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Jeff Houck

The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.

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A Small Taste Of The Floridan Palace Hotel [Sipping Between The Sheets]

Posted Aug 1, 2012 by Jeff Houck

Updated Aug 1, 2012 at 01:48 PM

Floridan Palace Hotel

I was excited to read Rob Shaw‘s story the other day about the opening of the Floridan Palace Hotel after 23 years of being dormant.

One of the details about restoring the 75-year-old building that caught my eye: The refurbishment of the Crystal Dining Room, the Sapphire Room bar and the reintroduction of a signature cocktail.

So I dropped in on Tuesday for lunch.

First of all, this is a stunning space.

Floridan Palace lobby

The lobby, with it’s grand chandelier, marble floors and ornate ceiling makes you feel like you’re walking back in time. I know that sounds dramatic. I don’t care. It’s that cool.

Floridan palace lobby flourishes

You get a sense of the detail work in the corner transitions between the ceiling and many of the columns in the lobby.

That’s hand-painted, folks. Every last one of them.

Floridan Palace dining room

The Crystal Dining Room is equally as ornate, with a soaring cathedral ceiling, chandeliers and beautiful dining room furniture.

Floridan Palace dining room wall

There were moments when I felt like maybe I needed a tux to eat lunch. Even in a tie, I felt under-dressed for the surroundings.

So I went out to the lobby bar to check out the adult beverages.

Floridan Palace lobby bar 2

Again, another beautiful setting. Fine wood detailing on the back of the bar. marble tabletops and countertops. Bar stools so heavy that they qualify as an alcohol throne.

I dug it instantly. So I sat down and ordered lunch.

What to order?

Floridan Palace Crystal Dining Room menu

I have a rule: If I’m eating at the X Hotel and X Hotel has an item on the menu named for the X Hotel, I order the X Hotel’s namesake food.

So I got the Floridan Salad.

Floridan Salad


As $9 chef salads go, this was pretty tasty. Mighty fresh. Very crisp. And the feta planks, well ... I’m just a sucker for those.

During lunch, I asked Bar Manager Margie Dmetroshko about the signature cocktail, the “Between the Sheets.”

Apparently, this was a cocktail served at the hotel in its heyday, especially in the downstairs Sapphire Room.

Floridan Palace Bar Manager Margie Dmetroshko

Margie wasn’t exactly fond of the brandy and rum drink, saying the flavors needed a little work. So she went to town.

Floridan Palace Bar Manager Margie Dmetroshko shakes a cocktail

The first version came out too tart, so she swapped in a splash of orange juice. Then she switched the garnish from a lemon wedge to an orange slice.

What once was bitter was now sweet. And highly drinkable.

Between the Sheets with orange

And it had a bit of a kick to it. Only two sips in, the Between the Sheets had me one sheet to the wind. With the rest of my workday ahead, I declined to finish. But I shall return when I can fully dedicate my liver

Margie Dmetroshko pouring a Between the Sheets 2 Want to make your own? Here’s the recipe:


3/4 ounce brandy

3/4 ounce rum

1/2 ounce Triple sec

1/2 ounce lemon juice

1/4 ounce orange juice

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