L’Eden Restaurant & Bar is one of those uniquely upscale but casually comfortable eateries that has not only helped to elevate the culinary flavor and style of downtown Tampa but also to help spark a cultural and esculent renaissance as well.
Not much more than five years ago downtown Tampa was a veritable ghost town after 5pm and weekends fared little better. Then, a happy byproduct of the housing boom started to change the long established work-only mentality of the area. As momentum built, things really started to change when developers like Novare moved in and launched ambitious high-rise residential developments, occupancy from which would motivate small business owners like Chef Gerard at the L’Eden Restaurant & Bar to take a risk on the potential they saw renewed in the city’s heart. Flash forward to 2012 amidst the bustle of the 2012 Republican National Convention and it’s clear the gambles paid off. Downtown Tampa is alive and flourishing during the business off hours, a cultural movement has mounted that’s slowly but surely putting the area back on track towards being an entertainment and relaxation destination for locals and tourists alike and perhaps most importantly allowing Tampa Bay to revive much of the business districts rich early twentieth century history.
So there stands L’Eden Restaurant & Bar squarely at the corners of Tampa and Madison Streets; overlooking Gas Light Park and in the center of Downtown’s burgeoning River Arts and Museum districts. An shining example of old-Tampa’s early twentieth century architecture, Dark brick abounds complimented by large picture windows that offer extensive views of the bustling downtown beyond. Above looms the renovated offices of one of Tampa’s preeminent law firms. As is often said, location, location, location and this is something L’Eden has in spades.
Inside the ambiance is intimate, unrushed and uncluttered. Everything here has a place and through balance is well though out, allowing the relatively small dining room to accommodate the largest number of people comfortably and in style as possible. Substance is king here and while overwhelmingly upscale in terms of culinary predication the mood and atmosphere is delightfully casual. This is the sort of place where you could hold a business dinner or an intimate anniversary. Multifaceted and accommodating the style and mood of the food, architecture and presentation here allows great versatility.
The staff here is small but well informed, offering helpful insight to the menu and Chef Gerard’s suggested pairings. Never rushed, the overwhelmingly European influence here keeps things casually relaxed, affording diners ample time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Friendly, informed and perceptibly upscale dining at L’Eden is a sensory experience that seeks to accommodate each and every diner.
As superb as the ambiance is, the real star here is the inspired menu. Offering an eclectically divergent style by Tampa standards, the preparation, plating and style of the food is relishable adventure. My particular favorite being the Russian inspired Shaslik; which translates to exceptional filet mignon kebobs served over a bed of orzo and complimented by fresh vegetables. The Steak Diane is also most excellent as is Champagne steamed Atlantic salmon, roasted pear and bacon salad, quiche lorraine and creamy lobster bisque. Everything is served fresh with great emphasis having been placed on quality, healthy and when possible local ingredients. Well reviewed and well reccomended, L’Eden Restaurant & Bar should be placed on your short-list of must visits when in the Tampa Bay area.
L’Eden Restaurant & Bar
500 North Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33602
Breakfast & Lunch
Monday through Saturday: 8am to 3pm
Wednesday & Thursday: 5pm to 9pm
Friday & Saturday: 5pm to 11pm
Wednesday through Saturday: 5pm to 7pm