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TAMPA Looking for creative cuisine with fresh local ingredients

We're spoiled New yorkers going to Tampa (never been before) and need help to find great restaurants who use high quality fresh local ingredients creatively. Any suggestions?

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  1. Check out The Refinery. Menu changes weekly. Good place, but it is for those willing to take a risk with their food. http://www.thetamparefinery.com/

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    The Refinery
    5173 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33603

    6 Replies
    1. re: UptownKevin

      The Refinery's menu is a riddle full of experiments. The menu often sounds clever, but just as often leaves customers in the dark, a list of ingredients with no concept. Dishes seem like experiments with unpredictable results, sometimes good, sometimes not, and you're just along for the ride.

      The owners are nice and i'm happy for their success. i've chanced upon some good dishes, but i've also had some disappointments that could have been avoided. If you go, be sure to ask questions about the dishes before you're ordering to make sure you're on the same page.

      Mise En Place and Pane Rustica are solid choices.

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      Mise En Place Restaurant
      442 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606

        1. re: andy huse

          I have to add that the unpredictability is what makes it interesting. It's definitely not a restaurant for everyone, but instead of the same old chains in Tampa, we have people taking local ingredients and doing some cool things with them. It's a lot different than many other places and probably along the lines of a place found in Portland, OR.

          Dine at your own risk, but at least take the risk (once, anyway). The OP mentioned "high quality ingredients" and "creatively," so the Refinery came to mind. I do agree that Mise and Pane Rustica are great restaurants.

          -Kevin

          1. re: UptownKevin

            i agree--- i thought of the Refinery immediately when i saw this thread.

            I find it works best when dining with a group, so everyone can feel free to explore and taste.

            1. re: UptownKevin

              I don't like "dining at my own risk" when I only have one or two meals to enjoy in a city. I have no doubt that I hit it on a "miss" night since so many people here rave about The Refinery, but my single meal there made we wish I was at Applebee's...which we all know is only one step above waterboarding.

              1. re: sweet_polly

                I'm with Polly. I have been to The Refinery three times and each time ordered three or four things being a big eater. I'm trying hard to think of one dish I would want to see again on my plate and I think it would only be the Poutine with the seafood bisque and melted cheese on top. I ordered bone marrow and only poured oil out on to my toast piece. It was too overcooked. The roast chicken had gold crispy skin but was dry and had no flavor. The potatos on the side too. The burger was small dry and flavorless on plain roll with hardly any 'aioli' to be found but the fries were great. A salmon dish with barley salad had zero salt. Both things on the plate were totally unseasoned.
                The people are friendly there and I like the place but the chef and staff have to taste the food from time to time and make the recipes better not just look pretty.

        2. In Tampa, The Refinery is good, as is Mise En Place. If you venture into Pinellas County, Middle Grounds Grill in Treasure Island has great local seafood and Walt's Seasonal Cuisine in Dunedin is terrific.

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          Mise En Place Restaurant
          442 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606

          Walt's Seasonal Cuisine
          1140 Main St, Dunedin, FL 34698

          Middle Grounds Grill
          10925 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, FL 33706

          9 Replies
          1. re: laboheme

            THANKS, The Refinery and Mise En Place look good. How far away are Middle Grounds Grill and Walt's Seasonal Cuisine? (How expensive of a taxi ride?)

            Also how are Armani's and Oystercatchers as we're staying at the Hyatt? Armani's has a high Zagat rating but I'm not so sure about hotel dining.

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            Mise En Place Restaurant
            442 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606

            Walt's Seasonal Cuisine
            1140 Main St, Dunedin, FL 34698

            Middle Grounds Grill
            10925 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, FL 33706

            1. re: nyperr

              armanis is pretty killer. you'll pay for every bit of the service, but when my wife and I get to go, and we get to go have a glass of wine out on the balcony next to the little waterfall, and have a glass of wine, it all ends up being worthwhile. Armani's is amaing, it's just damn expensive.

              1. re: askdrtodd

                while i liked the food at armani's and the service was absolutely perfect, i had called one month in advance to reserve a special and romantic table for our anniversary...we were given a table by the window...with a wonderful sight of the repair work being done on the highway. the other side of the room was overlooking the beautiful sunset over the water. maybe because it was our first time there and we weren't "regulars"? i don't know. my ex still raves about the place. but he was looking at me, with his back to the window. i was looking at giant road moving equipment.

                1. re: askdrtodd

                  Wow what the heck was I doing up at midnight last night. That would explain the headache this morning and my poorly written response above.

                      1. re: Manderley

                        Posting under the influence. Don't ask me how I know. ;)

                        1. re: sweet_polly

                          It is right there with SUI- shopping under the influence lol

            2. My favorite restaurant in Tampa is Pane Rustica, I think it fits your criteria well. You'll be put off by the strip mall location, but don't be, t's excellent. Good for lunch, but great for dinner. They have terrific pastries, too.

              I also like Bailey's on Davis Islands. But be warned, this is rich Southern-style food--prepare for inner by fasting, lol!

              You will, I predict, be disappointed by the dearth of local ingredients on menus. This is a mystery of the Tampa Bay area that greater minds than my own have failed to solve.

              1. How long are you in town for? I would definitely go to:

                Wood Fired Pizza & Wine Bar - get either the Pistachio pie, or the Sofia (or the New Haven), this is pizza worthy of NYC, the owner sources most all of his ingredients (veggies, herbs, cheese, etc) locally.

                Refinery fits the bill quite well for what you're requesting, and they prices are very reasonable. Cool spot too.

                Pane Rustica - it's really more my favorite for lunch, it's a muuuuuuch better value. The quality of the food is top notch.

                Mise En Place was a great reco by LaBoheme, that's a great spot with creative small plates (and full entrees too), a bit pricey but worth it

                And Oystercatchers for a first class brunch & good seafood.

                1. The Refinery gets my vote.

                  1. Mise en Place and Pane Rustica (Yes, askdrtodd...you've garnered them another fan. I ate there again on Friday and it was To. Die. For.)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sweet_polly

                      Polly, nothing makes me happier than being an accomplice to good people eating good food, so I refuse to apologize! :)

                    2. Bern's Steakhouse. Come on. Bern's has it's own organic gardens and had them before Alice Waters did. It's got a fairly good little wine list too.

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                      Bern's Steakhouse
                      1002 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: drjimdolan

                        The dessert room alone is worth the trip.

                        1. re: andy huse

                          x2 on the desert room. that's a treat.

                          1. re: askdrtodd

                            the dessert room was my favorite part of the meal. their cappuccino made me yell out loud YES YES YES. the whole room said "i'll have what SHE'S having!"