I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with some fellow Tampa area bloggers for a lovely lunch at Besa Grill in Clearwater. I love being able to take some time to sit down with fellow bloggers and foodies in the area: what a great way to spend an afternoon!
Can we talk about Besa Grill though? Since the restaurant opened, I’ve been impressed with the progression of amazingness that has come out of the kitchen. I was so pleased with the offerings from their new brunch menu, and lunch on this afternoon definitely blew me away in flavor and presentation.
Cocktails were necessary to get things started. Besa Grill’s specialty cocktail menu makes it incredibly difficult to choose just one. Even though my selection was absolutely wonderful, I found myself coveting everyone else’s drinks as well! And that says a lot: I am a victim of habit when it comes to drink orders, and usually don’t look longingly at anyone else’s! That pretty purple/pink cocktail pictured above happens to be the Cactus Pear Margarita, and it was divine. It contained Cuestion blanco, cointreau, fresh lemon, fresh lime juice, and cactus pear puree. The color was gorgeous, and the flavor was both sweet and tart.
I snapped a few photos of my lunch buddies’ cocktails as well – I couldn’t help myself. On the left is the Basil Cucumber Gimlet, which was made with Hendricks gin, fresh basil, cucumber, and fresh lime juice. Doesn’t it look refreshing? The other martini glassed beauty was the Cucumber Cilantro Margarita, with Corazon blanco tequila, gran gala, fresh cilantro, cucumber, agave nectar, and fresh lime juice. I really love herbs paired with cocktails, so these both are awesome choices. I also love that Besa Grill serves a lot of their specialty margaritas in martini glasses. It is definitely not something you see all the time, and I appreciate the fact that my drink is not getting watered down by a tumbler filled with ice cubes!
After we began sipping our drinks, the food started arriving at the table. And oh, was it impressive! We started off with a special treat from the chef: pork belly tostadas! Can we say: YUM? Mini tostadas were topped with lettuce, guacamole, pork belly, and radishes. The flavors and textures were off the charts for this: melt in your mouth pork belly contrasted by the crunch of the tostada, crispness of the lettuce, and the creamy coolness of the guacamole.
Besa Grill has an array of flatbreads available on their lunch menu, and we sampled two: the Havana Cuban flatbread and the Grilled Chicken & Brie flatbread. In Tampa, Cuban sandwiches are plentiful, and I enjoyed this spin on one: shaved ham, mojo pork, swiss cheese, pickles, applewood smoked bacon, and mustard aioli. Yum! But what really stole the show for me was the Grilled Chicken & Brie flatbread. It was topped with fresh arugula, grilled chicken, brie, applewood smoked bacon, roasted red peppers, onions, and drizzled with balsamic. Pretty much the best flatbread toppings ever, in my opinion.
As a matter of fact, I liked it so much that I went back over this past weekend with my mom and we both ordered it. Yeah. Seal of approval from me x100.
Besa Grill (and their sister restaurant, Flamestone) are really known for their guacamole. Besa Grill offers a trio of guacamole on their appetizer menu. There are five varieties, and you can select up to three for your platter. We were presented with the traditional, the corn and black bean, and the goat and blue cheese guacamoles. I’m pretty sure I’d be content to park myself in front of this platter and consume the entire thing. Isn’t guacamole the best?
And let’s talk about tuna, shall we? Tuna crisps were next to be presented at our table, and they were almost too pretty to eat. Crispy wontons bowls were topped with seared ahi tuna, seaweed salad, cucumber, and sriracha agave aioli. The tuna itself was that perfect, beautiful pink hue. Delish!
Besa Grill’s lunch menu offers a number of sandwiches to choose from. We sampled the Besa Burger – ground angus steak, pepper jack cheese, Besa steak sauce, crispy onion straws, and a brioche bun. Yowza. The sandwiches are served with some incredible truffle parmesan fries, but you can also substitute for yuca fries for a bit of a twist if preferred. Both are excellent!
Although we had already stuffed ourselves silly with lunch items, when dessert arrived at the table we could not resist some more indulgence. The famous creme brulee flight was enjoyed by all, and our eyes became as large as dinner plates as soon as we saw the other two items. How gorgeous is the Sweet Plantain Bread Pudding?!?! It had a caramelized sugar crust and was topped with dulce de leche ice cream. Be still, my heart. And finally: the Seven Sins Cake. Believe me when I say it was this chocoholic’s dream come true: Godiva infused seven layer cake with seven layers of chocolate, served with a chilled milk shot. What?!?! I immediately went into a blissful food coma after eating a few bites of this cake. It was the perfect way to end an amazing lunch.
So, again…if you find yourself in the Clearwater area for lunch (or dinner, or Sunday brunch for that matter), stop by Besa Grill and check them out! Thanks so much to Besa for hosting our group for the lunch: it was spectacular!