Nay, nay, we're not talking about getting our buns burned to a crisp by the sun. Any searing going here is courtesy of the Seared 1200 Chophouse at 5007 Gulf Boulevard on St. Pete Beach. Never heard of the 1200? It's a relatively new dining establishment occupying the space vacated by the old Patrick's.
The Belle of Ballast Point and I decided to brave the traffic and pay the chophouse a visit yesterday afternoon. This 48 seat restaurant doesn't take reservations and does open at five, so we decided to be there when the doors flew open. We misjudged traffic and arrived a bit before the appointed hour while the staff was still setting up.
In spite of this early arrival we were invited to go inside or sit outside and make ourselves comfortable. Someone, we were told, would be right with us. How refreshing was that? We felt like we were welcome customers instead of an annoyance.
There is a deck out front, but it is a bit close to the road and Gulf Boulevard can get a tad noisy. We chose to sit inside. The inside is open to the outside on three sides, so we were still able to enjoy the gentle sea breezes. Even though the staff was bustling to get ready for the hoards, they were very accommodating to us and a few other patrons that followed us in.
It was good that we arrived around five, because the table seats and the bar seats began filling rapidly. By six there was a crowd forming outside awaiting a vacant table.
Richard was our very charming and efficient server for the evening, and even with the building crowd we never felt rushed. Richard patiently answered any questions we had about the menu choices and made recommendations for food and wine. In a Laura Reiley review in the Times last Wednesday, the servers only got two stars. Richard and some of the other servers we observed certainly deserved way more than a measly two stars. But that's just us. And, Richard, you are welcome.
Now then, on to the comestibles.
We started with a couple of glasses of pre-decision making wine, the Loosen Riesling for me and the Gougenhiem Malbec for my bride.
I was torn between an appetizer special of bacon wrapped scallops on the chalk board or the mussels on the menu. The mussel preparation can vary from day to day, and tonight they were prepared with a savory broth accented with diced andouille sausage, and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
The accompanying toasts were an absolute necessity in sopping up that delicious broth. I did have to mention to Richard that seven of the mussels failed to open. I do not believe that was due to anything but under cooking - something the chef needs to be mindful of in the future.
My bride eschewed an appetizer. For her the 'appetizer' is something she orders at the end of the meal and most often involves chocolate.
We were both presented with the 'included' salad, otherwise known as the house salad.
The Belle and I agreed that this was one of the best house salads we had ever been served; fresh greens, with toasted walnuts, craisins, goat cheese, and a really tangy balsamic vinaigrette. The dinner rolls that came along with the salads were warm and soft. You almost wanted to cuddle with one - almost.
For her entrée my bride chose the Filet Mignon cooked to the requested medium temperature and served with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce along with a fully loaded baked potato, and a grilled tomato with a green topping neither of us could identify.
She swooned over that tater, and I agreed with her that the Filet was excellent - tender, and oh so juicy.
Again I was torn between the Steak Au Poivre and the Angus Rib Eye. Richard said that the rib eye was his personal favorite, so I made that my choice even after discovering that it was sans bone. I love to gnaw on the bone, but that was not to be. Oh, well!
My rib eye was very flavorful, though a little chewy in places. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare and came with a large bowl of spinach - maybe too much spinach. I couldn't finish it all, but it was good - and, healthful.
To wash down all of this really tasty food, we enjoyed a bottle of Graham Beck Cabernet - another spot on recommendation from Richard.
Neither of us had room for dessert, but the love of my life did get a cheesecake topped with raspberries and surrounded by little squirts of whipped cream to go.
This yummy dessert made it home only slightly worse for the trip.
Dinner with wine, dessert, and a well earned gratuity for Richard came to $169.43.
The Seared 1200 Chophouse may not be the epitome of fine beach dining, but it definitely deserves a visit.