Celebrating 28 years as Tampa’s premier restaurant for Modern American and globally-inspired cuisine, Mise en Place, owned by Chef Marty Blitz and Maryann Ferenc, features an exciting menu with dynamic fare whose flavors reflect the Chef’s insatiable love of food as well as the local bounty from West Central Florida’s waters, farmers, and artisans as well as from around the globe. The passion of independent proprietors is reflected in the spirit of the staff and the quality of the level of personal care in the dining experience, things I look for in awarding the Golden Palate Certificate of Excellence™ .
Although “Mise en Place” is a French term, the restaurant is not “French.” In fact, the term “Mise en Place” is more about a precise and efficient culinary philosophy which Chef Marty and the restaurant clearly embrace–not just in the kitchen, but throughout the operation. The term means “everything in its place” and is a state of mind and practice successful home cooks and professional chefs employ to ensure things run smoothly in the kitchen. Typically it means cleaning your workspace as you go, setting up all the ingredients in advance (as they do on cooking shows), pre-heating the oven, and chopping, dicing, and grating all the ingredients to be used in the recipe(s) before you start, resulting in a much smoother, easier, time-saving process that actually makes cooking more enjoyable!
It was a pleasure to dine at Mise en Place recently and talk with Chef Marty and enjoy the excellent cuisine (my tastemakers and I sampled everything from Duck Confit Salad, Fennel Bisque, perfectly-cooked Salmon with Quinoa and greens, an incredible Flat Iron Steak with Asian seasonings atop salad, Sea Scallops with Polenta, Risotto with Kale Pesto and Crab (out of this world), among other things). For wine, we tried a bottle of 2012 Storybrook Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel from Napa Valley “Mayacamas Range” and the pot of hot French Press Coffee (my favorite way) was the perfect finale to a stellar meal!
The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner, features an exciting, eclectic wine list, as well as a variety of mixed specialty cocktails they are famous for. Intimate, hip, and luxurious come to mind when describing the decor. Large windows looking out at the historic University of Tampa. Cozy banquettes. A lively bar. A large, round, secluded “Chef’s Table.” Service is very personalized- hands-on, dedicated staff don’t miss a beat. Mise en Place is definitely a well-oiled machine (as the name would suggest) and despite its age, the restaurant clearly has a youthful yet well-polished “spring in its step” as it marches forward, remaining totally hip and cutting-edge–restaurants of this caliber don’t endure 28 years–and remain at the forefront of area restaurants and culinary trends unless they are doing something right–in this case they are doing a lot of things right! Mise features a swanky lounge which is a Bay Area favorite for a romantic rendezvous or happy hour after work downtown. The restaurant also offers an 80-seat on-site banquet space, and a full-event planning and catering division capable of coordinating unique experiences, as well as a 30-seat private dining space overlooking the historic Minarets of the University of Tampa.
The newest expansions for Mise include the popular Sono Cafe located inside the beautiful Tampa Museum of Art overlooking the river and University of Tampa in downtown, which serves lunch, Sunday brunch, and weekday happy hour, wine, coffee, and gelato and is a popular local spot for weddings.
Whether you travel here from far away or just around the corner, you are invited to “come join us” at Tampa International Airport, consistently ranked among the top airports in the world for convenience and amenities, for a food and wine adventure at First Flight, the newest concept from the folks at Mise en Place. First Flight features a progressive list – concise but quintessential – and stocked up with Chef’s creations that make wine more essential and enjoyable. Located in the main terminal before passing through security (you don’t have to be flying to come and enjoy), First Flight is a beautiful, cool, modern spot which is a perfect stop before boarding, a perfect welcome to Tampa, or just a great spot to come and people watch, even if you’re not traveling anywhere.
The mission behind First Flight is to offer locals and visitors to the Tampa Bay area a simple, European-style wine bar that was born out of the owners’ passion for wine, food, hospitality that guests could just pull up and enjoy. We want to share our daily desire to explore flavor and places, travel the world through winemakers and cheesemakers, and bring that world to you. Tampa International Airport is a perfect spot to achieve such an international theme.
The wine list offers “something for the novice and the experienced, the list follows the path of a tasting, going from light to heavy, soft to adamant, sweet to dry, petite to immense. We offer terms and tasting notes that you can use to assist in making a selection.” I enjoy thoughtful, progressive wine lists accompanied with tasting notes–it helps me as a sommelier to refine and test my palate and is nice for casual wine lovers, newbies, and experienced wine palates.
The menu is, simply, food to go with wine. Charcuterie, the ancient culinary art which features pates, sausages, salamis and hams, cured and smoked fish, is a mainstay. Artisanal cheeses and hand-crafted snacks round out our selections. As with the Mise en Place menu, Chef Blitz has taken culinary classics and created an elevated taste sensation that you will fall in love with as you sip. In fitting with the concept and airport location, “Wine Flights” have been arranged to get the most out of your exploration– I recommend buying a ticket and taking a flight.
See you in Tampa! Please be sure to tell the folks at Mise en Place, Sono Cafe, and First Flight that Fred Bollaci sent you!
Mise en Place
442 West Grand Central Ave.
Tampa, FL 33606