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St. Petersburg eateries dish up food symbolized in Salvador Dalí's works

To prepare for the opening of the new Salvador Dalí Museum, chefs at Marchand's, the flagship restaurant of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort (501 Fifth Ave. NE), went to look at the art of the artist, as well as that of Dale Chihuly, to get inspired to create a menu to welcome the opening.

There is crisped ham, red rice and tricolor ravioli. Gastriques, bisques and matignons. And there is a dessert with a melting center. Persistence of Caramel, anyone?

Meanwhile, at the museum itself, a cafe will be named for Dalí's wife and include dishes evoking Spain, as interpreted by the team of St. Petersburg restaurateur Steve Westphal.

But food is used for symbolism in the artist's work, so let's look around downtown St. Petersburg for some of his favorite ingredients.

Bread turns up a lot in his work, and of course we can find that everywhere. But let's start with a visit to the bakery at Cassis American Brasserie (170 Beach Drive NE; (727) 827-2927) for baguettes and croissants.

Few foodstuffs carry more symbolism than eggs. Two of the best expressions of the huevo downtown are the pizza with the sunny-side-up egg at BellaBrava (204 Beach Drive NE; (727) 895-5515) and whatever chef Zack Gross is doing with deviled eggs today at Z Grille (104 Second St. S; (727) 822-9600).

Could Still Life With Aubergine have been the inspiration for the eggplant short stack at Café Alma (260 First Ave. S; (727) 502-5002)?

His premonition of civil war was told in beans. Soft beans, specifically. For that, try the cassoulet at St. Pete Brasserie (539 Central Ave.; (727) 823-3700).

Dalí thought enough of bacon that it is part of his Soft Self-Portrait. It's not hard to find bacon on menus, but how about the Berkshire pork belly that's part of the mixed grill at Parkshore Grill (300 Beach Drive NE; (727) 896-9463)?

Sea urchin was a favorite of his, on the plate and on the canvas. He appreciated it for its symmetry. If you want to follow him on that one, they serve uni at Ratchada (270 First Ave. N; (727) 821-7733).

Luckily, no restaurants have been inspired by Autumn Cannibalism. Yet.

If you don't want to dive further into the theme than tapas, Pincho y Pincho (95 Central Ave.; (727) 209-2302) is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not specifically Catalan, but Spanish. Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant next door and in the same building ((727) 209-2299) is a nighttime hot spot, serving Spanish small plates until 1 a.m. on weekends.

Politics was another favorite subject of Dalí's. And to properly discuss politics, we'll need coffee. Both locations of Kahwa Cafe (204 Second Ave. S, (727) 821-1942, and 475 Second St. N, (727) 823-4700) are highly caffeinated. For art talk and music, check out the funky Globe Coffee Lounge (532 First Ave. N; (727) 898-5282) where the management favors "Gypsy guitars and Spanish blend." For a little more help getting the conversation started, at Globe and the new Café Central (449 Central Ave.; (727) 290-9863), wine and beer are available.

Still, none of that is really surreal. For that, go to Crowley's (269 Central Ave.; (727) 821-1111) and order the Reuben egg rolls — corned beef, cabbage and Swiss cheese, fried in an egg roll wrapper and served with Thousand Island dipping sauce. It's a perspective changer.

Jim Webster can be reached at jwebster@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8746.

MORE DINING

For a full list of downtown St. Petersburg restaurants, go to tampabay.com/thingstodo.

St. Petersburg eateries dish up food symbolized in Salvador Dalí's works 01/07/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 6:49pm]
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