Last Friday night after "First Friday" in downtown St. Pete, four of us arrived at Cafe Alma in search of a good meal. One of the girls in our group was quite familiar with the restaurant and mentioned that since the former chef left a while back, the food has just not been up to par. She was right.
The atmosphere on a Friday night was cosmopolitan and upbeat; a fusion of a hip nightclub with tables lined up along the outer walls amidst the loud music. The menu looked pretty good (really, it did), and we decided on several appetizers, as we were all interested in getting a real taste of the food.
The lamb meatballs were small, so we got two orders, and we were all unimpressed. They were packed too tight and lacked any distinct flavor; the texture reminded me of the pre-packaged frozen meatballs. I would have just stuck with the traditional ingredients.
The sauteed calamari was decent, but didn't blow me away and the crab cakes were also mediocre, but again, lacked a defining flavor (crab, maybe?). There were high expectations from the trio of hummus, but none of us enjoyed the flavors. It was all presentation, no substance (it was plated very nicely, though).
The highlight of the meal was the steak tartare. I found it to be excellent, and my dining companions agreed. Unfortunatly, we were so dissapointed with the rest of the meal, it could have skewed our expectations for the final dish.
The bill (after tip) was a little over $100, which included a bottle of wine. Not excessive, but not inexpensive for an average meal in a nice atmosphere. I look forward to returning soon for a drink at the bar, but have no intention of dining there any time soon.