The tragically short-lived Platt Street Borough got a unique makeover late last year, transforming what I felt was a well-designed South Tampa bar and restaurant into a fun new space called Thee Tree House, which you should not confuse with another local House starting with Thee.
Situated right between SoHo and Hyde Park Village, Thee Tree House has kept a lot of what made its predecessor work — from some of the menu items to much of the interior design — albeit with some prominent additions that could elevate it into destination territory.
Thee Tree House has a loose jungle/rainforest theme that's somehow implemented without being corny. Flickering lanterns and ivy-covered walls greet you at the entrance, where you walk into the main bar that overlooks a long and narrow dining space covered with exposed wood beams and more faux ivy, along with some of the interesting ceiling sculptures used by Platt Street Borough.
It's darker and more moodily lit than its predecessor, which complements the theme. The addition of some funky mural and sculpture work from artists Patti Suzette, Mike Jenney and Michael Vahl gives Thee Tree House's a playful, tongue-in-cheek feel, which is appropriate given that the bar seating on the outside portion of the back bar are literally rope swings.
The artwork alone is worth a look. An oak-tree sculpture with lights scattered through its branches cuts through the wall between the dining room and Platt Street, while all-white sculptures of animal trophy heads decorate the blue walls of a lounge area near the back bar. The strangest art award goes to Vahl's exterior mural — a wall depicting Audrey Hepburn wearing an extra-melty cheeseburger ball gag with the words Late Night Food emblazoned down the side.
I'm as surprised to write it as you are to read it.
Toward the back of the building, the old game room remains in place, with Skee Ball, air hockey, basketball and a punching machine all grouped together in a room with relaxing wallpaper depicting the tree tops over a dense rainforest. On the other end of the restaurant, there is an oversized pirate's treasure map on the wall. It's all good fun, and the thematics don't distract from the inventive food and drink menus.
If you had a crack at the cocktail menu at Platt Street Borough, you'll probably recognize some of the current drinks, like the Borough-Vardier and the Jar Full of Grapes. I'm glad they're still on the list. But the new stuff has quite a wow factor.
Exhibit A: the Herbalizer and 420 cocktails. The former is a chamomile-infused vodka cooler garnished with rosemary and the latter a bourbon and lemon concoction topped with 420 Strain G13 IPA from Sweetwater. Both are topped with CBD oil, the beyond-hyped phytocannabinoid that is currently in everything from chocolate bars to bath bombs. In fact, CBD can be added to any cocktails or appetizers for a $5 upcharge.
Both cocktails come to the bar bubbling and emitting "smoke," the result of a small block of dry ice placed at the bottom of the glass. In the 420, the addition of the Sweetwater IPA — which itself is infused with terpenes, the aromatic compounds that make marijuana smell the way it does — really creates quite a spectacle.
While the Herbalizer doesn't smell and taste quite as illegal as the 420 does, it comes with an added bonus: Thee Tree House will plant a tree for each Herbalizer sold.
CBD cocktails, wild jungle art, rope swings at the bar and … the Audrey Hepburn thing make for a surreal experience, which is quite possibly what this location needs. Platt Street Borough had chops, and Thee Tree House does, too, but the addition of all of these strange variables makes it a little more out of the ordinary, which may drive in some traffic from various surrounding neighborhoods.
Whether that ends up being the case or not, Thee Tree House still has plenty of promise as a regular spot to grab a bite and have a few drinks with friends.
Order a 420 cocktail, have some CBD oil drizzled over your hummus, and post up on a rope swing. Only one place in town for that combo.
— Contact Justin Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @WordsWithJG.
Thee Tree House
1809 W Platt Street, Tampa. (813) 855-5778; theetreehouse.com
The vibe: A jungle-themed bar and restaurant with funky local art and CBD food and drink upgrades.
Food: Sides, starters and salads, $7-$14; entrées, $12-$18; desserts, $7.
Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $4.50-$8; wine, $6-$13 by the glass and $18-$89 by the bottle; liquor, $5-$13. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, featuring $3 house wines and select draft beer, $4 vodka cocktails and $2 CBD upgrades.
Specialty: Try the bar's two CBD-infused cocktails: the Herbalizer and the 420. Both are infused with CBD from Advanced Modern Medicine and come to the bar bubbling and "smoking" because of the addition of dry ice at the bottom. For each Herbalizer purchased, Thee Tree House will plant a tree.
Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday; closed Monday.