Monday, September 24, 2018
Dining

Restaurant review: At the new Getaway in south St. Petersburg, you’re mostly paying for the tiki beach vibe

ST. PETERSBURG - When the original Getaway opened in 2014 at the old Banana Boat spot, two huge-beamed open-sided tikis flanked by waterside tables, fire pits in the sand surrounded by low-slung Adirondack chairs, and a whole bunch of palm trees, the 

Mai Tai-guzzling, bikini-wearing part of me said, "Yee-haw!" There are too few beachy, waterfront spots close to Tampa where one can do a little post-prandial paddleboarding. The Getaway and its next door neighbor
I.C. Sharks took glorious advantage of the allures of Snug Harbor with indoor-outdoor tiki concepts and seafood-centric  Old Florida grub.

Scott and Karina Tashkin and Dave Burton have done it again. The new Getaway is in the Skyway Marina District of south St. Petersburg, an area with a dearth of waterside and tiki-oriented destinations. This newcomer, which opened almost a month ago, offers unobstructed views of Maximo Marina (you can arrive by boat or even golf cart). It’s essentially three components: a 4,000-foot indoor dining room (one that’s been challenged in the air conditioning department thus far) with a capacious bar and high-top tables; a broad outdoor patio with some umbrellas (pro tip: If you sit near the high-speed fans your menus will pelt you in the face; plan accordingly); and a separate tiki bar right at the southern border of the recently renovated Maximo Marina. There is beach sand, loads of tropical plants, sea grapes and young palm trees, and a long phalanx of aquamarine barstools outside.

It radiates a "you’re here for a good time and we are ready to oblige" vibe, with a menu that leans to sandwiches and burgers, shareables like fish spread, tuna nachos or (a Getaway on Gandy signature item) jalapeno poppers, plus accessible cocktails served outside in plastic cups.

But first, you’ve got to find it. If you’re driving along 34th Street your thought bubble is something like: "Is it here? Or over there? Wait, is that little thing a sign for it?" It is. There’s a big parking lot, the landscaping creating an oasis but also obscuring the place a bit. Unless it’s a miserably hot day, the best seats are al fresco, procured by approaching the outdoor host stand.

The menu at this point is nearly identical to the flagship Getaway (it’s been a work in progress: the original location didn’t have a kitchen to start and had to rely on a rotating cast of food trucks), but has an additional "sea and land" section of more ambitious (and pricey) entrees, all of them served with rice and plantains.

I wouldn’t start there. To me, the most interesting part of the menu is a short lineup of po’boys, all of them settled onto wide loaves of New Orleans’ Leidenheimer bread with lettuce, tomato and a side of somewhat uninspired slaw. You can have fried oysters or popcorn shrimp, either on their own or tossed in a zippy Buffalo sauce (offered in medium or hot) with blue cheese crumbles, $15, a big sandwich suitable to share with a buddy.

In the event that you do share, you can preface that sandwich with a very appealing barbecued chicken chopped salad, $13, a passel of onion strings adding nice crispiness and the lettuce studded with grilled corn, black beans, cilantro, smoked mozzarella cheese, and big cubes of smoked chicken (a fair competitor to the California Pizza Kitchen version that might have been the progenitor). The
Getaway also does a nice, bracingly limey-oniony shrimp ceviche ($12) with loosely chopped large Key West pinks, bouncy and fresh-tasting, ringed by nice tortilla chips for dunking. It’s a dish that feels about right in this waterside setting.

I’m not going to linger overlong on the service — servers seem green but cheery, everyone just getting the lay of the land in terms of menu descriptions and beverage offerings. In this moment when just about every restaurateur is grousing about how hard it is to find and retain good kitchen and dining room help, inexperienced but cheerful is about as good as it gets for a new concept. I would say that prices seem a bit high for a casual, shorts-appropriate newcomer in this part of St. Pete (burgers hover around $13 and smoked wings, a little dry, are $15 with just a couple of celery sticks and blue cheese to their name). But diners are paying for the leafy green waterside oasis and the opportunity for a little Getaway.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley. She dines unannounced and the Times pays all expenses.

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