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Posts Tagged ‘A fency meal in Fla’

Restaurant BT:

Restaurant  BT: “Authentic, healthy and French.”          Tampa, Florida. PG photo  2013 and 2015 re-post.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net   (Don’t miss the comments—wonderful celebrity stories!)

Yesterday was a bit chilly by Tampa standards. About 60 degrees in the evening. The three of us were going to spend our last meal in Florida going to a trendy gourmet eatery.  Restaurant BT is in an artsy neighborhood. Michael, our youngest son, who lives in Tampa, parks his Jeep Wrangler in their private lot, next to a long BMW sedan—black and exquisitely shiny. Eileen tries to climb out of the back seat of his Jeep. It is a terrifying thing to watch, but we finally help extricate her. She regains her composure, and we sashay into the restaurant, a very fine French-Vietnamese place where sophisticated people go.

The crowd is in its 30’s and 40’s. Three young couples sit at one table, but the three women huddle together at one end, laughing and chattering. They all have straight long hair, and the blond wears black with a plunging neckline—plunging in the back. Many of the men wear jackets. Glasses are clinking all over the room, and the music is so subtle that all you can hear are the swishes of a snare drum.

I’m very sensitive to music in restaurants. This place wants to appeal to your subconscious. The decor is minimalist/elegant. The menu is exotic and complex. The chef, a tiny but beautiful Vietnamese woman, circulates around the room in her short white cook’s jacket.

The host, dressed in a suit, seats us in the corner, but it is a small place, and you get a good look at everyone. A couple walks in. They are dressed in black, head to toe, but he is wearing a T shirt and some cut-off pants with flip flops. He is a giant who could easily be an NFL lineman. She is stylish and she is all over him. “They should get a room,” whispers Eileen. “Why,” I said, “They’re just having fun.” Michael takes it all in. He says nothing but sees everything. It’s the nature of his work. We order—just ordering is a sensory experience because of the menu descriptions.

Kobe beef with hand made noodles. PG photo

Kobe beef with hand made noodles. PG photo

The food is marvelous—who cares about the price?—-gulp! This is a special night. But then, something happens that changes everything.

A group of 3 walks into the place and heads towards the bar while their table is readied. I look at them (I am an unrepentant people-watcher). The man in the middle, also all in black, is short but has a commanding presence. I study his face—BAM! It’s Emeril Lagasse. No doubt .

I grab Eileen’s arm. As he walks by our table, our eyes lock, and I know instantly that he knows that I know. The moment ends in a flash, and he sits at the bar, back to us. I look around the room. No one has noticed.

Then, as if someone has set off an alarm, the room comes alive as most everyone looks over at the bar. Emeril is very cool and seems oblivious, chatting with his friends. Evidently he has recently launched a TV show about Florida cuisine. He now lives in the Sunshine State.

Emeril Legasse (Internet photo)

Emeril Legasse (Internet photo)

Soon, as they lead him and his party towards the best table—the one near the door—the three sophisticated ladies jump up simultaneously and, like teenagers at an Elvis concert, they grab Emeril and insist that he pose for a photo with them. The heck with the men at the table—it’s Emeril and them. They shoot two photos and then he moves on. I noticed that as he posed, he did not stretch his arms around them. The ladies sat down and began to post on their Facebook pages.

Of course the staff catered to him, and rightly so. This was his second visit to BT, according to our waitperson who was taking care of us. As we left, I didn’t dare take his photo or even look his way. I wish I knew what he ordered, but no way. After all, we Grovers are also very sophisticated.

Editor’s note: Did you ever spot a celebrity in a restaurant ? Please comment below. –PG

EARL HINES plays “Sophisticated Lady” by Duke Ellington.

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