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Helen Freund - Food and Dining Critic

Food and Dining Critic

I write about food and restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. When I’m not writing about food or restaurants I’m probably talking about food or restaurants, or, you know, actually eating food at restaurants. I was never a picky eater, and never had a chance to be: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, saying ‘no’ to things like geoduck sashimi or fiddlehead fern pesto just wasn’t cool. Instead, I tried everything, and have ever since. I studied journalism at the University of Washington and cooking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I most recently was the restaurant critic and dining editor of Gambit Weekly in New Orleans - another place where people love to eat and drink. When I’m not eating, I’m probably scuba diving and tagging along with spearfishers, hoping they’ll spear some dinner for me.

  1. Swah-Rey, the popular St. Petersburg cupcake and confection shop, is closing both locations next month.
  2. The Rolling Stones on the No Filter Tour on August 30, 2019, at Hard Rock Stadium.
  3. Mapo ho fun, a dish made with rice noodles, spicy broad bean paste and Sichuan peppercorns, is served at Lingr, a new Nordic and Asian-inspired restaurant in St. Petersburg.
  4. South Tampa barbecue restaurant Kojak's House of Ribs closed its Gandy Boulevard location in August after 43 years. Now, the owners say they've found a new home in Seffner.
  5. At Gulfport's Historic Peninsula Inn, guests have reported knocking sounds and "bed bumping" from a friendly ghost believed to haunt the property.
  6. The team behind the popular chef's table dinner series Abandon Izakaya has opened a street food-themed brick-and-mortar restaurant in Seminole.
  7. The Battery, a new bourbon-focused restaurant and wine bar in Sparkman Wharf in Tampa, is now open.
  8. A look at the outdoor dinning at La Croisette, 7401 Gulf Blvd, on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in St Pete Beach.
  9. At Pho 813 in South Tampa, restaurant manager Richard May activates a robot server to deliver food to a customer. The restaurant is the first in the Tampa Bay area to start using robots to address staffing shortages.
  10. Sara Fludd, owner of Pop Goes the Waffle, will open a brick-and-mortar cafe in Gulfport next year.
  11. Patrons sit in outdoor seating during dinner at Wild Child restaurant on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 in St. Petersburg.
  12. The menu at 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House has been completely overhauled and includes new dishes like shrimp and grits, pictured here. The restaurant, along with nearby spots Annata Restaurant & Wine Bar and Alto Mare Fish Bar, were recently purchased by new hospitality group Volet Hospitality, which has big plans for the Beach Drive NE restaurants.
  13. The Chicharron sandwich served at Meanchi's Peruvian Inspired Sandwiches features roasted and fried pork shoulder, salsa criolla and fried sweet potatoes on a roll.
  14. Jambalaya is served at Bayou Bodega, a new Davis Islands restaurant in Tampa with a focus on natural wine and Creole and Caribbean fare.
  15. El chef ejecutivo Brent Lewis exhibe vieiras a la plancha en el estadio Raymond James en Tampa el miércoles 1 de septiembre de 2021.
  16. A new lineup of restaurant partners and signature dishes from Legends Hospitality are now on the menu at Raymond James Stadium.
  17. Italian restaurant BellaBrava is now open at Midtown Tampa.
  18. Yellow-eye snapper is served over pea puree with Calabrian chile oil at Sauvignon Wine Locker & American Trattoria, a new restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg.
  19. Russian restaurant Babushka's, pictured here in an artist's rendering, will open inside the former Boca space in South Tampa as early as next month. The restaurant will serve traditional Russian dishes in an upscale setting.
  20. Dunedin's The Nest, a new cocktail lounge from the team behind Caracara, features a French colonial-themed food and drink menu.
  21. Irwin Scheineson, 65, and Denise Scheineson, 59, enjoy dinner and cocktails at the Beach Bistro in Anna Maria Island on Aug. 7. Guests making reservations at the restaurant are first asked if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before their reservation is booked.
  22. Cake designer and Wandering Whisk Bakeshop owner Jennifer Jacobs' recipe for Mini Piña Colada Pavlovas is easy to replicate at home.
  23. A virtual oyster-shucking course with Prince Edward Island oysters was taught by world champion shucker Patrick McMurray.