ST. PETERSBURG — A new restaurant planned for the spot formerly occupied by The Mill can serve carnivores and vegans. The Huntsman is expected to open later this year at 200 Central Ave.
The restaurant specializes in “field and stream to table” fare, with game proteins like elk, antelope, wild boar and bison and seafood offerings like Faroe Islands salmon and Gulf shrimp. Options for vegans will include a five-course chef’s tasting menu.
It’s the second location for the eatery, which launched in Tallahassee in 2022. It’s a collaboration between co-owners Daniel Renninger, Skylar Stafford and Ben Williamson.
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Reninger said the trio previously worked together when he was director of operations for a restaurant group that had two restaurants; Stafford was the chef at the French bistro and Williamson was the front of house manager at the Italian steakhouse.
Renninger’s background is in Thai, Italian and French fine dining. He’s been the general manager of restaurants in Florida and in Hawaii, including one from Top Chef contestant Lee Anne Wong.
All Florida-born, Stafford and Williamson both grew up in Tallahassee and are avid hunters. But the fare at The Huntsman isn’t venison or wild boar hunted in Florida.
Renninger said they source free-range game from Broken Arrow Ranch in Texas, which culls overpopulated herds from ranches throughout the state using a mobile team, which processes the meat onsite with a USDA inspector.
The animals are killed with a long-range sniper rifle to prevent a spike in cortisone and testosterone, he said.
“It’s the cleanest protein you’ll ever have,” Renninger said. “It’s lower in cholesterol, higher in protein (and) lower in fat than beef. So you get your red meat fix without upsetting your doctor.”
There is beef on the menu, including Japanese Wagyu.
Renninger, who has tried to eat vegan, said they aim to make that menu amazing, too.
The St. Pete location will have the same menu as Tallahassee but will add lunch and brunch. The menu changes seasonally and includes a chef’s tasting dinner and a late-night menu.
“The whole menu is meant to be what we enjoy, which is eclectic cuisine with whimsical ideas behind it,” Renninger said. He said they regularly have dishes from the Middle East, South America, Mexico and India and are working on an Ethiopian option.
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The variety on the current dinner menu ranges from grilled South Texas antelope to cauliflower Katsu curry to seafood jambalaya. Appetizers include wood-fired bone marrow, crispy eggplant and Vietnamese BBQ octopus. Creme brulee with lemon, rosemary and poached cranberry and lumpia with vegan banana frozen custard are dessert options.
There are happy hour bites like smoked fish spread, crispy cauliflower bites and the Everglades picnic featuring alligator sausage, all to pair with cocktails, beer and fine wine.
While the head chef has not yet been selected, Renninger said the tasting menu — which changes weekly — will be designed by that person. He also intends to use locally sourced ingredients and is in the process of contacting local farms.
The restaurant is still in the design phase but Renninger says not to expect lodge vibes.
Renninger is aware that the owners of The Mill said it closed because of construction, but he’s not worried about it.
“It’s a city,” he said. “There’s always going to be construction.”