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Steam: A St. Pete Beach Breakfast and Coffee House Haven

There is a reason I cringe when the drive to the other side of the bay is discussed.  Crossing over the Howard Franklin Bridge and into the far away lands of St. Petersburg is quite the frustrating traffic trek.  Continuing onward to either St. Pete’s delightful (and tasty) downtown or over to the beautiful white sand Gulf beaches is even more bothersome. Yet, as a lover of Tampa’s cooler next-door neighbor, I can’t seem to resist the painfully annoying hour drive.  

   Recently, this trip was conquered for a weekend stay at the beach.  After a night with one too many beachside daiquiris happily consumed, a hefty breakfast was most definitely in order.  Having never dined in St. Pete Beach before the afternoon hour, I was clueless where I’d devour some savory morning goods. Taking my brother’s suggestion, we conveniently strolled out of our hotel and in just a few minutes landed at a little seemingly hole in the wall diner called Steam.  Slightly skeptical of my sibling’s suggestion, I continued on into the understated establishment.  After all, eateries with little decorative effort often have the very best cuisine.
    Walking into the coffee house/restaurant, I was most pleasantly surprised.  The building's outside certainly didn't speak for it’s very aesthetically appealing inside.  This quaint breakfast, lunch and coffee café screamed fun with its colorful and eclectic interior. Modern lightning, plush seating and the sweet sounds of a live Jazz musician created a unique ambiance I’ve yet to find at a breakfast nook in Florida. Steam was packed with fans old and new.  Surprisingly, the cheerful hostess seated us almost immediately.   The menu was full of fun breakfast and brunch creations like Philly Cheesesteak scramble, Vegan Potato Hash, Bananas Foster French toast, Blue Crab Benedict and one extensive selection of sweet and savory crepes.   With a 10-minute menu debate and much hesitation with selections, we ordered.  Then, we waited and waited and waited some more.  Although our dishes were slow to come out, our server was most excellent in her attentiveness to our drinks.  
   As magic would have had it, our bodacious breakfasts were officially upon our starving mouths.  Sticking to my Southern roots and love for all things savory and spicy, I ordered the Shrimp and grits.  A huge cheesy pool of grits came covered in a Creole sauce with perfectly plump shrimp, juicy Andouille sausage and a fried egg sitting on top of it all.  The flavors were explosive with the spices from the Creole sauce, the sharpness from the cheddar and the meaty tang from the sausage.  Everything on this plate was perfect except for one thing. I would have loved an “over-easy egg” as the menu had stated.  A runny yolk further flavoring the cheesy, hot-sauced grits would have been just splendid.  The egg was over-medium, a flaw I overlooked with the gloriousness of every other component.  

   My beau ordered the Florentine Scramble Crepe.  I agree with the menu description: “Wow.” I will be ordering this next time I am there.  Stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, ham, tomatoes, and loads of fresh spinach, this enormous crepe was also topped with a creamy lemon basil butter sauce.  I had food envy.  Chris picked a winner. Rich without causing a tummy ache, it was absolutely stellar. 

      My brother ordered the Blue Crab Benedict. Normally, I feel that restaurants destroy the classically delicious poached egg and muffin dish.  Too often the poached eggs are overdone and the English muffins are toasted for five seconds.  For this reason, I often avoid ordering it.  This was not the case at Steam.  The poached egg spewed bright yellow yolk into the crispy crevasses of the toasted muffin. The hollandaise was as lemony as it was buttery.  The fresh blue crab was generously piled on the muffins.  This Benedict was done right.  My only complaint…with blue crab versus a way more luscious lump crab, the $15 price tag was a bit steep.  

     My brother's girlfriend also ordered a crepe.  Smart girl.  Steam has got this French pancake thing down.  The Spinach, artichoke and Goat cheese crepe was divine.  Packed tight with fresh veggies, pungently rich goat cheese and topped with Hollandaise, it was a mouth-watering morning indulgence.  Just when I thought breakfast at Steam couldn’t get better than Chris’ crepe selection, it suddenly did.  With one bite of Sloan’s crepe, I was officially in food paradise. 

       A family owned and operated restaurant, Steam has been open since April 2011.  With my one visit, it is rather apparent that these restaurateurs know exactly what they are doing.  With live music on the regular, a full espresso bar, a friendly staff and quality delicious dishes, this joint has got what it takes to make it.  Just four months after their initial opening, they branched out and began a nighttime affair with the name: “Chill,” where Spanish tapas are deemed heavenly.   Appropriately named “Steam and Chill,” it is a place for wining, dining and relaxing.   

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