Cap’s, a new seafood restaurant and bar, opens next week in downtown St. Petersburg

Published April 28|Updated April 28

ST. PETERSBURG — A new open-air seafood restaurant and bar will open next month on First Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg.

A raw bar and seafood steamer menu will debut May 4 at Cap’s, which opens at 226 First Ave. N, inside part of the space that housed – until very recently – MacDinton’s Irish Pub.

The new spot is a joint venture by Jannus Live owner Jeff Knight and Jon “Reno” La Budde, who are also opening a separate bar and live music venue called Welcome to the Farm with country music star Chase Rice in the neighboring space. . The concept, which La Budde hopes will help St. Pete attract up-and-coming country music artists, is set to open this summer.

Mixed seafood served over fettuccine is on the menu at Cap’s, a new seafood-focused restaurant and cocktail bar opening in downtown St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Cap’s was inspired by Knight’s great-grandfather, Eugene Theodore “Cap” Knight, a rum smuggler who in the 1920s opened Cap’s Place, a restaurant, speakeasy and gambling den in Lighthouse Point, Sur the east coast of Florida. Both Knight and La Budde grew up near the coast (in Florida and the Bahamas), and the restaurant’s marine menu was born out of their love for fresh seafood and the open water, La Budde said.

“The hook is, it’s also really fast and it’s healthy,” La Budde said.

Ashley Simmons, left, Jon
Ashley Simmons, left, Jon “Reno” La Budde and Jason Gordon run the new restaurant with co-owner and Jannus Live owner Jeff Knight. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The business is a three-pronged operation and includes a separate full liquor cafe called Coffee Grounds (formerly located on Treasure Island), which is now open and offers pastries, sandwiches, Kahwa coffee drinks, and alcoholic beverages. A raw seafood and steam bar will open on May 4, and within two to three weeks the restaurant’s full menu will debut, said executive chef Jason Gordon, who, with his wife Ashley Simmons, runs spot restoration operations.

Gordon was previously the executive chef of The Big Catch in Salt Creek (which La Budde also owns) and designed the seafood-focused menu, which is divided into shared plates, salads, flatbreads and grilled meats.

A steam bar offers dishes like mixed seafood steamed and served with garlic butter.
A steam bar offers dishes like mixed seafood steamed and served with garlic butter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Appetizers include gourmet dishes to share like garlic prawns, tossed in togarashi butter and mango curry served with rice noodle crisps ($14); conch fritters with remoulade ($14); prosciutto and manchego croquetas served with roasted garlic aioli ($12); and a barbecue chicken flatbread ($13).

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Larger plates include a selection of grilled entrees, like grouper ($17) or shrimp ($14) tacos; a brisket and short rib burger topped with caramelized onions, smoked white cheddar, tomatoes and arugula ($16); a 10-ounce gaucho flank steak served with patatas bravas, candied red peppers and cilantro salsa verde ($26); and a smoked pulled pork sandwich ($15).

Diners can steam their seafood or choose dishes from the restaurant's raw bar.
Diners can steam their seafood or choose dishes from the restaurant’s raw bar. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

For raw sea bass, diners will have a choice of raw seafood selections like half a dozen or half a dozen oysters in the half shell ($14/$26), tuna poke ($13) and a sashimi of the day ($13). An adventure pick configuration for the steam bar allows diners to choose from a variety of pound and half pound seafood options (scallops, clams and mussels). After steaming for 90 seconds, you have a choice of several bases (saffron rice, bucatini noodles, sautéed vegetables) and sauces (garlic butter, Cajun butter, creamy white wine and lemon sauce).

Once fully open, the restaurant will operate as an all-outdoor venue, with the raw and steam selections displayed at two street-facing bars and sidewalk seating for approximately 80 people.

In a nod to nightlife near downtown St. Petersburg’s busiest block of bars, Gordon said he plans to offer a separate late-night menu and the raw bar options and steam until 2 am. There is also a full bar program (menu is still in development) and drinks will be served until 3am

Once open, the restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and late night menus until 2am.
Once open, the restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and late night menus until 2am. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

If you are going to

Cap’s is located at 226 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg.

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