When I tiredly rubbed my eyes and forced myself out of bed this past Sunday morning, something quite upsetting dawned on me. It would be the very last installment of an amazing brunch series that I had been so lucky to be apart of over the last several months. Tragic, I know. The annual glutton fests would now be coming to an end. And after indulging at some of Tampa’s best spots for the late morning feast, it was all so bittersweet.
Rounding up female foodie troops once more for our last hurrah, we were all extremely excited for the final restaurant on our Tampa Bay brunch adventure. We’d be visiting Piquant, a relatively new eatery in Old Hyde Park Village, an eatery that has been receiving much praise from critics and restaurant goers alike ever since its initial opening last year. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I had yet to visit Tampa’s first purveyor of cronuts until now. I was certain I’d be kicking myself in the rear for it, too. Oh, and if you’re unaware of the “cronut,” you should be ashamed…and motivated…to go get one from Piquant now.
Walking into the French Bistro, my every sense was delighted. From the sugary sweet aromas of fresh baked pastries to the aesthetically appealing décor and comfortable seating to the sounds of happy patrons coming from every which way. Upon sitting down with the rest of my food-loving friends, we were greeted by the talented Chefs, Ricardo Castro and Rosana Rivera. They were both warm and outgoing, assuring us we were in for a wonderful meal. Just seconds later, we met Chef Jordan Hoeffner who proudly told us all about her bodacious Bloody Mary that she’d soon be bringing out.
Then, like magic, some of the most beautiful Bloodys hit the table. I do believe my jaw was dropped for a solid minute. And yes, I admittedly have a slight addiction to the vodka “spiked” tomato concoction. Bloody Mary “Two Ways” is a handcrafted masterpiece made with Thai Bird chili infused vodka and a special tomato mix that includes Sriracha, citrus, and Cholula hot sauce. There are also extra special garnishes to boot like the “Edible Bloody Mary.” Using molecular gastronomy, Chef Jordan creates a solidified mix of the stuff and fills a celery stalk with it. But wait, there’s more. To add to the already insanely inventive cocktail, there’s also a skewer of smoked and pickled cherry tomato, and a chorizo stuffed peppadew pepper as well as a reduced Balsamic and Cajun seasoning rim. If the Bloody was this earth defying, I can’t imagine how awesome the rest of her drink menu will be once it’s officially revealed in the next month.
As I happily sucked down my delicious Bloody Mary, Piquant began presenting us with their weekend brunch specials. The giddiness at our table was probably evident to every guest in sight. Overwhelming in the best, most scrumptious kind of way, I didn’t know where to begin. So as any mature adult would do, I “eeny, meenie, miny, moed” and landed on the Black and Blue Benedict. 2 Poached Eggs, Roast Tenderloin, Caramelized Onion, and Mushrooms came piled on a Hand-crafted Thyme Scone and topped with a luscious Blue Cheese Hollandaise. The flavor combination was unreal. Tender and juicy tenderloin with that sweet caramelized onion and the slight bite of the blue cheese hollandaise…and I must not forget to mention how perfectly poached the eggs were. This was a brunch winner all around.
Next was a plate we were all drooling over. Duck and waffles, you rank supreme. Pumpkin waffles and southern fried duck confit were topped with crispy sage leaves and served with a bourbon maple glaze and a “fire in your mouf'” hot sauce. The waffles were a flawless mix of savory and sweet, pairing beautifully with the fall apart tender and rich duck confit.
With two A+ plates underway, I was anxious to continue the French inspired feast. Pleasing to the eye, the Crab “Oscar” Crepes were also splendid to the palate. Bechamel, asparagus tips, lump crab, and Lemon hollandaise came together harmoniously with the delicate French crepes. Elegant and out of this world delicious.
Then, the ugliest dish on the table proved to be the most knock your socks off delectable. The French “Redneck” was a dish of croissants, sausage gravy, crispy shallots, maple syrup. To say that this assortment of tastes was decadent would be an understatement. The best sausage gravy I’ve ever had combined with buttery croissants and you’ve created pure and utter cuisine bliss.
It wasn’t over yet. I quickly caught eye of something that looked like jazzed up fair food and knew I had to get a bite. Sausis Feuilletes was an attractive little number of natural beef sausage, rolled in puff pastry and served with red wine ketchup and a chardonnay mustard. Unique and unexpected, it was very, very tasty.
I was apprehensive about eating seafood before noon. I thought it might be a bad idea. But yet, I had to. Piquant’s Bouillabaisse looked too awesome to miss. An aromatic seafood broth came seasoned with Orange Peel & Fennel and topped with poached grouper, bay scallops, shrimp & clams. Eating a few bites of this glorious dish was not a bad idea at all.
As you can imagine, I was overly full but the meal still…wasn’t over yet. The Goat Cheese Omelet was looking so divine with its yellow fluffiness. A picture perfect classic French breakfast, this beauty was loaded with goat cheese, chorizo, cilantro, and caramelized shallots. An item off their regular menu, I’d rank it in my top 3 of the morning. Needless to say, I will be ordering it again.
Just when you think it’s over…the best part has been saved for last. While I don’t usually have much of a sweet tooth, I had prepped my taste buds for a little piece of paradise known as the cronut. With a choice of classic cinnamon and sugar as well as nutella, vanilla cream, guava, or raspberry filled, I opted for the raspberry. Words can’t express my love for the sweet and flaky pastries. Absolutely genius…created by the culinary Gods. I could go on and on.
Piquant aimed to impress and they most definitely succeeded. I did in fact; kick myself in the rear for having taken so long to finally visit this South Tampa gem. Creative fare with expert execution, it’s truly not one to overlook. I’ll soon be returning to my new favorite brunch spot; that is a promise.