Friday, August 1, 2014

Tampa Heights, rejoice — Ulele has an opening date!

The opening date for Richard Gonzmart's long-awaited Ulele restaurant is Aug. 26.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 3:27 PM

A craft brewery headed by brewmaster Tim Shackton will be housed inside the 6,800-square-foot riverfront restaurant. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • A craft brewery headed by brewmaster Tim Shackton will be housed inside the 6,800-square-foot riverfront restaurant.

So long, tentative dates. The official grand opening of Ulele, Richard Gonzmart and the Columbia Restaurant Group's ambitious and much-anticipated eatery will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26.

The opening date was confirmed today through a press release sent out by the restaurant group.

Ulele will operate from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5 to 11 on Friday and Saturday. Though the restaurant will only be open for dinner to start, lunch and brunch hours will be added by fall.

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9th Bar Espresso: Cerealist expression

A new coffee shop wakes up Dunedin with funky cereal combos and weekend ’toons.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 7:59 AM

CEREAL KILLERS: A crowd enjoys 9th Bar’s soft opening. - AHMED HAMID
  • Ahmed Hamid
  • CEREAL KILLERS: A crowd enjoys 9th Bar’s soft opening.

July 25 was Omar Hamid’s eighth day on the job as a barista.

Armed with no previous coffeehouse experience other than training from Tampa’s Buddy Brew Coffee crew, who taught him how to execute a fine cup of joe, Hamid — whose enthusiasm for coffee started at home — opened Dunedin’s 9th Bar Espresso about two weeks ago for what he calls “selfish reasons.”

“It’s really not about anything else. I just wanted a good coffee shop around,” he said.

Hamid, who’s owned businesses in the city for five or six years, subleases his craft coffee bar at 929 Broadway from the Dunedin House of Beer, which operates the building as Wine & Brew on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays after 6 p.m.

Serving its coffee within 14 days of each roast, 9th Bar gets its beans, such as the Double Dog Espresso, from Buddy Brew. The local roaster created the shop’s signature 9th Bar Blend, too.

Artisanal coffees are 9th Bar’s main focus, Hamid said.

He and his brother Ahmed Hamid, who was a head chef at Bern’s and worked for Mise en Place, are putting together beverages like the World’s Most Expensive Cappuccino and The Crackuccino, which will pay tribute to the chocolate peanut butter Crack Pie that New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar is known for.

The sibling duo also crafts another breakfast staple in inventive ways: cereal.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

SouthShore community scores fresh chef

A revamped menu accompanies the change at Landing Café in Apollo Beach.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 4:16 PM

The Landing Café’s new menu will focus on fresh, flavorful cooking. - WATERSET BY NEWLAND COMMUNITIES VIA FACEBOOK
  • Waterset by Newland Communities via Facebook
  • The Landing Café’s new menu will focus on fresh, flavorful cooking.

Last week, Apollo Beach’s Landing Café, located at the Waterset residential community, welcomed Bradley Livingston to its kitchen as head chef.

Livingston, who started out cooking in Madrid, Spain, has more than 20 years of international culinary experience. According to a press release, Livingston stumbled upon Waterset while looking for a home in the area.

Growing up, Livingston lived on a farm. He and his family sold watermelons, potatoes and tobacco, and the new menu he’s developing for the café will reflect the fresh-first mentality he was raised with.

All the pastries served in the casual yet chic café are made from scratch, and Livingston hand-picks the produce offerings, the release said.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The CL Intern Issue: Education takes wing(s) at Copper Top

The summer interns join our restaurant critic at a traditional USF hangout.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 3:48 PM

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SMOKIN': Copper Top's signature wings are slow-cooked and baked, not fried. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • SMOKIN': Copper Top's signature wings are slow-cooked and baked, not fried.

For the second year in a row, CL invited a few of our interns to join in the food tasting experience as part of a wholesale takeover of the paper this week, which is the culmination of their summer. I’m lucky enough to host them as we share wings, along with celery and carrot sticks, plus enough bleu cheese dip to make things interesting. I must admit it’s refreshing to spend an evening with college students whose minds are sharp and whose optimistic spirits have yet to be crushed in their desire to be writers. We talk of life goals between bites of bar food and sips of beer.

I’m glad that I brought my own food posse to this USF campus hangout celebrating 40 years, as the web buzz points out that “many trashy older guys” go to the Copper Top “looking to creep on young college girls,” and to the casual observer, that’s exactly what I would seem about to do.

The Copper Top has long been a favorite amongst the USF crowd. It’s a no-frills bar and pub with three pool tables, arcade games, six flat-screen televisions and its famous namesake copper-topped bar. The Copper Top caters “to the college crowd and sports fans, and makes for a hangout spot with buddies for a game or two of pool or downing a few beers.”

Amy Daire, who’ll be finishing her senior year at FSU, notes her surprise “at their craft beer selection. It’s common to find crafts in bottle but to have so many unique ones (like creme brulee and pineapple) on tap is impressive.” She finds “the food on par with typical bar food” and concludes that, for her, the “chili is decent but seems to be masked with so much heat and spice that I can’t really taste anything but that. Given, I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy” food. My spin is a bit more positive; I like the heat and feel there’s plenty of flavor. Chili, after all, is named after a hot pepper and the spice gives you an excuse to drink more beer. So, at least you know what to expect and, if you share Amy’s heat aversion, to steer clear.

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The CL Intern Issue: Beyond the barriers of dorm-room dining

The interns' guide to Tampa Bay eats.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 3:36 PM

SLIDE RIGHT IN: Sliders 'n' fries at The Avenue are a popular choice for USF St. Pete people. - SHANNA GILLETTE
  • Shanna Gillette
  • SLIDE RIGHT IN: Sliders 'n' fries at The Avenue are a popular choice for USF St. Pete people.

Eating Ramen every night can get really old, really fast for college students, and dining halls and meal plans don’t cure our late-night cravings, either. This list of cheap, student-friendly eateries has everything from pizza to breakfast. —Amy Daire

9 Bangkok Having a taste for Champagne on a beer budget makes eating good sushi hard. But the lunch deals at 9 Bangkok boast one spring roll, its soup of the day and two sushi rolls for under $9. 571 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-894-5990, 9bangkok.info.

The Avenue eat/drink This restaurant’s got 50-cent wings on Mondays, $5 burgers on Wednesdays and a discount available for USF students. It’s within walking distance of USF’s St. Pete campus, and there are happy hour specials and live music on the weekends. 330 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 727-851-9531, theavenuedtsp.

The Egg Platter A you-can’t-miss-it spot in Pinellas Park that’s old-school and delicious. Since breakfast is served all day, go for a three-egg omelet that’s sure to hit the spot after the sun goes down. 6767 U.S. Highway 19 N., Pinellas Park, 727-521-0111.

Loving Hut Trade meatloaf and steak for one of the dishes at this vegan restaurant. Once you try the Fabulous Mongolia — with vegan soy protein, bell peppers, onions and more — you’ll become a regular. Loving Hut is less than 5 minutes from the USF Tampa campus, too. 1905 E. Fletcher Ave., Tampa, 813-977-7888, lovinghut.us.

Mama’s Kitchen This diner puts that much-needed “oomph” in breakfast with its diverse menu. Take note of the signature breakfast special — eggs, meat and your choice of three pancakes or French toast for less than $10. 9312 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-932-7111, mamaskitchen3.com.

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The CL Intern Issue: Fried food for the baked

Munchies 420 Cafe is an after-hours must-try for college students.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Adam Richman of Man v. Food attempts to conquer Munchies 420's Fire in Your Hole wings.
  • Adam Richman of Man v. Food attempts to conquer Munchies 420's Fire in Your Hole wings.

Munchies are the epitome of foods that speak to a college kid’s appetite. Whether they’re drunk munchies, high munchies or just late-night munchies, they are the foundation of university students’ diets.

Sarasota’s Munchies 420 Cafe knows just that, serving up a potluck of the best munchies one could think of. With a packed menu of burgers, cheesesteaks and various fried glories for under $10, this after-hours hotspot caters to the young and hungry.

The restaurant’s business hours are strictly 4:20 p.m. to 4:20 a.m., for optimal munching time, but even better, Munchies delivers so there’s no need to drive in any dangerous situations.

If you decide dining out is more your style, then leave the kids at home. During later hours and on the weekends, the eatery tends to resemble the bars from which all its patrons are coming. Needless to say, Munchies is not exactly kid-friendly.

As explicit music plays in the background, rowdy, intoxicated teens are welcomed with open arms. They aren’t shamed for any debauchery or drunkenness. With minimal rules and an outrageous bill of fare, it’s like this place was made for college students alone.

The menu features tons of options, half of which a doctor would recommend that you avoid at all costs.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happiness by the smear

Nutella celebrates its 50th anniversary at Tampapalooza.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 6:09 PM

A Nutella food truck is headed to the Tampa bash dedicated to the locals this weekend. - NUTELLA
  • Nutella
  • A Nutella food truck is headed to the Tampa bash dedicated to the locals this weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday, Nutella will bring its “Spread the Happy” Truck Tour to the region for Tampapalooza at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

The free two-day festival pays tribute to all things local, everything from grub to performers, and Nutella’s nationwide food truck tour — which will continue for the next six months — honors the brand’s 50-year run as “the original hazelnut spread,” a press release said.

According to the release, Nutella's food truck tour is also promoting its “Spread the Happy” ad campaign that says an endless chain of consumers share a common affection for the product.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Banyan Cafe's new leaves

The cozy eatery is set to open a second shop and a catering kitchen in St. Pete.

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 5:17 PM

The vanilla bean Belgian waffle from Banyan Cafe. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • The vanilla bean Belgian waffle from Banyan Cafe.

St. Petersburg's Banyan Cafe & Catering will open a second location inside the Morean Arts Center at 719 Central Ave. in about three months. Banyan owner Erica Allums said she's aiming to have the cafe open by Nov. 1.

In addition to the new shop, Allums said Banyan plans to open a catering kitchen near glass artist Duncan McClellan's studio in the industrial Warehouse Arts District area of St. Pete.

Allums, who's running the catering kitchen with her husband Bruce, said it will launch around the same time as the cafe, allowing Banyan to dedicate more space to its catering.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

All shook up

Muvico Sundial 19 offers Pompeian olive oil as an alternative popcorn topping next month.

Posted By on Sat, Jul 26, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Downtown St. Petersburg's Muvico theater. - SUNDIAL ST. PETE VIA FACEBOOK
  • Sundial St. Pete via Facebook
  • Downtown St. Petersburg's Muvico theater.

In celebration of National Olive Oil Month, Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil is collaborating with downtown St. Petersburg’s Muvico Sundial 19 to bring moviegoers a healthier substitute to the traditional butter drizzled over theater popcorn next month.

Those looking to catch must-see summer flicks with popcorn in tow may request olive oil at the theater’s concession stands starting Aug. 1.

According to a press release from Pompeian, its partnership with Muvico falls in line with a pledge the food company’s launching in about a week. The pledge will help eaters trade butter for olive oil, which Pompeian says has no cholesterol and less saturated fat, in their daily recipes.

The 1,000 Facebook fans who take Pompeian’s pledge will be eligible to win a coupon for a free 24-ounce bottle of its olive oil, as well as a movie rental redemption code. Winners will be selected at random throughout the month.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

A new chapter, a new chef for Peg's Cantina in Gulfport

Chris Perotti's restaurant experience ranges from Philadelphia to Spain.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Dozark, Dodson and Wesselink on the front steps of Peg's Cantina. - HEIDI KURPIELA
  • Heidi Kurpiela
  • Dozark, Dodson and Wesselink on the front steps of Peg's Cantina.

Peg's Cantina, popular Gulfport purveyor of beer and Mexican-influenced cuisine, welcomes a new executive chef tonight, Chris Perotti. 

Peg Wesselink and Tony Dodson opened Peg's in a small shopping plaza on Gulfport Boulevard 10 years ago and moved the restaurant to a gracious bungalow on Beach Boulevard in 2007. In recent years, Peg's has been as much about beer as cuisine. Wesselink's son, Doug Dozark, did so well with the brews he created for the restaurant that he was able to establish a separate business, Cycle Brewing, in downtown St. Pete.

His mother and stepfather considered selling Peg's and partnering with Cycle to buy warehouse and brewing space, and even created a website to promote the sale (buyacantina.com). But none of the prospective buyers for Peg's felt like a good fit, says Wesselink, and a deal that almost came to fruition on a building in the Warehouse Arts District ultimately fell through.

Now Cycle is looking at leasing rather than buying extra space, while Peg's has found a new lease on life with the arrival of Perotti.

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