Wine Dine and Play: The Lemon Grass

The Lemon Grass

An Asian Fusion with Tapas
St. Petersburg, Florida
Cuisine Style: Thai and Japanese Fusion
Dined in May 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)


Thai cuisine places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge and is known for at least three and up to four or five fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Thai cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. In 2011, seven of Thailand's popular dishes appeared on the list of the "World's 50 Most Delicious Foods.” In the United states the trend has taken off and Thai restaurants are popping up faster than the Vietnamese ones are. Then you have Thai fusion blends that are also incorporating European style plating techniques in the form of tapas like The Lemon Grass Restaurant on Central Avenue.


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Main review:
Thai cuisine has many regional, national, and international influences as well as historical. You have the influence of Chinese cuisine to the North, the complex and eclectic blends of curry from India and Malaya, then the sweeter profiles from Cambodia. Though lemongrass is native to India it is one of the essential ingredients in typical Thai foods no matter what part of the country you visit, and The Lemon Grass restaurant capitalized on that perfectly. 

One of the most popular dishes in America is Pad Thai however, there are many differences between traditional Thai food that you get in Thailand, and what is served in American Thai restaurants. The chefs like anywhere have learned to adapt to the population groups around them, Which has bastardized the real cuisine. This has happened not just in that food, but many other cuisines from around the world. Examples of Thai bastardization in America include portion size which is huge in the USA, lots of meats whereas the Thai use little with more vegetables, and spring rolls. Fried foods are very popular in the USA, but good luck finding them in Thailand Mark Wiens writes in ‘9 Major Differences between Thailand Thai Food and American Thai Food.’ Americans tend to not like certain spices, whereas the aromatic profiles in Thailand are potently strong. The flavor level of the foods in America are reduced, the sour level is non-exinsistant, and the wrong rice is being used. Over here sticky rice is mainly used, whereas it is steamed in Thailand.

Central Avenue and Beach Drive in St Petersburg are the two streets with a booming amount of restaurants, bars, and other shops, as most of the foot traffic is in those areas. The Lemon Grass is between 3rd and 4th streets where there are a host of other eateries, and lots of hustle and bustle. My wife and I had lunch on the patio, it was a beautiful sunny spring day. She had been here several times and had recommended the place to me. The alcohol list was very basic, not a lot of wines, scotch, or other liquors, and the beer list was your basic. This actual drop the rating for star levels by at least one unfortunately. I started with a Thai Singha beer; 5% ABV pale lager produced by Boon Rawd Brewery in Bangkok, and its international breweries in Europe and the US. 

Singha Beer


Menu:
    • Starters
    • Sushi and Sashimi
    • Favorites
    • Desserts
    • Lunch Specials

After placing our order we were given a spring roll with dipping sauces, which as mentioned earlier, you will rarely if ever see in Thailand as the fried rolls are more of an American addition to Asian restaurants. The dish also came with a fried dumpling Rangoon, and though not traditional, they were both really good. 

Spring rolls with sauces
My wife and I decided to each start with a soup, then switch gears as we were in the mood for sushi and have a roll to split as our entree. She had a cup of the Tom Kha shrimp and coconut milk soup, cooked with chili paste, lemon juice, galangal root, lemongrass, fresh mushroom, scallion and cilantro. The chili had a small bite, but the flavor I was expecting was not there, especially from the profiles in traditional Thai cuisine mentioned above. I ran into the same situation at Armani / Amal in Dubai where the cuisine though fantastic was reduced in heat because I was a westerner, and it was assumed that all western people are the same and that we did not like it.

Tom Kha
The same was the case for my Chicken Green Curry dish with brown rice. Again where was the steamed white rice, and Thai green curry is supposed to be spicy hot, yet this dish though wonderful with flavor and aromatics, lacked the spice and kick one would expect from Thai food. I do not regret ordering it, and I would have it again, but I would ask them to make it as if they were going to eat it, not a customer.

Green curry chicken
Finally came the sushi. I had been to Thai restaurants before, but never one that was a fusion between Thai and Japanese, and I really enjoyed the change up and complete profile change in cuisine at the same meal. We had two rolls in the pick two special platter with the toasted bagel of salmon, cream cheese, and scallions with crispy fried outer shell and then drizzled with sweet Thai chili sauce. This roll was divine, and I’m sure that part of it was because it was fried, and the second is that my wife and I love sushi. The second roll was the spicy tuna which had jalapeno, scallions, and tempura crunchy top, and I honestly thought their was just as much kick in this role as the green curry soup. 

Sushi - pick 2 platter

They have over fifty separate sushi rolls, plus a sashimi menu, favorite selections, and desserts. So we will return. The quality rating along with beverage was low because of the lack of true Thai flavor and spice, but we will adjust and ask them to add. I see us returning here many more times, and writing more reviews about what we had.


Dessert:
Though we were full, the dessert selection showed interest with their Thai donut, banana rama hot banana split, and green tea cream called the green day. They also had a traditional Mexican restaurant favorite of fried vanilla ice cream, even though that dessert was invented in Chicago. 



Other Noteworthy Japanese, Sushi, and Thai Articles:
Qui Restaurant Eclectic global plates and sushi in Austin, Texas (name changed to Kuneho)
Rock 'N' Raw Asian restaurant with sushi at the Hard Rock Casino, Tampa, Florida
5A5 Steak Lounge Modern Japanese steakhouse with chic design in San Francisco, California
Ambrosia Japanese restaurant & saké bar with sushi in Key West, Florida
6th Street Pier Steak and Seafood Grill Eclectic eatery with sushi & raw bar in Griffin, Georgia
Basil Asian Bistro Pan-Asian favorites from China to Vietnam with sushi specials in Canton, Ohio
Junsui An eclectic taste of Asia with buffets at the Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai, UAE
Osaka Sushi & Thai Restaurant Thai and Japanese fare including sushi in Seminole, Florida
Dunes Beach Restaurant & Bar Eclectic Cape Malay cuisine w/sushi in Hout Bay, South Africa




Other Pictures:






Final notes, review basics, and observations:

What is a restaurant review? How does the rating system work? Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsibly, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience. I put you at the table with me, and to be objective. My goal is to be impeccable with my word, being honest in the review, never making assumptions, and to always write to the best of my knowledge. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors with 70 questions broken down by individual experience. They include: wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, plus a bonus section called wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:


Over all from this experience, and using my rating system linked above, I give The Lemon Grass a 0.5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they are a very basic dining experience, and could have rated higher if the beverage and food quality scores were higher. Unfortunately the lack of diverse beverages, and the lack of Thai and Japanese selections is a major factor to the lower score. This is an easy fix for them if they choose. The six factors used to get this rating are scored in the chart below

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Ambiance
8
8
0
Food quality
9
4.5
4.5
Plate presentation
8.5
8
0.5
Customer service
7.5
6
1.5
Alcohol and other beverages
9
1
8
Total regular points awarded
42
27.5
14.5
Total percentage Before Bonus

0.654761904761905

“Wow” factor BONUS
5
0
0
Total bonus percentage

0

Total percentage with bonus for final star rating

0.654761904761905

Stars Awarded (see chart below)
0 - 5
0.5







5 stars
 An Extraordinary Experience
Worthy of a Michelin rating
   94 - 100%
(105% with full bonuses added)
4 Stars
An Outstanding Experience 
(Top of its class)
87 - 93%
3 Stars
Exceeded All My Expectations
80 - 86%
2 Stars
Far Above the Average Experience
72 - 79%
1 Star
An Average Dining Experience
66 - 71%
0.5 Star
The Restaurant is a very Basic Experience
65 - 61%
0 Stars
ALERT: Poor, or Appalling Experience
(Do not waste your money or time)
60% or below



Overall Star Rating:
0.5 of 5 Stars: 
65% Rating with a 0 point “wow” bonus
A very Basic Dining Experience
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge $25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual
Cuisine style:
Café, Seafood, Tapas, Asian-fusion, Japanese, Thai, Pescatarian,  and Vegetarian
Reservations:
Not Required
Walk-Ins:
Accepted
Dress code:
Casual attire
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a child’s menu or cater to them; however for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended for children not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. If not then
Hire a Babysitter! 
Experiences:
Great outdoor dining, Good for special occasions, Rustic, and a Neighborhood gem.
Payments:
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Street Parking
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Low
Smoking:
Nonsmoking restaurant, and nonsmoking patio
Patio:
Yes








A few St. Petersburg reviews on Wine, Dine, and Play:

Organic Farmers Market in Pioneer Park
Rustic New American Fare
 A top 100 on Wine, Dine, and Play
New American, Southern Twist
Innovative Finer Seafood & Raw Bar 
At the Sundial 
Traditional and classic Italian plates
Colonial Portuguese Fusion with tapas



Other Florida favorites:

Clearwater
Italian-inspired seafood at the Opal Sands Resort
New Smyrna Beach
Old-world classic Italian & Mediterranean
Gulfport
Old School Rustic Tuscan
Tampa
Native American Cuisine w/Barbacoa Grilling
Ruskin
German Bites in Bavarian-style Tavern
Sanibel Island
Waterfront upscale new American cuisine
Orlando
Upscale Pan Asian Fare w/sushi
St. Pete Beach
Rooftop Artisan Fusion Bistro
Key West
Landmark bar since 1851, where Jimmy Buffet got his start
Brandon
Casual curries of North & South with Buffet
Sarasota
Authentic & Traditional  Peruvian Cuisine
St. Augustine
Locally Sourced Café for Southern Grub




Food Prices 
(excluding, alcohol, taxes & gratuity)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 


**Currencies chosen reflect the world’s major travelers and restaurant or wine connoisseur’s**

My food bill:
Currency:
Price chart:
$25.00
United States Dollar (USD)
$
33.00
Australian Dollar (AUS)
$
£19.00
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
£
$34.00
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$
¥170.00
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥
€22.00
European Union (EUR)
Currency rates as of June 2017

 Alcohol Prices:

$18.00


Lemon Grass Tapas:
310 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, Florida 
33701



Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 727-894-1111
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
Mon-Thur:
11:00 am - 9:30 pm
Friday:
11:00 am - 10:30 pm
Saturday:
12:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Sunday:
12:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Email Contact:
Social Media 
Accolades:
Facebook link                








****
The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list on who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine, Dine, and Play best of list is based on my rating numbers of 4 or 5 stars. Less than 15% hold these prestigious rankings, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, and fine dining spots including Michelins, a sampling of some are below. They include fine dining, mom and pops + holes in the wall. To visit my full list of the best, follow this link:


A few to tease you with…
Haute French Cuisine
Paris, France
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Haute Gastronomique French restaurant & bistro
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High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Acclaimed high-concept inspired Farm to Table tavern
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Impeccably prepared French fine dining 
Dublin, Ireland
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
French-American Fine Dining
Yountville, Napa, California, USA





So many great wines in this world, here are a few boutiques, cult wines, and favorites:


20+ Blue Ridge Handcrafted Wines
Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Big, Bold, Cult Cabernets 
Oakville, California, USA
A Cru Bourgeois Supérieur
Cussac-Fort-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Agincourt, Waterloo, Salamanca
Yarra Valley, Australia
World Class Oregon Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon
Not Kehlsteinhaus, Exceptional Shiraz
Constantia, South Africa









Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Glorified Cook (Exec Chef)
Father, Husband, Wine Drinker,
Restaurant nut, History, and 
Star Trek lover


I am based in Florida, and have worked in the food service industry for over twenty years, from restaurants to contracting in Afghanistan, Iraq, & Antarctica. The idea for Wine, Dine, and Play started in 2012. Since then over 350 articles have been written, including some San Pellegrino, Michelin, and Elite Travelers Guide top restaurants. Other articles include food recipes, a Grand Food Dictionary, ethnic country cuisines such as Afghan and Peruvian, tasting tours, exotic locations, and wine from vineyards in the old and new world alike.

Who is John Galt?





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“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)






TTFN








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