Friday, September 7, 2012

The Menu Has Really Changed

I was totally bumfuzzled the other day to discover that one of Tampa's major cultural attractions was no more. In its place I spied a new venue offering a completely different menu of tantalizing treats.

Yes, dear readers, the 7 Seas is no more but in its place is the newly remodeled Fire Bar and Grill at the site, 3023 W. Kennedy Boulevard.

Said Fire's owner Ryan Quinn of the 7 Seas building, "We had to gut it completely. It's going to be 100 percent renovated; we're keeping three walls and the floor."

Last night the Belle of Ballast Point and I ventured in to this newly remodeled building that had been transformed from a seedy strip club (having NEVER set foot in the 7 Seas, I am just speculating here) to a bright and inviting restaurant that features 10-foot-tall mahogany doors with seating indoors and outdoors. From the side bar, we saw pizzas prepared and put into the coal-fired oven.

Fire doesn't accept reservations for less that ten, so we just wandered in around sixish. Jesse, our delightful server for the evening, allowed us to choose our seating preference - bar, high tops, or booth. We chose a booth and were presented with menus.

While deciding on food and adult beverages, we discovered that the large front porch has "air curtains" which produce a barrier of high-speed air that keeps the cool air in and the bugs and heat out. Indoors and outdoors blend together and should be a real treat when Tampa cools down just a tad.

Both my bride and I decided on brewskis instead of wine on this evening - a Firerock IPA for moi, and a Magic #9 IPA for her.

I was sorely disappointed that the octopus appetizer was not available, but I was more than able to squelch my disappointment with the House Made Maple Miso Cured Pork Belly – with cream cheese grits and crispy chicharrons.

Someone (I think it was me) once said, "If you've seen one grit, you've seen them all." 

I stand corrected! Those creamy cream cheese grits were sent to Earth by the gods. And, on top of the grits was one of the most tender, tasty, succulent chunks of pork belly I have ever had.

This appetizer alone is reason enough to dine at Fire, but there was more to come.

The Belle chose a Caprese salad as her appetizer. This was no run-of-the-mill Caprese. This was Fire's Southern Style Caprese Salad. 

The chef had pan fried cornmeal crusted green tomatoes, then layered them with fresh Mozzarella, baby basil, over smoked tomato emulsion, then drizzled with 12 year old balsamic vinegar.

Even though my Bride had suggested that the tomatoes could have benefited from a little less breading, it was so refreshing to enjoy the labors and creativity of a truly innovative chef.

Fire wasn't through yet - our entrées were on their way.

I had a most difficult time making a selection since there were several available choices that just screamed my name. In remembrance of the former tenant of this building, I thought a nice succulent breast might be appropriate, and Fire does have a Corn Flake crusted chicken breast with collard greens on the menu.

 I finally decided on the Thai Style Curried P.E.I. Mussels. The menu described this dish as one pound of fresh mussels, roasted in a wood oven, and finished with Udon noodles, bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, jalapeños and green onions in a red curry coconut broth.

First off, I love noodles! Even had this dish been less than delicious, those noodles were fantastic. The whole dish was very satisfying and very filling.

With that said I probably shouldn't complain that the mussels were...well, dainty. I really enjoy the taste of mussels, but these little fellas seemed to get lost in the curry broth.

My bride fared much better with her entrée, the 6 oz. Petite Center Cut Chairman’s Reserve Sirloin with a green onion sweet potato waffle and a tonkatsu sauce - a type of thick Japanese Worcestershire sauce that uses pureed apples as a principal ingredient.

On the side was a bowl of those creamy cream cheese grits.

The steak was tasty, the sauce added an appealingly provocative piquancy to the steak, and the sweet potato waffle she said was excellent.

Jesse, our food guide for this repast, tried to entice us with the Fire dessert menu. There were several interesting choices, but we pointed to our bulging waistlines and she seemed to understand that more food would be in no one's best interest. So, we paid our $78.67 food and beer bill, tacked on a much deserved 20% gratuity, and waddled out of the Fire Bar and Grill with a vow to return.

Fire Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon


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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It is always a joy to hear from the sweetest Sweet Polly since the beginning of time. I mean that!