Walked into Chill around 5 PM on a Wednesday evening. The dining room was sparsely populated with elderly locals. We were immediately seated by Carl. Good looking guy. Part waiter, part game show host. Totally professional.
Softly lit, comfortable interior. While my wife found the ladies room to be immaculate I thought that the mens' room could have done with a wipe.
We put ourselves in Carl's capable hands and went with his recommendations. For appetizers we had the black stuffed olives. These are filled with garlic and served warm. Very good. We also had the goat cheese tapenade. This dish appeared to have been made earlier in the day and then refrigerated. When the plate hit the table the tapenade was cold. So much so that the flavors were lost to the chill. We set it aside and tucked into it about 10 minutes later. What a difference! Complex flavors complimented by fig and Kalamata.
We also had the Tuna Tetaki. This one threw us a bit. A martini glass arrived containing cubed, raw tuna riding on a bed of shredded cucumber and ginger. A soy reduction is drizzled over the tuna. The glass is a cute idea but sometimes less is more. The dish possesses good flavors. While the cucumber 'spaghetti' was crisp and fresh, the tuna, by comparison, was a tiny bit mealy. We brought this to Carl's attention, finished the tuna and soon forgot about it.
For entree's we ordered the duck breast and the espresso/ cocoa rubbed beef tips. The duck was flat out, the best we've ever eaten. Crisp, caramelized skin clinging to a perfectly cooked duck breast. This was the highlight of the meal and I would come back here again for the duck alone. The beef tips were served with garlic mashed potatoes. Cut with your fork tender beef. Great, robust flavors. A real winner.
Chill has an intelligently assembled wine list. Bottles are priced between #23 and $59. A glass will run you $5 to $11. My wife had the 'Rioja Vega'. ($7) She said that it was one of the best Riojas she had ever drunk and as much time as we've spent in Northern Spain that's saying a lot. This Rioja was a perfect match to the food we ordered.
Throughout the meal Carl watched from afar and quietly swooped in to fill a glass, remove a plate and inquire as to our satisfaction. When our bill arrived I noted that Carl had quietly removed the charge for the tuna. And this is after we had consumed the entire appetizer. Classy move on the part of Chill and Carl.
Chill is adjacent to a coffee cafe called Steam. There seems to be some relationship between the two operations. There is also a bakery operated by the restaurant. The bakery is located directly behind Chill.
Chill serves food that is a leap above St. Pete beach fare. Nice to know that nestled in the chaos of St. Pete strip malls, Taco Bells and IHOPs Carl waits for you. With that marvelous duck.
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