Chicken Chakalaka, made with roasted breast, braised leg and thigh, dijon, preserved lemon, chakalaka, tamarind sweet potatoes and creme fraiche — Photo courtesy of The Refinery
Located in historic Seminole Heights, The Refinery restaurant is making news and getting rave reviews. Racking up accolades such as “Best All Around Restaurant” and “Best Chef” in Tampa Bay by a 2013 Creative Loafing reader’s poll, The Refinery has solidified its position with happy diners as the best place to find world-class food at prices that won’t break the bank.
The awards don’t stop there. Since opening in 2010, The Refinery was also named "Best Restaurant" in 2012 and 2013 by Zagat; it was a James Beard semi-finalist for "Best New Restaurant" in 2011. Chef/owner Greg Baker was also a James Beard semi-finalist for "Best Chef: South" in 2012 and 2013.
The secret to the success of this small, casual eatery is found in the culinary philosophy of its owner. First, start with the best ingredients. Chef Greg believes in developing relationships with local farmers to source the highest-quality, freshest ingredients, made by people who care. That’s why you won’t find many imported or out-of-season ingredients on the menu.
Pound cake with aji amarillo glaze, roasted okra, chorizo, watermelon and orange vinegar — Photo courtesy of The Refinery
Second, serve great food. Making expertly prepared dishes accessible to everyone is Chef Greg’s motto, and it’s one he lives by. The creative and innovative menu changes weekly to capitalize on what the farmers have to offer. It’s said that not one dish has been duplicated since the restaurant opened. From salads to sauces, it’s all made in house from scratch, with an emphasis on natural, organic, vegan and gluten-free recipes.
Third, make it affordable. While the prices at The Refinery are not bargain basement cheap, there is a dedicated effort to keeping menu items within the realm of affordability for most people. Chef Greg chose the location and building for his restaurant with an eye to keeping the overhead down, and the interior, while comfortable and charming, does not exude opulence.
The focus here is squarely on the food - and what food it is. The Refinery is definitely a must-try restaurant during your visit to Tampa.