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Restaurants & Bars 3

Report and thanks re: special meal in Tampa/St Pete (long)

Buttercup | Feb 28, 200501:21 PM

A few weeks back I asked for recommendations for a place to send my parents this week. They are staying in Madeira Beach and needed a place that met their dietary recommendations. After considering several Chowhounds' thoughtful recommendations and speaking to a family member who'd lived in Clearwater for a while, I decided to go with Cafe Ponte.

So what happened? When my husband and I were in Madeira Beach last week, we stumbled into Cafe de France, a little French restaurant on Gulf Boulevard, just north of the Tom Stuart causeway. I had not seen it mentioned on this board. It was fantastic. I had the best bouillabaisse I've ever had. The dish was loaded with fresh fish (grouper and tilapia), along with clams, scallops and shrimp. The broth had an intense flavor of saffron and ocean freshness without being oversalted as this dish often is. My husband had pork tenderloins with a fruit sauce that was sweet and tart. The entrees came with a delicious potato gratin and garlicky green beans, as well as a small salad of fresh greens with a light hazelnut oil vinaigrette. For dessert we shared a perfect creme brulee. Total tab for one table d'hote (4 courses, $25) plus an additional appetizer and entree and a bottle of wine: $100 with tip.

We sent my parents there the next night. The hostess/waitress and chef could not have been more accomodating and my parents loved it.

A couple of other meals worth a mention: We tried Dockside Dave's one night--grouper sandwiches three ways (grilled, blackened, fried), fries and onion rings. Perhaps it was because we took the food across theh street to the beach instead of eating it immediately, but we did not care for it--too greasy and less flavor than we expected in the fish.

Near the Tampa airport the night before we flew home, we tried Chipotle Grill, a fast-food chain I wish would start up in New England. The counter service is very quick and we found the tacos and burritos to be very fresh and very good.

Thanks to all for the suggestions--we hope to go back next year!

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