Cafe Largo might be the best restaurant in Tampa-St. Pete, if not in all of Florida. The food is remarkable and I'd have no trouble recommending it to anyone with an appreciation of good food. It's 5 stars and I'm ready to go back any time.
Okay, that's enough gushing.
I've tried several times to write this review and I finally realized the problem was that I keep focusing on the few flaws during our dinner on New Year's Eve. None of the flaws were especially egregious, but looking back at the night, yeah, the experience could've been better.
The first problem was with our reservations. At first, the server couldn't find my name because it was mangled by the person who took the reservation. But more important, during the reservation request, I had asked for a specific table because of sentimental reasons. When we got to the restaurant, that table was occupied for our 7 p.m. reservation. The server was told to seat us at table 2, and I mentioned that we had specifically asked for table 5. Instead of any type of an apology, the server didn't say a word about it.
But I did hear the host tell the server that our table had a 9 p.m. reservation and through the meal, we felt slightly and subtly rushed. For example, I heard other servers describe the dishes on the menu. Our server didn't offer any insights; he just wanted to know what we wanted to order. He just about wanted our entree order before we even decided on an appetizer or even a bottle of wine.
Then at the end of the meal, there seemed to be confusion among the wait staff. Our dessert came out quickly and the champagne glasses weren't filled. We were halfway through dessert before we were offered the champagne.
Okay, enough about service. Let's talk about atmosphere. This amazing restaurant is in an office complex, and even though I love the dining room, every time I look up at the ceiling to see industrial ceiling tiles, my heart sinks just a little. The ceiling looks like it should be in a warehouse instead of one of Florida's best restaurants.
Now before I complain about the price on New Year's Eve, first let me say that the first time I went there, I had the $75 tasting menu and called it a bargain (in my previous review). On New Year's Eve, we thought the $65 per person charge was more expensive than it had to be for a small salad, entree, dessert and one glass of champagne. We also ordered two appetizers and a bottle of wine. As you can imagine, the bill was, uh, impressive.
But here's the thing: I'm a hyper-critical person and those are the few flaws on one night. The food, as always, was amazing, the service was average (but is usually top notch) and the atmosphere is almost perfect.
I'm already wondering what marvels will be on the menu next time.
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