My bride and I are ever on the prowl for new and innovative dining venues that don't require us to pack a lunch just to survive the drive. Such places, other than run-of-the-mill, or dumps and dives, are getting scarce in the vicinity of South Tampa, so I was pleased when the Belle of Ballast Point suggested we give Grille One Sixteen, at 612 North Dale Mabry, a go.
G-116 has two locations on Dale Mabry, the other is located in Carrolwood. For that location we would have had to pack a snack, so we went to the closest one. This G-116 has taken over a space that once housed a Perkins, and this spot has been completely remodeled inside and out. I have to assume they did a really good job since I have been blessed never to have had to frequent a Perkins.
We parked in the back of the building and walked around toward the front only to be stopped in our tracks by a bank of potted plants. This shrubbery was placed so that we were guided to the main entrance located adjacent to the foliage. The decor of the Grille impressed us mightily as we walked in and were greeted warmly by the hostess - a sparkling, modern interior replaced whatever existed before.
We had reservations and we were offered our choice of table or booth - one of the perks of being early diners. We chose a really spiffy booth with super comfortable built-in back support. Grille One Sixteen gets two thumbs up for comfort alone.
The hostess left us with the niftiest of menus with back lighting that made deciphering the cocktail, wine, and food choices a breeze. Another "thumbs up" for the Grille.
Our charming servers, Heather and Gina, took our drink orders - a couple of glasses of Stelina prosecco to calm our nerves after a harrowing trip on Dale Mabry. For some reason, traffic was backed up in all directions around Kennedy.
My bride and I considered our options for appetizers, either the ceviche or the Nueske applewood smoked bacon, or what one Urbanspoon reviewer called, bacon in a glass. And, she was right! It was just bacon in a glass, but heavens to Murgatroid, was that ever good bacon!
We decided to try the ceviche another time. That bacon was just too good to pass up, and it went well with the bottle of Pinot Noir La Crema we requested to accompany our entrees.
After pigging out on the bacon, we were presented with our house salads. They were fresh tasting with julienned carrots and beets, accented with a light touch of balsamic vinaigrette. Both had been mashed flat which suggests they had been sitting around for awhile. Presentation, people!
For her main course, the Belle chose the 8 ounce Filet Mignon prepared medium well which our servers informed us was really more like medium. My bride was very pleased with her steak - tender, juicy, and cooked to her liking.
With Heather's recommendation, I chose the bone-in 16 ounce rib-eye prepared medium, which tended toward medium rare to rare next to the bone. That works, since I don't mind a little moo with my beef. Unfortunately, the closer I got to the bone the more chewy tendon I came across. Up to that point, my rib-eye was going to get added to my list of best area cowboy steaks. That won't be happening.
Both steaks were served with really tasty, crispy French fries along with a little cup of ketchup. While the fries were good, I would have expected a bit more originality from a rather pricey restaurant. That was just a little chintzy, I think, and one of the reasons I consider the Tampa area to be close to the bottom of epicurean excellence.
Our total for the evening came to $191.53 before a well deserved 20% gratuity for Heather and Gina. Close to two hundred dollars and we get fries with ketchup? Give me a break.
We have mixed opinions on donuts for a dessert, but neither of us can argue about how good they tasted. Four crispy on the edge, cake donuts, freshly prepared and swimming in chocolate, raspberry, coconut, and caramel with a gob of whipped cream.
Oh yeah, I agree with the Urbanspoon reviewer who suggested black cloth napkins instead of just white ones. I, too, came away with white lint all over my dark blue slacks.