Make us your home page
Instagram

Bar review: Parts of Paris, a cozy cafe in Safety Harbor

Another sunny afternoon in downtown Safety Harbor, one of the most pleasant and picturesque spots in Tampa Bay. You couldn't reasonably consider a well-known area like this to be a local secret, but it's so quaint, artsy and filled with laid-back, quiet charm that it really does feel like one.

What better stop than a little French bistro, located just off the Main Street thoroughfare? It's called Parts of Paris, and it's built into a restored 1936 bungalow. On the inside, white tablecloth dining; on the outside, a covered patio surrounded by lush, subtropical foliage.

As I researched, it occurred to me that I didn't really know what a bistro even was, compared with, say, a cafe or brasserie. After all, the only phrase I can speak in French is je suis désolé, je ne parle pas français. Well, a bistro is simply a small, casual French restaurant. The emphasis is generally on home-style French fare, served in a modest setting.

The interior of Parts of Paris is extremely homey, with a vibe similar to the bungalow restaurants you'll find in Seminole Heights. In the afternoon, sunlight illuminates the interior and gives the bottles behind the bar a cool, backlit glow. At night, much of the space is candlelit.

As the dining area is set in an actual living room space, it can get a little tight (and loud) on busy nights. There's plenty of spillover space on the front patio, though, and I wouldn't think twice about choosing it over the interior, especially as the weather cools toward the end of the year.

The decor at Parts of Paris, unsurprisingly, includes a strong French theme. From painted Parisienne cafe scenes to a large Eiffel Tower made of wine corks, there's no mistaking Parts of Paris' lineage. In the background, cool bebop jazz — very nouvelle vague.

The food is artfully prepared, traditional French cuisine. It's on the higher end of the bistro price spectrum, but it's unquestionably fine-dining quality, and the warm, personal service matches the price. There are about 50 wines to pair with your meal, including some ports and dessert wines to finish with.

The colorful descriptions on the wine list make every option seem irresistible. Fresh herbs, tobacco, black fruit? That's the Haras Carmenere from Maipo Valley in Chile. Crisp, minerals, light apple, butter? Pouilly Fuisse, from Bourgogne. And, simply, laissez les bons temps rouler ("let the good times roll"): Dom Pérignon Brut, 2004 vintage.

The beer selection is wonderfully concise, featuring only four beers: France's Kronenbourg and Kronenbourg Blanc, California's Butte Creek Organic IPA, and Montreal's Unibroue La Fin du Monde. That's a lot of range covered in a very short space, while still maintaining thematic clarity.

The spirit selection is a bit more varied, with lots of vodka choices and many excellent whiskeys (and whiskies), as well as several fine French brandies: Calvados, Armagnac and Cognac. If you're in a fancy mood, try on a Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège, or a Larressingle Armagnac. When in Paris . . .

But the real story is in the cocktail list. Aside from bitters and the spirits themselves, everything is fresh and handmade. Instead of sour mix, fresh lemons and limes. Instead of premade simple syrup made with refined sugar, housemade simples that use turbinado sugar and agave nectar. The selections are filled with muddled citrus, fresh berries, herbs and spices, and fresh juices.

These cocktails are plenty creative, too. La Tour Eiffel combines Bourbon and savory black walnut bitters with tart blackberries, cooling mint, bright lemon and sweet vanilla syrup. The Larry is another bourbon affair, this time tinged with orange bitters and sweetened with a housemade stout-and-anise beer jam glaze. Oh, and the glass is smoked beforehand.

Quite simply, it's a little taste of Paris in a beautiful part of town. If you like fine wine, interesting spirits, and thoughtful, well-made cocktails, then you'll want to take the short detour off of Main Street to find the little old bungalow that's home to Parts of Paris.

jg@saintbeat.com; @WordsWithJG.

Parts of Paris

146 Fourth Ave. N, Safety Harbor. (727) 797-7979. partsofparis.com

The vibe: A homey French bistro in a restored 1930s bungalow.

Food: Appetizers, sides, and salads, $3 to $18; entrees, $14 to $37, desserts, $4 to $17.

Booze: Beer, wine, and liquor. Beer, $4 to $6; wine, $6 to $12 by the glass and $22 to $210 by the bottle; liquor, $9 to $20.

Specialty: I wouldn't hold it against you if you ordered a nice bottle of French wine with your dinner, but it would be a mistake to ignore the house cocktail menu, which features a variety of original creations, made with from-scratch juices and syrups. A good example is La Tour Eiffel, which is made with your choice of premium Bourbon (I chose Baker's), fresh blackberries and mint, house-squeezed lemon, vanilla simple syrup, and black walnut bitters.

Hours: 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. The bar often stays open late, so call ahead for details.

Bar review: Parts of Paris, a cozy cafe in Safety Harbor 11/11/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 5:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 24

    Events

    Zac Brown Band: The country, folk and Southern rockers embark on the "Welcome Home" tour in support of the album. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $27.50-$77.50. (813) 740-2446.

    Handout photo of the Zac Brown Band, performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on 9/24/17. Credit: Shore Fire Media
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 23

    Events

    Smithsonian Museum Day Live: Museums across the nation partner with the Smithsonian to offer free admission for one day. Among them are Florida Holocaust Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.Cracker Country in Tampa, Ringling Museum of Art. Note: Dalí Museum is free for Pinellas County …

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  3. Tampa Repertory's 'Flying' soars in some places, sputters in others

    Stage

    TAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre has always insisted on putting on plays that mean something. Several shows over the last couple of years have zeroed in on the social and cultural baggage that comes with being female (The Children's Hour, Silent Sky and Grounded come to mind). None of those …

    The Southeastern premiere of Flying, Sheila Cowley's play at Tampa Repertory Theatre about veterans of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, includes (from left) Holly Marie Weber, Rosemary Orlando, and Becca McCoy. Photo by Megan Lamasney.
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]