Friday, August 5, 2011

Kitchen Bar 3 at BT

This week marked the third time former Sidebern's chef Jeannie Pierola has opened a pop-up restaurant in a location that normal contains a different Tampa restaurant. Pierola's first pop-up restaurants took over Pinky's and Chefs on the Loose in South Tampa. This incarnation takes place at Restaurant BT, usual home of BT Nguyen-Batley's namesake restaurant.

BT Nguyen-Batley takes the slow month of August off each summer, which provided the perfect opportunity for Pierola's pop-up concept.

KB3 offers two different menus options: a regular menu featuring small, medium, and large plates, as well as a five course tasting menu that will change each week. This week's tasting menu was focused on figs, aptly titled "Gettin' Figgy With It..."; future weeks will have tasting menus based on mangos, tomatoes, and corn.

The beer and wine menu offers a variety of reasonably priced selections, and the restaurant allows guests to bring in their own wine; the first bottle has no corkage fee, additional bottles incur a $10 corkage fee. The beer and wine menu boasts beautiful selections from Germany and France; however, the closest it gets to local beers are a few selections from California and Oregon.

The KB3@BT menu is fun and eclectic. The flavor combinations were fun and interesting; I wish I had saved room for the bleu cheese ice cream. David and I opted to try different dishes as opposed to the tasting menu.


We began with the Tuna Confit Nicoise Crostini: big eye tuna confit/haricots verts/nicoise olive/chopped egg/caper berries/espelette chile. It was a playful take on the popular salad, perched on top of a crostini. The crostini proved to be inedible, but the salad was fun and light. The olives added an interesting flavor.


We also began with the Watermelon and Persian Lime Salad: greek yogurt/celery branch/curry vinaigrette. The cool explosion of the watermelon in your mouth was fresh and fun, and the added acidity of the lime made this salad a perfect mouth cleansing dish to prepare us for our next courses.


We next moved on to a 'medium' sized plate. We debated back and forth as to which medium dish to share, as the selections were all tempting. We compromised on the Prosciutto di Parma Zeppole: rosemary doughnuts/compressed melon/parmesan snow. Rosemary doughnuts? Yes, please! This dish was, like all the dishes, a fun and playful take on an everyday food item. The funnelcake-like doughnut was both sweet and savory. This dish allowed us to create different flavors in every bite by combining the ingredients in different ways.


Our next dish was also from the medium section of the menu. I can hardly ever pass up a carpaccio dish or a deviled egg, so that is exactly what we had. Tenderloin Carpaccio: haricots verts/deviled organic egg/violet mustard sauce/hand-cut fries. This dish was wonderful. The carpaccio was light and meaty and drizzled with delicious olive oil. The eggs were creamy and delightful. The beans were fresh and bright, and the fries dipped in mustard added another dimension to the plate.


Our final dish had the most unusual flavor combinations, and proved to be one of our favorites. Coconut gnocchi? It was superb. Vadauvan Key West Shrimp: coconut gnocchi/shaved sugar snap peas/shiitake mushrooms/crushed cashews/mango tamarind brown butter. I was blown away by the gnocchi. It was a completely unexpected flavor and texture. The gnocchi were not soft and delicate as usual, they were crispy on the outside and warm and delicate inside. The shrimp were giant and grilled to perfection. The accoutrements blended nicely, nothing overpowering another flavor.

Last night was fun and adventurous. Not only for David and I, but for Jeannie, her partner Melissa Judge, and the BT staff. The pop-up restaurant endeavor appears to be a winning idea for everyone involved, and I look forward to future incarnations. As for now, David and I must decide which plates to order next time we dine at KB3@BT.

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