Fans of Moon Under Water rejoice: your favorite curry is back, with much, much more alongside it. Check out The Studio Public House’s menu here, and read on for more information.
Housed in a former recording studio, a new venture by longtime Moon Under Water Executive Chef Michael Crippin is bringing the pub life to St. Pete’s burgeoning Grand Central District. The Studio Public House is an homage to the building’s history and to the British public houses – or “pubs” – that inspired its warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Crippin describes the menu as simple, unfussy food that’s easy to enjoy and is meant to hit the spot when an empty stomach walks in. “Simple,” however, should not be confused for anything other than flavorful and interesting. From a crunchy BBQ chicken sandwich and Chef Mike’s famous dragonfire vindaloo to a Mediterranean salad and the blackberry and jalapeno cheese dip, the offerings pique the interest of any palate.
A carryover from the building’s time as Pom-Pom’s Café, there is an extensive list of sandwiches available, including a build-your-own option. Alongside the pressed sandwiches, Crippin’s curries take the main stage, plus a variety of dips, a long list of salads, an offering of tacos and flatbreads, and a decadent dessert menu starring Chef Mike’s Chocolate Guinness Cake.
Studio Public House has something for everyone
While the food is what gets people in the door, owners Michael and Alison Crippin expect the friendly, laid-back vibes to be what keeps regulars around. It isn’t Cheers, but if you come more than once, they want to know your name. And for their staff, they’ve streamlined the side work – taking much of it on themselves – so that servers can spend less time cleaning and more time at tables and at the bar talking to customers.
Sitting in the dining room that used to serve as a sound booth, surrounded by records affixed to the walls, Michael and Allison described The Studio as a hangout that “can be lots of things to different people,” but is ultimately a comfortable place to have a pint and something to eat on your own or with a group.
“It’s a neighborhood bar,” Michael says. “An easy place to get what you want.”
Fittingly, the neighborhood itself has already warmly welcomed The Studio to the growing group of popular businesses in the area. Michael credits the Grand Central District Association for supporting the new business from day one, and already he has begun selling sandwiches just down the road at Grand Central Brewhouse. Even their across-the-street neighbors have joined the fun as customers at The Studio are welcome to bring over a bottle of wine purchased at Hawthorne Bottle Shoppe (with only one small corkage fee no matter how many bottles).
Visas, Covid and a whole lot of waiting
Getting to this point, however, wasn’t easy for the new owners. The adventure began in the fall of 2019 as the couple celebrated 20 years at the former Beach Drive staple Moon Under Water. Initially, Michael and Allison had planned to stay on with the new owners when the property was sold, but then came a hitch: their visa allowing the British couple to live and work in America wouldn’t transfer to the new owners and business. And not only was there nothing they could do about it, they now had only 90 days before their current visa through the previous owners would expire and they would have to leave the country.
If that was the hard place on one side, then the rock came when Covid hit, leaving the Crippins pretty well stuck almost as soon as they had decided to open their own place. But they had a plan, and thanks to a visa extension and a whole lot of down time during the lockdown, they were able to plan out their new restaurant, secure a building, and take the first steps toward bringing The Studio Public House to life.
A menu loaded with music puns
While they were stuck at home, the couple put up a whiteboard in their dining room and started sketching out dozens upon dozens of menu items that they would then try out at home and give to friends for taste testing. Many of those creations are on the expansive menu today, including the Guinness Chocolate Cake.
And as a nod to the building’s history, many menu items have been given musically-inspired names. For instance, followers of the Free Britney movement will be happy to try Britney’s Bacon Burrata, a pressed sandwich with house-cured English-style bacon, burrata, tomatoes and spring mix on multigrain bread. Or try Elton’s Big Sausage Melt featuring cheddar and Irish bangers in between pressed sourdough.
Pun lovers in the crowd will appreciate the Bryan Adam’s Apple, one of seven options on the vegan and vegetarian portion of the menu.
There’s even a record player in the dining room where customers are welcome to play any of the vinyls on hand in the restaurant, or bring and play their own if they like.
Chef Mike flexing culinary muscles with grand plans
As for the food and drink itself, The Studio has anywhere from three to six food specials on a daily basis, plus rotating pastries. The draft and canned beer list features a wide variety of local breweries, with a particular emphasis on Grand Central neighbors. Specialty teas are available all day, and the wine list includes plenty of options, as well as several wine-based liquors.
But they’re not stopping there. Already they are hosting live music and art galleries (all wall art in the building is hung and sold commission-free by local artists), with plans to begin more big events soon. They’re even working on a breakfast menu.
Suffice to say, The Studio is planning to be the true neighborhood pub with something for everybody. Come one, come all, and most importantly, come hungry.
More information and a full menu can be found here.