B+ for E + E

Trip Start Jul 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Sunday, August 5, 2007

We often don't decide where we will go for our Sunday night dinner, till later that day, depending on how our day off went. It is never really a day off but depending on whether we did any hard labor, like planting 6 palm trees and staining an entree way, or just running around cathcin up on our much needed errands . Do we want to eat close to home, something simple, more elaborate, tried and true, or go with a friend's suggestion. Today we decided on one of Eugen Fuhrmann's 3 locales: the E + E Stakeout Grill, led by Chef Erwin Sheuringer, in Belleair Bluffs.  Then there is Mystic Fish in Palm Harbor, run by Chef Doug Bebell and Guppy's, at Indian Rocks Beach headed by chef Scott Bebell, whose food booth was located next to ours at the Taste of Pinellas (an annual fundraiser benefitting All Children's Hospital).
Arriving for our 730PM reservations, we were initially a bit taken aback at its strip mall location, but pleasantly surprised at its exceptional interior, combining copper colored faux leather, undulating painted fiberglass, Prism distributing light fixtures, polished stone walls and mahogany colored wood. Our semi circular private booth for two was winsome, although the smallish table had a lot of items competing for attention, besides salt and pepper shakers, bread plates, flavored olive oli, silverware, beverage list, sugar holder, coasters etc. We ordered our drinks from the waitress and looked at what seemed, across the board, like a nice array of appetizers, culling from a variety of countries. Asian influences could be found in the tuna sashimi, Mexican meats Tropical revealed in the quesadilla and the Shrimp picatta ingredients had an identity crisis, wondering if it was Italian or Greek (feta, lemon, eggplant and black olives). We chose the crab quesadilla with shrimp, topped with blackberry habanero sauce and a pineapple orange salsa, and the dish's presentation was a pretty picture of color contrasts. We were looking forward to a combination of spice (habanero) and chunky dip (salsa). but were disappointed in the somewhat tepid habanero sauce, and the salsa's more commercial, non chunky quality, but it might just be us, since  we really like to spice things up.
We had tried several  times to catch the waitress's attention as she still had not brought us our drinks or bread, but was in varying stages of concentration, with one table ordering, another ready for the check, and a third's food ready to be served, so we cut her some slack, sometimes you have no control over the timing. Just as our main courses came out Jose Luis finally caught her eye and you could see the minute she looked at him that she immediately remembered both our beverages and the bread. 
Jose Luis had been in the mood for a steak, and luckily the menu gave him almost a dozen cuts to choose from, having him settle on the Filet.
With my more petite appetite I usually relinquish any thoughts of entrees and go for an appetizer as my main course, but none stood out sufficiently here for me to take notice, so I chose the mixed grille, with its grilled bacon wrapped breast of chicken (2 chicken finger strips), medallion of filet mignon (about a 2 Oz size) napped with a petite syrah red wine reduction and grilled pork chop (approx. 3 ounces boneless) with bleu cheese crumbles and a slice of grilled apple. Knowing I would hardly make a dent in the dish, I knew it would make a sprawling left-over lunch for somebody close to us. 
Since Jose Luis makes his own bread in our restaurant we often pass over the breads served in other locations, due to its standard Kingford type roll look and taste, and so we did here as well, although its presentation in a square metal basket was somewhat unique, but the wrapped butter shouted more deli than fine dining. Jose Luis' Filet was perfectly cooked to a medium rare, served with a lovely bearnaise, that had just the right amount of taragon, and the sweet potato mash was an interesting complement to the dish, although the touted black strap molasses did not come through as much as we had anticipated. My trio of meats were prepared as promised, each with its own distinctive flavors, and way too much for me to eat in one sitting, but the amount of  vegetables was a bit miniscule, a piece of broccoli rabe, diced celery and bell peppers. With the quality of the restaurant's decor, glassware and staff, what surprised me was that the baked potato's sides of horseradish, butter and sour cream were served in little plastic ramekins on the plate a la Wolfie's.
As a pastry chef  I love to see what different concoctions and presentations restaurants come up with but we had to give up any thought of that tonight, as we were sufficiently sated.
For a Sunday in August, the restaurant was hopping even as we left around 9PM, guests were still streaming in, so kudos to you for being a standout and we will enjoy spreading the word as well as returning to E + E, but now we will also have to try both Guppys and Mystic Fish sometime in the near future.
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