Tampa >Food & Dining > The Refinery
5137 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL | Directions 3360327.994040 -82.459408
Sun: 11a-3p Brunch
Bar Hours w/ Late Menu
Neighborhoods: Northwest, Old Seminole Heights
After hearing many good things about this restaurant, we arrived at 5:20 PM.. The dining room was empty and the patio on the roof had only one other table occupied. We waited thirteen minutes before anyone took our drink orders. We order coffee which was very good but the cups were filthy. We complained. The server apologized and brought us slightly cleaner cups. The salad arrived in a reasonable time frame and it was somewhat different. It contained chunks of butternut squash and was quite good. But, then, we waited and waited for our entree. When the server returned at 6:25 PM offering seconds on the coffee, we asked where our meal was, pointing out that we had now been sitting there for just over one hour. He poured the coffee and said he would check on our food. Within minutes, our meal finally arrived. The steak was seasoned well and very tasty, as were the chili-rubbed potatoes but the prices were a bit steep for the portions and the poor service negated the tasty food. On the plus side, the roof patio was pleasant and the server friendly. Still, we will not be returning.
Gourmet takes on laid back fare. – With a weekly changing menu, and award winning chefs, and the encouragement to be laid back instead of black tie, the Refinery seems to be based on the concept that refined fare should be made affordable to the masses. And the patrons I have seen dining at this establishment range from City Council hopefuls and business professionals getting off work to what look to be punk rock musicians.
Admittedly, this premise is at a loss to many Bay Area diners that are just happy going to Chili's or Applebees, and many may not appreciate the culinary endeavors of this local kitchen and bar. And for this reviewer the incredible positive reviews from local magazines gave me the wrong impression as well, that every thing I get there I will 100% like.
My first dinner there had a couple plates: a unassuming Cuban sandwich dressed up with gourmet appointments, and a roasted chicken plate. The cuban wasn't a cuban (but, the menu admitted that it was a special take and included the ingredients and concept... which I didn't read= my fault) but the roast chicken was phenomenal.
My next visit served a but better, a plate of Mahi, Clams, prepared in a special and delicate white sauce, with steamed potatoes; possibly the best seafood plate I have ever had.
I realized that my first visit was on a Thursday (the first day they debut their menu) and my next visit was on a Tuesday (a good weekend + past the debut of the menu).
So:This place is a culinary gem but - Read the menu. It changes every Thursday. This place is run by chefs but also has a sense of humor and uses puns in the weekly menu titles.
If you plan on getting one of the more adventurous offerings go on a night after the Thursday that they debut the menu.
All in all this place is similar to gourmet gastro-pubs that I have dined at in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I am amazed that we have somewhere like it in Tampa. If you are into food this place is worth the endeavor.
DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME – I have never posted a review of a restaurant good or bad in my life, but I am still angry over my experience at this over-rated, ill-mannered restaurant. We got there early in the evening with hardly anyone else there, eagerly awaiting all the good things we had heard about this place. If there's ever a reason to ignore the Best Restaurant Polls, etc in Creative Loafing, this is it. The guy who waited on us appeared to be the manager, and was not very friendly at all. He was arrogant from the start. My wife ordered a hamburger, and I ordered chicken wings and the frittes appetizer. Simple stuff really, but after 15-20 mins the guy came over and said our food would be up any minute now. It was 35 mins overall before our food came. No apology, nothing. Starving we inhaled everything, whereupon Mr Personality reappeared sniffing, "I guess the food was good". When I pointed out that he had starved us for 35 mins, he merely asked if we wanted any dessert. Got the bill and left, suppressing the urge unload on this guy. To top it all off, another group came in shortly before we got our food, and got their food in less than 10 mins. Two of the dishes were the same ones I ordered. NEVER going back there again, BTW the food was okay nothing at all worth bragging about.
One of if not Tampa's best!!!! – What can I say about this place? Just that they have the most AMAZING food in Tampa. I am an extremely picky eater and The Refinery has not let me down yet. The Poutine (dont' know what that is?? Try it and you'll be hooked) is out of this world!! I literally salivate thinking about what the menu will be like this week. The food is FRESH and menu changes every week as they only buy what is fresh and local.
The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is tops!!! No better place in Tampa to chill with friends over beer and great food!!!!! Give this place a try and trust me.......you will be back for more.
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