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Ten prime prix fixe restaurant picks in Tampa Bay

So many restaurants, so little time: It's a good problem to have. It's restaurant week around Tampa Bay, a chance for recession-weary bargain hunters to try something new without threatening Junior's college fund. Fifty-eight restaurants are offering three-course, fixed-price menus through Monday, a deal organized by Tampa Bay & Co. and the Hillsborough and Pinellas chapters of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. Diners get an appetizer, entree and dessert for $25 to $35, depending on the restaurant (tax, gratuity and alcohol are not included). They are not all high-end places — tourist-friendly Cooters and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. made the list, for example — but with so many choices, we offer these 10 suggestions. For a link to the full list and menus, go to tampabay.com/things-to-do.

Ocean Prime

The dining room recalls a stately steam liner, with portholes and gleaming wood paneling and prices that match the high-end surroundings. Menu highlight: ginger salmon with stir-fried snap peas and soy butter sauce ($35). 2205 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa. (813) 490-5288.

Café Dufrain

This Harbour Island jewel offers sharp service and a New American menu that emphasizes organics and sustainability and shifts smoothly between Asian and Latin American. Menu highlight: gingered yellowfin tuna with wok-fried bok choy, steamed oxtail dumplings, shiitake consomme ($25). 707 Harbour Post Drive, Tampa. (813) 275-9701.

Cafe Ponte

Consistently ranked one of Tampa Bay's best restaurants, and not just for the outstanding food. Atmosphere, service, place settings all are top-notch. Menu highlight: Kaffir lime poached halibut with a citrus miso broth, baby bok choy and green tea salt ($35). 13505 Icot Blvd., Suite 214, Clearwater. (727) 538-5768.

Donatello

The gold standard for Northern Italian cuisine in the bay area for more than 25 years, with gracious service in a luxurious setting. Menu highlight: fresh poached salmon with shrimp and asparagus in a creamy white wine sauce ($35). 232 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (813) 875-6660.

Marchand's Bar and Grill

An elegant, old-world setting, with a soaring, hand-painted ceiling and a menu that goes beyond the usual hotel fare. Menu highlight: grilled hanger steak with heirloom tomato, Cuban bread panzanella and Idiazabal cheese fondue ($35). 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 824-8072.

Parkshore Grill

This is where the boom in Beach Drive fine dining began nearly four years ago, and it is still drawing crowds for well-crafted American cuisine with a twist. Menu highlight: pan-roasted duck breast with truffle cauliflower potato hash and Tuscan balsamic reduction ($35). 300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 896-9463.

Pelagia Trattoria

Lusty flavors that start in Spain and coast through the entire Mediterranean. Menu highlight: ravioli with braised veal, ricotta and spinach with sauteed wild mushrooms and truffle essence ($35). 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa. (813) 313-3235.

Roy's Hawaiian Fusion

With experts in the kitchen and pros in the dining room, this is a polished purveyor of Hawaiian seafood and meats with a French accent, and they even greet you with an Aloha! at the door. Menu highlight: shiso-seared steelhead trout with sauteed rock shrimp, shishito couscous and meuniere sauce ($35). 4342 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa. (813) 873-7697.

Shor American Seafood Grill

A new showstopper of a restaurant at the new Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa, with front row seats of the Beach Walk half-mile pathway and bragging rights to a supreme sunset viewing. Menu highlight: lobster ravioli with vermouth cream and fennel salad ($30). 301 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater. (727) 373-4780.

SideBern's

The contemporary side of the Bern's kingdom, as cutting edge as Tampa cuisine gets in a dining room as swank as its clientele. Menu highlight: roasted pork shoulder from Palmetto Creek Farm with charred belly, arugula and house-made vinegar ($35). 2208 W Morrison Ave., Tampa. (813) 258-2233.

Information from Times files is included in this report.

Ten prime prix fixe restaurant picks in Tampa Bay 09/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 2, 2010 3:22pm]
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