-3 Snaps! Try it. You might like it.
The Lure, a restaurant hailing from St. Petersburg, has opened a new location on MacDill Ave. in South Tampa. It’s a nice remodel Catrinas Cocina Y Galeria , a former convenience store. The interior replicates the St. Pete design including large wall murals and a red pool table. Tucked in the corner is a five seat elevated sushi bar. They’ve kept the full service liquor bar is positioned in the middle of the restaurant. The Lure’s large menu includes standard sushi restaurant starters like edamame and miso soup, as well as unique dishes like Lava Drops- individually rolled Nori and rice balls stuffed with spicy Kani salad and cream cheese and then fried in tempura batter.
My server tells me that it is the same menu as the St. Pete restaurant. Dishes on the menu have charming names most inflecting some cultural hipness. For example Bacon-8-Her is described as an obscene amount of bacon asparagus and avocado wrapped in soy paper top with eel sauce and tempura chips. Sushi rolls include standard nigiri and sashimi. Other choices also include Poke bowls, Tapas that cover the protein gamut including seafood and beef. salads, and tacos, etc.
I start with one of their fast plates called the Brusch-Etta James ($8.00). It’s at the top of the list and I love Etta James’s sultry voice. The dish is Cuban toast crostini with a schmear of goat cheese topped with grape, fig, tomato, and garlic bruschetta and sprinkled with crispy prosciutto crumbles and Asiago, then drizzled with orange Rosemary balsamic reduction. With that list of ingredients the flavor will explode, right? Taste-wise it's good as it covers the sweet and salty palette especially with a combination of the goat cheese and the reduction sauce. And, the tomato and Asiago give it enough acidity. But on the flavor side, something is missing. It just doesn't have any punch especially given the effort to put so many ingredients together. What happened? Etta would be insulted that a dish named after her doesn’t have more pizzazz.
I order the Scooby Snack because I love eel. It is a specialty roll of eel, cream cheese and cucumber roll topped with smoked salmon, avocado, eel sauce, and tempura chips. Its 6 average sized rolls with alternating tops of smoked salmon and avocado. The sliver of cream cheese running through the roll gives a great mouth and the eel is tasty. But, overall, it’s really nothing unique.
Beer and wine lists are relatively small and wine is offered in 5 and 9 oz. pours, or whole bottles. They also have a house made sangria. On my visit they only offered six different craft beers ($6.50). On the cocktail side they have specialty drinks, and specific Mule and Martini menus.
With the pool table and a full bar The Lure has the potential of becoming a go-to neighborhood place. After all, it's in the heart of restaurant row on MacDill Avenue. But, there’s nothing special here, and there's a lot of it. Sushi, tapas, tacos, and poke bowls, along with some Italian dishes is a lot to cover well. The food and drinks are following trends, not setting them. The item names are cool and hip, but the food is nothing new.
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