Saturday, May 11, 2013

Friday Date Night: Awesome, Simply Awesome

I asked my bride out on a dinner date last night at a new eatery in South Tampa, Copperfish Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar at 1502 South Howard Avenue. Fortunately for me, she accepted and we enjoyed a simply awesome dining experience at Copperfish.

Copperfish is in a building that we have visited a number of times over the years when it housed Bordeaux, a Ceviche, and others that I don't remember. The last tenant was the Samba Room that we meant to visit, but never did. Could that be why they closed? Hmmm!

Anyway, this new incarnation can boast a complete and spectacular re-do. The Copperfish has a much more open and airy feel, not so bricked up as before. Walking in through the rough hewn wooden door, the senses are assailed with the pleasant aroma emanating from the wood fired grill. 

At 5:30 or so, the outside bar area and the dining room were pretty much devoid of patrons. By the time we finished our meal, the place was packed. Hopefully, this level of business continues and grows so that Copperfish hangs around for a long while because this place is...what's the word? Oh yeah, awesome!

We had made reservations so when we were greeted at the hostess station we were immediately guided to our table by one of three charming ladies who really seemed happy to see us. Steve was our server for the evening and he provided us with superior service. 

Looking over the menu presented us with a conundrum. Copperfish bills itself as a seafood grill and oyster bar. Well, I got the oyster bar part and knew that I'd be having some of those. In addition to a myriad of interesting seafood choices, Copperfish offers some really tempting hand cut steaks and chops. One steak in particular really stimulated my trusty parotid glands (spit glands if you must know), the 20 ounce bone-in rib eye. I tend to drool at the mention.

I have made it a practice not to order seafood at a steak house, and not to order steak at a seafood restaurant. I came close to violating that principle last night, though. That rib eye still has my name on it and on my next visit it shall be mine.

The Belle and I started our evening with a couple of glasses of wine, a Ste. Michelle Chardonnay for her and a Dry Creek Chenin Blanc to accompany my oysters.

Starting at the 1 o'clock position and slurping clockwise to about 8 o'clock were the Pemaquids, a brilliant oyster from the deepest holes of the Damariscotta River in Maine. Pemaquids very firm, deliciously lemony and light, with a rock-hard brown-and-white shell.

The other half dozen were Kumamoto. These oysters originated in Japan and grow in suspended floats feeding with large amounts of fresh natural plankton from cold Pacific waters. They are plump and succulent. Harvest is by hand at low tide which probably explains their hefty price tag - six for $22.

The oysters were fairly well shucked, but a little more care should have been taken to ensure the liquor was not drained off of some. A really nice touch was the addition of caper berries adorning the dish. I really like caper berries. I never touched the sauces. Really good oysters don't need them and for what they cost I want to taste oysters, not sauces. But, that's just me.

After the oysters we were ready to move on to the main event that was enhanced with a bottle of Conundrum (are you sensing a trend?) White Meritage. Both my glamorous dinner date and I chose a seafood entree.

For her, the absolute best grouper since a visit some months ago to the Middle Grounds Grill on Treasure Island, the Black Grouper. This dish can be prepared either simply grilled with fresh herbs and lemon or with one of the special chef preparations. My bride chose the special preparation with the grouper resting on a potato cake and sprinkled with corn and green beans.

Last night at Copperfish I had the best lobster I could ever image consuming, The Pissed Off Lobster...sorry, my mistake. That should be Angry Lobster.

That lobster transcended just good and moved all the way to awesome. This whole lobster was cooked to perfection, not under done or over done. It was dusted with herbs and garlic and spices that upped the flavor without burning the tongue. This was sheer perfection.

We ordered a couple of side dishes to share, neither of which we really needed, nor could we finish: a savory Sesame Lime Slaw and a sublime basket of Sea Salt and Vinegar Potato Planks.

Neither my bride nor myself felt like we could manage eating a dessert. But then...but then we realized we didn't have to eat a dessert, we could drink it! So, Steve, two Death By Bartenders, please, with Van Gogh Espresso and Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur. If you are going to be done in by a bartender, what a way to go!

What with the oysters, unnecessary sides, and wines this was not an inexpensive evening - including a deserved 20% gratuity, $282.19. But everything was so good - especially that lobster with an attitude.

Reviewer's Update: My bride and I returned to Copperfish last night (Friday 5/17/2013). As I mentioned earlier, Copperfish has a bone-in rib eye on their menu that had my name on it. Well, last night it was mine...mine...mine...mine! It and my bride's filet were simply flawless. Perfection on a plate, if you will. Tender, juicy, and loaded with flavor.

Copperfish is a true double threat - great steak and seafood.

On both visits we dined anonymously and paid full price for all that we consumed. I thought about doing a separate review of our dinner last night, but repetitive reviews of the same restaurant gets a touch ridiculous.

Copperfish on Urbanspoon CopperFish Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar on Foodio54

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