Tantalizing Tapas and Magnificent Mains at Castile in Hotel Zamora

Tantalizing Tapas and Magnificent Mains at Castile in Hotel Zamora

The killer patio at Castile in St. Petersberg, Florida.

It was my little sister’s fortieth birthday, so we had to do it right. The plan was for her to be my plus one on an Olivia Cruise to the Caribbean. When it comes to cruises, I like to play it safe and fly into the cruise departure city a night early. I thought we’d do a night somewhere fun to kick off the big week, and I was so glad The Hotel Zamora was where I chose for our pre-cruise stay.

It’s a charming boutique property in St. Petersberg, Florida, just off the beach with lovely rooms, a killer patio, and an enthusiastic staff. It is also home to one heck of a restaurant, Castile.

My experience with tapas is this: it’s either good or bad – rarely have I experienced anything in between. Lucky for my sister and me, the tapas at Castile are not only good, they’re downright great.

We filled the table with tapas because the massive menu made it very challenging to decide. We opted for the yellow fin tuna poke with citrus trinity, sesame oil, tomatillo lychee salsa, and crispy lotus root; lobster fries with citrus remoulade and brulee oranges; el gigante albondiga with 8-ounce house ground lamb and beef, English peas, asparagus, and sherry mushroom cream; Maine lobster ajillo with Spanish smoked paprika, garlic, Chablis, sweet onions, Serrano peppers, and grilled focaccia; and candy cane beet tartare with shaved goat cheese, grape must, smoked pistachios, preserved lemon, and grilled sourdough baguette.

The lobster ajillo was far and away my favorite. The blend of flavors combined with the perfectly cooked lobster was absolutely swoon-worthy. The yellow fin tuna poke came in a very close second. The tuna was insanely fresh and the minimal accompaniments were just enough to bring out its best. [pullquote]

We shared one main because, as you can imagine, that was way more starters than any two girls could possibly need. We opted for the black grouper cheeks with jamon Serrano crisp, avocado kaffir crema, heirloom tomato caponata, and mojito vinaigrette. They were tender and delicious and the accompaniments made for the ideal variety of tastes and textures.

The cocktail menu was as impressive and inviting as the tapas menu and included clever concoctions like the Acai Caipirinha with Leblon cachaça, Cedilla acai liquor, fresh lime, simple syrup, and mixed fresh berries; the Antioxidant with Veev acai liqueur, fresh lemon juice, agave nectar, and fresh blueberries; the Brazilian with Veev acai spirit, Funkin fruit puree, and Pom pomegranate juice; and Café y Chocolate with Patron XO café liqueur, Patron XO café dark cocoa, Monin cinnamon syrup, and almond milk.

The Acai Caipirinha with Leblon Cachaca was my favorite – I’m a sucker for acai and cachaça, so the combo was a no-brainer for me. Since the cocktail menu was so grand and we were so very full from dinner, we opted for a liquid dessert, partaking in the Café and Chocolate. It hit all the right spots, satisfying my sweet tooth and assuring me sweet dreams as well, which I most certainly had. I was particularly glad to be able to indulge in said dreams just a few steps away from Castile in our lovely digs at the hotel. You couldn’t ask for a better pairing.

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