Last week I had the pleasure of sampling the new, hyper-local menu at Marchand’s, the main restaurant at the Renaissance Vinoy in St. Petersburg. Already a fan of the restaurant and its ambiance, the new menu gives me more reasons to return, season after season.
Executive Chef Mark Heimann’s vision is to elevate the offerings at Marchand’s beyond what is expected at a large resort property, and he’s doing this by centering the menu around meats, fish and produce sourced from local farms like 3 Boys, Seelys Ark and Pasture Prime Family Farm in Summerfield. The farm to table movement is perhaps the most prevalent trend in American cuisine today, evidenced by the resurgence of the local farmer’s market and community farms. But at Marchand’s, the new menu isn’t for the sake of chasing fads, it provides great synergy with the entire experience at the Vinoy–a resort credited with the rebirth of downtown St. Petersburg. The new menu makes perfect sense at a place that embraces the quirkiness that makes St. Petersburg, and for that matter, Florida, unique.
The Chef’s first impression, made with a whimsical Mangalitsa “Croquet Madame” with Georgia Red, Fried Quail Egg, and a Silk Onion Soup Shooter set the tone for the delightful, six course Chef’s Surprise tasting menu, reasonably priced at $80 per person with a additional $30 for wine parings with each course. The house-cured, pasture-raised wild boar and melted Georgia Red cheese were tempered by an unctuous quail egg and the sweetness of the onion soup. Equally as delicious was the next course, succulent Golden Tile with Romanesco Cauliflower on a Rock Shrimp Nage, topped with a precious Sun Choke Hush Puppy. The seafood was sourced from Florida’s Gulf waters, and it shined against the subtle tarragon-infused nage.
Other highlights of the meal were the tomato vinaigrette accompanying the Key West Yellow Tail Snapper and the bacon-smoked collard greens that provided texture and acidity to the tangerine-barbequed pork cheek perched atop fried Mac n’ Cheese.
On my list to try next time? The Corned Beef Short Rib with Cabbage Gnocchi and the Florida Pink Prawns with Watermelon Relish and Lychee salad. Marchand’s Bar & Grille, 501 5th Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Tel: (727) 824-8072
I was not compensated for writing this review, however, my meal was provided gratis by the Vinoy and Marchand’s.