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Jan 5, 2011 04:41 PM

Pre Theater Dinner near The Straz

My sister and I will be celebrating a birthday with tickets to see a play at the Straz Center. We would like to have dinner before the show. I'm interested in a place that offers excellent food and a fun atmosphere very near the theatre. Would love to do a prix fixe or maybe early dining menu, but only have an hour to eat: an hour and half tops. My first thought was MIse en Place, but I was hoping to try something new nearby. Looking for innovative cuisine, very fresh, local, maybe with fun cocktails? I'm not real familiar with the downtown area and have not found to many suggestions on the boards.


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  1. I think Fly Restaurant fits the bill, certainly with regard to the cocktails, and I find their small plates intriguing.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Miss E

      Checked out the website and it is just what I wanted. Made a reservation for tomorrow night.


      1. re: Miss E

        Fly is probably your best bet value-wise, Mise would be more of a high end small plates dealy-bob. We ate at Mise on Friday, killer meal but 'spensive.

      2. Dinner at Fly was a good choice for a dinner before the theater. The menu is varied and offers a nice variety. We began with cocktails which are offered for $5 on Tuesday a nice discount from the normal $8 -$9. Interesting variety with less seen items like elderflower (my fave) and a pumpkin butter and coconut concoction neither of us were brave enough to try.

        We started our meal with the tuna tartare. Served with guacamole and wonton chips, the tuna was fresh and bright although the guacamole needed a little more flavor. The shrimp and grits had a nice sauce and rich, creamy grits that were quite yummy. I would have liked to see a larger, locally sourced shrimp. We finished with the Berkshire pork tenderloin. The pork was delicious although it may have benefited from a quick brining. I have found the flavor of Berkshire pork can be as varied as "Kobe", and the right farm can make all the difference. The price of these dishes were in a very reasonable range of $9- $12 with generous portions.

        Service is one of the reasons we go out to dinner, and this is where Fly was a bit of a let down. I made a reservation on opentable for 6:00 pm; we had tickets for the 7:30 show at The Straz. We were seated at what I consider the one of the least considered restaurant designs. The comfy banquet seat on one side with the hard iron chair on the other. We requested to be moved to a more comfortable booth, but the host denied the request. We were told the booths were reserved for parties of four or more. However, in the entire time we were at the restaurant, which was more than 90 minutes, two of the booths remained unseated. Our server was slow to deliver drinks, would vanish from sight for long periods of time, and basically ignored our table including the dining request I made in opentable. Due to her inattention we were 15 minutes late to the show.

        Overall, Fly was very good value and I would love to visit again on a weekend night for the live music. A little more attention to service and this would be a real gem. We did not have time for dessert at Fly so we visited the dessert room at Bern's after the show. Baked Alaska was the perfect birthday dessert!

        Fly Bar & Restaurant
        1202 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602

        5 Replies
        1. re: floridaeater

          I'm glad you liked the food and drinks, but I'm sorry you found the service so poor. We have always enjoyed the service at Fly, finding the servers not only attentive but personable, for the most part. Sounds like they had a very bad night! Did you tell them you were going to the Straz? Sometimes it helps if the servers know you're on a schedule... but there's still no excuse for inattention.

          1. re: Miss E

            I did feel it was just the luck of the draw. in fact several of the other servers took our drink order, delivered the order, ran the check, well you get the idea. I have already suggested to my parents that they try Fly. Thanks again!

          2. re: floridaeater

            The service at Fly sucked so badly the first time I tried it, I have never been back. I was 45 minutes late getting back to the office (downtown...a five minute drive) from lunch and there were only four or five tables occupied at the time.

            1. re: floridaeater

              I think that Fly has good food, fairly adventurous food, and is underrated and underappreciated in Tampa. However, I agree with you thoroughly about the ridiculous iron chair opposite the banquette. What were they thinking?

              1. re: gfr1111

                The chairs really do blow, I agree. The ones outside are OK, though.