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5 Things to know about the Battery, now open at Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf

A bourbon-heavy cocktail list highlights the Tampa newcomer from the C House owner Danna Haydar.
The Battery, a new bourbon-focused restaurant and wine bar in Sparkman Wharf in Tampa, is now open.
The Battery, a new bourbon-focused restaurant and wine bar in Sparkman Wharf in Tampa, is now open. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Oct. 5
Updated Oct. 7

TAMPA — Every week it seems like something new is shaking near Tampa’s bustling Water Street development and Sparkman Wharf.

The Battery, a bourbon-focused restaurant and cocktail bar, is the latest newcomer to the downtown area. It’s the second restaurant concept from Danna Haydar, who in 2018 opened the C House, a Seminole Heights restaurant where the focus is on charcuterie, Champagne and cheesecake.

Haydar, who worked as an attorney for the Tampa Bay Lightning for seven years, said the Sparkman Wharf location and its proximity to Amalie Arena felt like a natural fit for her second restaurant.

Here’s everything you need to know about the wharf’s buzzy new spot.

It’s not in a shipping container.

The Battery, a new bourbon-focused restaurant and cocktail bar, opened in late September at Sparkman Wharf in Tampa.
The Battery, a new bourbon-focused restaurant and cocktail bar, opened in late September at Sparkman Wharf in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Unlike most of the fast-casual food concepts that line the waterfront dining court, the Battery’s 4,000-square-foot space features a full sit-down restaurant and cocktail bar. The building is centrally located within the Sparkman Wharf plaza in the space formerly home to frozen daiquiri spot Wet Willie’s.

Haydar said she designed her second concept as a sort of sibling restaurant to the C House.

“I wanted to have some parallels with C House, but I also wanted it to have its own identity,” Haydar said.

While the Seminole Heights flagship features a rustic, farmhouse theme, the Battery features a “deeper, richer color scheme,” Haydar said, with navy blue and hunter green accents, leather banquettes and exposed brick.

The restaurant’s remodel includes large glass windows facing the wharf and Ybor Turning Basin. It also features two retractable garage doors that open up into the main plaza. There’s a central bar, which anchors the room in the front, and toward the back there’s a large open wine display, a whiskey vault and a room for private parties called the Den.

There’s a big bourbon focus, and it’s going to get bigger.

Mixologist Jason May pours a Fistful of Jam, a bourbon-based cocktail made with homemade tangerine jam.
Mixologist Jason May pours a Fistful of Jam, a bourbon-based cocktail made with homemade tangerine jam. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Why open a bourbon-focused restaurant?

“It felt natural given that I love bourbon and drink it every week,” Haydar said. “I just think that it’s fun and there’s such a broad appeal to it.”

Haydar also pointed out that, while other restaurants with a bourbon emphasis exist in the Tampa Bay area, there aren’t any in downtown Tampa or near Sparkman Wharf.

Before opening the restaurant, Haydar imagined a bourbon and whiskey list that would include 130 to 140 different bottles. Current shipping and sourcing setbacks due to the pandemic mean the restaurant is opening with a slightly shorter list, which Haydar said will expand over time.

To start, the list features roughly 110 different bottles, with a heavy emphasis on bourbon and rye as well as several Irish, Japanese and Canadian whiskeys. Brown liquor connoisseurs can expect a good selection of higher-end options, including a 10-year Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and a 12-year WhistlePig rye.

For wine, think California.

The wine list’s focus is on Napa Valley, and wines sourced from the popular wine-growing region. Napa cabernet sauvignon highlights the menu, but the list also includes a selection of California sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, as well as several wines from Italy and France.

As with the bourbon list, Haydar said the wine selection is starting out smaller than planned due to sourcing difficulties. The list (which currently features roughly 30 bottles, including 16 of which you can get by the glass) will continue to grow in the coming weeks and months.

The menu features some C House favorites.

A lobster mac 'n' cheese is one of many shareable dishes served at the Battery.
A lobster mac 'n' cheese is one of many shareable dishes served at the Battery. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

C House fans will be happy to hear that the popular charcuterie program from that restaurant makes an appearance here as well. The lavish boards feature selections of three meats and cheeses ($18) or five ($28), and are decorated with mustards and preserves, honeycomb, pickled vegetables, fruit, nuts and crostini.

Executive chef Rob Armstrong is overseeing the kitchen, where a contemporary New American menu features dishes like a roasted brick chicken served with roasted tomatoes, garlic mashed potatoes and a bourbon fig sauce ($32); a Berkshire pork chop served with a pecan-pesto glaze, roasted potatoes and glazed baby carrots ($36); and a roasted red pepper bucatini served with roasted mushrooms, sauteed spinach and roasted tomatoes ($26).

Executive chef Rob Armstrong is overseeing the kitchen, where a contemporary New American menu is served.
Executive chef Rob Armstrong is overseeing the kitchen, where a contemporary New American menu is served. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

A selection of small plates and shareable snacks includes deviled egg flights ($13); sweet chili calamari served with a garlic lime aioli ($16); seafood-stuffed jalapenos topped with prosciutto and smoked Gouda and served with a cilantro-lime remoulade ($14); and, another C House holdover, fried cauliflower buffalo bites served with ranch or blue cheese dressing ($12).

There will be a takeout window (with cocktails to-go).

By mid- to late October, the restaurant will launch a separate takeout concept called On the Fly, which will feature a walkup takeout window where an abbreviated menu of drinks and snacks will be sold to-go.
By mid- to late October, the restaurant will launch a separate takeout concept called On the Fly, which will feature a walkup takeout window where an abbreviated menu of drinks and snacks will be sold to-go. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

By mid- to late October, the restaurant will launch a separate takeout concept dubbed On the Fly, which will consist of a walkup window where an abbreviated menu of drinks and snacks will be sold to-go. The offerings are still being finalized, but Haydar said guests can expect charcuterie spreads in to-go cones, sandwiches and other handheld snacks. There will also be wine, cocktails and bourbon pours, so diners can wander the wharf with tipple in hand.

The craft cocktail menu leans heavily on bourbon and includes drinks like the Fistful of Jam ($13), made with homemade tangerine jam, bourbon, honey, fresh lime and orange juice; the Old Friend ($12), a house version of an Old Fashioned made with Four Roses Bourbon, Demerara syrup and angostura bitters; and Smoke that Peche ($17), a smoky libation featuring Knob Creek 9-year bourbon, smoked peach syrup and peach bitters.

The Battery is open 4-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

615 Channelside Drive, Tampa. 813-498-0008. thebatterytpa.com.