Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Three Holiday Auction goodies for food, drink nerds

Don't miss these one-of-a-kind offers from the first round of CL's 7th Annual Holiday Auction.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 4:27 PM

SoHo's Haven is among this year's CL Holiday Auction participants. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • SoHo's Haven is among this year's CL Holiday Auction participants.

CL's annual Holiday Auction for The Children's Home has returned, and food- and drink-obsessed Loafers shouldn't miss out the first round's one-of-a-kind items. (Remember, new auction items appear every week until Dec. 20.)

Haven, Bern's Steak House's younger SoHo sibling, is auctioning off a cocktail party and wine dinner for six that features passed appetizers and a five-course, wine-paired meal in its private dining room. Master mixologist Dean Hurst will be present to discuss his creations, and sommelier Gregory Mayer will take guests through the wine pairings.

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Eat, drink & be happy: Words to live by at St. Pete's Wooden Rooster

Wooden Rooster, a new crepe and healthy food hub, is keeping "eat, drink and be happy" in mind.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 10:41 AM

Co-owner Jeremy Duclut behind The Wooden Rooster’s coffee bar. - ANDREA BAILEY
  • Andrea Bailey
  • Co-owner Jeremy Duclut behind The Wooden Rooster’s coffee bar.
After years of bouncing ideas around, the head chef at downtown St. Pete’s Cassis American Brasserie has settled on debuting a casual crepe haven called The Wooden Rooster.

A few hundred feet away from Cassis at 104 Second Ave. NE, the Beach Drive restaurant, which chef Jeremy Duclut is opening with his wife Liset this week, showcases the tasty French staple as its star. Healthy organic options in what Jeremy calls a “fun and enjoyable” environment are also planned; the Rooster encourages the motto “Eat, drink & be happy.”

“We want to keep it very casual,” says Jeremy, who decided he wanted to be a chef at 3 years old. “We want it to be a place where you come in with your family.”

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Monday, November 23, 2015

St. Nick's dark counterpart to reward the naughty in Tampa

Jug & Bottle Dept.'s Krampusnacht event on Dec. 5 isn't your traditional holiday photo op.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 6:12 PM

The kids have enough pictures with Santa, right? - JUG & BOTTLE DEPT.
  • Jug & Bottle Dept.
  • The kids have enough pictures with Santa, right?
Parts of Europe celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas throughout Dec. 6. But on the night before, St. Nick's devilish companion Krampus, who's included in the ancient folklore of Europe's Alpine region, is also commemorated.

To honor the tradition, Jug & Bottle Dept. in Seminole Heights plans to host its own Krampusnacht celebration from 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5. Krampus will be on site for free Santa-inspired pictures during the inaugural holiday hurrah.

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Five Courses: New wallet-friendly mashup for Plant City & more

Plant City Cafe opened with Greek, Italian and Cuban cuisine, plus other food scene updates.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 6:08 PM

  • Plant City Cafe via Facebook
A new Plant City destination at at 1701 S. Alexander St. is highlighting Cuban, Italian and Greek food on one menu.

With a varied and affordable lineup of fare, the family-friendly Plant City Cafe cooks up items like gyro platters, ropa vieja and chicken parm sandwiches. Thin-crust pizzas with homemade sauce and chicken wings may be customized, and the cafe's ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible.

• In downtown Dade City, Curtis and Rebecca Beebe, of Pearl in the Grove and Local Public House and Provisions, became the new owners of City Market Bistro last month, renaming the popular destination Rebecca's at City Market.

Not much has changed at the eatery, which features high ceilings and exposed brick at 14148 Eighth St., though. It's serving up some new offerings alongside favorites like hand-tossed brick-oven pizzas and fresh salads with seasonal produce. A rotating list of beer and wine is also available.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

The V Word: Thanksgiving alternatives for vegans

Cooking an impressive meal for the big day, which happens to be vegan, has never been simpler.

Posted By on Sat, Nov 21, 2015 at 5:25 PM

Vegan stuffing with lentils, bread cubes, vegetable stock, flax egg and more. - PAIGE BUTTERFIELD
  • Paige Butterfield
  • Vegan stuffing with lentils, bread cubes, vegetable stock, flax egg and more.

The spooky costumes have been packed away, the jack-o'-lanterns have decayed and you can't quote the entire Hocus Pocus movie anymore. But for vegans, the horror doesn’t stop after Halloween — it goes straight into Turkey Day.

Who could miss out on the annual cornucopia? Poor vegans and their bleak little salads, roasted vegetable trays, garlic mashed potatoes, creamy green bean casserole… wait, and decadent pecan pie?

Today, a vegan Thanksgiving is a regular ol’ Thanksgiving minus the animal products. With a few tweaks, almost any dish can be made vegan. From swapping almond milk for cow’s to using flax “eggs” in baked goods (one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water), cooking an impressive meal for the big day, which happens to be vegan, has never been simpler.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Restaurant review: Kings Street Food's royal jewels

The jazzed-up diner favorites at St. Pete's Kings Street Food Counter reign in striking retro digs.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 6:09 PM

Server Cameron Davidson introduces the menu to first-time Kings diners. - NICOLE ABBETT
  • Nicole Abbett
  • Server Cameron Davidson introduces the menu to first-time Kings diners.

No matter where around the globe you travel, street food is, to quote Donald Trump, “HUGE!” In fact, wandering chef Anthony Bourdain told the World Street Food Congress that “street food, I believe, is the salvation of the human race.” No matter your longitude or latitude, there are mind-boggling variations on pizza, crepes, noodles and dumplings galore — from sandwiches to dim sum, from empañadas to every imaginable meat-on-a-stick.

When it comes to North America, however, two icons stand out: the all-American hot dog and poutine, Canada’s sloppy but delicious mashup. It is on these two comfort foods, that King, an English bulldog, has built his nascent empire with the assistance of human follower, Stephen Schrutt. The kingdom reigns as Kings Street Food Counter, Schrutt’s second downtown St. Pete restaurant concept (the other being the AVENUE eat/drink).

For a pooch, King has an unerring design sense, with a black, white and sea-foam green retro flair. He’s allowed the humans a handsome 1950s diner interior with a counter and booths, but provided a large, luxurious AstroTurf-clad garden for his canine pals. It’s outfitted with sleek wood and white gloss communal tables and chairs. Knowing humans’ predilection for beer and sports, he’s also furnished an outdoor bar with local brews on tap and a couple of HDTVs to make sure the bipeds extend their visit. Smart dog.

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Weekend Platter: Bourbon, Florida foods & more

Sample barbecue, wine, bourbon and more this weekend during four rad food and drink events.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 5:15 AM

  • Benjamin Thompson via Wikimedia Commons
At 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, pig out at the 13th Annual Suncoast Credit Union Pig Jam in Plant City. Nothing boar-ing about it, the Jam is set to serve up meats from amateur and professional BBQ teams. Participants will grill, smoke and cook away for $16,450 in prizes, and they're able to win in four categories: barbecue ribs, barbecue port, beef brisket and chicken. Snow cones, cookies, cold beer, live music and games for kids also add to the fun. Parking costs $5. Free, money for food and drink. 1500 S. Park Road, Plant City, 813-754-3707.

Relax with a view and vino in hand from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the St. Pete Beach Wine Experience. Guests will sample more than 100 wines on the St. Pete Beach Community Center's terrace level to benefit local community schools and organizations. Munch on hors d’oeuvres from Mazzaro's Italian Market and take home a bottle of wine or two at reduced prices. $75 in advance, $80 at the door. 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach, 727-363-9245.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Celebrity chef Marc Murphy launches Grey Salt in Tampa tonight

After Thursday, Seminole Hard Rock's new Grey Salt restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 6:35 PM

Grey Salt's stylish interior incorporates a room for private dining and parties. - NICOLE ABBETT
  • Nicole Abbett
  • Grey Salt's stylish interior incorporates a room for private dining and parties.

With French heritage and Italian roots, New York celebrity chef Marc Murphy's Grey Salt, the new restaurant he's partnered with Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on, opened its doors for dinner on Thursday.

The diverse menu at the 250-seat restaurant, which replaces the Green Room at the casino, features artisanal flatbreads and handmade pastas, as well as rotisserie and grilled meats, with a focus on fresh, locally sourced seafood. At a VIP preview of Grey Salt Wednesday night, executive chef Chris Hine said he recommends the wood-grilled prime skirt steak that's served with ash-roasted carrots and romesco, a nut- and red pepper-based sauce.

Murphy, who owns Benchmarc Restaurants and Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, chose Tampa because the restaurant's Mediterranean fare reminds him of his childhood and pairs well with the gulf beaches. He complements the food with a world-class bar lineup of local craft beer, barrel- and bottle-aged cocktails, and international wines driven by the Mediterranean region. The wine's served by the quartino, half and full bottle.

After its opening service, Grey Salt will operate seven days a week, offering lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

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Tampa Bay's Turkey Day deals and destinations

This year's guide to the Thanksgiving events and smorgasbords the region has to offer.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 9:16 AM

Share a romantic fall picnic with this turkey waffle sandwich from the Zamora. - THE HOTEL ZAMORA
  • The Hotel Zamora
  • Share a romantic fall picnic with this turkey waffle sandwich from the Zamora.

A working round up of the region's Turkey Day celebrations, everything from full-service sit-downs and potlucks to dancing and drinking. Dig in!

Caretta on the Gulf Forget turkey. At Caretta's feast, it's all about Florida's coastal cuisine — smoked salmon and whitefish, sea scallops, rock shrimp and more. Salads, sushi rolls, unlimited champagne and mimosas, buttermilk fried chicken, and brunch items will also be offered, and the chefs will pair the entrees with whimsical dressings like bourbon cider glaze and bacon vinaigrette. $64 for adults, $19 for children. Thu., Nov. 26, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. 500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 727-674-4171, sandpearl.com.

Columbia Restaurant A traditional spread of items like roast turkey, stuffing based off a recipe from the Columbia's  great-grandmother, sweet potato pecan casserole, giblet gravy and homemade cranberry sauce, plus hot Cuban bread and butter, pumpkin flan and key lime pie. Though reservations are encouraged, walk-ins will be accepted at the Ybor City, Sarasota, St, Augustine, Clearwater Beach and Celebration locations. $21.95 for adults, $5.95 for kids under 10. Thu., Nov. 26, 11 a.m. 2025 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-248-4961, columbiarestaurant.com.

Friendsgiving A Pair O' Dice Brewing Co. Thanksgiving Eve, with craft beer and Mmm BAP food truck grub. The brewery's Double Shooter Brown Ale — a badder version of its traditional Northern English nut brown ale — will be released, and the Shooter's Chocolate Pecan Pie will be on tap alongside a selection of beers available in growler fills for the big meal. Free, money for beer and food. Wed., Nov. 25, 4-10 p.m. 4400 118th Ave. N. #208, Clearwater, 727-755-3423, pairodicebrewing.com.

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Dunedin to lei back at The Honu restaurant next year

The Honu, the stationary sibling of Charlie Tulum's Dos Tacos, is riding the wave into Dunedin.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 7:13 AM

Chef-owner Kimberly Platt in front of her new Dunedin restaurant, The Honu. - MEAGHAN HABUDA
  • Meaghan Habuda
  • Chef-owner Kimberly Platt in front of her new Dunedin restaurant, The Honu.

Kimberly Platt has street cred.

The chef and restaurateur, who one could call a Tampa Bay food scene pioneer of sorts based on her community involvements, has developed a pretty good following since her food truck, Charlie Tulum’s Dos Tacos, opened in 2013. So much so that her admirers, aware of her latest restaurant project planned for downtown Dunedin, have demanded she put the mobile kitchen’s staple on the menu.

Across from Dunedin City Hall, Platt’s been working to fulfill their taco fantasies and more since last month. She’s converting the bungalow-style structure at 516 Grant St. that once served as a residential unit (and, before that, a daycare center) into her new restaurant, The Honu.

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