BY HEATHER FINSTER
St. Petersburg Catholic High
The entrance to Piquant in Tampa's Hyde Park boasts a coffee and tea bar adjacent to a dazzling display of desserts, reminiscent of a whimsical European bakery. Tempting as it may be to skip right to a croissant doughnut with strawberries and Nutella, missing the impressive menu would be a tragedy.
The caliber of the cuisine is perfect for culinary students or those with sophisticated palates. The French-inspired brunch ranges from quiche du jour to "adult" grilled cheese with duck and bacon to pumpkin bread French toast. The butternut squash salad was a medley of unique flavors: Mixed greens were topped with colorful sweet butternut squash, cran-raisins, chopped chicken, candied pecans and much more with a light and tangy dressing.
Not only did the food taste fresh and flavorful, but the presentation of each dish was both sophisticated and appealing. The variety of gluten-free options was impressive. Seating is like a normal restaurant, and the eclectic atmosphere and clean decor carry through the restaurant to an outdoor dining option. Heads up to guys: This is the perfect place to take a girl on a casual yet sophisticated date on a budget.
Though some dishes may be pricey, many are reasonable for the quality. Through Christmas Eve, you could be joined by a Victorian-style Santa — the perfect way to say Merry Christmas. See hydepark village.com for times. Piquant is at 1633 W Snow Ave., Tampa. Hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Call (813) 251-1777 or visit piquant hydepark.com for more information.