With so many restaurants in Downtown St. Pete, it can be difficult for restauranteurs to separate themselves from the pack. However, Russell Andrade is bringing a cuisine to Downtown St. Pete that is currently absent from the region. In a few weeks, the Iberian Rooster, a 124-seat colonial Portuguese fusion restaurant, will debut at 475 Central Avenue inside the historic Kress building (formerly occupied by Moscato’s Bella Cucina).
Executive Chef Edward Lowery explains, “We are taking flavors and dishes from different colonies of Portugal, such as Mozambique, Macau, Goa, and Brazil, and infusing them all together. Having access to all of those flavors is insane — a chef’s dream really.”
Chef Lowery grew up in Rochester, New York before moving to the Tampa Bay region in the mid-80’s to attend USF. In between playing music professionally, he began cooking. Over the years, Lowery has been fortunate enough to work under some of the area’s top chefs including Greg Baker of The Refinery and Jim Rice of A La Carte Pavilion. Most recently, he was the Executive Chef at Skipper’s Smokehouse.
At Iberian Rooster, Chef Lowery will be taking owner Russell Andrade’s family recipes and putting a modern spin on them. With such a variety, there is sure to be something for everyone. “We have so many countries and so many palates to choose from, we don't have to get stuck in one type of cuisine. If you go to a Brazilian restaurant, all you are getting is Brazilian food. We’ve got four other places to play with.”
For those that have never experienced Portuguese cuisine, it is very similar to Spanish fare. “A lot of the proteins tend to lean more towards vinegar-based marinades. There are also a lot of fresh herb sauces,” says Lowery. Additionally, every one of the colonies that will be represented at the Rooster is on the water, so there will be a lot of seafood as well.
From Brazil, there will be Brazilian hot dogs. They look like regular hot dogs, but are topped with shoestring potato chips, corn, and black beans. From Goa, the Rooster will offer Goan beef patties, which contain spiced beef inside of a puff pastry (similar to an empanada) or the recheado masala, which is a spicy, tangy red pepper paste typically used when cooking fish. Chef Lowery plans on using locally sourced ingredients and rotating out menu items on a monthly basis. Once the restaurant has found its rhythm, the Iberian Rooster will also offer catering services.
In addition to savory fare, Chef Tyler Rose has been hired as Iberian Rooster’s Executive Pastry Chef. She will be doing all of the bread, cakes, and desserts. A display case will sit at the front of the restaurant filled with all of Chef Rose’s creations.
Andrade has also decided to make the entire restaurant nut-free. “My son is deathly allergic to nuts. I want him to be able to come here, order anything on the menu or eat any of the desserts without a problem.”
The food is only a portion of the Iberian Rooster concept. Make your way downstairs to enter Subcentral, a dimly-lit basement speakeasy-esque lounge that boasts an impressive (and potentially extreme) menu of bespoke cocktails created by bar manager Michael Anthony and general manager Derrick Harmel. “We are going to bring back cocktails that were once very popular like Harvey Wallbangers, mudslides, and Alabama slammers,” says Anthony.
Subcentral will also serve tea-based cocktails, coffee cocktails, frozen concoctions, and a selection of inexpensive wines. However, perhaps most interesting is their plan for ‘extreme’ drinks. For example, if you order the Living In A Van Down By The River, you’ll receive a drink composed of 151 rum (which is 75.5% alcohol by volume), gin, green chartreuse, Jolt Cola energy drink, coffee syrup, 3 shots of espresso and “a cookie sent down by Chris Farley from heaven,” says Anthony. “Its like skydiving without a parachute. You have to sign a waiver if you order it.”
Despite being tucked away beneath the restaurant, Subcentral has big plans for entertainment and events. “We will have the first chapter of Opera on Tap in Florida. You get a bunch of opera singers by a piano in a bar and they’ll just sing all night,” says Andrade, who is a professional opera singer with St. Pete Opera. There are also plans for live jazz nights, burlesque shows, silent movies with piano accompaniment, and video game competitions.
Iberian Rooster will have their soft opening on November 15th and 16th from 11am to 11pm. As a thank you to public servants, all food will be 60% off during these two days for police officers, fire fighters, city workers, hospital employees, veterans and school teachers. Alcohol not included.
The grand opening will take place on November 18th. Restaurant hours will be 11am to 11pm Monday through Wednesday, 11am to 3am Thursday through Saturday, and 10am to 9pm on Sunday. The downstairs bar will be open until 3am every night. And in true speakeasy fashion, when the restaurant is closed, you’ll have to enter the speakeasy through a side door on Central Ave (currently labeled “Crossfit 727”).
The entire branding, web and interior design for Iberian Rooster was produced by the creative geniuses at Clear pH Design, a local St. Pete boutique design firm. Stay up to date on Iberian Rooster news by following them on Facebook and Instagram.