First published on 10/15/2015
Kevin and I had not been to Rococo in quite a few months. We decided to go last Thursday night before our play. We were pleasantly surprised by the changes not only to the menu but to the kitchen staff and the ambiance as well. We had complained several times in the past about the obnoxious club music that was always too loud. In fact, when we were raving about the changes to someone later that night, he described the atmosphere created by the music as "like a strip club in Beetlejuice". Finally, we were greeted by some lovely upbeat jazz that sets the tone that was sorely lacking for a restaurant of this caliber.
St Petersburg has so many amazing restaurant choices that to survive in this city, all elements must be superb, especially at this price point. Rococo was lacking in the food department. It was always good, but something was missing that made it just not stand out.
Well it will stand out now! Wow! The menu is brand new with the addition of the Daily Fresh Sheet. The new head chef, Matt Rainey,actually spends two hours schooling the kitchen staff on the daily menu, daily. All the fish is brought in fresh that morning and the pastas are now made in house fresh.
We started with the Seafood Gallery. This is a huge portion and, even shared, could be an entire meal. It was on the Daily Fresh Sheet and had Lobsters, Oysters (six and you could choose to have all east coast, all west coast or a mixture of both, which is what we did), Mussels, Jumbo Shrimp and Crab. You can see from the photo how decadent this platter is...just a tantalizing seafood lover's delight!
Next, Kevin Quinn, Rococo's GM and the leader of most of these changes, surprised us with the Chef Selection Salad of the day. To me it was more like a cheese/charcuterie dish than a salad. Kevin enjoyed it more than I did but everything was very fresh and yummy. It is served deconstructed and contains Marcona Almonds, Fig on top of a Goat Cheese Mousse, Lamb's Lettuce annd Speck, which is smoked prosciutto.
We also got to try the Tagliatelle from the Daily Fresh Sheet. All I can say is it was a party in my mouth! Wow! Kevin likes his pasta cooked a bit more al dente than I do. I thought it was cooked perfectly and it was so obvious that it was house made. It had a perfect combination of Trumpet Royale Mushrooms, Ox Tail and Tomato Ragu. This is a must try for pasta lovers!
We then were served the meal that we ordered and shared which was the Grass Fed Ribeye and Creamed Corn Mash. I find it near to impossible to not order steak in a steak house, but I can promise you next time, I will try other items from this menu. Grass Fed beef is tough to cook because many times it does not have as much flavor and cooks differently leading to a tough steak. This steak was cooked perfectly. I ordered rare to medium rare and they nailed it! It was tender and juicy and is cooked in just butter and salt. We have had the corn there before, but it wasn't like this corn. It is cut fresh off the cob and it had the perfect flavor. Not too creamy and I loved the smashing of the corn. I took a tiny bit that was leftover home and you can bet I ate it.
Kevin Quinn's excitement just oozed out of him as he spoke with us about all of the changes. He was so excited for us to try a Daily Fresh Sheet fish dish that he brought out the American Red Snapper for us to taste, as if we could eat another bite. I am not a huge red snapper fan. It usually comes out thin and I don't love the flavor. This snapper however was thick and juicy (see last picture) and served over a Tomato Sherry Butter. I only had one bite but it was delicious!
Other Daily Fresh Sheet items last Thursday were: Bacon Wrapped Northern Atlantic Cod, Grilled Pumpkin Swordfish, Roast Rack of Elk and "Poulet Rouge" Chicken. For all of the bacon lovers out there, they do still have the Bacon Flight on the menu.
If you haven't been lately, all I can say is GO!! And tell all of your friends...
655 2nd Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701
Make a reservation right now, and tell them that St. Petersburg Foodies sent you!