Last week I was given the opportunity through the ever awesome Tampa Bay Bloggers group to tour Locale Market and try FarmTable Kitchen, a 145 seat restaurant located above the chef-driven Locale Market in St. Petersburg, FL
I excitedly hopped in my car in South Tampa at 5 pm last Tuesday expecting to be in St. Pete in thirty minutes. So, OK now you know how naïve I am! As I sat in traffic grumbling, realizing there was no way I was going to make it on time, I started doing a little research on my phone. Here’s what I learned:
- Celebrity chef partners Michael Mina and Don Pintabona opened Locale Market in December 2014.
- FarmTable Kitchen, is technically the area’s only James Beard award-winning chef-owned restaurant.
- FarmTable Kitchen opened early 2015.
- The 20.000 sq. ft. space includes a grocery, meat market, beer and wine bar, bakery, seafood market, sandwich shop, gift shop and 11 kitchens, each operated by a separate chef.
- The fish is cooked to order.
- They have conventional produce as well as organic to provide a broader range of prices.
- Besides prepared foods and cooked to order they also have take-and-bake products.
I arrived 10 minutes late, happily Valet parking is available and free on 2nd Street North. The valet was cute, personable and under pressure as blogger driven cars pulled up around me, yeah, I wasn’t the only one late to the party! I knew I was in a rare space when I stepped through the automatic doors into the Market. V.P. of Operations Michael Cohen was at the door guiding the tour, I jumped right in struggling to stay focused as my eyes began taking everything in.
Soothed by the design aesthetic, the heavenly smells and the sound of chatting patrons I snapped back to what was happening and learned even more:
- They have a liquid nitrogen ice-cream station.
- They curate their meat with Himalayan pink salt blocks you can buy from the market.
- They partner with local chefs curating meats.
- They obtain their fish from Day Boats – meaning fishermen who catch and deliver on the same day vs. icing seafodd down while out at sea for weeks. 995 of their seafood is sourced locally, only the salmon comes from outside Tampa Bay.
- Sushi is a huge seller at Locale.
- They fell in love with coffee mugs made by a local artist for Kairos Ceramics. She could not afford the materials to produce in large enough quantities for the Market, so true to their ‘partnership’ goals the Market gave her a loan to buy materials for her beautiful hand-crafted mugs.
- Their birthday cakes are made to order and spectacular using unique flavor profiles.
- They feature local craft beers as well as wine.
Upstairs in the restaurant we enjoyed:
- Steamed Two-Docks Clams dripping in a light sauce made with Locale’s homemade Italian sausage, Pomodoro and fresh herbs.
- Burrata with heirloom tomatoes and rafts of Locale’s garlic sourdough bread.
- Crispy Pork Cracklins (Rinds) with a fresno pepper aioli that paired well with the Double Chocolate Stout I ordered.
- Chicken Wings with lemon pepper crème fraiche.
- Smokey fish dip with whole grain mustard, capers and a baguette.
- Margherita Pizza with heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and Locale mozzarella
- Funghi Pizza made with foraged mushrooms, taleggio and roasted garlic oil.
- We could choose from seasonal draft beers, “Magic Mirror” (Locale’s fresh take on Sangria) or sparkling wines.
Born and raised in New England, specifically Maine, I am a clam snob. They have to be tender, fresh and grit free or I am not a happy girl. FarmTable Kitchen’s Two Docks clams made me delirious. It was like being home again! I can’t wait to go back for more and was blown away that these are from Tampa Bay! So delicious.
I loved all the dishes but the standout was, of all things, the Margherita Pizza! I watched as our table of nearly 20 ooohed and ahhed over the Funghi Pizza, because, well, it looked and tasted incredibly good! But that Margherita Pizza, when you took a bite you knew you had never had a Margherita Pizza like it!
I enjoyed watching bloggers take their first bite! Eyes lit up, and an inevitable, “WOW!” would cross their lips as they tasted the fresh tomato sauce, the hint of basil and fresh mozzarella. We ordered seconds of that pizza!
After out tasting we separated to grab interesting gifts and stocking stuffers we’d seen on tour before heading home to share the news, Locale Market and FreshTable Kitchen are places we need to support! They change the landscape, offering a unique opportunity to grow community and experience life in Tampa Bay in a fresh new way!
Please enjoy these SIGHTS of Locale and head over to check them out yourself! Take a friend and enjoy the experience that is Locale Market and FarmTable Kitchen!
I loved the experience, as a family we will be going this week for our annual company holiday dinner with the kids. I’d love to hear about your thoughts and ideas about Locale Market and FarmTable, I look forward to your comments!