If you’re a wine enthusiast and like to unwind with a glass of wine, Carmel Café and Wine Bar will be opening a location in South Tampa, having recently broken ground at their new location on Swann Avenue.
This $2 million creation will be Carmel’s first stand-alone establishment. Two locations currently exist, in Carrollwood and Clearwater. A Sarasota location is scheduled to open next month, followed by the South Tampa location in mid-August.
Albert Alfonso, a Tampa architect, is designing the 150-seat wine bar and cafe. Granite countertops and stone floors will be included in his handiwork. The entrance will be in the rear section of the structure.
If you’ve never been to Carmel and are a wine enthusiast, you have 150 reasons to visit: the 150 old-world and new-world wines. If you’re iffy about a particular wine, you can order a 3-ounce taste. If you know you like it, 6-ounce and 9-ounce glasses are available. If you really like it, or if you’ve had a rough day, consider ordering a bottle. Wine categories include champagne/sparkling, interesting whites and reds, chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel, cabernet/merlot/cabernet blends and homemade sangria.
Also, this tech-savvy wine bar and cafe is hip to the 21st century, with its wine and food menus displayed on individual iPads. The detailed descriptions and pictures on the screens make the ordering process fun for the wine-loving techie. Wine names, notes and label information are displayed with the touch of your finger. The iPad menu also suggests recommended food pairings.
I enjoyed red sangria during a recent visit. Instead of being served in a pitcher or regular glass, it was served in a French press. The purpose of a French press is to squish the sangria’s fruit to emit a fruitier flavor, which it certainly did in this case. The flavor was slightly sweet with hints of cinnamon. The interesting thing about the sangria is that it doesn’t include brandy, the liquor most often used in sangria. (Being a wine bar, Carmel doesn’t stock or serve brandy.)
During my visit, I also enjoyed items from Carmel’s spring menu, inspired by the Mediterranean Sea. Carmel’s cuisine is Mod Med, featuring selections from Italy, France, Greece, Spain and Morocco.
Here are my favorite spring menu items:
Seasonal Flatbread – Shrimp, goat cheese, mango and arugula rest on a flatbread crust with a nice crunch. The not-too-sweet mango complements the other ingredients. Great flavor blend.
Seafood Gyro – Chunks of mild, grilled swordfish and Greek slaw are topped with a large dollop of Tzatziki sauce and stuffed in whole-wheat mini pitas.
Mixed Greens and Fruit – This salad features seasonal fruit, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar dressing. The fruits in my salad included cantaloupe, apple and blueberries. An excellent accompaniment to the seafood-inspired menu items.
Dessert Trio – This trio offers something for every palate. Vanilla and cherry custard is smooth, rich, infused with cherry flavor and topped with cherries. Cappuccino chocolate truffle has a strong coffee flavor, and is ideal for coffee fans. Amaretto chocolate truffle has a strong almond flavor. One bite of this truffle, and I was hooked.
Consider visiting Carmel Café and Wine Bar in Carrollwood or Clearwater before the South Tampa location opens, and pair your wine with a few of the spring menu items.
For more information, visit carmelcafe.com.