When 'Eclectic' Equals Brilliance
The Refinery | By Ronda M. Parag
In Seminole Heights sits a two-story bungalow on Florida Avenue, that serves up an eclectic menu and casual dining experience. Enter in the back, and the downstairs houses the main dining room, or enter on the side through the "hippy" entrance and take the stairs to the second level, to the bar and outside covered deck. On a recent Tuesday, the main dining room was filled with reservations, but the upstairs deck is on a first-come, first-serve basis. There was only a short wait to be seated, but gave us the opportunity to grab a drink at the bar. The bar serves only beer and wine, offering wine from small, select vineyards and beer from local Cigar City including a favorite, the Jai Alai IPA.
Each week the menu changes depending on what is able to be sourced locally and in season, so each dining experience will be different. The combining of ingredients whether it be spicy or sweet, creates a delight for the palette.
The small plates offer a delicious start to the meal, while the flavors tantalize with an interesting mix of ingredients. We tried both the server's recommended House Fennel-Garlic Sausage, and Mustard Green Cornbread. The sausage was served atop a creamed cavalo nero, sake-ginger sabayon and a pickled snake radish. The cornbread was plated with a tomato confit, pickled mushrooms, cauliflower brandade, capers and bourbon golden raisins. Both small plates were delicious with unique blends of flavors.
The dinner menu featured five entrees of fish, pork, quiche, cannelloni and chicken, plus a steak and burger. The pork chop was served sliced on top of cannellini beans, mustard greens, sweet peppers and yellow tomato BBQ. The chicken was pan roasted and served with a tangerine-butter cabbage, cane syrup-cayenne glaze, mustard green pesto, roasted potato and beet nage.
No fancy white linen table cloths atop the tables here, instead, mason jars, chipped plates and mis-matched silver are used to enhance the relaxed and comfortable vibe. Even a trip to the restroom is fun, as a box of chalk sits above the paper towels and invites guests to leave their mark with a message on the chalk-board painted walls. M
5137 N. Florida Ave., Tampa 33603
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