Restaurant: Parkshore Grill
Address: 300 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg, 33701
Lunch guests: Soosie Lazenby and Brittany Halle, with Urbancoast, a Belleair Bluffs-based invitation and event design studio.
Reservations: Not required.
Parking: Valet parking is available. There are also several parking garages and street parking nearby.
One-hour lunch test: Passed. Iced teas and sodas are refilled quickly.
See and be seen: Restaurant is a hub of who's who in St. Petersburg, especially in the large outside seating area. Crowds are a mix of executives and tourists, both young and old.
Privacy: Several booths line a side and back wall on the inside that are best for private conversations. Outside seating, especially during busy days, can be loud.
Ambiance: Mood is lively and upbeat. The Beach Drive location is in the heart of a vibrant sidewalk of downtown St. Petersburg. Museums and several boutiques are nearby, in addition to the bay.
Food: Specialties include grouper cakes and crab legs, and a majority of the ingredients are from local farms and distributors. The regular lunch menu, moreover, is diverse. There are a dozen starters/appetizers, for example. That list includes stuffed meatballs with a Maytag blue cheese center and cabernet sauce for $8; Sonoma goat cheese spinach dip with olive crustini for $10; and spiced seared tuna sashimi with cucumber salad and sweet soy for $12.
Salads, meanwhile, are priced from $7 to $14. Selections vary, from a wedge salad made with smoked bacon, to a sunflower-seed-crusted chicken salad. The sandwiches, wraps, burgers and paninis are large, just like the salads, and range in price from $10 to $12. That side of the menu includes popular items like the Parkshore Burger, with Maytag blue cheese, smoked bacon and caramelized onions, and the shrimp avocado bacon wrap. Those items cost $12 each.
Ownership: Tampa Bay area restaurateur Steve Westphal owns Parkshore Grill with Executive Chef Tyson Grant. Prominent local restaurant operators, Westphal and Grant also own 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House in downtown St. Petersburg and The Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge at Albert Whitted Airport.
The business partners opened Parkshore in November 2006. Sales dipped in the recession, though business has recently started to come back, says Grant, to the point where 2012 “has been our best year yet.” Grant says the top-notch location is key. “We've seen St. Petersburg pick up,” says Grant, “and we want to be on the ground floor of that.”
Review date: November 2012