1. Food

What's happening in food: Datz goes Mary Poppins, Sandpearl gets a new chef, Brass Tap debuts new cocktails

Datz has debuted a collection of Mary Poppins-inspired menu items. Photos courtesy Datz
Published Dec. 26, 2018


Have you seen the Mary Poppins Returns movie yet? You've got to hand it to Datz in Tampa for always being at the vanguard of pop culture. (Check their marquee billboard sometime, it's a hoot.) They have debuted a collection of Poppins-inspired menu items including a Chimney Soot Burger, crafted with a short rib and brisket patty, smoked Tillamook cheddar, Jones bacon, grilled portobello mushrooms, crispy onion straws and a brioche bun with activated charcoal as soot. And it's got a dab of Supercalifragilistic sauce, naturally. There's also a Spoonful of Sugar cocktail, crafted with lime juice, simple syrup and strawberry puree. And Poppins-inspired sweet treats include doughnuts, cookies and a Practically Perfect Parfait with blueberry pomegranate and strawberry punch ice cream with rock candies. 2616 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. (813) 831-7000.


Well here's a blast from the past. Eric Neri was the 20-year veteran chef at the Don CeSar in St. Petersburg. And then, poof, he was gone. (Well, he started his own consulting business.) He started there as executive sous chef, then graduated to executive chef for the hotel, where he led six food and beverage outlets along with banquet services and a culinary team of more than 40.

And now he's back, as executive chef of the Sandpearl Resort, overseeing all aspects of Sandpearl's food and beverage program. Top dog at the Sandpearl is Caretta on the Gulf, with serious views of the white sand beach and a seasonally changing, seafood-focused menu with a killer raw bar. Tate Island Grill is the more casual dining option at the resort. Neri brings major culinary chops to the table: He is a cookbook author, a certified executive chef and a certified culinary administrator by the American Culinary Confederation, and he has received loads of culinary awards and accolades. 500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach. (727) 441-2425.


I'm telling you about this now because many of the components sell out early (the Grand Tasting, for instance). The Sarasota-Manatee Originals hosts its 12th annual food and wine festival, Forks & Corks, from Jan. 25 to 27. This food and wine extravaganza features top-of-class wines, celebrity winemakers and cuisine from 60 of the top independently owned local restaurants on the Suncoast. Forks & Corks includes more than 25 tasting experiences, including winemaker dinners, retail tastings, a trade tasting, educational sessions and the Grand Tasting event held at the John and Mable Ringling Museum. This last event features 350 wines from around the world. Don't even think about tasting them all, even if you spit.


In February, the Brass Tap team attended something called the VIBE Conference, a beverage-focused gathering to learn what's trending in the cocktail industry. Taking what they learned, and as part of the brand's push to find creative ways to expand their drink options beyond beer, the restaurant is debuting new glassware, fancier garnishes and a new menu featuring all 14 new cocktails (some of which change colors). This new list includes a dragonfruit daiquiri, a pisco pina punch, a "Tiki Man" (Bacardi Superior white, coconut rum, pineapple brown sugar simple, pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice, grenadine, garnished with mint and served in a Tiki Man glass) and a blueberry bourbon smash. I'm going to check them out. Will let you know what I find. Centro Ybor, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. (813) 241-0000.

Contact Laura Reiley at or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.


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