Last night the four of us converged at 717 South, an eatery coincidentally located at 717 South Howard Avenue in Tampa. We had early reservations and were promptly seated at an ever so slightly tight fitting booth (reader comments at this point will not be appreciated). Liz was our delightful server for the evening and this lovely lady provided the four of us with excellent service.
The Belle and I began our evening with a couple of glasses of Seven Daughters White, a blend of seven grape varieties, crafted together into a sophisticated wine featuring notes of orange blossom, tangerine and melon with a subtle hint of apricot and lychee. This wine was so good that we stayed with it through the course of our dinner.
When it came time to consider an appetizer, the four of us were drawn to the Pu-Pu Platter, a dish meant to be shared, with seared yellow fin tuna, Havana short rib spring rolls, crab wontons, calamari, polenta fries, and four dipping sauces.
This platter, designed for two to four people, seemed to be enjoyed by all. The polenta fries and spring rolls were two stand-outs for the Belle. I was impressed that the ubiquitous fried calamari was tasty and tender to the tooth. The tuna was also very good and very fresh. The crab wontons were a bit off-putting. I bit into one and thought, "Oh my, it just pooped on me," as it squirted its filling all over my fingers.
After polishing off our Pu-Pu, it was time to consider our entrees. My bride chose the Chicken Calabria, a couple of lightly breaded, sauteed chicken breast halves topped with Parmesan, prosciutto, spinach, Swiss cheese, Marsala demiglace, with a four cheese macaroni, and chef’s vegetables. Today's veg was asparagus.
The Belle raved...raved, I tell you over the mac 'n' cheese, and said the chicken was superb. I had some of that mac 'n' cheese with my entree and I agree that it was really good.
I was torn between the Szechwan Duck Breast and the Lollipop Pork Chop. I asked Liz for her recommendation, and she replied that while both were good, she thought I should go with the chop. So I did!
This chop was lightly smoked and grilled in Jim Beam and sweet onion sauce, with sides of four cheese macaroni, and chef’s vegetables. I loved that hint of smoke with the Bourbon sauce. I had requested the chop to be cooked medium rare. Liz said either the chef or restaurant policy is to cook pork to no less than medium. This was a delicious pork chop that I would have preferred to be a little less chewy.
The mighty Underdog had nothing but glowing comments about everything on his plate of...of...I don't remember, but it was the evening's special. A perfectly prepared steak with Swiss chard and duck bacon. I think it was the duck bacon that hooked him and reeled him in. I had a taste and it was sublime.
Sweet Polly didn't seem nearly as impressed with her order of Shrimp and Grits. The sauteed shrimp, roma tomatoes, and portabella mushrooms were served over romano grits.
I had a taste of the shrimp and grits. The shrimp was tender, but I never was able to find a grit. While this was a savory dish, I think the concept was rather overpowered by the heavy sauce.
It cannot be argued that Sweet Polly and her "spousal unit" were more than pleased with their dessert selection, a heavenly take-off on apple pie and vanilla ice cream. I know it had a name, but you will have to visit Epicurean Perils of Sweet Polly to find it. (Editor's update: Turns out it was called Apple Pie - go figger)
The Belle and I decided that we would rather drink our dessert, so we requested the Cafe Toledo, with Bailey's Irish cream, Kahlua coffee liqueur, chocolate syrup, coffee, whipping cream and sugar. The coffee was good, but for me the best dessert of all came next.
|Photo courtesy of Sweet Polly|