Mise en Place’s French evolution

442 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa

Mise en Place, a French term for “everything in its place,” is a great description of the high standards and expectations of the restaurant of the same name.

From its hushed interiors, attentive staff and inspired cuisine, every detail is an element of the experience. Each element can stand on its own. Each piece is refined, deliberate and in its place. And every element works together to create a lush, sensory experience from the first sip to the last bite.

While the exacting standards of Mise en Place have remained steadfast for over 30 years, the cuisine has evolved. Today’s Mise en Place is very different from the Mise en Place of the 1990s, the last decade and even the last month. The food is constantly changing, cocktails are invented and the space is changed to reflect current tastes and trends. A new tasting room, and marketplace, is open and features an extensive list of unique wines, craft cocktails and food in a relaxed setting that feels like a fine home on Kennedy Boulevard.

We started with cocktails and a tray of cheese and charcuterie. Marcona almonds, local honeycomb, quince paste and fig jam pair up with meats and cheeses, like Point Reyes Blue and a braciola of beef tenderloin. A jardiniere of pickled vegetables and a few crostini complete the tray of wonderful taste, and texture, options. It is a perfect way to linger through a late afternoon with intimate friends and a glass of wine. Better yet, try the Peppadew martini. Rhubarb liqueur, a little Peppadew water and two kinds of bitters are mixed with gin. The delicious flavor is completely unexpected! It’s savory, with a hint of bitter, and garnished with blue cheese-stuffed Peppadews for a striking presentation. If you are the designated driver and can have only one drink, this is the cocktail to order.

Start dinner off with grilled shrimp, tossed in a barbecue spice rub and paired with black pepper hoecakes, wilted greens and pickled green tomatoes. The corn in the hoecake is finely ground and gives it a creamy texture that pairs nicely with slightly sweet tomato and Tabasco vinaigrette. A sophisticated presentation of southern comfort food, indeed.

The cobia crudo appetizer defines the sophisticated approach to cuisine at Mise en Place. The cobia tasted fresh from the boat. Its firm texture, and flavor, stood up to the shaved green apple. Balancing it out was a mushroom ceviche, while an aioli of truffles and sweet corn rimmed the shallow bowl. This is a perfect appetizer. It’s light and fresh, to waken the taste buds, while the mushrooms and aioli provide a soft and rich hint of what’s to come when dinner is served.

Dinner selections include vegan options as well as chicken, duck, seafood, beef, lamb and venison. The menu offers unique items not seen in most restaurants and showcases the talents of the kitchen team. The sear on the sea scallops creates a golden crust that gives way to a tender and firm center. The mild, sweet flavor is a beautiful note all by itself, but it blossoms with the truffle lemon tahini cream. Farro is elevated with roasted cauliflower, kale and almonds, while the pickled golden raisins and Brussels sprout salad give the dish a fresh crunch.

The seared duck breast comes with herb-roasted new potatoes lined up on a smear of carrot puree.  Nestled between them is creamy savoy cabbage. The duck breast is perfect on its own and the carrot puree adds a hint of sweet to the savory potato, but the savoy cabbage steals the show. The spicy and sublime ‘nduja (pork salume) cream is front and center, while a subtle heat from Calabrian chile fires off on the back of your tongue. You could easily eat this by the bucketful.

Dessert at Mise en Place should not be missed. If you like candy bars, go with the flourless chocolate cake. It’s dark and dense with a subtle hint of coconut. Chantilly cream is topped with toasted coconut and candied, sliced almonds. For the perfect bite, run your fork through the passion fruit puree jam to add just the right amount of tart. Lovers of caramel will be delighted with the dulce de leche cheesecake. If the rich taste of caramel silk is not enough, it’s served with candied pepitas, rolled into a phyllo cigar that’s baked to a crispy finish. The phyllo cigar adds crunch.

The feeling you get while walking away from Mise en Place is bittersweet. You feel totally happy and satisfied, yet sad the experience is over. It has been that way for 34 years. The memorable experience will last and the opportunity to come back, and re-experience it, is like visiting a cherished old friend.

Familiar and different all at the same time—with unwavering standards, gracious attention to detail and everything in its place.

For more: miseonline.com

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