Eddie V's (Tampa)
This "high-end" chain owned by Darden opened a Tampa outpost just a few weeks ago. It seems their hook, so to speak, is "prime" seafood in extravagant steakhouse packaging. I guess what I mean by that is that this is a place that looks like a souped-up Seasons 52 with more expensive cars parked out front, dark wood inside, lowish lighting, and seafood displayed and listed on the menu as Ruth's Chris might dry-aged portherhouses. With prices as extravagant.
My report is limited to the lounge/drinks experience, as we went there for the first time last week specifically to have a drink and move to the next place. We ate nothing. We sat at the bar in the lounge, and took it all in. It was around 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night, and the place was about to hit "poppin'" status. Almost all the tables in the lounge area were full, and the main dining room all seemed to be full as well. I had heard this was an instantly popular place in Tampa, and everyone was right -- the Tampa cougars and their men were in the house. By the time we left, it would have been tough to find two seats at the bar.
We bellied up to the bar, and eyaballing the bartenders and barmaid, I knew I was just going to order a martini, and make it easy on the staff (and myself). Wife made the mistake of asking the bartender if he could make something for her "with St. Germain in it". I usually love to do that at places where I know I am in good hands. I am an omakase type of guy in Japan. But I cringed when those words left her mouth. Silence and blank stare from the barman. Very awkward. My wife being the sweetheart that she is, tried to ease the awkwardness by suggesting that anything would be fine. And so he made anything. This concoction must have been at least half a bottle of St. Germain and a couple of rasperries and tonic. Terrible. Serves her right, but at the same time, when being asked to pay $10 - $15 a cocktail, a place should have someone who knows what the hell they're doing, or has the courage to say they don't know what the hell they're doing.
My Tanq#10 was very good, although the barman did shove the open shaker into another patron's face for a sniff, for reasons I didn't hear (other end of bar). He didn't spit in it, but the whole thing rubbed me the wrong way. Again, at $30 for two drinks (with tip), I expect different.
Atmosphere was very nice and soulless, in that Starbucky/Seasons 52/Corporate Hotel-y kind of way. Beautiful lighting, lots of browns, dark wood -- I'm sure you get the picture. Decor did have an edge to it; sometimes too sharp an edge. There is a large see-through reach-through gap above the sinks and below the mirror in the men's and women's restrooms that allow complete views (and arm extensions) into one restroom from the other. Lighting is so low, it is not noticeable right away. The gap is about 18" high and 7 feet across. I heard my wife's voice as I was washing my hands, bent down, and saw not only her, but straight into one of the women's stalls. A woman walked in, shut the door, and I could still see her sit down on the throne through the white glass of the stall door. I've seen this kind of thing at clubs and the like, but just doesn't seem quite right here.
Hands down the best thing going for this place is the three piece band in the lounge. Upright bass, piano, and jazz drummer. Outstanding jazz, very high quality. These old-timers could have been flown in from New Orleans, for all I could tell. The space seemed to be set up for just that type of group, so I'm thinking they have a regular gig there. So good, I'd go back just for them.
I eyed the menu and wine list. The wine list, again, is exactly what you'd expect from a "fancy" American steakhouse. HUGE on big California cabs, and not really deep anywhere else. Very little old world. I don't remember seeing many interesting wines by the glass. All were expensive.
Menu read like a fish catalog. Fish were listed like steaks on Bern's menu. I'll need to hear many good things about the food here before dropping a couple of bills on dinner.
But we'll likely be back soon for maritinis and that band. Anyone eaten at this place yet?