912 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606
Cuisine: New American
Cost range: 10.01-20.0
Payment options: Credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
More in this neighborhood: South Tampa
Edison embodies what was most exciting and new in 2012. I've heard restaurant industry folks grousing: How does Jeannie Pierola keep the prices so reasonable at her inventive Kennedy Corridor newcomer, opened in August (foie gras dishes under $20?!)? To them she might quote Thomas A. Edison himself: "The value of an idea lies in the using of it.' What has kept this place lively since the start is exacting execution of exciting ideas. That might be a recent bone marrow and grilled bread appetizer with wild mushroom marmalade and fines herbes salad, or liquid nitrogen milkshakes, or glazed baby root vegetables in cardamom "soil' (in hip New York restaurants, "soils' are the new "foams'). In December they opened their private dining room, LAB916, with floor-to-ceiling chalkboards on two walls, which seems fitting. Pierola and her team seem perennially brainstorming, tinkering with faddish techniques and trendy ingredients in an ever-changing menu. But it's never precious: It's a rollicking, comfortable place at jeans-and-T-shirts prices.
Here's what so smart about Jeannie Pierola's new Edison: It's funny. Its full name sets up expectations of beakers and lab coats and very serious scientific inquiry. Nope. The celebrated former chef at Bern's and SideBern's is having a whale of a time at her new place, riffing on contemporary trends in the culinary world, freestyling on current fetish ingredients and faddish techniques, and all at a price point that makes Edison an everyday prospect for most Tampa Bay diners. Menu categories would stymie Thomas Edison and probably his buddy Henry Ford, too. "Spark," "cold start," "soluble or solid," "constants," "C8H10N4O2" — that last one means caffeine — but the basic idea is some things are hot, some are cold, some are a little bigger, all of them are totally mix and match, suited to a shared noshing approach. Small plates are the new black around here.
This is part of Times Food Critic Laura Reiley's 25 Top Affordable Restaurants in Tampa Bay.