Two new restaurants that explore the seasonal flavors and local ingredients of the Tampa Bay region have made their entrance onto the Water Street scene in Tampa. The restaurants Driftlight and Six live in the new JW Marriott Water Street hotel, a gleaming high-rise that’s helping to transform and connect Tampa’s waterfront to its downtown business district. The opening of the 26-story JW Marriott on Dec. 21st was a major milestone for the 50-acre mixed-use waterfront neighborhood.
Driftlight, on the ground floor, offers an upscale spin on traditional southern food. Think of deviled eggs, with a delicious addition of pimento cheese and a chutney made from green tomatoes. Or hush puppies — but with a nod to a savory ham croqueta.
On the hotel’s sixth floor, Six serves up steak and seafood with a concept that’s “French bistro meets Miami,” says Chris Adkins, the property’s director of sales and marketing, while also showing off a gorgeous bayfront view. The home-grown taste of Florida citrus runs through many of the dishes, like a Key Lime mousse and strawberry with a peanut cookie base that’s kind of an elevated take on a PB&J; or a blood orange and roasted beets salad with a grapefruit vinaigrette. Adkins says the new hotel’s restaurants are aiming to become the focal point of the neighborhood, with a goal of attracting Tampa Bay locals, not just hotel guests or visitors to the Amalie Arena. As Adkins puts it, they want customers “on a Tuesday night”, for instance, when there’s nothing particular going on downtown.
The restaurants are led by Executive Chef Joseph Pankrath and Director of Restaurants Ryan Burns.