Restaurant News

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Le Meridien Hotel hosts former judges just prior to opening

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 8:23 AM

The former federal courthouse will open next week as Le Meridien Hotel after renovation
  • Chip Weiner
  • The former federal courthouse is scheduled to open next week as Le Meridien Hotel after renovation.

The developers of the soon-to-be-open Le Meridien Hotel, along with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, hosted a preview yesterday for judges who once presided over cases when the building was a federal courthouse. The 109-year-old neo-classical edifice sat vacant for years, and its renovation is a welcome addition to downtown, according to the mayor. It will become the eastern anchor point for the Zack Street Promenade of the Arts that runs from the hotel to Curtis Hixon Park.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Downtown St. Pete's Cask and Ale is a new shrine to craft cocktails

Posted By on Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 5:22 PM


Cask and Ale, downtown St. Petersburg’s newest high-end watering hole, opened to an overflow crowd Friday night in the reimagined space once home to The Independent, 29 3rd St. N.

The narrow space with the soaring ceiling features a long bar to the left and seating to the right, the walls covered in unfinished wood, as if you were cradled inside a wooden cask. It’s a warm and inviting space that would be great for quiet conversation over a hand-crafted cocktail, if not for the humongous crowd that filled the joint opening night and spilled out on the the sidewalk.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

McAlister's Deli brings hot spuds and sweet tea to Boy Scout Boulevard

Posted By on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 1:56 PM

McAlister's Sweet Tea fans call themselves "Tea Freaks." - MCALISTER'S DELI
  • McAlister's Deli
  • McAlister's Sweet Tea fans call themselves "Tea Freaks."

In addition to Eddie V's, Lee Roy Selmon's, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, the Boy Scout Boulevard dining hub welcomed "fast casual restaurant" McAlister's Deli. While many of the restaurants in the area cater to more formal dining, McAlister's hopes to offer a laid-back atmosphere for lunch and dinner. 

McAlister's Deli opened Monday, July 22, at 4410 W. Boy Scout Blvd. The menu is famous for its entire section devoted to tricked-out baked potatoes. Take the Spud Max with black forest ham, smoked turkey, bacon, cheddar-jack cheese, jalapeños, green onions and black olives. Vegetarians can dig into the Spud Olé, with veggie chili, cheddar-jack cheese and jalapeños. There's even a spud covered in pot roast.

McAlister's sweet tea has also developed a strong following; fans even have their own Tea Freaks page. 

“We’re excited to expand McAlister’s presence in Tampa and look forward to introducing local residents to our high-quality food and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™,” McAlister’s Brayton Knotts said in a press release Monday. “I have no doubt our warm, friendly hospitality will make the community feel welcome right away and they’ll love our new summer menu items like BBQ Pulled Pork, peach tea and dessert shooters.”

Knotts said McAlister's plans to open 10 more Tampa Bay locations. The deli is open 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week. 4410 W. Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, 813-876-3354.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Southern Revival, an interview Jeff McInnis and Sean Brock

Jeff McInnis (Yardbird, gigi, and Top Chef), and Sean Brock (Husk) recently teamed to create a 1800s inspired dining experience.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Jeff McInnis' culinary career truly took off in 2008 when he was selected as one of 17 chefs from across the country to appear on Top Chef: Season Five.Following the show, McInnis became the Executive Chef at gigi in Miami, where he developed an acclaimed menu that catapulted the restaurant into the limelight. In March of 2011, McInnis left his post at gigi to open Yardbird Southern Table & Bar as Chef-Partner. Since its October 2011 opening, Yardbird has received widespread media attention as a dining destination for delicious Southern fare in South Beach, as well as rave reviews from the Miami Herald, Miami New Times and South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Sean Brock first gained national attention as Executive Chef of McCrady's in Charleston, South Carolina. It was during his tenure at McCrady's that Brock was first nominated for a James Beard Award in 2008 and again in 2009. Brock eventually won the coveted award in 2010, when he was recognized as Best Chef Southeast. Beyond the James Beard Awards, Brock won Food Network's Next Great Chef episode of the Food Network Challenge, and competed against Michael Symon on Iron Chef America.� In addition to serving as Executive Chef of McCrady's, he also helms the kitchen as Executive Chef at Husk, also in Charleston and recently voted Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit.


[Jeff McInnis (Yardbird, gigi, and Top Chef), and Sean Brock (Husk) recently teamed to create a 1800s inspired dining experience.The special menu included favorites from yesteryear such as: Deviled Eggs Topped with Caviar, House Made Country Ham, Charleston-Style Frogmore Stew with Three Year Old Aged Charleston Gold Rice, and Fried Yardbird with Carolina Gold Waffles and Brussels Sprouts with Crisp Green Apple, as well as pairings from America's finest wineries. I was luckily enough to interview both chefs.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Coming Soon: Carmel Café and Wine Bar

South Tampa will play host to a stand-alone location.

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2012 at 8:00 AM

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.

Carrollwood locations wine selection

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Technology is brewing at Buddy Brew

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM

The latest technology brewing in the coffee industry is the LaMarzocca Strada EP espresso machine. This marvelous machine is also a rarity. Currently, only eight coffee shops nationwide have acquired one. But guess what? Buddy Brew Coffee in Tampa is the proud owner of a LaMarzocca Strada EP. This is cutting-edge technology at its finest.


Last week, Buddy Brew bid farewell to their trusty but slightly outdated Faema E61 Legend, which was a legend in itself. But the times are changing, so out with the old and in with the new (technology).

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Taco “Bus” open in Downtown Tampa

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Earlier this week, a grand opening event unveiled Taco Bus’s newest location in downtown Tampa. Ironically, this location isn’t a bus at all. Instead, it's an actual storefront with a bus replica attached. The replica sports the Taco Bus logo, of course, but is also eye-catching and charming to passersbys. Not only that, but this “magic bus” doubles as a take-out window.

The Taco Bus concept was developed by Rene Valenzuela, and originated as a taco stand in his native country of Mexico. After relocating in Tampa Bay, he created a kitchen within an actual school bus, and soon he had two mobile units, on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, the other in St. Petersburg. Up until now, that is.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

MacDinton's St. Pete to open Friday, Dec. 30th

Offering an all-you-can-drink Happy Hour on opening night.

Posted By on Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Now folks in the 'Burg can enjoy Irish revelry, plenty of drinks and pub fare as the MacDinton's St. Pete location will be opening its doors this Friday, Dec. 30th.

Scheduled to open at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30th, MacDinton's is setting up their second location on the other side of the bridge in the Jannus Live entertainment complex on the 1st Avenue North side of the complex.

Guests on opening night will be able to enjoy a $10 open bar on opening day 6-8 p.m. and live music throughout the night. There will be no cover charge and, if one chooses not to partake in the all-you-can-drink Happy Hour, single drinks will also be available for purchase.

The pub will also be serving "traditional Irish fare with a twist," and there will be access to the Jannus Live courtyard from the bar.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Remembering the Globe Coffee Lounge, a creative safe haven

A force for good — and for good coffee — the Globe closes Dec. 21 as owner JoEllen Schilke takes a full-time job at WMNF.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 3:07 PM

JoEllen Schilke at The Hub.
  • Michael Conway
  • JoEllen Schilke, the Lady Madonna of the Burg — at The Hub in Downtown Tampa.

The first time I walked into the Globe Coffee Lounge, I was 14. Looking around at the menagerie of tchotchkes and art, I imagined this must be what the inside of someone's brain looks like. I used to sit outside the front doors, smoking Black Djarums and getting an early start to my coffee habit. Each of the mismatched coffee mugs had a different story; the white coffee cup covered in dinosaurs demonstrating various sexual positions was considered something of a good-luck charm.

But the Globe will be closing Wednesday, December 21, after 12 years. The Globe's owner/chef/baker/barista/security/DJ/events coordinator, JoEllen Schilke, recently was hired by WMNF Tampa to be their volunteer coordinator. Schilke has hosted Art in Your Ear on WMNF for many years and has worked at the station as a reporter, DJ and volunteer voice for the community. She has had her lovely pinky on the pulse of the St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay community for quite some time.

"I have gotten my dream job as volunteer and outreach coordinator at WMNF, 88.5 FM, the community radio station in St. Pete. This will give me a bigger venue for creating community and making the world a better place! Plus there will be sleeping, much sleeping," Schilke told the New York Times in an interview Monday.

The Globe served more than just a good cup of coffee, or a strong iced chai. With Schilke as guiding force, the Globe became a space for creativity and community for many in St. Petersburg and beyond. I saw my first Geri X show at the Globe in November of 2006. The same night, former WMNF/Creative Loafing writer (and now my friend) Dawn Morgan interviewed me for the Sticks of Fire blog about raising children around music:

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