Best upscale fare in a down-home bar

Social, St. Petersburg

click to enlarge Best upscale fare in a down-home bar - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
Best upscale fare in a down-home bar

The space used to be home to a World of Beer, but with the transition to Social, owner Johnny Ciani has opened up whole new worlds of flavor. You can still watch the game on one of multiple TVs above the bar, and there’s still a good long list of micro-beers, but the surprise is the artisanal care being taken behind the bar — classic drinks like a perfect Old Fashioned and a tart French 75 — and in the kitchen. The menu operates on the principle of doing a few things, and doing them well — like a celestial “Burg”er, savory rosemary chicken wings, a Mazzaro Mozz sandwich, and the awesome Maduro cheesecake. Ciani works as much as possible with locally sourced ingredients, so there may be a whole new array of items on the menu this fall, depending on what his suppliers bring in. Though the surprises here may include an occasional pocketbook-busting cocktail tab, the food is reasonably priced and the atmosphere remains as relaxed and unpretentious as, well, a World of Beer.

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