Saturday night me, Mister M and two of our favorite foodie friends got to check out the latest installment of Kitchenbar, Chef Jeannie Pierola’s pop-up restaurant concept.
Fashioned after the food trucks that pop-up in various parks and street corners in cities like L.A. and San Francisco, pop-up concepts are advertized by tweets and Facebook posts to those “in the know.” This time, Pierola’s Kitchenbar was located at Chefs on the Loose in South Tampa.
We showed up not really knowing what to expect, but looking forward to something beyond the grind of the South Tampa food scene. And that’s exactly what was delivered.
We arrived and were led to a communal table that sat 20 people. The atmosphere was chic and elegant and provided the perfect backdrop to Pierola’s flavorful food. We were instantly enveloped in the upbeat vibe of the table.
The menu features small and medium plates (ranging from $6-$12) as well as entrees (starting at $24). For “those who can’t drive” the menu features a $55 tasting menu that can be paired with wine. This week’s tasting installment was Asian-inspired.
What’s astounding about Pierola’s concept is that she’s creating food out of a makeshift kitchen that is far superior to the meals pumped out of a majority of Tampa’s established restaurants. This isn’t surprising considering Pierola’s pedigree (she was a chef at both Bern’s and Sidebern’s), but it’s almost like challenging someone to a game of ping-pong with one arm tied behind your back– and still winning.
I opted for the Duck Confit (small plate), the Burrata (medium plate) as well as the Bronzini entrée. The Duck Confit was anything but small as everyone in our party was able to have a substantial sample of it. Accompanied with Coconut Pistachio Binyamin and Chana Masala, it was delicious. The hit of the night was the Burrata. Burrata is like buffala mozzarella, only with a creamier middle. This was served like a caprese salad with tomatoes and a bit of pesto, with the surprise being a lime chipotle sorbet that brought the dish from mundane to magnificent. There was a serious fork war between the people in our party on this dish.
The desserts were equally cravable. The Roasted Pineapple Saverin was topped with a strip of bacon and the Pavlova with berries, cherve spheres (little gelatin filled balls bursting with subtle goat cheese flavor) and almond whipped cream provided a sweet and tart balance.
If you haven’t already made reservation, run, don’t walk to your computer and log onto Kitchen Bar’s Facebook page to get on the reservation list. It is only open through May 14th. They have a small, quality beer and wine list, and patrons can BYOB. Chefs on the Loose, 3401 West Bay to Bay Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33629.