They just opened less than two weeks ago but I just had to tell people about it… it’s quite possibly the coolest restaurant/bar Tampa has been offered in a long, long time. In fact, I almost didn’t want to write about it since keeping it to myself might keep down the crowds, like a super secret sale at Macy’s. But that ain’t right.
Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club is the creation of co-owners Ro Patel and Gordon Davis, the brainchild behind Ceviche, Smoke and other successful South Tampa concepts over the years. Located in the former Ceviche space in the bottom of the Bayshore Royale condominium on Bayshore and Howard Ave., the dark, intimate interior glows with the light of a live jellyfish tank. It’s like walking into a cave, and since there’s no sign outside, you might think you’re in the wrong place. You aren’t… it, and doorbell you must ring to get in, match the “speakeasy” theme. As do the individual private rooms that you can reserve. Cushy, couch-like seating, block-out-the world curtains and a “service button” encourage, um, intimate moments. I anticipate an avalanche of wedding proposals in this romantic hideaway. Or at least drunken thoughts of them.
In the bar, the elegant gliding of the graceful jellyfish mesmerizes you until you read the cocktail menu, whose refreshing inventiveness distracts even the most ardent nature lover. They use fresh, muddled fruit to craft customized, gourmet mojitos (just name your fruit….mine? Blackberry), revived specialty cocktails from the early 20th century or, should you crave something less exotic, the bartenders will make you just about anything. The attentive service borders on bend-over-backwards and be patient — everything is made to order. The wine list is small (10 or so selections) and well chosen (good choice= Au Bon Climat Hildegaard White Blend) but a bit one-sided, considering the food menu (too many big, oaky whites and I found the reds completely uninspiring), but Davis indicated things are tweaked constantly. One thing to mention: They pour Perrier Jouët Champagne by the glass for $12. Score.
As to be expected for a restaurant open 10 days, the food was hit and miss. Mostly hit though. Chef Ted Dorsey offers a menu of stellar, French-influenced winners: tender Wagyu Beef Tartar, sesame-infused Tuna Poke, and thick lump Crab Cakes. A miss was the Pork Belly Flatbread — too much bread and not enough caramelized onions and belly, but I think they’re still perfecting that one. Everything falls in the $10 to $20 range (with the exception of a few items) and portions are bigger than small plates and smaller than entrees. They also have a kickass artisan cheese and charcuterie plate, with offerings like Rogue Caveman Blue and Cypress Grove. You won’t go away hungry… my party of two women shared four menu items and we couldn’t finish them. Or maybe the cocktails filled us up…
Ciro’s is simply fabulous and gorgeous. The unique atmosphere and the fascinating cocktails are worth the trip from anywhere in the Bay area, and I predict the food will soon be perfect. Davis doesn’t host many failures. It will be my new hangout for cocktails and nosh food.
Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club
2109 Bayshore Blvd.
Open dinner only, closed Sunday & Monday
Parking: Valet after 7:00 p.m. Otherwise, park in any space, even though it’s labeled “Resident Only”