*** (3 stars)
The first key to enjoying Elevage is to put all thoughts of Bern’s out of your mind. There is absolutely no relationship between the ambiance, service, food and especially the wines. Only the ownership.
Elevage is bright and hard surfaced, so go if you want to see your date, but not hear him or her.
The service is well-intentioned and friendly, but there isn’t a deep knowledge of the preparations, and expect long pauses during your meal.
The food is… interesting. We tried:
The tea sandwiches, which were pretty bland, as tea sandwiches tend to be, I suppose.
Country ham, a flavorful hors d’oeuvre, served on a tiny biscuit.
Welsh Rarebit, kind of a mushy mess, nothing like a traditional preparation, although the fried duck egg was tasty.
Fish and chips, which has nothing to do with fish and chips. It was lightly seared tuna slices, potato chips and fried pickles, with a vinegar foam. Interesting components, but they didn’t particularly work together.
Spiced lamb flatbread. I couldn’t have identified the brown paste coating this crispy flatbread as spiced lamb, but it was pungent and tasty.
Cedar plank salmon was one of the more conventional dishes, with a sweet, tasty glaze. The accompanying Brussels sprouts were excellent.
The most successful entree was My Sunday Supper, which turned out to be boneless pork ribs with a piquant, tangy BBQ sauce, accompanied by white beans and mashed potatoes.
The very buttery mashed potatoes are also available ala carte.
The banana tart was actually more like a creme brulee, with nicely caramelized banana slices.
As you might guess, the food isn’t particularly descriptively named, which turns out to be more confusing than fun, since the descriptions aren’t always that helpful either.
But the big disappointment is the wine list. If they’re planning on drawing upon the Berns overflow clientele, this is a huge problem. The limited list is entirely yesterday’s vintages of middle brow wines. And even then, it’s limited. For example the sole American chardonnay is Far Niente at $17 a glass. There are a couple of good deals, such as Crozes Hermitage at $47 a bottle, but for the most part the list is uninteresting, and certainly disappointing to anyone longing for one of those million bottles across the street!
The bottom line is that if I couldn’t get into Berns, I probably wouldn’t go across the street, but would check out some of the many other restaurants in the area, in hopes of finding dishes that were greater than the sum of their parts, and wines that were simply, well, greater.
1207 S Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606