Chef Jeff’s Dining Review: Z Grille In St. Petersburg

Chef Jeff Hearn Special correspondent, EatCheapDrinkRich.com
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(Photo credit: Barbara Ann Kelley)

(Photo credit: Barbara Ann Kelley)

Z Grille ‎
104 2nd Street South‬‬ / ‪St. Petersburg, FL 33701‬‬
‪(727) 822-9600‬‬
Website: ‪www.zgrille.net‬‎ 

About 100 yards away from the best pub-crawl section of Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete, Z Grille is a respite from chaos. Z Grille is a sanctuary for sophisticated fun. This charming small grille is named after the owner and chef Zach Gross.

The menu will satisfy foodies and the creamed corn will restore those who need a home cookin’ fix. I’m guessing that if I had been served Jalapeño Goat Cheese Creamed Corn at home when I was growing up, those same creative forces would have led me to the parlor Zach must own. His tattoos are impressive.

This weekend wander over to see Zach Gross and try his Dr. Pepper Ribs or some of the deviled eggs that appear on the menu year round, not just on a picnic focused holiday weekend.  I’m serious. The Cali eggs are filled with an avocado mixture and topped with a thin slice of jalapeno. You might find lemon dill, bar-b-que, or something topped with a dab of caviar or any other combination you can imagine.  There are 3-4 different eggs offered daily.  They are all good; trust me. The deviled eggs are a fun, reasonably priced appetizer and they are easy to share.

Another appetizer you can, but won’t want to share is the “W.T.F” French Fries dusted with Manchego Cheese and Black Truffle. In our family we refer to them as “crack fries” because they are so addictive.

Zach Gross was nominated for a James Beard Award a couple of years ago as one of the Best Chef’s in the Southeast. The evidence of a great chef is often found in the basics. Try the steak. In my opinion, Zach serves the best steak in St. Pete. The Central Avenue Ribeye is served with Pepper Jack Mashed Potatoes, grilled asparagus and chipotle butter atop your steak. Can’t you just smell the tender grilled beef and the subtle spiced butter?

Zach’s sense of humor finds it’s way into all parts of the menu. From the Red Solo Cup Cocktail (Rum and Pepsi) to the BBBLT sandwich (bacon, bacon, bacon, lettuce, tomato) at lunch, his light-hearted attitude doesn’t let you get too caught up in the fact that he IS a famous chef.

If you can arrive for an early dinner you will appreciate the ½ price bottles of wine before 6:30pm. Two glasses of a nice Malbec at $9 each or a whole bottle for $17. Go early if you are planning to order wine. My new favorite at Z Grill is the 2010 Ruta 22 Malbec.

Jeff Hearn has been perfecting his cooking skills for than 25 years and is the co-host, with wife Donna, of the syndicated reality cooking show,  “Eat Cheap Drink Rich.”  Take a look at all 26 episodes and join the conversation on www.eatcheapdrinkrich.com.

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