A modern Mediterranean restaurant featuring a four-course prix fixe dinner menu that celebrates the chef John Fraser's vegetable-forward philosophy using fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients.

Watching the Florida Michelin awards a few months ago, I saw a star awarded to Lilac. I had never even heard of this place. (Talk about a bruised ego!) I immediately messaged a friend to see if they were familiar. They weren't. We made reservations for the first Friday night we could.

Situated inside the swanky new Edition Hotel, Chef John Fraser (who runs the culinary program for the hotel and has a 1-star restaurant under his belt in NYC) delivers 3 restaurants - Lilac being the most formal. Not even one year old and Chef Fraser nabs 1 star for his new restaurant here in Tampa. It's an impressive feat - and one that shows a very determined focus borne from experience. Bravo.

Found in the lobby of the hotel (not off the lobby...IN the lobby) and barely hidden behind a bar and loads of live plants, Lilac feels like a Michelin joint. The large stars displayed at the pass as you walk to your table certainly set the tone. But the interior design is luscious and the serving staff looks dapper and smart in their white and taupe outfits. (I should mention that the entire Edition Hotel is gorgeous in design and fit-up. And every employee is not only friendly and helpful, but could be on a magazine cover.)

A 4-course prix-fixe is the only option, with multiple options to choose from as an appetizer, main and dessert. The options are varied, interesting and accessible. And let me tell you - delicious! I was glad to attend with a few friends who believe in sharing the way I do so we could try a myriad of dishes.

The initial bites were outstanding! With clear Greek inspiration, this welcome was elevated and diverse. The milk bread was incredible and the Grouper bite was a real standout. Appetizers continued the story. The rabbit was a bit of a disappointment - none of us enjoyed the sauce. But the tuna tartare and especially the octopus and pork belly were memorable! All three mains were excellent. The swordfish won the day. My lamb was delivered rare (though ordered and described as medium rare) but was an excellent cut that could handle it. Neither the lamb nor the duck had any (or much) jus along with it. As odd as it seemed, neither protein needed or missed it. Desserts were killer. The souffle is not to be missed.

While service did have a few hiccups (most notably serving us each the wrong appetizer), staff was friendly, helpful and engaged. I asked our server about the vision for the restaurant and he earnestly described the visions and goals of obtaining a star. The chef addressed the staff the next day. "Getting a star is about showing why. Once you have it, everyone looks for why not." Their eyes are set on obtaining a 2nd one - an odd choice for their vision of keeping the restaurant accessible in price point as well as on the plate. I said "You can't build 2 stars on $150/pp." He acknowledged that was true but that they might add a 7 course offering.

Will I rush back? No. But will I come back? Yes It should be very interesting to watch them grow.
 

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