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Monday, June 25, 2012

Ceviche Heaven

Editor's update 9/18/2013: And now there are just four. This Clearwater location is permanently closed.

There are, as of this scribble, five Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant locations around the Tampa Bay area. We chose the store in Clearwater on Gulf to Bay for our dining experience this past Saturday simply because it was across the street (more or less) from our sister (Seestor) whom we hadn't seen since she and John moved into their new digs.

We had made reservations for 6 PM and when we walked in we were promptly seated. Reservations at six might not have been necessary, but around seven or 7:30 it would appear to be another story - just a word to the wise. Oh yeah, another word to the wise - if you are going to order a paella, do so soon as the paellas require at least 30 minutes for preparation. I don't recall seeing that reminder on the menu.

That was unfortunate, because Ceviche's has a paella that I was aching to try, Paella Negra, the black rice with squid ink, lobster and assorted shellfish, paella served with aioli on the side. On the plus side though it was refreshing to know that their paellas are prepared when ordered as opposed being cooked earlier in the day and re-heated (and yes Columbia in Ybor, I am talking about you).

Anyhow, after being seated, Morgan our server for the evening took our drink order. Since four of us were imbibers and we all wanted the sangria, we decided on the large pitcher of Tinto Sangria which provides for about six glasses of wine. Hmmm, six divided by four meant someone was going to get short changed. Not a problem - we ordered a second pitcher later that evening.

Problem solved! Now, on to the food.

I just go crazy for oysters on the half shell, one of the gastronomic gems bestowed upon us mere mortals by Mother Nature. I also adore caviar, ceviche, and an occasional shot of vodka - and, there before my very eyes I spied nirvana on a plate - Ceviche a la Rusa, oysters in lemon lime juice, cilantro, onion, red pepper, and caviar, served with a chilled shot of Russian Standard vodka.

Good doesn't come close to describing the Ceviche a la Rusa. I still quiver at the memory of this juicy, salty taste sensation - three oysters on the half shell followed by a shot of vodka - na zda-rov’-ye, y'all!

The others in our party shared tapas plates of Babaganoush, roasted eggplant with tahini, garlic and olive oil, served with fresh vegetables, and crostinis; and Tabla de Quesos, aged Manchego, Mahon, Tetilla and Cabrales cheeses with sliced fruit.

Both tapas plates were cleaned in short order so I have to assume that these were two more excellent starter choices.

For their entrées, John and our Seestor both chose the Morrillo de Cochinillo, roasted pork shank in Rioja red wine and fresh herbs served over roasted potatoes. I had a bite and that pork was just fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy.

My bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, finally decided on the Costillas de Vaca, beef short ribs with Rioja wine, oven roasted tomato and elephant garlic, served with potatoes. This was another tender, tasty, juicy delight.


Trying to get over my disappointment in missing out on the Paella Negra, I perused the menu to find a suitable substitute. I didn't want to delay everyone else's dinner for thirty minutes.

One of my other favorite foods is octopus, and Ceviche's has two of those treats on their menu. After a moment's hesitation, I chose the Pulpo a la Gallega, sliced octopus in extra virgin olive oil and paprika, served over potatoes.

The octopus was very tender, but the dish on the whole was bland, uninspired, and not very filling. Only a few generous shakes of salt and pepper brought this dish somewhat to life.

I am pleased to say that the pulpo was the only negative of the evening. Everything else our party ordered was superb.

My bride has long said that women have two stomachs - a regular stomach and an additional one reserved for desserts. (A note to the guys: Do not even think cow. Trust me - DON"T!)

So, to fill her dessert stomach the Belle ordered the Pudin de la Pan, bread pudding made with dried fruits and Spanish Brandy, served with ice cream. She said she enjoyed it though it wasn't her favorite. The rest of us were too stuffed to give it a try, so we have no opinion.

I am pleased to report that the best bread pudding my bride has ever had is still the glazed donut and rum with chocolate glaze bread pudding that I made for her.

Instead of eating my dessert, I drank it. The Lustau East India Solera is a nutty sherry with a decidedly sweet crème brulee aroma. A fine finish to a mostly memorable meal.

One last treat was the check. With a pitcher of sangria, the dessert, sherry, appetizers, and entrées, the bill for two was $108.29. We tacked on a 20% gratuity for great service.

We had a wonderful evening and it didn't cost us an arm, leg, or other body part. I hope the Tampa location is as good because Ceviche's is definitely a do-again.

 Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Another inspiring review. Those oysters are a highlight indeed.

    1. Hi there NYMK.

      Yes, those oysters were a highlight. I actually dreamed about them later that night. Actually, that is a little sad. When I was much, much younger I really liked oysters, but that wasn't what I dreamed about. Old age is hell - sometimes!

      Good to hear from you and I hope you are doing well.


  2. Well, Jon. I reside in the heart of Chicken Fried Steak country which, to my fellow Texans and me, is Nirvana on a Plate--a large plate, where the entree is usually cut with a fork--knives being an insult to the cook.

    But your revues leave me drooling thirty minutes after eating dinner. That's just not right. [sigh]

    Maybe some day I need to fly TO Tampa instead of OVER Tampa on my way to the Caribbean. If I ever do, I'll be sure to prowl on the south side of Gandy Blvd. First round is on me.

    1. Hi Bill,

      I do apologize - sorta.

      I hope you do stop in Tampa. It would be an honor to meet you and enjoy a few (?) rounds with you. Let me know when and we will make plans.