I walked in the door and was immediately greeted by not only the hostess, but the usual bustling electricity of the happy hour crowd at Roy's in Tampa
. This evening there seemed to be just a little something extra in the air, probably due to the fact that Roy's in Tampa had once again been listed as one of the top 50 restaurants in the area. With over 11 years in the Tampa Bay area and a reputation for excellent food and service, I still find it amazing that you can throw a stone and find people who have not yet been to Roy's for dinner.
I am always impressed that no matter how busy it is, the management team, waitstaff, bartenders, kitchen staff, and chefs, all seem to have such an excellent handle on things. I never doubt that its going to be a great meal and that the service will be top notch. Although the entity that is Roy's is a fast moving ship the captain and crew run it with an air of efficiency and calm that never makes you question the condition of the seas ahead.
I particularly love sitting at the bar and having one of Roy's signature cocktails and just taking in the scene. Of course, there has always been a soft spot in my heart for restaurants and at Roy's its the best of both worlds. All of the activity of the bar with the backdrop of the open kitchen. Beautiful cocktails and wine, complemented by some of the most stunningly prepared and plated appetizers, sushi, and sashimi. Just ask any server how fresh the fish is at Roy's and they will explain how they get their fish.
It was time to leave the bar area and get to serious business. Tonight I was here to taste the Winter Prix Fixe menu
Every season (Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall) Roy's offers a 3 course meal which focuses on seasonal ingredients. Recently they announced the launch of the Winter menu. As if I need an extra reason to visit once a quarter.
Fortunately as a guest of Roy's I did not have to make a decision on the menu items and was fortunate enough to try all the dishes. This is not a menu you should try alone, bring friends!
The selection of appetizers includes: Duck Confit and Roasted Mushroom Flatbread, Grilled Pear Salad with a Ginger Orange Sage Vinaigrette, or a Korean Soup with Braised Short Bread. Now that I am reflecting on this meal, I realize that I could have made a meal of just the appetizers. Since the appetizer sampling included so many flavors I opted for one of my favorite sparkling wines (available on the glass list - the Moet & Chandon "Imperial" Champagne). Make no mistake, about the food pairing ability of Champagne.
With glass of Champagne in hand, I proceeded to be delighted by crispy flatbread, bright and lively salad, and a soup that was at once hearty and light (how do they do that?). I could have ended the meal right there and been completely happy, but I had main courses to investigate.
The Winter Prix Fixe features Shisho Crusted Salmon, Boursin Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast, and to my delight a Grilled 14-oz Bone in Pork Chop (I love Pork!). Not only does Roy's cook these proteins perfectly, but they also offer some of the season's finest ingredients and sauces paying careful attention to the theme of Winter. Not an easy task in Florida. Nonetheless side items like a caramelized onion polenta, potato pave, mustard seed and scallion spaetzle, and fennel sauerkraut, bring to mind all of my favorite winter ingredients from a lifetime of memories, but with new, fun, and delicious twists.
As always I am impressed with the care that goes into the preparation of these ingredients. You may think that it's just a pork chop but I was informed that this pork chop is lovingly brined, smoked, sous vide, and grilled. That's a lot of love, and it shows. A great wine pairing for any of the items on the Winter Prix Fixe is the Meomi Pinot Noir. I also enjoyed the Lyeth Meritage and found it to be a fantastic partner to these menu items. Slightly more full-bodied than the Pinot without overpowering.
The desserts, always stunning, include Roy's famous molten chocolate cake and a seasonal addition of a pear tart (hooray puff pastry) with a salted caramel sauce.
In short, it was another fantastic evening at one of Tampa Bay's favorite restaurants.
Don't miss the Winter Prix Fixe, it's an incredible value at $36.95 per person. My advice, bring a friend or two so you can try everything.