Edison Food+Drink Lab: Where’s the Mad Scientists?

Who doesn’t look forward to going out to a high-class dinner to celebrate the beginning of the weekend? Nowadays, most of my weekdays look like a weekend too since I don’t actually go to an office to work, so my celebration needs to take place outside of my house.

Not what I expected for a “lab”

In Tampa, Edison Food+Drink Lab opened its doors this August. The former Bern’s Steakhouse chef, Jeannie Pierola, has a tall order to fill. Bern’s has been one of Tampa’s few renowned restaurants in the National foodie community. I’m not sure she topped it.

My friend Carla and I arrived around 5:30, shortly after the restaurant opened. We didn’t have reservations, but I thought at such an early time it wouldn’t make a difference. Still, I was surprised that only two tables were filled and two small groups of people were at the bar. I expected the newly-opened place to be buzzing with a Happy Hour crowd. I guess its because Edison doesn’t have Happy Hour. And they also don’t seat you if you don’t have a reservation.

Carla and I were offered a place at the bar, which ended up working fine. As we perused the menu, I couldn’t help but notice more waiters and kitchen crew members lingering around the exterior of the dining room. There were an awful lot of people for two tables, about four members per table. But soon the reason became clear… within the next 20 minutes I understood why we had to sit at the bar. People came by the handful and soon all the tables were full. The staff was now bustling in and out of the kitchen instead of acting like wallflowers.

The menu was eclectic enough for a place boasting to be a “food and drink lab.” I found the appetizers, labeled “Hot Start” and “Cold Start” to be more interesting than the main courses, some of which were just Huevos Rancheros and Chicken and Butternut Squash Waffles. Well, I guess Butternut Squash Waffles sounded pretty cool. But Vanilla Scented Foie Gras, Goat Cheese Truffles with Dates, and Pork Cheek Terrine al Pastor with Compressed Pineapple all had me curious. Of couse, I’m still new to “high class food,” and as much as I hate to admit it, I called the Foie Gras “Faux Grass.” As if my foodie reputation wasn’t ruined enough as I asked our server about the menu, I thought the Maple Glazed Sweetbread was actually a bread similar to King Hawaiian. Don’t revoke my food blog license!

Avocado Leaf Tuna

My dish, the Avocado Leaf Seared Tuna had great complimenting flavors of textured raw tuna with a sweet candied Tamarind Crunch. It was delicious getting a different sensation with each bite. Carla got the Huevos Rancheros, which she really enjoyed. Hers had a nice kick from the jalepeno… and since I’m not a spicy fan, I can’t vouch because I didn’t taste hers. You’ll have to take her word for it.

Huevos Rancheros

We commented on the surroundings and decided that we could’ve decorated the place much better. For a science-y lab theme, I wasn’t seeing much to go with it. The servers should’ve worn lab coats, especially behind the bar. The bar itself only served beer and wine, and while the wine was in stemless wine glasses, they could’ve taken the theme to a new level. Liquor drinks with crazy contraptions and shining lights would make the bar much more appealing. They could even store liquors in different glass containers. As I looked around the dining room, the only lab feeling I got was seeing the flasks with flowers on each table. I kept feeling like a chalkboard was missing, right near the entrance to the semi-open kitchen.

The bar… not much potential.

We had to check out the desserts, since I had heard they about their Liquid Nitrogen Milkshakes. Carla got the Chocolate Tart with caramel, which was packed with intense chocolate flavor. The presentation of this dessert was one of my favorites. They utilized all aspects of the plate.

Chocolate Tarte

I’ve been on a cream cheese kick lately, so I got the Red Velvet Cake with chocolate ganache. I felt like I could’ve baked something equally or if not better. The chocolate ganache was hiding inside the cake, it didn’t gush out like I hoped. The cake almost tasted dry. But the Raspberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream: spot on. I wanted more than the 2 tablespoon scoop I got. I get it, presentation is everything, but really? Load that baby on!

Red Velvet

All in all, it was a great meal, and good food that gets me out of my usual food routine. As we left, I found the chalkboard! It was in the bathroom… of course.

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