go back again were they open for a longer run.

                                  1. re: DEVO2172

                                    I just returned from my Christmas Eve dinner at KitchenBar. I am a control freak and usually order several dishes, I like to chose my own. I had heard about the Lobster Risotto, and the poutine, and the chicory and peanut butter milkshake...but i decided to trust Chef Jeannie and order the Buena Noche tasting menu without even looking at the menu.

                                    The meal was just exquisite. I also had the wine pairing. I have a tendency to pick a little bite of each component so i can experience the taste and texture of each before assembling the one "perfect" bite to see how it all comes together. Not only was each blended bite perfection but the meal itself was a perfect progression.

                                    the yellowfin tuna conserva in the appetizer course was so delicious i savored each bite as slowly as i could. the gruyere snow and liquid olives of the salad course were ingenious. the snow was just a hint, it disappeared on my tongue like magic. left me wanting more more more.

                                    the zarzuela de mariscos was heavenly, i finished all the sauce using my spoon. wouldn't leave a drop in my bowl. no way.

                                    the pork three ways...oy oy oy. pork cheek. pork cheek, i love you. come kiss me. can food be sexy? hell yeah.

                                    cheese course was lovely.

                                    the dessert...well the dessert was just not fair. dark chocolate sponge with pistachio mousse was dense but not too heavy and just wonderful...until i added a little mouthful of that blood orange sorbet. that pushed me over the edge. foodgasm. i'll have what she's having. uh huh. oh, mama. can it be possible that something is just TOO good?

                                    followed by a perfect little glass of cortadito, not too sweet, just right.

                                    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

                                      1. re: Manderley

                                        Yeah I thought the noche buena meal was pretty excellent. Definitely as good as previous Kitchenbars.

                                        1. re: askdrtodd

                                          Looks like KB5 is on the horizon.
                                          But maybe more interesting is the news that Chef Jeannie is opening an actual "real" restaurant soon (Aug 7) on the site formerly housing the short-lived Knife & Co (and KB4). It's called Edison, by the way, and will feature what Jeannie is calling “daily flavor experiments and modern interpretations of everyday food.” I'm intrigued.
                                          Hoping for more info soon.

                                          1. re: Telstar

                                            I noticed that too...wondering how she can do a popup and a grand opening of a permanent restaurant at the same time? She must be a true "genie"!

                                            1. re: joan

                                              Okay, so as of 14 minutes ago Edison is now open.
                                              Is anyone having lunch there today?

                                              1. re: Telstar

                                                Going for it. I am a glutton for opening day disasters.

                                                1. re: CFishman

                                                  Just poked my head in Edison on the way back from picking up my kid, and had a quick look at the menu. Not quite as enticing sounding or as cheap as I'd hoped (there was an $18 tweaked fried chicken on the menu which is over $5 more than the very good one Wimauma serves). But definitely looks well worth a visit, assuming you can find a place to park (street spaces are super limited, and a valet was way overloaded at 2 pm). From talking to the guy at the host stand, it sounds like there's going to be lots of trial and error/experimenting going on for at least the next few weeks. Eager to hear some first hand reports...

                                                  1. re: Telstar

                                                    I liked the menu. I do wish it were a notch cheaper but I don't think the prices are unreasonable. It's just that I won't be able to afford to go to lunch there every day. I mostly agree about the fried chicken (which I ordered today). The chantrelle fricassee and the waffle were great. I would prefer an excellent piece of fried chicken over a sous-vide fried chicken. I am not crazy about the skin and the chicken getting separated from each other and I found parts of the meat to have a slightly funny texture. Basically, I am a traditionalist when it comes to chicken and waffles and I should vow not to order it every damn time I see it on a menu. We also had the lavash, the fried anchovies, the lobster gazpacho, and the seared tuna. I am very happy that Jeannie is settled in again. The place was pretty quiet today. There was a large table with most of the Refinery staff. It was nice to see them out supporting a local restaurant. It looks like they know how to eat as well as cook/serve food. The food was a tad slow coming out but that is to be expected on the first day. This is a great new addition to our food life in Tampa.

                                                    1. re: CFishman

                                                      My plan is to wait until they iron the kinks out a bit before visiting, but it's hard to resist the lure of duck confit foie gras tacos.
                                                      By the way, since we're obviously discussing a brand new restaurant here rather than Kitchenbar, should Edison have its own separate thread?

                                                      1. re: Telstar

                                                        Someone will come along and do that I am sure. Dr. Todd? Facebook is telling me here was there twice yesterday.

                                                      2. re: CFishman

                                                        I'm so glad you liked it, CFishman. I can't wait to get there. That's also cool that the Refinery staff showed up. I also heard through the grapevine that Wimauma's Dining Room Manager, Ashley, has jumped ship and is now at Edison. The lovely young woman who served me at Wimauma (can't remember her name) remembered me from the last KitchenBar, i wonder if she's also left Wimauma to return to Chef Jeannie's employ.

                                                        I really liked the big community table and open kitchen at the Knife&Co space, did Jeannie leave those or has the interior been changed?

                                                        1. re: Manderley

                                                          Stopped by for lunch today and sampled the duck tacos, lobster gazpacho and potato-oysters, all of which were excellent. The best dish of all might have been the tuna nicoise tartine, a daily special that my wife had. Service was pleasant and efficient, and the vibe in the restaurant is loose but not sloppy. Prices add up quickly (lunch for two was almost $60 with tip but without wine or dessert), but I guess that's about what you'd pay for similar quality and quantity at, say, Pane Rustica. And along with Pane Rustica, this was about the best lunch I can remember having in Tampa.

                                                          Just curious why the Tampa board is so quiet about this place.... or, for that matter, why the Tampa board is so quiet about, well, nearly everything.