The Renaissance Vinoy Hotel is a St. Petersburg landmark. The history and the ambiance of the Vinoy provide charm that you can’t find anywhere else. Since the grand opening in 1925, the historic hotel has played host to countless guests, including Presidents, professional athletes, and A-list Hollywood stars.
I was recently invited to wine and dine my way through the main dining room at the hotel – Marchand’s Bar and Grill. Lucky for us, Marchand’s is open to the public - not just hotel guests.
The six course tasting dinner at Marchand’s featured locally sourced ingredients. Chef Mark Heimann and Chef de Cuisine Ross Clingman turned these locally sourced ingredients into pure food magic. At the presentation of each course, we marveled at the dish presented to us. Each course built upon the last to create a memorable dining experience that I won’t soon forget. Not only did every course look fabulous, they tasted even more fabulous.
|The start of a perfect meal|
Here is a look at the dishes we tried:
Florida avocado, crisp prosciutto, pickled radish, duck egg, rocket greens, buttermilk dressing
Not your mama’s typical lettuce and tomato salad! This salad was a great way to start the meal, and a tasty preview of the meal ahead.
Spiny lobster cake, celery seed, chipotle-lemon grass remoulade
Before the dinner, I saw a tweet hinting at this glorious spiny lobster cake. I was looking forward to this because I love lobster. What could be better than a bunch of lobster meat stuffed together to form this tasty cake? Mmm. And see those little black squid-ink croutons? They were unique and so tasty. A return trip to Marchand’s would be in order based on this dish alone.
Braised veal cheeks with cabernet linguini, escarole, bronzed sweet onion, pecorino
Lots of firsts for me on this dish. Veal cheeks? Cabernet linguini? They both sound intimidating but were both super delicious. The veal cheeks were melt-in-your-mouth tender. The cabernet linguini was fresh and not too bold or too heavy.
Lake meadow’s game hen, orange-honey crust, charred cabbage, saison beignets
I’m not sure if the best part of this dish was the orange-honey glaze or the saison beignets. I could have easily had a few spoonfuls of the orange-honey glaze and a few saison beignets and been happy. Together, this dish was spectacular. And then…
Fried flounder, corn spoon bread, Andouille stuffed peppers, jalapeño butter
Save the best for last! Just when we thought the meal couldn’t get any better, out came this stunningly delicious (and adorable) plate. The flounder was fried to crispy perfection with a light batter. The corn spoon bread tasted like a spoonful of Southern happiness. Then I tried the Andouille stuffed peppers - a mini bite of sweet heat and the perfect way to wrap up the savory portion of the meal.
Plant City strawberry cannoli and banana cream pie duo
Dessert is always a requirement for me. Marchand’s dehydrated local strawberries and turned them into this cannoli shell and stuffed it with a smooth creamy filling. This duo also contained a deconstructed banana cream pie. Both mini desserts were refreshing and light. This was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
Along with every course we had a pairing from Marchand’s in-house sommelier. As if the food wasn’t enough, here’s what we enjoyed sipping on throughout the evening:
Chardonnay – Hahn SLH Estate, California
Sauvignon Blanc – Starmont, California
Malbec – Trivento Amado Sur, Mendoza Argentina
Jai Alai IPA – Cigar City Brewing, Tampa
Key West Sunset Ale – Florida Brewing, Melbourne
Prosecco – Mionetto, Italy (does this place know the way to my heart or what?!)
You can have your own Chef's Surprise Tasting dinner at Marchand's (with or without wine pairings) or try these dishes a la carte. There are lots of other dishes on the current menu I'd love to try, like the Lobster and Oxtail Ravioli Duo and the Sea Scallops.
Another awesome feature of Marchand’s is the new tabletop sommelier. This iPad feature has the full bar/wine menu, suggested pairings, and other nifty features. You’ll even be able to save and send yourself notes on the drinks you enjoyed so you’ll be able ask for them again at a return visit or purchase them to enjoy at home.
After this exquisite dinner, Marchand’s is moving up to the top of my list for go-to special occasion dining. There’s no need to spend lots of money on a chain steakhouse when you can have locally sourced gourmet fare for practically the same price. To top it all off, you can’t beat the charm of The Vinoy for any celebration. And even when not celebrating special occasions, Marchand’s is perfect for your next date night, girls night out, or whenever you’re in the mood for a delicious meal.
PS: Marchand’s also has weekend brunch, sushi on select nights, and a special prix fixe menu. I can’t wait to try these soon.