Approaching our 30th birthday we were adjusting to not getting a ZAGAT 30 on our 30th.
There arenât any ZAGAT 30s.
We were, however, recently rewarded with news that we had come first with an unorthodox "most expensive" prize in the Tampa Bay Business Journal for one of our signature presentations. The âmost expensiveâ prize was captured by a patron favorite, Food Heaven.
As long as it is first place, we will take it.
We are uncompromising in sourcing and offering only the "best stuff" in seafood and domestic lamb and prime American beef âŠand then we find the best chef teams to prepare it. âBest Stuffâ is generally more expensive.
Our pursuit of the highest quality products and presentations has been consistent and relentless for the past thirty years, and our Food Heaven represents some of the best in that pursuit. It dances at the edge of âover the top.â The Heaven is described on the menu as the âperfect food marriageâ and a âDionysian vision from the end of a pier in Maine.â
It really was born at the end of a pier.
It was 2005. Sean had just received news that the Beach Bistro was to be given the opportunity to become one of the first restaurants in Florida to present a performance dinner at the James Beard House in New York.
It was a big deal.
The Beard House is the food capital of the world. It is also the food vanity capital of the world. At a Beard dinner, there are one hundred of the most jaded food writers and critics in the country and Sean was determined to knock them dead.
He did what any Nova Scotian Irishman does when confronted with a major dilemma. He strolled out to the end of the pier with a bottle and his problem and drank his way through it. It was the Irish equivalent of a Moses moment. He came back from his journey with an empty bottle of Chianti and the idea for Food Heaven.
His vision was an iconoclastic marriage of the richest food products on the planet. Foie Gras was an essential beginning point. He and the chefs had just finished crafting the Bistro's Foie Gras presentation on a savory bread pudding with three sauces. They had spent a year developing the best way to cook Novey Lobster - slowly poached in a butter broth.
Selecting an altar of the world's best Rack of Lamb to offer up these two food super-heroes was daringly appropriate.
Performing a Beard Dinner is a mad Mr. Toad wild ride. Expectations are monstrous, the pressure palpable and the degree of difficulty daunting. You have to source a six course dinner presentation in a distant location and then perform it perfectly from a tiny kitchen for a hundred demanding guests with massive expectations. It is an adventure that is not for the timid of heart.
Food Heaven was the feature presentation on the menu. At the outset of the evening one particularly arrogant restaurant critic told Sean that putting foie gras and lobster and lamb together was a terrible idea.
As we placed the dish in front of him he was visibly impressed but reservedly described it as "ill-advised." After he had lapped up every morsel and was heading out the door, he told Sean that he was still thinking about it. Sean bid him good night. "Next week, when you are still thinking about Food Heaven, there will only be one restaurant in America where you can get it.â
And there still is only one place you can get it. Food HeavenâŠworth every penny.