Last night we had one of if not the best Food and Wine pairing dinners we’ve ever had. We ate at Armani’s in the Grand Hyatt, Tampa Bay, where we are staying for the weekend. As I wrote in the previous post, we are staying at the Grand Hyatt for my pre-birthday weekend, and were pleasantly surprised to get upgraded to the Presidential Suite upon check-in. This upgrade was not the only surprise in store for us however, as this post continues with our food and wine dinner.
We went to Armani’s Restaurant on the top (14th floor) of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Airport, and were promptly seated by the window for our 7:30pm reservation. We had a beautiful view of the Tampa Bay, and watched as the sun set slowly throughout the night, as we had our leisurely seven course meal.
From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, we received VIP service as if the staff were serving the President himself. As this was a food and wine pairing dinner, we were served different wines with each course. Our server was Maria, and she took delight in serving us for the evening and making sure we had an outstanding night of dining.
Shortly after being seated, Jay, the manager of Armani’s came by our table and introduced himself, as well as Jonathon, the Executive Chef. Throughout the night, Jay would stop by our table to check on us, as well as other members of Jonathon’s team who were responsible for that course, and explaining more about it – absolutely service at its finest!
Our starter course was the Grand Platter, which was a huge antipasto platter assortment of cheeses, meats, crackers, honey comb, berries, etc that all paired excellent with our first wine, a French white burgundy, 2015 Louis Latour, of the Mersault appellation.
The platter even had gooseberries which Steve (DOS) loved!
While we could have made a meal off of the Grand Platter, we proceeded on to our next course of delicious Lobster Bisque soup. The Lobster Bisque was served with another French wine, Joseph Drouhin of the Saint-Véran appellation.
As we were enjoying our Lobster Bisque and wine, we watched as the sun slowly headed down across the Tampa Bay, with my pre-dinner Cosmopolitan posing for the view.
When we got to our third course, we both thought this was our main course as it was an entree-sized platter of food! It looked like a steak or perhaps lamp chop with the bone, but it was actually grilled Elk. I know my mouth dropped when Steve (DOS) told me what it was, (with me being the simple meat and potatoes eater), but it was delicious and cooked a perfect medium rare.
The Elk was paired with a wonderful Stags Leap 2015 Petite Sirah from Napa Valley. As Jay said when serving this, ‘It’s anything but petite’; meaning it’s a very full-bodied red wine.
By now we were getting full and we had only finished the third course! Fortunately we had a bit of break on our fourth course, as it was a salad course, uniquely platted on a rectangular square stone-like plate. With the colors of the food and dressing outlined in a circle, it was a food work of art!
Paired with the salad, we were served a white wine, somewhat unusual going from white to red, and then back to white, however it was an excellent choice with our salad plate. The wine was a Sauvignon Blanc called illumination (I intentionally didn’t capitalize the I in illumination as it looked like three lll’s) and was made by Qunitessa, the iconic winery of Napa Valley fame.
By now it was almost dark outside and our ever-changing Tampa Bay view was still spectacular.
On my way to the men’s room I took a couple photos of the elegant dining room and wine cellar.
Our fifth course was certainly our main course, or so we thought when Maria and Jay brought out the largest prawn we had ever seen. At first I thought it was a lobster as it was so large, but there were no claws, and it was served tail and all for presentation. I had to have DOS help me with eating some of mine as it was so large and filling! This is the one course I forgot to photo unfortunately and I think it was because we were so overwhelmed at this point with this huge dish, and also needed to use our fingers a bit to maneuver and open it!
Surely this would be our main course, and we thought we would then have two different dessert courses left. . .
But no – our main course was yet to come!!! But first we had a toast with Jay and the Executive Chef, Jonathon. The red wine was a Sartori di Verona Amarone 2013 and was exquisite.
The Amarone wine paired wonderfully with our sixth course, which was indeed the ‘main’ course. The entree was a prime beef course, fortunately served in small cube like portions, and prepared perfectly medium rare to our liking.
By the time we finished the main course, the dining room had almost emptied out! We look sufficiently stuffed as you can see below.
Yet we still had the last course to go, so our seventh and final course was the dessert one, served with a glass of Port. We were also offered a choice of whatever wine we had enjoyed most that evening. I chose the Stag’s Leap Petite Sirah, although they were all wonderful wines.
By the time we had finished all seven courses, we were among the last diners left at Armani’s. We took a quick stroll on the outdoor terrace before leaving Armani’s and took a selfie and a blurry shot of the full moon.
We then headed out to our room thru the now empty dining room. Well actually there was one other table of guests still there!
Fortunately for us it was only a short elevator ride down to our twelfth floor room!
I gave Maria and Jay our card, so hopefully they will read about how wonderful a time we had at Armani’s with their outstanding service and chef and sommelier selections. This was such an incredible and over-the-top dining experience and we promised to come back for a future food and wine dinner there.
Thank you so much Maria, Jay, and all the other staff at Armani’s for making this a night to remember!