I was recently given an invitation to try out Sidebern’s brand new, not-even-on-the-menu-yet cocktail, “The Grand Floridian”. I was asked, along with a friend, to visit Sidebern’s, try out the cocktail at their bar, and have some appetizers on them. Well of course I was totally up for this, being both a rampant alcoholic and a mooch.
…no, I guess neither of those things are true. But I am always up for new eats and drinks, and I was honored to be asked to come try this cocktail. So I went out to Sidebern’s, surprisingly for the first time. I’ve been to Bern’s Steakhouse before, which is one of Tampa’s most acclaimed and revered restaurants, and has risen to legendary status. Sidebern’s is like Bern’s younger and more hip little brother. Or sister with sweet facial hair. Either way, they came from the same seed, but the results are like night and day. Both are upscale, but while Bern’s is a more traditional steakhouse, Sidebern’s features a diverse, constantly changing menu with a Mediterranean feel, and feels all at once more comfortable and inviting than the former.
Upon our arrival, we were kindly greeted by Sidebern’s general manager, who told us a bit about the cocktail. Apparently, multiple restaurants are going to be carrying The Grand Floridian, but Sidebern’s has put their own spin on the original recipe, making this particular drink uniquely theirs. We were shown to the bar and were soon greeted by one of the bartenders, who was really cool and helpful with suggesting items on the menu. Not long after we sat down, we were given our drinks.
SO. The Grand Floridian is basically a mojito that makes use of oranges instead of limes. And thus The Grand Floridian is the perfect drink to be featured in Tampa and Ybor. The orange is fresh and muddled, combined with the rest of the ingredients (including Zaya Rum, which is apparently a deliciously sweet and smooth rum), and given a nice mint garnish in addition to the mint already mixed in with the drink (the mint coming from Bern’s own farm, as tended by Sweetwater Organic Farm). And it was incredible. Sweet and delicious, refreshing, with the slightest hint of tart on the finish. The orange was a strong presence, but not overwhelmingly so. In fact, it was the perfect blend of orange and lime, with mild mint notes. It was a beautiful drink.
A++ WOULD BUY AGAIN. I will likely go back just to have this cocktail again.
We also partook in a couple appetizers.
This is the Frog Leg Basquise. The frog legs were served in a light pipérade, with delicious chorizo and cheese on top. The frog legs were surprisingly good, similar to chicken in taste, but without any evident fishy taste. They were very mild. They were also covered in the pipérade, which kind of masked their taste a bit, but was not bad by any means (a nice well rounded spiced flavor). And the chorizo was awesome.
We also had the ‘Pate Melt’, as recommended by the manager. It was pretty much a meal in itself, with a delicious pate (chunky rather than smooth, and made of god knows what), melted Tomme de Savoie cheese, cornichons (little gherkin pickles), and an intensely spicy grainy mustard. It was a great combination of flavors, and not at all something I’d have ever thought up.
This was an excellent visit, and it really makes me want to go back and do a full write-up of the restaurant. It is so much more than just an extension of Bern’s, though sharing the name of such a place affords them the respect they deserve. As for The Grand Floridian cocktail, if you ever get the chance, try it. It is really delightful, and it just may make you proud to be a Floridian.