Gone fishing: Mandarin Hide partners to reel in St. Pete at Trophy Fish

With nautical-inspired cocktails, the new fish house is a laid-back addition to Grand Central.

click to enlarge St. Pete's Trophy Fish crew (L-R): Blake Thompson, Bill Griffin, Andy Hobbs, Erin Lee and Ryan Griffin. - COURTESY OF TROPHY FISH
Courtesy of Trophy Fish
St. Pete's Trophy Fish crew (L-R): Blake Thompson, Bill Griffin, Andy Hobbs, Erin Lee and Ryan Griffin.

Last month, Ryan Griffin of downtown St. Pete’s venerable Mandarin Hide gave CL a little glimpse into the new restaurant project he and fellow Mandarin partners Blake Thompson and Bill Griffin (his father) were working on: a fresh fish house with nautical cocktails.

And, well, the laid-back addition to the Grand Central District from this trio of St. Pete locals — dubbed Trophy Fish — expects to start reeling in customers sometime in April at 2060 Central Ave. The restaurant is about five weeks out.

Taking shape across the street from neighborhood hangouts like TapHouse 61 and Love Food Central, Trophy Fish, which also has The Mandarin Hide’s Erin Lee on board as managing director, is driven by a rotating menu of freshly caught, simply prepared fish that changes daily. What chef Andy Hobbs cooks up at the St. Pete newcomer depends on what’s pulled from the gulf.

“Being lucky enough to grow up here, we have been blessed our entire lives to have such amazing seafood right in our backyard,” Ryan Griffin said in a statement. “However, this local treasure is often taken for granted. With that said, we felt that downtown St. Pete lacked a fish-forward restaurant where the quality of our amazing Gulf fish was the focus. From this simple idea, our little fish house was born.”

click to enlarge Reimagined boat drinks accompany the food. - COURTESY OF TROPHY FISH
Courtesy of Trophy Fish
Reimagined boat drinks accompany the food.

This type of MO means, yeah, the restaurant could have a larger amount of fish up for grabs on some days more than others, or run out all together. It also makes offering reservations difficult, which is why Trophy Fish will have a first-come, first-served approach.

But the trade-off is that guests — encouraged to stop by earlier, not later, during operating hours — can expect a big emphasis on freshness. Signage and flags flying above the restaurant will indicate which fish are available, alerting customers of their options before they dine.

Speaking of, eating outdoors in a casual-meets-curated “bait shop chic” environment is the plan. Guests wash down their food with boat drinks, aka reimagined nautical-inspired and island cocktails. Essentially, they’re beverages Ernest Hemingway and other boaters might’ve enjoyed while cruising on the water.

Trophy Fish, which is now hiring for all positions (send résumés to [email protected]), is set to open its doors 5 p.m. to close Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to close Saturday and Sunday.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since its original publication to reflect that Trophy Fish is now shooting for an April opening, not March, and has begun the hiring process.

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