Tampa Bay Taste Bud Blog
Friday, 23 August 2013 12:16
Today’s “Foodie Friday” features The Palm Restaurant , centrally located in the Westshore Plaza Mall. This Dine Tampa Bay three-course prix fixe menu is $45 and a heck of a deal with giant proportions, so make sure you bring your appetite and save room for the decadent dessert!
A little history about what I mistook for a “chain restaurant.” I was pleasantly surprised to learn that each restaurant is entirely unique. Just by looking on the cartoon and caricature walls you can tell that The Palm Restaurant treats all its guests as family. The walls covered with classic cartoons and caricatures of celebrities, politicians and Tampa socialites make up the 837 Club. The story is back in 1926 when Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened the Palm Restaurant in New York, they had no money to decorate, so they left it to their customers. In exchange for meals, artists would often draw their own creations on the walls of The Palm. Now, don’t go dining at The Palm and start drawing your face on the wall. Since the 1920s they have advanced and adapted, and if you want to make it to the wall, you’re going to have to join the 837 Club.
Now, let’s talk about the good stuff. What’s for dinner?
Choices for the First Course are a Chopped Tomato & Onion Salad covered with Danish blue cheese crumbles and garlic vinaigrette. The Classic Caesar Salad, a table favorite, has crunchy, garlic focaccia croutons and fresh parmigiana reggiano. The Heirloom Tomato & Strawberry Salad was my personal favorite. Baby frisse, mache greens and candied walnuts tossed with raspberry vinaigrette, and aged balsamic amplify the sweetness in the strawberries. Lastly, if you’re not in the mood to “go green” you can opt for the Chef’s Soup of the Day which is prepared fresh every day. We had the Lobster Bisque and it was creamy, smooth and delicious!
Second Course you get your choice from four prime entrées. Each is served with your choice of The Palm’s signature vegetable or potato sides. Our table favorite was the Asparagus Fritti, the most delicious and fresh asparagus fried to perfection! First up was the Chicken Parmigiana, a “Palm Classic” dish with linguine marina. Next we feasted on the 9oz Filet Mignon with oven roasted garlic and bone marrow aioli, wild mushroom demi and crispy fried leeks. Third up to bat, the Double Cut Bone-In Pork Rib Chops served with a Fiji apple slaw and housemaid cinnamon applesauce. Lastly, the table favorite was the Macadamia Nut Crusted Wild Alaskan Halibut Filet finished over baby spinach, shaved fennel and cherry tomatoes tossed in a smoked red onion-vinaigrette and a delicious mystery crust. The portions are large so make sure you plan to take some home so you can save room for dessert.
Third course is dessert. Obviously, first up is the New York Cheesecake with a drizzle of raspberry sauce. Just what you would expect from New York. The Cheesecake had a rich, dense, smooth and creamy consistency. Next up, the Key Lime Pie. The Key Lime Pie has a blueberry compote and is tart as it is sweet. The perfect consistency! Lastly, the Tiramisu. This may have been the largest Tiramisu I have ever seen in my whole life. Rum soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone crème finish the cinnamon dusted dessert. Pair it with The Palm’s Cuban Coffee for an extra treat. Yumo! Hungry for more? Check out our Dine Tampa Bay facebook album The Palm "sneak peak".
The Palm Restaurant
205 Westshore Plaza Dr.
Tampa, FL 33606
Thursday, 22 August 2013 12:21
Friday, 16 August 2013 09:46
It’s a very special edition of Foodie Friday – Dine Tampa Bay kicks off tonight! We are starting the festivities with Dough – a new eatery with old roots. OK – not that old – Dough’s sister restaurant, Datz has only been open since 2009, but it feels like we’ve known it a lifetime am I right? Anyway, Dough opened this April and it recently launched a dinner menu alongside a wine and beer list. Yippee!
Think of this as Datz with a lighter touch. The food is still high quality, unique and delicious, but there aren’t any gigantic burgers or monster Kentucky Colonel Bowls on this menu. So what will you find? Oh my, let me tell you. Quite a lot for a $25 price point, that’s what!
Dough’s first course is a cheese lover’s delight. Choose from a baked brie smothered in sundried tomato tapenade and toasty pinenuts, a well-appointed cheese plate, and a delicious caprese stack that features thick slabs of fresh mozzarella, house-made pesto and juicy tomatoes. Hard to pick a favorite here, but we’ll go with the cheese plate based on one advantage it has: mozzarella and goat cheese mousse. This stuff is straight up spreadable heaven! We’ve never had anything like it before and it’s totally worth trying.
For course 2, we get to sample some of Dough’s amazing baking. They offer a “grilled” Monte Cristo – smoky ham and Jarlsberg cheese layered between buttered, grilled, house-made Amish milk bread (think amazingly soft, slightly sweet white bread). The secret weapon here is an amazing scallion-tomato mayo. You will have dreams about this stuff. It adds an amazing layer of flavor! Also on course 2: candied bacon/jalapeno pizza on a house-made sourdough crust. Roasted garlic, smoked gouda, and fresh mozzarella round out the toppings and create a praiseworthy palate of flavors. The third option for the entrée course is Kim’s Kale Salad: fresh Tuscan kale, dried cranberries, pine nuts, red onion, shaved parmesan, and house-made toasted coriander-orange balsamic vinaigrette. You can top it with your choice of chicken or steak. It can be hard to get excited about kale, but I have to say I’d order this again and again – the flavor balance is spot on and the dressing is killer!
On to dessert and boy, oh boy, this is the course of all courses at Dough! For Dine they are offering a choice of a Campfire Tart (cold smoked Valrhona ganache in a graham cracker crust topped with a house-made marshmallow and a drizzle of local honey)and a naughty Caramel-Bourbon boozy shake (vanilla soft serve, Buffalo Trace bourbon, caramel, whipped cream and a Moonshine cherry!). This is a split decision for us. Both are awesome, and honestly, if you don’t fill a box of pastries on the way out the door you have the world’s best willpower!
If you haven’t checked out the savory side of Dough, now is the time. We love this new kid on the block and we are so stoked to introduce them during Dine week! Hot tip: the Datz/Dough complex is packed on the weekends and parking can be a challenge. Have your Dine experience on a Monday or Tuesday to avoid the hassle.
2602 South MacDill Ave. Tampa, FL 33629
Thursday, 15 August 2013 09:36
This event will be action packed with Tampa Bay’s top celebrities and media personalities with special guest and Master of Ceremonies, Jack Harris.
Dine Tampa Bay Restaurant Week chefs will guide media personalities through a timed cooking challenge with secret ingredients and create a dish for a panel of 4 celebrity judges.
The cooking gloves are coming off… Hunger Games style and just like other year’s, this competition gets heated (no pun intended). As a matter of fact we have already seen the FOX 13 News team start the trash talking about tonight's cook-off on the twitter-verse. As Jen Epstein mentioned on twitter this morning to Good Day Tampa Bay collegue, Charlie Belcher "I'm going to kick your asparagus!".
Join the conversation and get social with us today and at the event on twitter @DineTampaBay and follow hashtag #CelebriChef
Below is a list of the Celebri-Chef match-ups:
Nick Grosenbach, Ocean Prime AND Bill Logan, ABC Action News
Rod Chitikov, 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House AND Orlando Davis, O & The Freak Show, WLLD 94.1
Chad Johnson, SideBern's AND Brendan McLoughlin, ABC Action News
Mike Swords, Irish 31 AND Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times
Bill Phillips, PCI Bar & Grill AND Shayann Malone, WTSP 10 news
Robert Masson, 717 South AND Gayle Guyardo, WFLA News Channel 8
Jason Cline, Birch & Vine AND Jen Holloway, MyTV Tampa Bay Channel 38
Stephen Farquhar, Bon Appetit Restaurant AND Jen Epstein, FOX 13
Greg Baker, The Refinery AND Ashley Glass, ABC Action News
Matthew Mangone, AQUA AND Sean Daly, Tampa Bay Times & ABC Action News
Brandon Mikulich, Fleming's Prime Steahouse & Wine Bar AND Charley Belcher, FOX 13
Tickets are only $25 and can be purchased online http://celebrichef.eventbrite.com/ or at the door tonight (Don't forget a photo ID). The event starts at 6 p.m. and goes until 9 p.m. The cooking challenge starts around 7 p.m. Your ticket includes beer and wine donated by Dine Tampa Bay's Presenting Sponsor, Pepin Distributing (Thanks Pepin Distributing!!!!) and food samples from event food sponsors: Crabby Bill’s Seafood, The Pub-Tampa, Bon Appetit, AQUA, Irish 31, GrillSmith, Sunset Grill at Little Harbor and Birch & Vine.
About Dine Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay’s Official Restaurant Week:
Dine Tampa Bay Restaurant Week allows local, regional and national food lovers the opportunity to enjoy a prix-fixe dinner for $25, $35 or $45 per person (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity) at a number of participating fine-dining Tampa Bay restaurants. Dine Tampa Bay’s goal is to position Tampa Bay as one of the top culinary destinations in the nation by increasing awareness of the many amazing dining opportunities available in the region. Ever wondered about that restaurant you thought might be out of your price range? Restaurant Week is your chance to give it a try with the security of knowing exactly what you will be spending.
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 07:46
Tucked behind a couple buildings and a half block away from Gulf Boulevard on 1st St. in Indian Rocks Beach, IRB Sushi (owned and managed by Crabby Bill’s Seafood Co.) offers a much-needed diversion from the “INSERT NAME Bar & Grill” that litters St. Pete/Clearwater’s award-winning beaches.
Despite its brick façade, you’re greeted by an authentic Asian vibe featuring oversized red Chinese symbols and colorful ribbons cascading from the ceiling of the crowded restaurant. The pleasant surprises continued throughout my dinner preview of IRB Sushi’s $25 Dine Tampa Bay menu.
You won’t find any “safe” appetizer choices on this menu. The Curry Crab Rangoon packs a nice spicy punch; the octopus in the Sunamono Salad was cut perfectly so it didn’t overwhelm the medley of flavors; and the Seaweed Salad was a fresh and simple tribute to America’s Best Beaches.
Of course, no sushi meal is complete without sake. In this case, the Smooth + Tart was a delightfully refreshing mix of orange juice, cranberry juice and Moonstone Plum sake. If you’re really trying to escape the beach vibe, the Organic Junmai Ginjo Craft Sake is a smashing semi-sweet sake choice.
With sake warming my throat and octopus dancing in my stomach, I excitedly welcomed a trio of entrees that were deliciously diverse. The Indian Rocks Roll satisfied my obligatory portion of fresh Gulf seafood (fried grouper) and my desire for a specialty house roll. It was a predictable highlight to my meal. Not far behind was a Shrimp Noodle Bowl that ignited my taste buds with sautéed veggies soaked in a green lemongrass curry. Sesame Seared Tuna gave my more adventurous side a thrilling taste of Ahi tuna paired with sesame ginger sauce.
Not to be missed, though, are a couple desserts that more than satisfy the sweet craving after a night of salty. There isn’t a wrong answer to the question, but my dining discovery was pushed over the edge with a banana, caramel and cheesecake spring roll.
Now, you’ve got two legit reasons to hit up IRB (Indian Rocks Beach), especially during Dine Tampa Bay: sand AND sushi. It’s a quality combo that you don’t find very often.
Friday, 09 August 2013 09:54
We all know that Fleming’s has awesome happy hours and this week we had the chance to take its Dine Tampa Bay Restaurant Week menu for a test drive.
We were greeted by friendly staff and a welcoming cocktail, my kind of place! The night kicked off with a twist, a taste bud tantalizing Tropical Martini. This refreshing cocktail featured Malibu coconut rum, cranberry and pineapple juice, topped with a splash of Myer’s dark rum in a chilled glass and garnished with a fresh Florida orange. Orange-you glad you know about this drink!
After settling in we were excited to try some of Fleming’s top-rated appetizers. The Tenderloin Carpaccio, Baked Brie and Sweet Chile Calamari. All were fantastic, but I must personally recommend my favorite being the Sweet Chile Calamari as a must-have at Fleming’s. Lightly breaded and tossed with a sweet chile sauce and sweet banana peppers. Let’s just say they had to bring out extra plates…. it was tasty and a huge hit with our group!
After being teased with delicious cocktails, wine and appetizers it was time to make room for the main attraction, the items on the Dine Tampa Bay three-course prixe-fixe menu ($45).
First Course, guests can choose between the French Onion Soup, The New Wedge and the Fleming’s Salad. All great choices! The French Onion Soup baked with gruyere and parmesan cheeses, and ohhhh so cheesy. The New Wedge salad presents itself with fresh grape tomatoes, crispy onions, caramelized bacon and rich blue cheese. Bacon lovers, the New Wedge is your go-to choice! Next up is the Fleming’s Salad, topped with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, tomatoes, onions and a herbed crostini.
For the Second Course Fleming’s pulled some of its top dishes and the choice is challenging. Guests can choose between the Porcini Rubbed Filet, Double Breast of Chicken or the Barbecue Scottish Salmon. The Porcini Rubbed Filet is center cut, grilled served with high country asparagus and the creamiest gorgonzola sauce. The Double Breast of Chicken is baked with white wine, mushroom, shallot and thyme sauce served over mushroom risotto. Diners looking for a huge dish full of flavor this will be your go-to choice. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The Barbecue Scottish Salmon is grilled to perfection with a barbeque glaze and accompanies a slow roasted mushroom salad.
For the Third Course, we move on to dessert. If you’re already stuffed don’t worry you can always box up dessert for later. All the desserts are divine and delicious! Choices are the Cheesecake, Crème Brulle or Walnut Turtle Pie. The Cheesecake is a classic New York Style cheesecake on a graham cracker crust, served with blueberry sauce and white chocolate shavings. The Crème Brulee is a creamy Tahitian vanilla bean custard served with the freshest seasonal berries. The Walnut Turtle Pie features homemade caramel, walnuts and chocolate baked in a chocolate pie crust. Good luck choosing between the three! Our suggestion, make it a party of three and choose them all. You don’t want your taste buds to miss out on that dessert party!
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
4322 W Boy Scout Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33607
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 00:00
Guest Blogger: Sandra McKenna
A staple on the beach for almost 30 years, Crabby Bill's with its casual, friendly atmosphere is doing something right. Picnic tables make for a down home feel, the perfect place for flip-flops and families. Speaking of families, Crabby Bill's is still run by the children of its founders, Bill and Delores Loder. Their son, Crabby Bill's CEO, Matt Loder even lists his personal email and phone number on the website. Now that’s hands on!
The food is Florida fresh and the menu is large with everything from crab to key lime pie. There is a full service bar, so whether it’s a Pina Colada or a cold beer that wets your whistle you’ll find it here.
They have assembled an interesting prix fixe menu for Dine Tampa Bay and I found the portions to be hearty for only $25. You won't leave hungry.
The appetizers: A seafood Gazpacho with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers dolloped with fresh crab and shrimp, Crispy orange gator ribs in a flavorful orange ginger sauce or Smokey Avocado Egg Roll with a southwest kick.
The Entrees: Jer k Covina with a refreshing mango salsa, Guava BBQ 1/2 Chicken slathered in their very own homemade guava BBQ sauce, or Crisp Fried Thresher Shark with homemade tartar sauce.
Dessert: Chocolate covered Key Lime Pie on a stick, Mango Cheesecake, or a Bowl of Fresh tropical fruit.
So I bet you're thinking, what was her favorite? It was something I had never had, don't think I would have ever ordered and I surprised myself when I absolutely loved it. If you guessed the Thresher Shark, pat yourself on the back. It was so light and crisp and when I dipped it into the homemade tartar sauce that had a whisper of horseradish, I had reached my culinary nirvana. Pair it with an icy cold Stella Artoris and I bet you find yours!
Check out the Dine Tampa Bayfacebook photo album for your "sneak peek" of some of the menu items from the Crabby Bills-IRB Dine Tampa Bay menu.
Thursday, 01 August 2013 07:06
Welcome back to "Foodie Friday"! On the menu this week: Tampa perennial favorite Datz. This Palma Ceia eatery describes itself as a gastropub serving “elevated comfort food.” We just call it delicious! Since opening in 2009 this place has been putting its own, often indulgent, spin on the classics and the theme continues in its $25, three-course prix-fixe menu for Dine Tampa Bay Restaurant Week.
Before we go down the rabbit hole describing these tasty eats, we should remind you that Datz has an impressive spirits lists, inventive cocktails, and a craft beer selection that rivals the best brew pubs. The pairing options are endless, and the servers and bar staff are helpful when it comes to making a selection.
OK – on to the food! The prix fixe menu starts with a choice between Swine Rinds and Kim’s Kale Salad. The Swine Rinds are big, crunchy, freshly fried pork rinds tossed in a secret blend of spices and served with lime crema sauce. The crunch is addictive. Even non-pork rind lovers should give these a try. Now, about the salad. I know what you are thinking, “Kale? Really?? I thought this place was about indulgence!” True, this is a departure for Datz, but it’s super delicious and a great light starter to what is sure to be a big meal. It hits all the right notes with dried cranberries, pine nuts, red onion, shaved parmesan, and house-made toasted coriander-orange balsamic vinaigrette.
Things get truly Datzy in the second course. Diners can choose from The Kentucky Colonel Bowl, Barry C’s Stuffed Meatloaf or the Penne for Your thoughts pasta dish. The Colonel Bowl is new to Datz this summer, but we’ll just call it an instant classic. It’s a high quality riff on a certain fried chicken chain’s popular dish, but that’s where the similarities stop. The Datz version features 3 giant, hand-breaded, boneless pieces of fried chicken, house-made garlic mashed potatoes, and grilled corn all smothered in gravy and melted cheese, plus bacon crumbles for the win! The meatloaf is a Datz best seller and its most famous dish – it was featured on The Travel Channel’s Meatloaf Paradise. It’s served in individual loaves that are stuffed with house-made bacon-jalapeno mac-n-cheese. Yes Please! The pasta dish, with a to-die-for roasted tomato cream sauce and loads of mushrooms is an amazing option for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
Dessert on this menu is like a split personality. On one hand you have a gorgeous, dainty fruit tart filled with vanilla pastry cream, courtesy of Dough, the bakery next door recently opened by the Datz owners. On the other hand you have Oreo beignets – code for deep-fried Oreos, y’all! Hot, gooey in the middle, and dusted in powdered sugar! You can’t miss with either of these.
At $25, the Datz menu is one of the best Dine Tampa Bay values this year. We highly recommend it, especially if you’ve never been there before. It’s an experience every Bay area resident should have way more than once!
Hot tip: Datz is packed on the weekends and they can go on a wait just about any night of the week. Have your Dine experience on a Monday or Tuesday to minimize your wait. You can also join their waiting list before you leave the house by texting “Datz” to 626-414-3210.
Also, check out our Datz "Sneak Peak" photo album on the Dine Tampa Bay facebook page for all the dishes from Dine Tampa Bay Restaurant Week.
2616 South MacDill Ave. Tampa, FL 33629
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 14:51
Guest Blogger: Robert Neff @5wa
Being a well-traveled local, I was surprised to find that I had not yet discovered Seabreeze Island Grill & Raw Bar (located midway between Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach on Gulf Boulevard). Well, it was about time! Sampling Seabreeze’s Dine Tampa Bay menu took me on an island-flavor infused adventure that had me salivating for more.
Sitting at the bar with a great view of the Intracoastal Waterway, I dove into the island tastes with a trio of appetizers---roasted jerk wings, shrimp and mango lettuce wraps and a Cuban empanada---all of which were perfect starters for the three-course dining experience. A local IPA beer helped me wash it all down.
With an already smiling stomach, I moved to the dining room to indulge on the final two courses. Waiting at my table was fresh hot coconut pineapple bread and a butter plate, which had an island touch with the seahorse, starfish, and shell mold. A treat was the macadamia nut butter.
The island adventure continued with top waitress, Christie, explaining the signature drinks, Naked Punch, Run Vodka Run and the award-wining Rum Runner. These paired perfectly with the dozen oysters they surprised me with! If you’re an oyster fan, hit up Seabreeze on a Thursday for its $4/dozen special.
The island flavor was evident in the three main dishes. The coconut crusted hogfish with mango salsa was smooth and delicious. The shrimp & scallop Caribbean pasta had a mild “island” heat. The Blackened/Blue Cheese Rib Eye was a fabulous eye opener. I savored every bite.
Finishing off the meal with cool, delicious and smooth textures were guava cheesecake and Florida citrus mousse. You can’t go wrong with either one.
The Peterson family I chatted with before leaving found Seabreeze on Yelp and was confident giving it 4-5 stars.
Frankly, you can’t go wrong with Seabreeze as its entire Dine Tampa Bay menu was flavorful and exciting. Similarly, the atmosphere was lively as the music kicked up in the bar as my meal progressed.
And keep in mind, the restaurant has a pair of boat docks on the Intracoastal, outdoor dining and space for private parties.
Friday, 26 July 2013 09:47
I slept very well last night after my very delicious and filling four-course meal at Carmel Café in South Tampa. What an incredible dining experience!
We received a warm welcome from the sweet hostess and were given the $25 Dine Tampa Bay menu along with an iPad menu to peruse through for wine. The four-course menu was a delightful surprise with so many options and a great value!
We started our meal with the Carmel Café House Salad and the Black Olive Caesar. I loved them both. The house salad is light and refreshing with greens, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, carrots, feta and a lemon-herb vinaigrette. I’m partial to Caesar salads though – they’ve always been my favorite and Carmel’s is pretty darn good. It has kalamata olives mixed in the romaine and tasty black olive dressing and is topped with loads of parmesan cheese.
For our second course, we chose the Spinach & Artichoke Dip and Mac ‘n Four Cheese. You can’t go wrong with either one of those and they both exceeded our expectations. The spinach and artichoke dip was served with pita chips and was pretty unbelievable. Our amazing server, Sam, had to bring us a few more pita chips (we didn’t want any of it to go to waste). The mac ‘n cheese had four cheeses – asiago, manchego, parmesan and fontina. It had a little kick to it, which I liked.
We probably over did it on the second course and should’ve saved more room for the third and fourth courses, but we managed. With seven options to choose from for our third course, we had a tough time narrowing it down to two. Sam graciously allowed us to try three and they were all worth it. We had the Basque Crab Cake with roasted almonds and avocado salad, Braised Short Ribs with creamy polenta and olive tapenade and the Spinach Gnocchi in a delicious, creamy Parmesan sauce (Sam’s recommendation and he was spot on). I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite. They were all great. I’m excited to visit again during Dine Tampa Bay Restaurant Week to check the other ones out.
We had to pass on dessert because we simply didn’t have room to eat anymore, but our arms were twisted when Sam began describing the sugar/butter sauce on the pound cake and served with almond whipped cream (all made in-house). They put the pound cake on a Panini press so it’s nice and warm – perfect combo with the strawberries and hint of mint. We also had to “just taste” the chocolate lava cake served with vanilla Blue Bell ice cream and I'm so glad we did. It was delicious.
We thought we were going to have to be rolled out of the restaurant, but managed to walk out. I’ll be visiting again to try the other items when Restaurant Week starts on August 16th. Carmel Café has locations in Clearwater, Carrollwood and South Tampa - all convenient locations in the Bay area. You don't want to miss Carmel Cafe during Dine Tampa Bay!
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