Best Kept Dining Secret In Tampa Bay
Visitors to the Tampa Bay area, who prefer exquisite fine dining - and willing to pay for it, could do no better then “Six Tables”, rated in the upper 20’s (out of 30) by Zagat. With 3 area locations, one each in Tampa, historic Gulfport (sharing the south border with St. Petersburg) and Dunedin, just north of Clearwater, those who are accustomed to the best in cuisine and service will not be disappointed. This exclusive venue reflect its name - only six tables, serving seven seating per week, with no more then two dozen diners per seating on (surprise!) six tables.
The Tampa location we recently visited is nestled in the corner of an unimposing strip mall; but once inside, we felt transported to a French country chateau with a private dining room, complete with our own chef and staff. We were greeted by Maureen, co-proprietors with her husband Sean, and escorted to our wonderfully appointed table, adorned with fresh flowers, fine china and crystal, and a chilled champagne glass filled with “bubbly”. Most guests arrived dressed for fine dining. Jackets for men are suggested, but no mandatory.
After all guests were seated, Maureen,a wine expert in her previous profession, offered an extensive selection by the glass or bottle in all price ranges. Next we were entertained by Richard, our chef, who explained the night’s menu in detail. (We had already perused the menu on their web site, which changes weekly.) The six-course menu included a hot appetizer, choice of two soups, salad, an amazing selection of seven entrees, freshen afterwards with sorbet , a cheese, pate, fruit and nut platter, and choice of two desserts. Richard then visited each table to take individual orders, insuring that preparation would be to each guest’s satisfaction.
Our first course was a delightful Crab and Chevre Turnover with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis, accompanied with a basket of homemade poppy seed loaf served with honey butter. We selected the classic Lobster Bisque, delicately prepared with heavy cream and sherry and a pinch of saffron. Our salad displayed fresh Baby Spinach topped with tomatoes, pine nuts, Bermuda whipped feta cheese toast and warm roasted Shitake dressing.
Choosing among the seven entrees was difficult. I selected the Rack of Lamb with Herbs de Provence and Glace d’Agneau. One companion chose Chateaubriand with Roasted Wild Mushrooms and Port Wine Reduction; the other, an eclectic Buffalo Strip Steak au Poivre with Blueberry-Pinot Noir Syrup. All platters included a uniquely prepared potato pancake and snow peas. Considering there were only 20 diners, it’s amazing that so few people could select from so many entrees. Other entrees included a Slow Roasted ½ Duckling ands Sugar Plum Glase, a Paneed Rainbow Trout and Crab Infused Beaurre Blanc, a Demerara Crusted Sea Bass with melted Leeks and seared Oysters, or a Rosemary-Thyme seared Veal Chop with Romano Cheese Sauce.
When we observed that all tables had been served except ours, Chef Richard approached us, apologizing that my rack of lamb did not meet with his satisfaction and he was preparing another. The small delay was tempered with a complimentary glass of dessert wine, which he personally delivered. (Now that’s service!)
After our petite ball of lime sorbet, we were tempted with a bountiful platter of “drunken” (with wine) goat cheese, imported Gouda, duck pate, wedges of kiwi, kumquats and strawberries, candied pecans and seasoned croutons. This could have been a meal by itself! For dessert we all selected the Coconut Pana Cotta in a bed of Mango Sauce, brushed with a Raspberry Topping. Our other choice was a Hazelnut Crusted Chocolate Ganache, which looked heavenly, but deemed rather heavy after this rich meal.
Avoiding the appearance of snobbery, there were actually cute “doggie bags" with Six Tables logo available for leftovers!
Our visit to the Tampa restaurant should be typical of their other locations. A new location is planned for Boca Raton in south Florida. Six-course dinners are a flat $70, excluding beverages, taxes and gratuities. This hardly limits their clientele since virtually every seating is a sellout and repeat customers are the norm! Peruse their web for complete details about locations, hours and menus. (www.sixtables.com)