Restaurant preview: Brasserie Cassis in St. Pete and Wine at Tropicana Field?

brasserie cassis in st peteSpent Tuesday evening in St. Petersburg, checking out the much-lauded and anticipated Brasserie Cassis on Beach Drive in the Ovation Building. First impression: Someone spent gobs of money on the decor but didn’t want you to think that. The French bistro-ness reminded me of the under-stated Balthazar in NYC’s SoHo district. And I liked that Brasserie Cassis (gonna need to shorten that to Cassis soon) managed to NOT promulgate the annoying “see and be scene” atmosphere which is creeping into the Burg’s nightlife. Cassis is a place you can feel comfortable sitting down at the bar, nibbling on some apps and sipping wine without worrying about whether what you’re wearing is appropriate. We get enough of that poseur crap in Tampa, thank you very much.

The refreshingly inexpensive, small yet well-chosen wine list is impressive and varied in its origin. In fact, 50 percent of the selections are wines that I’ve reviewed or placed on a wine list for other restaurants. In other words, a Taylor-made list (groan). Good thing Cassis isn’t down the street from my house or I’d be stripped of all cash nightly.

Wine highlights: Triennes Dry Rose ($10), Benvolio Pinot Grigio ($6.50), Francois Montant Brut ($8), Little James’ Basket Press Rhône blend ($8), Zen of Zin ($7), and Pine Ridge Chenin/Viognier ($8). Food was hit or miss but overall pretty tasty. Tuna Tartar ($10.50), made with fresh sushi-grade tuna, ripe mango, silky tomato compote, jalapeno relish, and wasabi soy. Could have used a tad more salt but it doesn’t fail you. Philly Cheesesteak Spring Rolls ($8.50) have quite possibly the least appetizing name on the menu but they rock. We didn’t even order them. A super nice guy sitting next to us named Chase shared his bounty.

Don’t miss the housemade, non-greasy French Fries ($5), served with one of the best piquant aoili I’ve tasted in the Bay area. Disappointment arrived, however, with the overly breaded Fried Calamari ($7). The tender, well-seasoned meat was eclipsed by the mounds of greasy breading. Not sure how they can cook the fries so perfectly and miss the mark on the squid. I’ll blame it on second week opening error.

Great experience, tasty wines and a unique atmosphere. I will definitely be back.

Rays' WinesTropicana Stadium Introduces Wine Bars

After the grub and vino, we gratefully accepted a couple of tickets to the sold-out season opener for the Tampa Bay Rays — a dramatic, nail-biting, winning game, I might add. In an about-frickin’-time moment, we spied several wine kiosks in the Trop. WITH DECENT WINE. “Buy me some pea- nuts and pee- no noir” has a nice sing-song ring to it, yet wine lovers have long been forced to swig cheap beer instead of vino at this stadium.

No more. New season, new ideas. I didn’t try all the wine selections, but the Bere Sangiovese blend from Italy ($9) tasted far better than Bud Light. Apparently, they introduced this concept after people kept asking for wine with their baseball… and popcorn (which pairs quite nicely with chardonnay, by the way).

Brasserie Cassis
170 Beach Drive, St. Pete
727.827.2927
Website

Cassis American Brasserie on Urbanspoon

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1 comment to Restaurant preview: Brasserie Cassis in St. Pete and Wine at Tropicana Field?

  • Jon Pello

    Taylor – your article must have sent droves of people down to Cassis, after the Uncorked Happy hour at A Taste for Wine, we attempted to go to Cassis for dinner – unfortunately it was a 90 minute wait (at 8:30 on a Thursday)! We’ll definitely give it a go again based on your review!

    Thanks!

    Jon

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