Friday, December 15, 2017
Restaurant News

Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

REOPENING: BYBLOS

You know that hour before people show up for a dinner party where you think, "Holy smokes, I’ll never be ready in time. What was I thinking?"

Nearly every restaurant opening, or reopening, is like that. I scooted by Byblos, a long-standing South Tampa go-to for Lebanese/Mediterranean fare, in advance of its friends-and-family reopening Thursday. Whoa, still a lot to finish. But it’s going to be gorgeous.

Owners, and brothers, Roger and Ziad Estephan, right, have been in the contractor business, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this massive overhaul is ambitious. Opened in 2001, Byblos made a name for itself for kebabs, hummus, falafel and weekly belly dancing. This new design broadens the culinary scope with a more modern look including high-back leather banquettes, floor-to-ceiling windows and an open-air seating area accented by a water fountain bordering the patio and a built-in fireplace.

With the new launch, the Estephans want to remove that veto option if someone says, "Hmm, I don’t know if I like Lebanese food." Spreading more broadly through the sunny climes of the Mediterranean, executive chef David Puatu, formerly chef de cuisine at Council Oak in the Seminole Hard Rock, has developed a new selection of meze as well as whole fish dishes and fun fusion dishes like kefta sliders, many facilitated by the restaurant’s new wood-fired grill.

General manager Manny Quinones, formerly of the Seminole Hard Rock’s Grey Salt, has worked to broaden the beverage program as well, with eight tap wines, a pumped-up array of bourbons and scotches, and cocktails powered by all fresh juices. My first agenda item is to try the signature cocktail, a tableside-smoked old fashioned. Expect a grand reopening in January, but the Estephans expect to be open to the public early next week. 2832 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. (813) 805-7977.

EDUCATE YOURSELF: CRU U

Know a fair bit about wine but keenly aware of how much you don’t know? It becomes crystal clear during the holidays with all those lovely opportunities to sip something new at the season’s parties. South Tampa wine shop and bistro Cru Cellars has launched Cru U (as in university), a series of wine appreciation and education classes aimed at enthusiasts who aren’t newbies but also aren’t looking to go pro (that is, not serve or sell wine).

The first Freshman Wine Class starts Jan. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. and runs four Tuesdays in January for $250. It will be held at Show & Tell at Heights Public Market (Armature Works, 1910 N Ola Ave., Tampa) and will be taught by certified sommelier and Cru wine director Zach Groseclose.

The freshman-level class will explore the components involved in tasting wines, then get in-depth on the major white grapes and red grapes of the world, and give an overview of the major wine-producing countries, with emphasis on New World versus Old World characteristics. By the end of this course, you will be able to describe distinct styles of wine.

This course will be followed by a sophomore, junior and senior level over the course of the year. Just think how insufferable you could be swirling and saying things like "hints of cigar box and pencil lead." A course makes a nice holiday gift for the cork dork in your life.

And Cru is also offering a "home school" version. It will contain a dozen bottles of wine, each of different styles, regions or grapes, along with breezy-but-real write-ups about how, say, each one demonstrates how the same grape can be used to make very different wines, depending on where and how it’s grown and turned into wine. Boxes will run $250 to $300, about cost of a regular case of wine. To register, call (813) 831-1117.

FOOD FEST: ARAB STYLE

Guests can enjoy the Arabic flavors, live shows and music of the Arab Festival with free admission. Organized by the Arab American Community Center nonprofit, this cultural heritage festival celebrates Arabic art, food and traditions, with a food court, art and crafts, children’s entertainment and live Arabic folk dances and Arabic pop music on stage.
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa. aaccflorida.org/festival.

MORE THINGS TO DO

DINING: More new places to eat and reviews

TOP 50: Affordable restaurants to try in 2017

MOVIES: What to see, and avoid, in theaters

FOLLOW: Tampa Bay Times Food on Facebook

 
Comments
Ranking America’s top 10 chain restaurants. How does your favorite stack up

Ranking America’s top 10 chain restaurants. How does your favorite stack up

People love to pick on chain restaurants. Like used car salesmen, the mass feeders are easy targets. Their uniformity and ubiquity seem to go against a culture increasingly bent on personal customization. Indeed, it has been a rough past few years f...
Published: 12/15/17
Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Noel Cruz seemed remarkably chill. As did his partner Kerem Koca. All around them in the Station House building in St. Petersburg, workers pounded the last nails, bartenders unpacked boxes of glassware and jewel-toned bottles of Amari, and the kitche...
Published: 12/12/17
Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

TAMPAMaybe it’s the twinkling chandeliers. All skajillion of them. Or maybe it is the rhythmic syncopation of ice cubes in shiny shakers. It could be the old-timey metal dessert cart with its silver cloches and chafing dishes, or else the chummy-but-...
Published: 12/11/17
Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

TAMPA Just a block away from CW’s Gin Joint, the folks at Urban Juice Co. have retooled, taking the historic Franklin building, one of the city’s oldest, erected in 1895, and re-envisioning it in September as 1895 Kitchen-Bar-Market, a "...
Published: 12/11/17
A vegan soul food eatery is opening in St. Petersburg

A vegan soul food eatery is opening in St. Petersburg

SOUL FOOD: VEGAN STYLERay Milton is a boxing instructor and former pastry chef and proprietor of Sugar Ray’s Bakery in St. Petersburg. In the past couple of years he has branched out with something entirely different. He runs a food truck that sells ...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

REOPENING: BYBLOSYou know that hour before people show up for a dinner party where you think, "Holy smokes, I’ll never be ready in time. What was I thinking?" Nearly every restaurant opening, or reopening, is like that. I scooted by Byblos, a long-st...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

Florida Trend’s annual Golden Spoon awards were announced last week, honoring Florida’s best restaurants. Although Florida Trend serves the state’s business community, the Golden Spoons are a valuable consumer tool. Because Florida restaurants seldom...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17
Free iced coffee Monday as Dunkin’ Donuts offers #CupOfThanksFlorida

Free iced coffee Monday as Dunkin’ Donuts offers #CupOfThanksFlorida

Dunkin’ Donuts is giving thanks to Floridians with a free small iced coffee on Monday.The #CupOfThanksFlorida promotion is aimed at thanking customers for weathering Hurricane Irma as some locations had to close or change their hours, according to br...
Published: 12/04/17
Restaurant review: Clear Sky on Cleveland Global Bistro tries to cover every food on the planet

Restaurant review: Clear Sky on Cleveland Global Bistro tries to cover every food on the planet

CLEARWATERAll three of the Clear Sky restaurants read like the work of someone who’s been paying attention to what folks want.Co-owner Dan Shouvlin has got the proper curriculum vitae (a background in TGI Friday’s, Chi Chi’s, Olive Garden and then a ...
Published: 11/30/17
Updated: 12/04/17
This week’s food news: Clearwater Beach Uncorked, happy 25th birthday to Guppy’s

This week’s food news: Clearwater Beach Uncorked, happy 25th birthday to Guppy’s

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: GUPPY’STwenty-five years for a restaurant is a stupendous achievement in an industry with a two-thirds failure rate. So let’s bake a cake for Guppy’s on the Beach, or at least go there and eat cake. It opened its doors at 1701 Gulf Bl...
Updated one month ago