Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Restaurants

Dining Planner: 5 new restaurants and bars joining the Tampa Bay scene

WHAT'S NEW: FRESH CONCEPTS

Tampa Bay has seen a raft of new restaurants and bars since the start of 2016, and this month the launch pace continues unabated. Some of these newcomers are idiosyncratic mashups (craft beer and cold-brew coffee), others a blast from the past (old-timey pharmacy cafe). Here's a sampler:

Mastry's Brewing Co.

just held its grand opening at 7701 Blind Pass Road in St. Pete Beach. The Mastry family has a rich history in St. Petersburg, with this new venture from fourth-generation Mastry family member Matthew Dahm and the first craft brewery and tasting room on St. Pete Beach. Taking traditional styles and combining influences from exotic locales, Mastry's Brewing is elevating the beach beer experience with selections like Jenna's Morning Coffee, a chocolate coffee porter, and their popular Hefeweizen. With a relaxing setting like that of a coffeehouse, Mastry's also uses its space in the morning by serving cold-brew coffee on nitro through an onsite coffee roaster run by Evil Twin Coffee Co.

Retro Oven Bakery

has served the Tampa Bay area for two years as a wholesale bakery for area coffee shops. Earlier this month, owner Ivana Ivanovic converted a portion of her commercial kitchen at 2803 38th Ave. N in St. Petersburg into a storefront, serving walk-in customers and special orders. The bakery seats just five, but features an extensive selection of cakes, pastries, scones, cookies and more. Ivanovic specializes in European recipes, but features traditional American cakes, keeping them light in sugar and butter. Cakes sell by the slice ($5.50) or by the cake ($50 to $60), and pastries include come-hither options like spinach and cheese pies and poppy seed and Nutella brioches. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

And for something even more retro:

Corner drugstores became a fixture in American cities starting around the 1870s, their popularity continuing through the 1950s. They peaked in the 1920s when neighborhood bars closed due to Prohibition and many traded hard liquor for soft soda drinks. These days? They're almost all gone.

Mortar & Pestle

opens in November in Old Seminole Heights. Currently under construction at 6308 and 6310 N Florida Ave., the 3,920-square-foot space combines two buildings to debut an independent pharmacy and cafe concept. Inspired by America's historic mom-and-pop drugstores, Mortar & Pestle is designed to be a community gathering place and social hub. Fill prescriptions at the modern, independent pharmacy and relax in the adjacent cafe enjoying locally made sodas, espresso drinks, Florida craft beers, wines, desserts and small plates.

Escape Root

is a new cold-pressed juice bar, something that has been underrepresented in Dunedin's restaurant-rich town. In a space of Green Elephant at 769 Main St. that looks like a boho living room (mismatched chairs, a funky chandelier made out of a log), sisters Maria and Alexandra Chaar have fashioned a charming forum for juices, smoothies, raw snacks and acai bowls. The sisters got their start at the Westchase Sunday Morning Market but have done a whole lot of traveling, which impacts the decor.

Pinellas Cru

Peg's Cantina in Gulfport was much mourned when it closed in 2015. Well, owners Peg Wesselink and Tony Dodson are back in business and in September opened Pinellas Cru — what they're calling a "conversation bar" — in the Edge District at 901 First Ave. S in St. Petersburg. What's a conversation bar? It's a quiet, cypress-lined space for enjoying wild and sour ales (Wesselink's son is Doug Dozark of Cycle Brewing), big red wine and whiskey (not craft cocktails, this is whiskey neat, so wear your big-boy pants), while savoring cheese, meat and good olive oil.

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