It was my turn to pick the restaurant and the 4th Street Shrimp Store was a last minute spontaneous choice for me. You’d think with the hundreds of restaurants in the Tampa Bay area I shouldn’t have a problem choosing one for my Great Escape. But I was having diner’s block I think. A couple of weeks ago the universe had me stopped at a light right in front of this charming bungalow on 4th Street in St. Petersburg and so I decided to give it a try. Sometimes you have to be daring and take a chance, right?
The atmosphere is Kitchy Key West fun with seaside memorabilia scattered all around. I laughed out loud at a seafaring bloke peering into the painted on window – so realistic it gave me a start (it was either Trompe L’Oeil or maybe I’d had too much to drink ;) We eight were a little crammed into a table more suited for six but we settled in and ordered a round of drinks.
Some tips for dining out in groups – if possible, stop by the restaurant before you book it and see where you’ll be seated. When you make your reservation for eight people, ideally you want a round table so conversation flows evenly. Do specify that you don’t want a high top table (unless you do). Most restaurants will try to accommodate you especially if you mention that you’re a dining out group. We have some in our group with bad backs or knees and being cramped at a table can put a damper on the whole experience. (Alas we boomers are holding on by a thread but putting up a brave front). For those times when we are seated at a long table we ladies have contrived a seating plan that allows us to put our heads together and chat in the middle while our husbands each take a corner. Our chatty communication requires close proximity - our hubbies indulge us.
The gal who seated us recommended the Clam Chowder – and she was right – it was delicious. Just the right amount of creamy and lots of clams and potatoes. I had shrimp over a salad of field greens and wasn’t wowed with the shrimp which were steamed then chilled and had lost some of their taste. Hubby had a shrimp hoagie and complained the shrimp was frozen and tasteless. Some of the others fared better with blackened scallops or shrimp – perhaps the seasoning helped revive the taste. I must say the service was impeccable. Very friendly and attentive. I could be persuaded to give it another try and order something different, maybe the crab cakes. But hey, there are so many restaurants to choose from that it’s not likely we’ll be back any time soon.