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How Lilac at The Tampa Edition became a MICHELIN-starred restaurant

rendering of a restaurant with greenery all around
Inside Lilac at The Tampa Edition

Lilac, and the entire EDITION development in the heart of the multi-billion dollar Water Street Tampa area, emerged as one of the most anticipated new restaurants in the state of Florida. Chef John Fraser arrived in the city well backed by a history of culinary excellence. The EDITION brand itself also has a staggering 5-star pedigree across the globe. Lilac officially debuted less than a year ago, but in just a short amount of time it managed to make a huge impression on not only local diners and tourist, by MICHELIN Guide editors themselves. This is restaurant of was one of three in Tampa to earn a MICHELIN star.

“It’s very rare to get this distinction in the first year of operation,” said Chef John Fraser in an interview with That’s So Tampa. “We’re excited for the restaurant, but we’re also excited for what this means for the city of Tampa.” It’s also important to note that Lilac not only received a MICHELIN star, but it was also given specific distinction for its service.

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Chef/restaurateur John Fraser at Lilac

Lilac stands as a top fine dining establishment in Tampa

“Our goal has always been to be the best fine dining establishment in Tampa,” added Fraser. “

“There’s an explosion happening here in Tampa,” noted Amy Racine, Beverage Director at Lilac. “We’re great because of our team, and our shared aspirations for excellence.”

That team includes the irreplaceable General Manager Matthew Braden, the Chef de Cuisine Joshua Werksman, and the Executive Pastry Chef Caroline Ballum.

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“Our pastry program is one of the best in my restaurant group,” said Fraser. “Her croissants are oversized and generous, and the pastries themselves engage with the diners on a child level.” He notes that Ballum’s pastries sweetness levels are muted, but you can “taste the delicate construction in the dessert.”

Beverage Director Amy Racine behind the bar at Lilac

Champagne carts and caviar service in Water Street

First time visitors will assuredly be enchanted by Lilac’s Champagne Cart. The table side service is one of the standout elements of an evening here. “Our Champagne Cart features four different types of sparkling wine,” said Racine, “and four different flutes that are paired to each bottle.”

You can enjoy these on their own, or enjoy a “champagne cocktail prepared table side,” added Racine. “It’s a great tie to the exceptional culinary aspect of Lilac.” The Beverage Director noted that their Espresso Martini is one of the most popular cocktails available at Lilac, but their Yellow Bell Pepper Cocktail with a sparkling wine from the south of France is the true show stealer.

If you’re craving a truly luxurious experience then you need to go with the cocktail that features actual gold flakes.

“The cocktail is served in a John Jenkins crystal glass and is made with vintage Don Perignon, gold flakes, reserve cognac, and reserve grand marnier, and Cuvee Alexander.” This luxurious beverage experience is enhanced by Lilac’s full caviar service.

The caviar comes as a parfait of sun dried tomato cream, spinach and scallions, and Osetra caviar, served with warm duck fat tater tots. Scoop from the bottom for one of the most fantastic, robust flavor profiles available in the city.

The caviar service at Lilac

How Lilac wowed MICHELIN’s editors

You can view Lilac’s full menu, and make reservations on its website. Lilac is located inside the Tampa EDITION at 500 Channelside Drive.

Here’s what the Editors at MICHELIN Guide had to say in their review of the restaurant:

“Situated in the sleek and oh-so-stylish Edition hotel, this concept from John Fraser is a popular spot with in-demand reservations. The small space has a sexy vibe, albeit not a stitch of lilac in sight. Peruse the contemporary four-course prix-fixe with Mediterranean influences, Florida-focused ingredients and French techniques. A meal might include luxe bites like a Diver scallop infused with rosemary smoke and dramatically served under a cloche to well-execute and flavorful lobster feuillantine. Main dishes include Ora King salmon with a Florida stone crab salad or Colorado lamb chop with tender leeks and house-made lamb sausage. Cocktails and wine are on offer, but Lilac has upped the ante when it comes to tableside service with a champagne cocktail cart. (Yes, please!)”

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