07/31/14 Food & Dining
TAMPA — Joe Maddon spent the day watching David Price get traded to the Detroit Tigers. Michael Stewart spent the day grouper fishing with the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, at Maddon's suggestion. The former in a grape-colored polo shirt and black jeans, the latter just slightly wind-burned, the duo were serene hosts at something Tampa doesn't have much of: a one-night-only pop-up restaurant....
07/30/14 Food & Dining
There are reasons there are so few Laotian restaurants in this area. Some of it is immigration patterns and demographics, and some of it is because Thai food has stolen its thunder a bit. The country just west of Laos has made a concerted effort to promote its cuisine to the world and has been largely successful in popularizing pad Thai, tom kha gai, massaman curry and such across a few continents. But it's a mistake to assume Laotian food is just the same....
07/28/14 Food & Dining
ST. PETE BEACH
Restaurant chefs are often wanderers, staying in a kitchen a year or two before moving on. For this reason, reviewing restaurants gets tricky. You say glowing things about a restaurant and, poof, the chef is promptly off somewhere new. I've been watching Ted Dorsey for a while, but I took my eye off the prize seven months ago when he left Gordon Davis and Kevin Enderle's SoHo Hospitality group (Boca, Ciro's, CopperFish) to head to St. Pete Beach....
07/21/14 Food & Dining
ST. PETE BEACH — There are those stores that are like clubs. Bass Pro Shops, Ron Jon Surf Shops, even Apple stores — yes, they sell stuff, but it's more aspirational than that. These are lifestyles on offer.
The new Guy Harvey store in St. Pete Beach is like that. Angler-explorer-artist Harvey is more ruggedly mysterious than the Dos Equis dude, his saltwater game fish art attracting gravelly voiced Hemingway types and those who wish they were. The new Guy Harvey Outpost seems perfectly paired with the TradeWinds Beach Resort, and its restaurant, the recently launched RumFish Grill & Bar, more perfect still. ...
07/15/14 Food & Dining
you sit there, they bring you the food. Chew, swallow, pay, depart. Unless you're an exceptionally vigorous chewer, you're not breaking a sweat the whole evening. It's why most of us go out to eat: so we don't have to do the work. But when you think about it, it's a little passive. For you overachievers, what if I said there are restaurants out there where you can eat and learn to do something new, develop a skill, try out a fresh hobby? ¶ In a way, you could think about these restaurants as mini summer camps for grownups. But camp without the lanyardmaking or annoying color wars, and where the food is bound to be better....
TALLAHASSEE — Boiled p-nuts. Sometimes "boiled" is spelled wrong, too. There are stands that dot the back roads of the rural Florida Panhandle, fronted by hand-lettered signs that tout the glories of the green peanut. The outskirts of Tallahassee are P-nut Central, the stands' proprietors hunkered over burners at the back of rattletrap trucks in the hot sun. So you stop.
The fresh green nuts are boiled in the shell for several hours, then a huge amount of salt is added to the water and the whole mess is boiled some more. The peanuts sit in the brine until a customer pulls up, when they are drained and sold to enthusiasts by the quart at the road's shoulder. Soft, salty and a little greasy, they are the perfect foil for cheap light beer. You eat them warm, right away, as you pull out from the p-nut stand, the shells forming a pesky pile in the front seat....
07/14/14 Food & Dining
The Waterside Marriott closed its marquee restaurant, Il Terrazzo, in January. This moves its No. 2 restaurant, Waterside Grill, into the primary spot. The decor will underwhelm you, as will the service, but then the food comes and Kapow! you're shocked by how good it is. Longtime chef Rich Willerer is devoted to the farm-to-table idea, sourcing as much as he can locally and growing a whole lot more in a fairly elaborate rooftop garden. The restaurant will undergo a re-concepting this fall, but it seemed like a good time to go and check out what the Waterside has going on these days....
07/09/14 Bars & Spirits
ST. PETERSBURG — Rococo Steak's efforts paid off.
On Wednesday, the Wine Spectator announced its much-coveted restaurant awards, honoring places around the globe with the best wine selections. This year, 3,748 restaurants from all 50 states and 80 other countries and territories were award winners — including St. Petersburg's youngest steak house which took the coveted the Best of Award....
07/07/14 Food & Dining
You drag the pool noodles back to your towel, futilely attempt to dislodge the sand from the thigh band of your swimsuit and wonder idly if SPF 50 is really any better than the 30. And then this happens: You realize a day at the beach has made you powerfully hungry. And thirsty, very thirsty. In Pinellas County, there is a whole new crop of beach bars, restaurants and cafes to consider. Here are the highlights:...
07/01/14 Food & Dining
ST. PETERSBURG — A celebrity sighting in a downtown coffeehouse on Tuesday was eventually debunked by the celebrity himself.
I am not now, nor have I been in St. Pete or Tampa or anywhere near for quite some time. I'm sure the coffee was very good.— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) July 1, 2014
06/30/14 Food & Dining
You don't have to count chopsticks on McMullen-Booth Road to see it has serious density of Asian restaurants. From about Alderman Road down to Enterprise, there are enough pad Thai and dynamite rolls to throw a major party. One cuisine that has been heretofore lacking, though, is Malaysian. It's a shame because it's a humdinger, a cuisine that is at once spicy, homey, sweet, bright and sometimes a little kooky. Knock-your-socks-off shrimp paste, high notes of lemongrass and lime leaf, turmeric, ginger, smoldering curries, sweet-sour tamarind, and blistering little chiles — it's a swirl of heady flavors....
With more than a dozen celebrity chefs, notable regional artists and some of Tampa Bay's own gastronomic stars, last year's food and arts festival was billed as the first annual, with organizers aiming to put the area on the culinary map with a destination event in the style of the Food Network's South Beach Wine & Food Festival and the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo.
So what happened?...
06/24/14 Food & Dining
ST. PETERSBURG — Café Alma, one of downtown St. Petersburg's anchor restaurants for the past 12 years, will close on Sunday with a final brunch, reopening in mid July as the briefer "Alma" at 111 Boardwalk Place at John's Pass in Madeira Beach.
The new beachside restaurant has been in the works for owners Scott and Thorn Vogel for some time, but the fate of the original location has just been decided....
06/23/14 Food & Dining
In April, Harvey's on Fourth Street celebrated its 30th anniversary, something of a miracle in the restaurant world, especially if you consider its location, in an unglamorous strip mall north of bustling downtown. Seemed like a good time to sneak in and try to suss out its secret.
Decor is a hint to what has given Harvey's legs. It's a flotsam and jetsam approach, with lots of time-mellowed wood and doodads assembled from historic St. Pete hotels like the Vinoy, Soreno and Albemarle. It's got the lived-in feeling of a favorite sweater that has gone a little wispy at the elbows. ...
06/17/14 Food & Dining
On a lazy weekend day in New York or Los Angeles or Orlando, a lot of people get the same idea: dim sum, with cart after cart of delicious, intricately folded dumplings, rolling around the room. Diners point and little plates are whisked onto their tables until they have the dawning awareness of their own overambition. Straining a little at the seams, they all depart with one thought: nap time. ...