Monday, March 18, 2013

Pearl In The Grove Restaurant, Dade City, Fla: Local Flavor

Dade City, Fla.--Local farm sourced food meets gourmet at Pearl In The Grove Restaurant. Under the ownership of Chef Curtis Beebe and his wife Rebecca, this farm-to-table restaurant really embraces local, trying to source ingredients within 50-miles, whenever they can.
Executive Chef/owner Curtis Beebe and Sous Chef
Patrice Murphy at Pearl In The Grove Restaurant,
Dade City, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey

I got introduced to Beebe by Trish Strawn of Growing Synergy LLc. food & beverage distributing.  In December 2012, I visited during a photo shoot, and ate some of their dishes for free.

For years, Beebe travelled the world for his IT job, and ate many different types of food. In 2010, he wanted a change in his life and decided to open Pearl In The Grove. He felt he had an advantage over other chefs because he had eaten at so many restaurants.

I asked him why he became a farm-to-table style chef.


He said, “For a guy without any credentials it’s easier to buy local ingredients, do as little as possible to them, and serve.”

Farmers came to the restaurant when they first opened, so the staff did not have to go searching for local ingredients.  And farmers continue to come bringing fresh, seasonal produce on a daily basis.

In August 2012, Sous Chef Patrice Murphy, formerly of the Refinery Restaurant in Tampa, came to work for Pearl In The Grove.  Murphy has worked over 27 years in the food industry and at many farm-to-table restaurants.
Outside view of Pearl In The Grove restaurant,
Dade City, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
I asked Beebe how customers found his restaurant. It's approximately 45 minutes northeast of Tampa, surrounded by Kumquat groves and farm land.

"The people that find us are coming here for us. There are not a lot of accidental customers." he said before dashing off to greet some new arrivals.

Head server Irene said, "This area has a lot of adventurous diners," adding that the restaurant staff give good service by listening to the diners and going beyond what they expect.
Grass-fed beef steak tips, fresh pasta, and seasonal
greens dish at Pearl In The Grove restaurant,
Dade City, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
The dishes I tried were not too adventurous for me like tender grass-fed steak tips with homemade fresh pasta piled high with local tomatoes. And served with fresh seasonal greens.
Winter Fruit Soup dessert at Pearl In The Grove restaurant,
Dade City, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
I also tasted a delicious cold Winter Fruit Soup for dessert made with local citrus, starfruit, and pomegranate bathed in a broth of lemongrass, ginger, and rum. It was topped with home churned toasted coconut sherbet (made with Dakin Dairy cream from Myakka City, Fla.) and a meringue straw (made with local eggs).

I asked Murphy what were some of the bigger challenges of serving farm-to-table style food.

She said, "Getting people to understand to eat local and see the big picture of why we do what we do." Then she added, with a smile, "Local is a core concept of our restaurant. We're using really good stuff. We try to do each step right and honestly."

Pearl in the Grove is located at 31936 St. Joe Road, Dade City, FL 
phone 352-588-0008   website www.pearlinthegrove.com 
They are open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday, and Brunch Sat and Sunday.


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