Chez Bryce brings haute cuisine
to Davis Islands | By Mary D. Scourtes
People tell Bryce Whittlesey they have lived on Davis Islands more than 20 years just waiting for Chez Bryce. This hip, high-end bistro is in a genuine Florida boom time jewel of a building.
Born in Mexico, schooled at H.B. Plant High and Hyde Park’s (NY) Culinary Institute of America, the chef apprenticed in Michelin-rated, Paris restaurants. Recently, chef Whittlesey brought acclaim to the Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox, Mass., earning a AAA Five Diamond-rating.
With white truffles from France, caviar from Iran, and saffron from Spain, dinners at the Massachusetts chateau graduated from $350.
“I enjoyed cooking at the highest level, but it was time to come back to making food more accessible,’’ said Whittlesey about his return to family and to open Chez Bryce.
Guests enjoy sumptuous fare by this fine-dining veteran at prices more in line with Tampa’s better restaurants. His Mediterranean philosophy is to prepare what is seasonal and fresh. His fish purveyor calls every morning with an advisory of the best warm water seafood or New England specialty.
Through delivery, he can bring in a wealth of products and keep his menu fresh. “One of my passions has been artisan ingredients,’’ said Whittlesey about the lovely farm cheese offerings. The chef is deft at curing pork shoulder and a smoked salmon he calls, “a labor of love.’’ Don’t miss his Mediterranean cod beignets, drizzling with a fire-roasted pepper aioli.
Side dishes welcome smiles: Tyler’s truffled mac-n-cheese’s crackling crust takes pasta to a new level. A Parmesan potato sheet tops delicate gnocchi with wild mushrooms. Ma Provence pizza is heady with herbs, calamata olives and chevre. Huge, pan-seared scallops shine with candied endive, fennel and orange and wonderful, grilled pompano is delightful with grilled baby bok choy and delicata squash.
Be sure to order the exceptional bittersweet chocolate tart atop short crust dough, and his panacotta has been called an “out of body experience.’’
The chef remembers the days he worked for a Parisian chef who brought his German Shepherd every morning to an upper crust, restaurant. “This dog ate perfectly diced, raw, New York strip steak every day,’’ said Whittlesey. “It was to be precisely cut or he would start growling and barking,” he said about the dog, (possibly, the chef too). Whittlesey’s courtyard at Chez Bryce also welcomes four-legged friends. “We are thrilled to be dog friendly,’’ said Whittlesey, it reminds him of Europe.
238 E. Davis Blvd.
Lunch: 11-3 p.m. Tues.-Sun.
Dinner: 6-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. & Sun.,
6-11 p.m. Fri. & Sat. Closed Mondays.
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