Human perception under duress is a funny thing. It’s hard to believe that it’s merely four months since we were safely gathering to laugh and nosh together—deciding how many appetizers to share, what our wine strategy was going to be, and longingly trying to be moderate with the dessert menu. Those were our choices, made without a care save knowing our budget limitations.
Now, regardless of income, privilege, or even geography, we’re all in similar boats. Sadly, in some sectors science is arguing with politics, but in that battle, Darwin reigns. For COVID-19 has only one job, which it does with great efficiency—transmit itself from one person to another. This is mostly bad news, except for chocolate and wine sales.
Not all restaurant operations are suited to the demands of safe pandemic operation. We now have entered the “low touch” economy. Luckily, this gives me a chance to visit restaurants that I wouldn’t normally review, since CL focuses on what’s new to the market. A friend mentions Beach Drive’s Parkshore Grill and we’re off to the races. Executive Chef Tyson Grant’s menu is wholesome Americana. It’s not pushing boundaries, but if you want a perfectly grilled filet with efficient curbside service you can’t go wrong.
Editor's note: As Jon points out, CL isn't doing its traditional restaurant reviews and ratings while our local food scene adapts to a world with coronavirus. We are, however, looking for the best takeout in Tampa Bay. Send us a letter or suggestion via [email protected].
They’ve really put a lot of thought into what works best to be transported is their handsome recycled brown cardboard boxes. For the most part, the grilled fare is textbook.
The juicy Parkshore burger sits on a toasted brioche bun and is smothered in a seductive mix of sweet caramelized onions, crisp bacon, and tangy blue cheese. The accompanying hand cut Parmesan fries are nicely done, although they suffer a bit by being transported.
The crispy buttermilk chicken sandwich features the same brioche bun and fries, but is elevated by a tangy pickle remoulade which adds a nice contrasting pop on the palate.
A large meaty piece of roasted organic Scottish salmon has plenty of flavor even without the yummy shallot-tarragon butter and the bright green jumbo asparagus are delightfully al dente. So often, this veggie ends up mushy and unpalatable even in restaurants, so this is a welcome takeout surprise.
The Creekstone pork chop is a mixed bag. The bone-in chop itself just doesn’t travel well, and the grain mustard sauce is dry by the time it reaches home. However, the ethereal sweet potato purée is simply divine. It’s light, creamy and totally winning; not to be missed really. Unfortunately, in our attempt to scoop it up in one motion, we mix it with the bacon Brussels sprouts. This is definitely a two scoop dish, although sprout fans will be well-pleased.
As one might expect, the steaks are highlights. Whomever is working the line there turns out steaks at the right temperature every time. The Proper Ranch prime rib eye is a full 16 oz. and is your choice for flavor. If texture is your goal, the filet is notably tender and the demi-glacé adds a delightful accent to the beef.
We added a side of buttermilk mashed potatoes which provides just the right amount of creamy tang. Every order comes with a container of hot French rolls and whipped butter. Carbs are not something you cut out during the pandemic; every opportunity for emotional comfort must be exploited.
If you want a break from the grill, the lobster pasta is divine. In the takeout version, the ample angel hair pasta is separate from the chunks of Maine lobster. There’s a huge container of ultra rich sauce with fresh tomato plus hints of tarragon and vodka cream. The overwhelming taste, though, is lobster; I was slurping up all the sauce that pooled on my plate after everything else was gone. I’m not assigning stars for takeout reviews, but Parkshore earns an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Meanwhile, turning to the struggle facing the performing arts, freeFall Theatre visionary, Eric Davis, is busy conjuring. As usual he’s working on a unique concept designed to thrill. Until he’s ready to share with the world, though, I’ll be back to reporting on how some restaurant stalwarts have morphed for the low touch economy. Sadly, it seems that the contagion is not yet ready for us to share a communal meal with friends or pack ourselves into a dark theatre to be transported together in a storytelling ritual that’s as old as humanity. So what are we to do until a sense of normalcy returns? Oh yeah... flatten the curve. Our path back is a wishful three word mantra: mask, distance, sanitize.
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