I was tasked by my dear friend, Sweet Polly (Epicurean Perils of...), to seek out a dining venue that would send our taste receptors into spasms of delight for our periodic food bloggy convergence. I chose Fetishes and so on a warm, star lit October night, Sweet Polly, her mighty Underdog, the Belle of Ballast Point and I journeyed to this pleasure dome of fine dining.
You have read Sweet Polly's review haven't you? If not, then shame on you. To her review I can only add, ditto.
Thanks and good night.
Hold thy horses! As many can attest, I have never been accused of being a man of few words, so allow me to expand and expound.
We had the recommended reservation for 7 p.m. and though we were a tad late, we were promptly greeted and seated. In addition to Bruce Caplan, the owner, periodically checking to ensure our happiness, we were expertly served by the ever so charming Jennifer. Jen helped us with our food and wine choices, and was just the perfect hostess.
Our party began the evening with two bottles of wine from the Fetishes cellar, a bottle of white for the ladies and a red for the manly men. The recommended wines perfectly complimented our appetizer and entree choices.
For starters, a plate of hot-from-the-oven bread with creamery butter, a welcome change from the hard-as-a-rock foil wrapped pats we were served at Malio's in Tampa.
Sweet Polly started with a super creamy and savory Corn and Crab Bisque with a shot of sherry on the side. Polly insisted that the sherry shot was meant for the bisque, but us guys knew better.
She allowed only the tiniest of sips before she poured it into the soup bowl.
I had planned on having a really ducky dinner at Fetishes, so it made perfect sense to order the Duck Liver Paté with fruit chutney garnish, and sesame flat breads.
That paté was superb, light and creamy without a heavy liver taste. Even my bride, who is not a liver lover, enjoyed her taste.
Speaking of the Belle, her appetizer choice was the mouth-watering, tender and delicious Mini Steak Au Poivre, a grilled beef tenderloin, pepper encrusted and served with a peppery Madagascar demi-glace.
For his first course, Underdog chose the traditional Lobster Newburg with mushrooms, asiago and cream topped with broiled gratin. To quote Sweet Polly, this dish was,"Swoonworthy."
Before our entrees arrived we were presented with refreshing raspberry ice palate cleansers. Wouldst that some of the high priced, pretentious fooderies in Tampa take note. This was a welcome touch seldom seen.
Dear Reader, I would suggest having a couple of towelettes handy, because - here come the entrees:
Sweet Polly's Red Snapper special, a sauteed red snapper filet with lump crab meat in a pesto cream sauce that consistently receives rave reviews. This night was no exception.
Underdog visited the Big Easy with this NOLA treat, Shrimp New Orleans: large Gulf shrimp, grilled and served Cajun style with fresh tomatoes, onion, celery and mild andouille. My taste brought back pleasant memories of the Snug Harbor Bistro version in the Faubourg Marigny.
I mentioned before that my buds of taste were thinking, "Aquatic fowl." I seemed to have duck on the brain, but when Bruce said the duck was not cooked to my preferred medium rare, I almost changed my mind. Bruce went on to say that this de-boned duck half was cooked more like a braised chicken. Jen said I would not be disappointed. She was right!
Here is my superlative Roast Duck Al’orange. A Long Island Duckling, boned, roasted and served with a subtly sweet jus orange.
While my duck was sinfully good, I think my bride's choice of Roasted New Zealand Lamb Chops might, just might, have been the over-all winner for me. These oven roasted chops, herb encrusted and topped with fresh mint infused Gorgonzola crumbles were sheer delights.
All entrees were served with sides of sugar snap peas, and whipped potatoes in a phyllo cup. We were also treated to a delicious garden salad with star fruit and sunflower seeds with a house made honey Dijon dressing.
For dessert, the table enjoyed a Key Lime Parfait, and a Chocolate Chip Cake with orange sauce.
It is rare that I can dine at a restaurant and not find at least one tiny little nit-picking thing to rag on. Fetishes is that unique venue where perfection seems to reign supreme. There were no misses and the prices were reasonable - $180 or so for two with a restaurant added 17% gratuity. We tacked on an additional 3% for excellent service.
I know there are those who will complain about that mandatory 17%, but those are probably the ones who think 10% is the standard, or those who don't tip at all. It is only reasonable and proper to reward superior service.
As a final note: lately I have been seeing more and more local food(?) reviews that feature photos of, among other places, a Publix parking lot with a critique of their deli, and a Burger King parking lot extolling the virtues of a Whopper. Is it any wonder why Tampa Bay has a reputation as the armpit of the gastronomic universe? Fetishes is excluded from that observation.
Anyway, here is my contribution:
You could have seen more of the parking lot if those people had gotten out of the way. I'm just sayin'.