Monday, May 6, 2013

Bacchanalian Tapas Party In St. Pete

Our goal was to culturally enrich ourselves by wandering about the Dali Museum yesterday soaking up and absorbing the painter's surrealist images that were on display. The museum is truly impressive, both inside and out. After a couple of hours soaking up culture, I felt a strong urge to soak up a beer in the ground floor lobby. Thankfully, beer and wine are served.

Warped Time On A Park Bench - digital image, JLR May 5, 2013
After a medicinal adult beverage, this little party of culture seekers, our daughter and son-in-law, my bride, and I decided that food was our next priority. In downtown St. Petersburg it is really hard deciding on a food venue. Unlike the gastronomic wasteland that is downtown Tampa, St. Pete is copiously blessed with dining choices. One of the best is Cafe Alma Tapas Wine Bar and Grille, 260 1st Avenue South.

The four of us wandered in around five thirty and were promptly seated and presented with menus. Mary, our charming server for the evening, took our drink orders and soon returned with three glasses of two-for-one house Malbec and for me a Racer 5, an American IPA style beer brewed by Bear Republic Brewing Co. in Healdsburg, CA.

While sipping our adult beverages, we discussed whether to choose tapas or something from the grill or maybe a house specialty. There were so many excellent choices, but the tapas menu finally won us over. Each of us ordered three tapas which gave us 12 plates to share. 

Properly identifying and accurately describing all 12 dishes may prove to be a challenge, but I "vow to endeavor to persevere" (Lone Watie, The Outlaw Josey Wales) in the task. Here we go, and in no particular order:

Norwegian salmon with capers, eggs, pickled onions, lemon aioli - very tasty.

Beef Carpaccio with capers, eggs, onions, and lemon aioli - good, just not great.
Papas Alma flash fried new potatoes tossed with chili aoili - not my favorite, but enjoyed by others.
Avocado Caprese, red and yellow tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Hass avocado, basil oil, balsamic glaze.

This was my personal favorite, Garlic Simmered Clams - little necks, garlic butter, lemon and white wine.
The broth was fantastic and the bread for sopping was a nice touch.

Meat Balls, savory ground sirloin and chorizo sausage simmered in red sauce.

Another dish with a great sopping sauce, Portuguese Spicy Jumbo Shrimp
sautéed with bell peppers and Portuguese pepper sauce.

This was so very tasty, Crispy Shrimp Alma -
crispy shrimp tossed with Thai aioli over Asian slaw. One of my favorites!

Chorizo and Chic Pea Empanadas, dry aged chorizo baked in puff pastry.
This had a slightly gummy bottom. We probably let it sit on the plate too long.
The undisputed winner of the night?

A smokey Gouda Mac 'n' Cheese. This got the most votes as best dish of the night.
There are two dishes missing from this review, the Boneless Curried Chicken Thighs due to a blurry photo, and the other, I have no clue. I didn't eat it - I swear!

The ladies also ordered dessert, a chocolate torte that they seemed to enjoy. They are women - why wouldn't they enjoy chocolate? I was too stuffed at that point to take a picture. You will have to use your imagination.

All of that mouth-watering food, plus beer and wine, and a gratuity came to $173.86 for the four of us. 

Cafe Alma on Urbanspoon 

Cafe Alma on Foodio54

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