Happy Monday! How was everyone’s weekend?
My weekend started a little early on Thursday night with a 6-course Farm-to-Fork meal at The Vinoy Renaissance in Downtown St. Petersburg.
The Vinoy Hotel is a gorgeous landmark in downtown St. Petersburg. Originally built in 1925, The Vinoy was a popular vacation destination spot for screen stars of the 20s and 30s. During World War II, the hotel was turned into barracks for the U.S. military. After the war, The Vinoy continued to operate as a hotel until 1974, when it closed for two decades. The Vinoy reopened in 1994, after going through full renovations to restore the hotel to its original 1925 glory. The hotel recently celebrated its 20 year anniversary and remains a popular destination hotel for the St. Petersburg area.
I’ve run/walk/driven by The Vinoy dozens of times. The beautiful, pink hotel is definitely an eye catcher. Check it out on the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Pete Half Marathon course in 2012.
However, despite running by it so many times before, I’d only been inside The Vinoy one time before for the Women’s Half Marathon Expo last year. It never occurred to me to check out the great coffee shop, bars, or restaurants inside.
The Vinoy hosted a group of bloggers Thursday night to sample a Farm-to-Fork menu at their Marchand’s Bar & Grill. All of the ingredients were locally sourced from local farms. Marchand’s menu changes the first Thursday of the month and we had the privilege of sampling selections off the menu debuting this Thursday.
I started the evening with a Moscow Mule. I’m not a huge cocktail fan (I’m usually drawn to wine and beer over liquor), but this was fantastic. The fresh ginger really stood out and gave the drink a nice spiciness. It was a great sipping cocktail, perfect after a long day of work.
For the first course we enjoyed a salad made up of Florida avocado, crisp prosciutto, pickled radish, duck egg, rocket greens, and buttermilk dressing paired with a Chardonnay – Hahn SLH Estate, California
What a great dish to start the evening with. The dressing was light, and not overpowering, yet still flavorful and the perfect complement to the buttery avocado.
Marchand’s is famous for their homemade bread. They have a dark wheat with dried cranberries, asiago, and white. The bread is served with a chipotle butter and plain butter.
I had a slice of the wheat with cranberries with a smear of plain butter. The bread arrived hot and was super doughy and delicious. I probably could have ate that whole basket. Easily.
Second course: Spiny lobster cake, celery seed, chipotle- lemon grass remoulade with Sauvignon Blanc – Starmont, California.
The lobster cake was thick with lobster and light on the breading. The chipotle-lemon grass remoulade added just a touch of spiciness.
Third course: Braised veal cheeks, cabernet linguini, escarole, bronzed sweet onion, pecorino with Malbec – Trivento Amado Sur, Mendoza Argentina
The veal cheeks were definitely interesting. I was torn on this because I really loved the sauce, but the cheers were just a little too fatty for me. Still, the flavors were amazing and everything in the dish worked together beautifully.
Fourth course: Lake meadow’s game hen, orange-honey crust, charred cabbage, saison beignet with Jai Alai IPA – Cigar City Brewing, Tampa.
One of my favorites. I loved the orange-honey crust, I really don’t think I cook enough with citrus, it’s a great accent flavor. Also, you can’t for wrong with Cigar City Jai Alai. I ended up exchanging my sample glass for a full pint.
Fifth course: fried flounder, corn spoon bread, andouille stuffed peppers, jalapeno butter with Key West Sunset Ale – Florida Brewing, Melbourne.
Another spicy dish. This was a great Florida meal and was perfectly paired with the light Key West Sunset Ale.
Dessert: Plant City strawberry cannoli & banana cream pie with Prosecco – Mionetto, Italy.
I skipped the banana cream pie and doubled up on the strawberry cannoli. This was not your typical cannoli, the shell was dried strawberry with a light cream in the middle. It was definitely innovative, but I think I prefer the traditional cannoli shell and filling.
And the secret behind those shots in a lowlit restaurant? They had a light station set up for us.
How cool is that?
Thank you to Chef Mark Heimann and the rest of the Vinoy family for an amazing meal. I went home feeling STUFFED, I definitely enjoyed every bite.
The Vinoy is also pretty famous for their brunch, which I think I’ll be returning for in the near future. Mmm…. brunch. Sounds good to me!