TAMPA — No time to see and be seen at Oxford Exchange?
Buzz down the block to O.E. Market for gourmet grab-and-go pastries, soups, salads, sandwiches and drinks.
Scones, cinnamon rolls, muffins and granola are freshly baked, with several gluten-free options. Sandwich choices include turkey with roasted cauliflower, chicken meatloaf with feta, and pork belly with creamed kale, $10 each.
Chilling in the cooler on a recent visit were gazpacho, $8; chicken chili, $10; pickled Granny Smith yuzu apples, $8; and assorted dips (truffle honey vinegar, any one?)
Bottled drinks include fresh, cold-pressed juice made of organic fruits and vegetables and TeBella and Buddy Brew products. The Holy Cow, $8, starts with cold-brewed Buddy Brew coffee and gets a swirl of Dakin Farm milk and agave. Coffee Nut, $7, is made with Oxford's own organic almond milk.
With the Nov. 5 opening, Oxford Exchange chef Erin Guggino gained much-needed kitchen space, she said, expanding prep and cooking capabilities for catering and private events at the trendy restaurant that's "averaging four or five weddings a month this fall."
O.E. Market is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 125 Hyde Park Ave. Call (813) 259-0125 or go to oe-market.com.
Fit Kitchen 'bowls' roll to Howard Avenue
Howard Avenue gets its fifth dining venture from the Ciccio Restaurant Group with the launch of Fit Kitchen in early 2014 in the former Chavez at Home, just north of Bayshore Boulevard.
"We're all really into the healthy lifestyle," said Steven Lanza, 27, referring to the partnership that operates Green Lemon, the Lodge, Ciccio's/Water and Daily Eats restaurants in Hyde Park, as well as Ciccio's California in St. Petersburg, and soon, Tampa Palms and Brandon.
Fit Kitchen will be known for made-to-order "bowl creations," Lanza said, with customers choosing a protein, a carb, a vegetable and a sauce.
"We'll have lots of options, four to six bases, grilled vegetables, all natural meats."
He expects to be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, with indoor and outdoor seating, plus pickup and delivery.
Joining the Fit Kitchen team is chef Erin Guggino, 38, who worked with the Ciccio folks creating Water sushi about 10 years ago.
"The menu and kitchen is being designed for speedy delivery of healthy food for busy professionals and families," said Guggino, executive chef at Oxford Exchange and mother of three children, ages 4, 6 and 8.
"Tampa is devoid of delivery in general, but healthy options are nonexistent," she said.
Fit Kitchen will settle in at 1350 S Howard Ave. The website is under construction.
Straz has a new perk: coffee shop and cafe
Theater buffs, library users and coffee lovers everywhere will welcome SteamHeat Cafe, now brewing in a former gift shop at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts. The Tuesday opening was timed to the opening night of the Book of Mormon. The first customers were lottery entrants hoping to win reduced-priced tickets.
A variety of Buddy Brew coffee beverages are offered daily in the coffee shop between the box office and the Jaeb Theater. Maestro's chef Benito D'Azzo oversees the menu of sandwiches, panini and desserts.
Musical theater fans will know that the cafe's name comes from a catchy tune in the Broadway hit The Pajama Game. "Steam Heat" introduced choreographer Bob Fosse's signature dance style and helped get Shirley MacLaine discovered.
SteamHeat Cafe at the Straz Center is open from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends at 1010 N Macinnes Place.
Visit strazcenter.org for information.
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