Fancy Seafood in TPA/St. Pete (Part 2 of 2)

If you missed part one, wherein we give Sea Salt a full review, and do a drive-by on Aqua (which we much-prefered), check it out here.

Later that same evening...

From the Green book:

After our let-down at Sea Salt, we walked next door to Locale Market to check out the dessert offerings at Farmtable Kitchen. We sat down at the bar, and Mel perused the dessert menu while I examined the available cocktails. I found the cocktail menu inscrutable, with bizarre names and not a single familiar spirit in sight (when I read all the way to the bottom, I learned that they sync their seasonal drink menu with the current Dali Museum exhibit, which right now is MC Escher-- so that explains the names, at least). I ordered the "Dewdrop."

Cocktail Menu:

The atmosphere is decidedly, a-hem, "hip," from the bearded, suspender-wearing bartenders to the conduit wine shelves. Also, eating here would be a lot like dining inside a Crate and Barrel- but not in a bad way.

Mel ordered a buttermilk cake with poached pear, creme fraiche, blackberry coulis, and white chocolate brittle. It was absolutely gorgeous to look at, and it backed up its visual promise with lovely flavors.
Desert My cocktail was really great, though difficult to describe. It was a bit like a light, creamy, lemon-basil martini- very enjoyable.
drink A minute or two into eating her cake, M said "This makes me sad."

"Why?" I asked, "that cake is delicious."

"Because I just spent $160 next door instead of here," she replied. Point taken. But at least we ended the night on a high note. We will have to come back to Farmtable for dinner soon.

Farmtable Kitchen, Full Review:

From the Green Book:

Five days later, and we went back to rate FTK properly. I ordered another Escher-themed cocktail: "The Puddle"- It was substantially similar to a Moscow Mule, but more grapefruity, and subtle- so far so good.
drink2 The menu here is really lovely, and choosing was not easy at all. Mel's first order was some poached Gulf prawns, a handful of P.E.I. oysters for me, and the baby octopus appetizer.

It was a Saturday night, and the place was jumping. The service seemed up to it (at first)-- we waited maybe 10 minutes for the shellfish, and less than half that for my first drink. While contemplating my second, Mel at last figured out why the cocktail list was so strange: No liquor license. Everything is made with aperitifs, wine, saké, etc. So I ordered a glass of pinot instead.

When the shellfish arrived, the server explained all the components nicely, without over-doing it. The octopus arrived moments later, and it was beautifully presented atop a fried egg, with fingerling potatoes, two different aolis (one garlic, one "lava"), with a light dusting of paprika. I'll admit I didn't find it cohesive at first, but the combination grew on me the more I tried the components together. Plus the octopus itself was perfectly cooked and nicely seasoned.
Octo Shellfish

The oysters were fresh, cold, and delicious, but very small. Mel liked the shrimp quite a bit-- well, mainly she raved about the cocktail sauce. I thought they were good too, but at $2.5 each, they better be. This is no bargain shrimp cocktail.

For my main I ordered the "St. Petersburger" with duck-fat fries and a fried egg on top (that'll be an extra $4, please). The fries were super-dope-- soooooo crispy and succulent. The burger was close to perfect too (only Z-Grille's ridiculous $30 masterpiece tops it, in my opinion). If I were to change anything, I might add some pickles to the burger itself (there was a big dill on the skewer atop it) to brighten it up some. But that's not even a complaint. It was really, really good, and I ate the whole monstrous thing.

Mel got the duckling, which was a little gamey for her. I liked it, apart from the relentless orange-ness of the plate (every body is weird about something-- I'm weird about orange food). It was well cooked, for sure.

Duck We finished with the S'more tart (which apparently is soon to leave the menu, so hurry!), which Mel really loved. I found it a little overwhelming, but if you're a fan of classic s'mores, you're guaranteed to love this elevated version.
smore tart Overall service was good, not great. Our silverware never got replaced, and twice Mel wanted the server and she was nowhere to be found. I wasn't as bothered as she was. I'd definitely come back on the strength of the menu alone; there's a lot more I want to try. But then again, it was very costly (like $140 before tip, and I had two drinks and a burger), and our meal wasn't without flaws, so maybe not for a little while.

4.0 of 5 from Matt

3.5 from Mel

You'll find Farmtable Kitchen upstairs inside the gorgeously decadent Locale Market located in downtown St. Pete's "Sundial" shopping center:

179 2ND AVE. N.

You can make a reservation on Opentable or by calling:

(727) 523-6300