“Wine is one of the agreeable and essential ingredients of life”. –JULIA CHILD
Can you believe I have lived in Tampa for nine years and just ate at Fleming’s for the first time last month? I have been wanting to go there since my arrival in 2003 and have always heard such rave reviews about the food, wine and service. Fleming’s has been on my list of dream dining destinations for quite sometime and I finally had the chance to eat at the location in across from the International Mall in Tampa last month. I attended a tasting for their new concept, “Small Plates, Big Pours” which is a selection of seven ingenious Small Plates brilliantly paired with an oversized wine pour from the Fleming’s 100. Guests get to choose one of the seven suggested pairings or can create their own combination by choosing from the seven food and wine options on the menu. Maeve Pesquera, Fleming’s Director of Wine, has done a fabulous job of pairing the seven dishes with a wine that accentuates the flavor of the dish. I tried all seven Small Plates and have to say, each and every one knocked me right out of my stilettos. It was a memorable evening filled with delicious food, superior wine and great conversation with fellow Tampa Bay foodies. In other words, a dream night for this Nor-Cal Gal on her quest to fall in love with Florida.
After weeks of excitement, April 24th finally arrived and I felt like a little girl anxiously awaiting her birthday. My dream of eating at Fleming’s was about to come true and I was ecstatic. I rushed over to Fleming’s after my day at the office and as I was escorted to the table, I smiled as I saw several familiar faces from the food blogging world. One person I was really looking forward to meeting was Judi Gallagher of Judi Gallagher & Associates. Her company is a hospitality consulting firm and works closely with Fleming’s. We had been emailing each other about meeting for dinner and were finally able to meet at this tasting event. Judi is a remarkable woman and I just fell in love with her warm personality and heart-warming stories about the food industry.
After mingling with the other guests for about ten minutes, we were presented with our first of the seven small plates: New Bedford Scallops with a meyer lemon-honey glaze, baby carrots, green beans and asparagus. Perfectly paired with Cakebread Savignon Blanc, this is truly a masterpiece. Everything on this dish compliments each other and the presentation is gorgeous. Tender and moist, the scallops melt in your mouth. The fruity minerality of the refreshing Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc accentuates the buttery richness of the scallops, and its citrus qualities echo the dish’s Meyer lemon-honey glaze. I highly recommend this for a warm summer evening.
New Bedford Scallops and Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc
Next we were presented with Lobster Tempura and Silverado Chardonnay. Served with soy-ginger dipping sauce, arugula, jicama and apple salad, this dish was one of my favorites. Lobster is a staple in my house, as my son Rocco loves it. This was the first time I had lobster tempura style and it was fantastic. The richness and sweetness of the lobster echo the rich flavors of crème brûlée and citrus found in the Silverado Chardonnay.
Lobster Tempura and Silverado Chardonnay
The next dish was my absolute favorite: Sliced Filet Mignon paired with Penley Merlot. The tender slices of filet were served on a bed of shiitake risotto with chili oil and drizzled with porcini butter. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes and I enjoy making it at home. The earthy flavors of the risotto combined with the melt-in-your-mouth filet and porcini butter go incredibly well with the Penley Merlot. This dish is a must-try!
Sliced Filet Mignon and Penley Merlot
The next dish we sampled was that of Shrimp Scampi Skewers paired with Paco & Lola Albariño. When I was a little girl, my dad’s shrimp scampi was my favorite dish and I still enjoy it today. Fleming’s dish is served with chimichurri dipping sauce and avocado citrus salad. Pure perfection! I was excited to try the Paco & Lola Albariño and was delighted. The Albariño’s crisp minerality echoes the fresh ocean flavors of the shrimp, and the green apple and floral notes of the wine are a wonderful complement to the chimichurri sauce.
Shrimp Scampi Skewers
By this time, I was having such a great time chatting and sampling the amazing flavors that I almost forgot we had a few more plates to try. Next up was the Seared Ahi Tuna which was paired with A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir. Served with fresh vegetable salad and spicy mustard sauce, the Ahi Tuna is phenomenal. I was highly impressed with the A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir. With aromas of bing cherries, cranberries, red currants, raspberries, strawberries, a combination of wild flowers and fresh forest berries, this wine pairs well with the piquant notes of the mustard sauce.
Seared Ahi Tuna
With two more small plates to go, next up were the Filet Mignon Skewers served with gorgonzola-bacon fondue, mozzarella and sweet tomato salad. One taste of the gorgonzola-bacon fondue and I was in 7th heaven! This dish has so many powerful flavors that are further accentuated with the full, rich flavor of the B.R. Cohn Silver Cabernet. The sweet tomato salad is the perfect finishing touch.
Filet Mignon Skewers and B.R. Cohn Silver Cabernet
Our final small plate of the evening was Petite Lamb Chops paired with Cline Cashmere Red Blend. New Zealand Petite Lamb Chops served with pistachio-mint pesto, “F17” sauce and polenta fries, this plate really knocks it out of the park. The pistachio-mint pesto is divine and the flavor combination with the grilled lamb is intoxicating. This was my first time trying Fleming’s signature F-17 sauce and let me tell you…..it rocks! I enjoyed dipping my polenta fries in the sauce and then sipping on the Cline Cashmere, which is a Syrah–Grenache–Mouvèdre blend.. This wine paired with the lamb chops is like a perfect marriage. With notes of chocolate and black pepper, the wine brings out the flavor compounds of the grilled lamb. I enjoyed this wine so much I had to go buy a bottle.
Petite Lamb Chops
My first visit to Fleming’s was such a memorable experience and I left there with a huge smile on my face. I can’t believe it took me nine years to finally dine with them. From the impeccable service to the incredible food, Fleming’s is a jewel in Tampa Bay. I am really looking forward to my next visit and because I always enjoy sharing the love with my readers, I am giving away a $100 gift certificate to Fleming’s. In honor of Father’s Day, I will be picking a winner on Sunday, June 10th so that if the winner decides to take their dad to Fleming’s, you will have a week to plan it. If my dad lived in Tampa, I know I would take him there for his special day. To enter, simply do the following and you will receive one entry per item.
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About Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
The nationally acclaimed Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar offers the best in steakhouse dining – Prime meats and chops, fresh fish and poultry, generous salads and side orders—with a unique wine list known as the Fleming’s 100, which features over 100 wines served by the glass. Fleming’s was launched in Newport Beach, California in 1998 by successful restaurant industry veterans Paul Fleming and Bill Allen. Today there are 64 restaurants nationwide. Fleming’s is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including Wine Enthusiast’s annual Award of Distinction and Wine Spectator Magazine’s Award of Excellence.
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