03/10/14 Food & Dining
What's the worst thing about all-you-can-eat buffets? It's steam trays simmering for who knows how long with food that's getting a little long in the tooth. Maybe it's sneeze guards, too (even the words "sneeze guard" skeeve me out a little), or even the incessant hopping up from the table to trawl down the buffet line.
A new kind of all-you-can-eat concept has rolled into Tampa Bay. No sneeze guards, no customers popping up and down, and no food languishing into dangerous decrepitude. The idea is endless sushi, hibachi and traditional Chinese dishes, ordered serially or in an ambitious flurry. You are seated, a waiter takes your order and brings food and beverages, then takes your order again and brings more. It's all fresh and made to order, and if you are blessed with a big appetite, you can keep that server scurrying. In Clearwater there's Saki on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, but it's New Tampa's Koizi that introduced the concept to the area in August....
03/10/14 Food & Dining
for years, the St. Petersburg side of the Gandy Bridge chugged along supported by an organic mix of Old Florida waterside allures: Kahuna's for burgers and beer, the Crab Shack for the obvious, Vegas Showgirls for a different obvious, Derby Lane and such. Longtime businesses might peter out (Dave's Aqua Lounge), but it wasn't a stretch known for its dynamism.
But what's this? Drive Gandy Boulevard toward Tampa now and there's something going on, cars shoaled tight like fish, the odd outliers on the causeway shoulder getting ticketed or even towed by exasperated cops. It's a tiki explosion, launched in this chilly Florida winter and poised to be the biggest draw around as the weather heats up. The Getaway, owned by Scott and Karina Tashkin and Dave Burton, and I.C. Sharks Seafood Market Waterfront Cafe and Tiki Bar, owned by Brian Storman, seem to have had the same good idea at the same time: Take advantage of the allures of Snug Harbor, with its views of Weedon Island, with indoor-outdoor tiki concepts that rely heavily on Old Florida grub and equally Old Florida recreation....
03/10/14 Bars & Spirits
It appears success has killed one of the most successful events of Tampa Bay Beer Week, and also cost Cigar City Brewing owner Joey Redner close to $200,000.
More than 6,000 people showed up Saturday for the fifth annual Hunahpu's Day Release Party at the Tampa brewery — but nearly half of them appeared to have counterfeit tickets. Many people waited hours in line and turned ugly when some of them didn't get the beer they were promised....
Late-night deals at Green Iguana Ybor, from Beaks to Butler's, Italian Bakery Cafe opens, more pizza and beer03/04/14 Food & Dining
Listen up, night owls. Dan Soronen, former manager of Beak's Old Florida and former owner of Shackleton's Folly, is now managing Green Iguana Ybor. Since taking on the job last month, he's been running the full menu for half price from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. nightly. The two-story historic brick house has been a stalwart in Ybor City since 1994, with live music nightly and a menu that spans wings, naked tacos and planked salmon....
03/03/14 Food & Dining
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH
It's one of those locations that has cycled through identities, beginning life as Sam's Hamburgers in the 1940s and more recently sliding through a series of good-times, snowbird-friendly places like My Place and On the Rocks.
Shirley Smith O'Barr and her husband, Emmett O'Barr, were not previously in the restaurant business. He was an air-conditioning contractor and she owned an apartment services business in Texas, but driving down Gulf Boulevard they saw the empty restaurant site and started dreaming....
03/03/14 Food & Dining
Peter Leonavicius has been a mover and shaker in the Tampa Bay food scene since the mid 1980s, having been lured here from London by Dominique Christini of Café Largo. He was chef of Le Bouchon Bistro before opening Toasted Pheasant in Tampa's Carrollwood neighborhood. Then he took a gamble and opened a place in Cedar Key called Steamers. He sold his share of that last year and looked around for what next. • Something casual, he thought. And in October, he opened Jacks London Grill, a good-times British pub. So far, the place has two strikes against it. One: The space, a no-fuss cube, clearly began its life as a Pizza Hut. Two: The beer selection is seriously lacking in a British beer lineup. The latter can be fixed almost instantly, the former can be ignored, which is what seems to be the stance regulars have adopted....
Season 4 Episode 12 of Walking Dead went right up against Lupita Nyong’o’s navel-grazing dress, Jennifer Lawrence falling (again, really?) and Jared Leto managing to still look dreamy while hoovering Oscar host Ellen’s pizza delivery. So what did the writers decide to do? They got very “Still” (the episode’s title).
Here’s what happened. Beth got thirsty. Then she and Daryl lit stuff on fire....
02/27/14 Food & Dining
TAMPA — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn better get the best table in the house when Ulele Native-Inspired Food and Spirits opens in May.
In an exclusive hard hat tour Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times got a preview of the ambitious new restaurant concept, a collaboration among Richard Gonzmart and the Columbia Group, managing partner Keith Sedita and the city of Tampa.
The 1906 Water Works Building is still a long way away from roasting oysters, grilling Florida beef steaks and pouring shots from a recently acquired keg of Patron reposado (that's 27 cases of tequila), but it's easy to see the magnitude and foresight of the project....
02/25/14 Food & Dining
Snow plows and winter sniffles elsewhere may literally be money in the bank for Tampa Bay area restaurateurs this year.
Last spring was a banner one for restaurants here, and 2014 is shaping up to be even better. Restaurateur Chris Ponte says he had his best Monday ever this week at Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. And other Tampa Bay area restaurateurs are boasting similar boom stories.
Harold Seltzer, who owns steak houses in St. Petersburg and Port Richey, says both stores experienced the best sales weeks ever during the week of Valentine's Day, up a staggering 29 percent in his Pinellas location over the same period last year. On the strength of all this good news, Seltzer is poised to sign a deal on a third location in Sarasota....
02/24/14 Food & Dining
TAMPA — It happened again. Celebrated and controversial bay area chef Domenica Macchia has moved on. Hired in September to head up the kitchen at Dough, the bakery project next to Datz, she walked out of work Saturday after a disagreement, said owner Suzanne Perry.
Having done stints at Redwoods, MJ's, Diner 437, BellaBrava, Shackleton's Folly, Three Birds Tavern and Beak's, all in St. Petersburg, Macchia's employment at Dough marked the first time she worked across the bridge. Due to a noncompete contract she signed with Three Birds owners Robin and Jack King, she had been legally prohibited from working in Pinellas restaurants until February 2014....
02/24/14 Food & Dining
Good restaurants beget good restaurants. And I have proof. David Benstock, 28, grew up in Seminole and went to Shorecrest Preparatory School. After a couple of years at Florida State University he ditched college in favor of the culinary program at Johnson and Wales in Denver.
From there it was stints at Spago at the Ritz-Carlton in Vail, Colo.; the Spice Market and the Modern in New York; a little European wandering; and then Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Visiting his parents back in Pinellas County in 2012, he and his wife Erica, 25, fell in love with downtown St. Petersburg....
02/19/14 Food & Dining
Tampa Bay hit it big yet again Wednesday as the James Beard Foundation announced its "Academy Awards of food" semifinalists.
Greg Baker of Tampa's Refinery and Chad Johnson of Tampa's SideBern's each picked up a Best Chef: South category semifinalist nomination; Bern's Steak House received a nomination for Outstanding Restaurant; and Joey Redner of Tampa's Cigar City Brewing received the nomination for Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional....
By Laura Reiley
Times Food Critic
Country music superstar Trisha Yearwood returns Thursday to the stage at Ruth Eckerd Hall, a venue she describes as being one of her Top 10.
"It's one of the best places to sing. You can sit on that stage without a microphone," she said by phone from her home in Tulsa, Okla. "It's a classy joint."
But Yearwood has another reason for her Ruth Eckerd affection: The venue's chef, Sally Milano, once gave her a great sugar-free lemon meringue pie recipe....
02/17/14 Food & Dining
Élevage is an obscure wine term for what happens to grape juice between fermentation and bottling. As the name for the new Epicurean Hotel's signature restaurant, it's an interesting, and appropriately metaphorical, name.
The genius of winemaking is anticipating how a particular quantity of juice should be manipulated and coddled to yield something infinitely more complicated and rarefied. The terroir, or character, of the grapes, the ambitions and budget of the winery and dozens of other factors play into the decisionmaking....
02/12/14 Food & Dining
Forgetting something? Think. It falls after Martin Luther King Day and before Washington's Birthday. If Valentine's Day sneaked up on you, there's still time to nab the appropriate greeting card, Whitman's sampler, jewelry, lingerie or a bouquet of roses from one of those guys who set up stands by the road for just this emergency. But the ship has sailed on reservations at one of the Tampa Bay area's go-to romantic restaurants. When one of the busiest restaurant days of the year falls on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the week, it means sellout crowds. But all is not lost. Here are 10 ideas for Valentine's meals that might just get you extra style points for thinking outside the box of chocolates....