Monday, February 19, 2018
Restaurants

Popcorn shows up as an ingredient on these local menus

Popcorn as an ingredient. It's a thing. Chicago mad scientist-chef Grant Achatz of Alinea famously served liquid popcorn with caramel froth. (There's a YouTube video. Look it up.) Locally, the kernels make a showing from time to time:

At Ulele Native-Inspired Foods & Spirits you'll find white cheddar popcorn mashed potatoes on a number of dishes. It seems unlikely that the Seminole or Calusa tribes were rocking the cheddar corn, but what do I know? It makes a nice accompaniment to Strickland Ranch Florida-raised beef, especially when preceded by buttery, cheesy hot oysters right from the barbacoa. 1810 N Highland Ave., Tampa; (813) 999-4952.

At Jeannie Pierola's Edison: food+drink lab, rock star pastry chef Erin Kelley draws all kinds of inventive flavors and textures into her short lineup of desserts. For a while she featured popcorn pots de creme with cheddar ice cream, a dish so surreally logical that Edison served it at the Enjoy Arts and Tastes St. Pete festival at the Dalí Museum a couple of years ago. (Still, my fave of Kelley's concoctions remains the sugar-crusted butter cake.) 912 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa; (813) 254-7111.

Haven, the newest sibling to Bern's Steak House, burst onto the scene this year with the most ambitious cheese program and broadest American whiskey lineup this town has ever seen. Chef Chad Johnson has clearly had fun putting together this menu, many of the dishes intriguing riffs on a single ingredient. Case in point: a dish described simply as sweet corn, which marries corn in every guise from ears of caramelized baby corn to corn sprouts, roasted corn niblets, corn nuts and popcorn brought together with grassy-caramely Zamorano cheese and a hint of chile heat. Wowza. 2208 W Morrison Ave., Tampa; (813) 258-2233.

Dough and Datz get in on the corn a couple of ways: In the ice cream case at Dough right now you'll find smoked popcorn ice cream. At Datz, there's a dish called What's Poppin: agave/tequila-marinated shrimp served over a bed of greens with deconstructed guacamole, pickled red onions, red peppers, Sriracha-flavored popcorn and corn nuts. If you fall in love with the spicy kernels, they sell the popcorn by itself at Dough. 2602 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 902-1979.

And while it's not precisely used as an ingredient, Ciro's Speakeasy and Supper Club (2109 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 251-0022) makes a very cocktail-friendly popcorn dusted liberally with black truffle oil and truffle salt (how could double truffle be unwise?), as does Annata Wine Bar (300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg; (727) 851-9582), while Cask Social Kitchen (208 S Howard Ave., Tampa; (813) 251-0051) mixes things up with a changing popcorn of the day that comes gratis as you sift through the Southern-inflected menu and cocktail list.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.

Comments
Review: Platt Street Borough is casual Tampa dining with high standards

Review: Platt Street Borough is casual Tampa dining with high standards

TAMPAIt wasn’t that long ago that Platt Street was a bit of a conundrum for restaurateurs: Not exactly downtown, without the dense auto traffic of Kennedy, and far enough off the South Howard main drag that it didn’t entirely qualify as part of SoHo....
Published: 02/19/18
The Reading Room’s Lauren Macellaro and Columbia’s Richard Gonzmart are James Beard semifinalists

The Reading Room’s Lauren Macellaro and Columbia’s Richard Gonzmart are James Beard semifinalists

It’s almost a sick joke. On the morning after Valentine’s Day, the second-busiest restaurant day of the year, chefs all over the country are hauling themselves out of bed early to find out: Did I make it onto this year’s James Beard Foundation list o...
Published: 02/15/18
Blind Tiger Coffee Roasters opens in South Tampa, plus learn how to roll sushi at Kelp

Blind Tiger Coffee Roasters opens in South Tampa, plus learn how to roll sushi at Kelp

LOVE STUNT: SUSHI ROLLSIf you dropped the ball Wednesday and did bubkes for your sweetie, here’s a tip: Through Sunday at Kelp in South Tampa, couples can dive into a reservations-only chef-led art of sushi rolling class that comes with bottomless sa...
Published: 02/14/18
Out of time this Valentine's Day? Five ways to still have a romantic meal

Out of time this Valentine's Day? Five ways to still have a romantic meal

Valentine’s Day is Wednesday, and that means your odds of scoring a reservation at a popular restaurant are roughly equal to the odds of you opening your own restaurant in time for dinner. Thinking about showing up somewhere with no reservatio...
Published: 02/13/18
Review: 2nd & Second will serve you 24/7 in St. Petersburg

Review: 2nd & Second will serve you 24/7 in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURGAn older couple sits at a booth, hunched over mugs of coffee, occasionally murmuring in a way that seems more soliloquy than conspiracy. Outside at a table, two travelers pay their tab, plates streaked with cold yolk. They ask for direc...
Published: 02/12/18
Review: Maybe the Lure can beat the odds at this unlucky South Tampa location

Review: Maybe the Lure can beat the odds at this unlucky South Tampa location

TAMPA - This will be my fourth review of restaurants in this space, all of them more or less favorable: Bistro Bleu (a sophisticated New American charmer), Marrakech (Yay! We have almost no Moroccan food here! Bring on the tagines!) and Catrinas Taco...
Published: 02/05/18
Here's what you can eat at the Armature Works' new Heights Public Market

Here's what you can eat at the Armature Works' new Heights Public Market

TAMPA — "This project will change the DNA of Tampa." Bold words from Ferdian Jap, co-owner of Zukku, one of 14 vendors who began selling their food and drink to the public Thursday at the anticipated Heights Public Market at the Armature Works...
Updated one month ago
Valentine’s Day ideas for Tampa Bay foodies: wine and chocolate, berry picking and more

Valentine’s Day ideas for Tampa Bay foodies: wine and chocolate, berry picking and more

PICKING: BERRY FASTLooking for something fun, yet competitive, to do with your sweetie in advance of Valentine’s Day? Wish Farms and Monte Package Co. are collaborating on the fifth annual Strawberry Picking Challenge this weekend.The main event Satu...
Published: 02/01/18
Updated: 02/07/18
A salute to Tampa Bay's Top 50 restaurants of the year

A salute to Tampa Bay's Top 50 restaurants of the year

Every year, I cull through thousands of words about the local restaurant scene from Times food critic Laura Reiley. I edit her weekly restaurant reviews, salivating over the best of them and making note when she leans over and says, "Oh yeah, you wou...
Updated one month ago
The list is here: Our 2018 edition of the Top 50 Restaurants of Tampa Bay

The list is here: Our 2018 edition of the Top 50 Restaurants of Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay’s Top 50 Restaurants has arrived, and so has the Tampa Bay food scene. The highly-anticipated annual list from food critic Laura Reiley contains some surprises this year, in restaurants that made it and ones that didn’t. Our foo...
Updated one month ago