This is our first installment of new series of “Chow Low Down”. I hope you guys enjoy it.
Chow Low Down at 717 South Tampa, Florida
Wednesday brought the 3F Adventures crew ( this time tolerating me) to 717 South Howard Ave. in the SoHo district in South Tampa a long time destination for foodies of the area.
Chef Robert Masson was going to be preparing for us a seafood meal that I did not want to miss. “Chef” has been awarded numerous awards in his 9 years at 717 South and is one to think quickly on his feet. His credo is “Keep it Simple” (for a simpleton like me…well that is just fine) though “Chefs” simple is viewed through a Italian Asian fusion. An interesting twist to an interesting man, an avid fisherman and adventurer (just rolled his Jeep 4-wheelin’ that previous week).
My previous visits have included most recently the chicken picatta (served with mashed potatoes of all things – and it was good!).
The Seafood bisque (a favorite of the frequent there)was prepared and was very good. Not your traditional bisque ( a somewhat secret spice is used and once you learn what it is, you’ll go “oh yeah, that was it!” )however it was warm and creamy full of the delicate fruit of the sea.
The main course was what the crew was drooling over pistachio crusted Black Grouper ( Chilean Sea Bass is also used for this dish depending of the availability of freshness and quality) with a white wine/lobster sauce,with Portobello mushrooms and shrimp. The lightly toasted pistachios complimented well the sweet delicate, flakey fresh grouper and conversely it contrasted it in texture. The simple yet flavorful sauce brought out the true beauty of the dish. The shrimp were not tough and dry but rather just firm and tender, and sweet. We all could have eaten more of that speaking to the appreciating of the dish and not to the portion which was ample. The sides were perfectly cooked (not floppy, but with just a bit of crunch) asparagus spears and fluffy white rice that just oooozzzzzed goodness when loaded on the fork with the fish and the sauce.
Finally, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, “Chef” brought to us his now famous in our eyes “Punkin’ Cheese Cake”. Staying true to form and keeping it simple, he only used 7 ingredients if you don’t count the simple graham cracker crust.
It was both Elegant and at the same time homey, served with a dollop of whipped cream with a mint garnish. My opinion of it? Well lets just say that I plan on making that for my loved ones this Thanksgiving (although, I know mine will not be as good as “Chef’s”).
For most dinner entrees you are looking at less than $20 so the outlay to reward ratio is heavily tilted to your favor. At lunch there is a 1/2 Chef’s Daily Sandwich Special & Cup of Cupboard Soup or 717 Salad 8.95.
When ever you are in the South Tampa area or if you would like to make this a dining destination (they do accept reservations but have a well apportioned bar if you would like to “enjoy a short wait). They also have special nights with Tampa Bay area Celeb Bartenders (such as Joe Madden and various artists, musicians and other sports figures) on a regular basis for giving back to the community.
I highly recommend you go. Say “Howdy” to “Chef” and tell ‘em we sent ya!