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mise en place


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So last night I had the opportunity to visit Mise en Place restaurant last night. It was my last night in tampa before retunring to harsh reality of the winter in chicago. i was joined by my sister as well as her boyfriend. the restaurant itself is beautiful both inside and out. The service is good and not at all stuffy. The food was an 8.7. Although they do offer a tasting menu i opted to build my own and try a couple different courses and taste everything i could. the dinner is listed below.

(sorry no pics, batteries died)

Amuse: Blue corn fried oyster, hearts of palm, carrot salade, and a mango chili sauce

this was tasty and a nice way to start the meal. the salad definetly opened the palate.

1st courses:

Buffalo tataki, lotus root, papya slaw, miso mustard sauce.

Roasted lobster, soba noodle cake, blood orange/star anise jam, mizuna herb salad

The Buffalo was so fresh and delicious the flavors played together very nicely. The lobster was good also. but in my personal opinion lobster is overrated so this dish didn't really do much for me although the flavors were paired nicely.

2nd courses:

"paella risotto"- smoked chicen, seafood, chorizo, sweet pea emulsion

Labelle Farms foie gras, huckleberry-ginger marmalade, white asparagus, crispy edamame dumpling

Fried Green Tomatoes, jumbo lump crab, arugula, buttermil-chive vinegarette, piquillo pepper oil.

All of these were executed perfectly. The paella was great and not to sticky with each flavor noticeable. The foie was superb especially paired with the white asparagus and the dumpling was great i could eat a plate of those alone. My sister who has never eaten foie and said never will actually tried it for the first time and then wanted to oreder another for herself. Don't forget the fried green tomatoes. crunchy, sweet, acidic, perfect.

3rd course

Lavendar seared duck breast, parsnip puree, quince-apple compote, maple roated acorn squash, braised greens, pomegranite-juniper gastrique

Pan seared Veal Chop, lobster cassoulet, white truffle sunchoke puree, white asparagus, chantrelles, thymw-red wine jus.

now before i go into detail let me just say this: it all tasted great!!. but this is (for me) where it fell short. the duc dish was fantastic but when it came to the veal i was a little lost. I mean all the flavors work but i think maybe there were too many on one plate. The veal was cooked perfectly but the lobster cassolet was missing a hearty lobster flavor and tasted more like pork and beans to me and as far as the white truffle sunchoke puree, very tasty but again lacking truffle flavor/aroma.

Cheese course

Mad river roll- U.S>, soft, goats milk, aged

Epoisses- France, cow's milk, soft, aged 6 weeks

Lamb Chopper- U.S., firm, sheeps milk, aged

Foccaia crackers, marcona almonds, wildflower honeycomb, quince paste.

Its cheese how can you go wrong.

I suggest when you find your self in tampa definetly go check out mise en place and the food be created ther by Chef Marty Blitzer and his crew.

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You know- I try every time to give Mise en Place the benefit of the doubt when I go there (the good chefs are off tonight, their supplier didn't come through, there's a new butcher. there isn't enough staff, etc)- but consistently I am disappointed by their performance. The menu is so perfect, holds so much promise and the reputation has carried it through for so long, but :

my servers are always short handed, have NEVER gotten the orders correct and forget basic needs of diners- like silverware and water!, nothing ever is at the correct temperature (salads come obviously pre-made and chilled until service (cold croutons anyone?!), appetizers also rewarmed, fries not fresh, ice creams melting, cheeses not at room temp.) I always am wishing there was just a little bit more spice/flavor/taste in sauces and condiments, breads don't taste fresh or special- I swaer to god like GASP! par-bake Sysco!, dressings are like afterthoughts on top of the pre-made and therefore wilty greens, execution of plating is sloppy,...I've had grisly meat there repeatedly, and badly trimmed poultry. A plus note that the actual preparation of my meats has never gone wrong! I also abhore the newest decor- but that's a personal style issue and I am sure that many South Tampans think it's very 80's retro chic. Of course- it is also a very South Tampa place, i.e. snobby. Why pay attention to me when the seeming big-wigs are nearby? So maybe I am getting the last minute ditch salad, the leftover chocolate cake, the product of the assistant to the assistant, the bill without the substance of what makes a place great.

I've eaten at catered events and small dinners by Mise en Place and I feel that this has become their strongest point- perhaps the menu is not as stellar, but the quality is consistant.

So why do I even bother? Because Mise en Place was my first taste of steak tartare, it was my first foray into creative cuisine- that was more than 15 years ago when I didn't even have a driver's license- and I always go with the hope that my expectations are satisfied, but perhaps I've just grown up and away from this place? Maybe I normally go for lunch and dinners are that much more special and more carefully executed? Like I said, the menu is so perfect- even without execution of the promise, there is still hope that with these locals continuing to be in business still, that we can still be a culinary town.

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