Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The restaurant is located in downtown St Pete on Central Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets. When you first walk in the door, you can't miss the bikes hanging from the ceiling, which we all thought was pretty cool. The front of the restaurant is narrow with one side occupying a very long bar, behind which you can watch your food being cooked, and the other side has tables for two. As you get towards the back of the restaurant, it opens up, and there are tables for larger parties. We always love to sit at the bar, so that is what we did on that particular day. Also cool, we loved the mason jar lighting overhead and the lights at the bar that looked like they were made out of pipes.
The next order of business was to order drinks. I was only expecting a choice of wine or beer, but they do have a full bar. I ordered a house Pinot Grigio, which was okay, pretty much the standard stuff that you find in any restaurant house wine. I knew even before I got there what I was going to be ordering, which was the porcini and white truffle ravioli served with olive oil, garlic, spinach, and pine nuts. My husband ordered the pizza margherita and my son the spaghetti pomodoro. We could see the cooking going on out of the corner of our eyes as we were seated at the bar and it was all done in quick order. Oh...my....gosh, the ravioli was so good. The pine nuts were toasted to perfection, the garlic hit just the right balance, the spinach was bright green, and the ravioli... perfect! The pizza was very good, with a delicately crispy crust. My son's spaghetti pomodoro was excellent. We learned from owner Allen Galleano that all of their pasta is made fresh, in-house. He is very passionate about his restaurant and that is reflected in the food we ate there. I had wanted to check out the dessert, but we were all stuffed after that. I guess we will just have to make it back to work our way through the menu. This is a definite must try when visiting downtown St Pete.
437 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701
Monday, March 18, 2013
I must admit, I was very excited to try the food at Oxford Exchange. I love the way the place looks with its bookstore in the front, a cozy area where you can order tea or coffee, a shop of curiosities at the other end, and a wide open space featuring the restaurant. If you are lucky enough to get a table, there is a smaller area with natural light and a fountain surrounded by tables. No such luck for us, but the other part of the restaurant is beautiful, also. After a 15 minute wait for a table, we were finally seated. First order of business to be seen to, the wine. The Oxford Exchange doesn't serve wine, but for a $15 corking fee, they will open your wine and provide wine glasses. I love bringing my own wine anyway because I know for sure I will be drinking something I love, and on this day we had brought a lovely French bordeaux along that we were very happy to drink.
Next order of business, the food. We ordered a burger, the Grilled Chicken Paillard served over arugula with shavings of parmesan, and the Bronzino fish served over lentils. The burger put me in burger heaven and was very juicy and worth every calorie. I liked the fish, but the whole party didn't quite agree with me, so I'll leave that up to the diner. Another favorite for everyone was the chicken, which was my personal favorite. This place is a winner and I always figure it is a good sign for the success of a restaurant when you have to wait for a table on a weekday. I would definitely go back for the surroundings, the food, and the service. And don't forget to try the dessert if you can squeeze some in, as it's worth it!
420 West Kennedy Blvd
Tampa, FL 33602
On a short staycation, we had fun playing tourists one day in Tarpon Springs. For those of you who don't know, Tarpon Springs is famous for its large greek population and its sponge diving. Walking down the main drag, you can pick from a number of greek restaurants. We opted for the much loved Hella's. Although this is a very touristy area, and you know what they say about avoiding tourist traps, one doesn't find subpar food at Hellas. We tried the Mousaka, the stuffed flounder, and a gyro and we were very happy with all our entrees. Some of Hella's delicious baklava to finish our meal and we were happy.
785 Dodeconese Blvd
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Walking to the Tampa museum one late afternoon, we spied Pizza Fusion, and more importantly, the smell of pizza was tantalizing our hungry senses, so we decided to drop in. It was a bit hectic inside, but luckily there were still a couple of tables left, so we were seated without any wait. The server quickly took our drink order for some wine and then left us to look over the menu. It was interesting to note they offer vegan cheese and a gluten free crust if one needs either of those options. We decided to go with the Traditional cheese and the Barbeque chicken. Both pizzas were good and I would have preferred my crust a tad bit thinner, but I am aware that is one of those preferences that varies from diner to diner. Altogether a good experience and I wouldn't hesitate to pop in again.
777 N Ashley Dr
Tampa, FL 33602
Thursday, December 6, 2012
I love Sab Cafe. Easy, now my work is done. Okay, maybe that was just a little to easy, so a few more details. This is a small cafe in downtown St Pete in the Plaza Courtyard that serves Thai and Vietnamese food. There are a few cozy tables inside with more seating outside on the sidewalk. We have eaten inside Sab Cafe and we have also gotten our food to go and take it next door to eat at the Ale and the Witch. The food here is awesome and you can taste the freshness of the ingredients in every bite. We have enjoyed spring rolls, the vegetable rolls, the pad thai, the drunken noodles, and the pho. I will slowly work my way through the menu. The service here is very friendly and prompt and very obliging in answering my questions. This is one I plan to enjoy a lot.
111 2nd Ave NE
St Petersburg, FL 33701
I stopped in at Caramel Cafe and Wine Bar one night without doing any research and not realizing that with four locations already in Tampa Bay, it is the beginnings of a chain. However, appearance wise it was good and I was excited to begin the dining experience once I learned we would be ordering our food via iPads. The server handed us a couple of iPads and explained the concept to us after he learned we had never dined there before. He told us we could set the pace of our meal by ordering everything at once or staggering our orders out so all of our food didn't arrive at once. Once we understood how everything worked, the ordering commenced.
We started off with a glass of red wine, and an Amalfi Lemonade, which I found to be very refreshing. We put an order in for the butternut squash bisque and the chickpea fries. During this time our server checked with us to make sure everything was running smoothly, so this is a not a you are left alone with an iPad and no human interaction. After our food arrived, we took the time to enjoy, and then we ordered the grilled salmon, Moroccan Lemon chicken with couscous, and the braised short ribs with polenta. These turned out to be delightful, and we saved just enough room for dessert. We ordered a pumpkin cannoli, which I did not care for too much, and the chocolate lava cake, which was a hit.
So, all in all, it was a fun night out with good food. I suspect the novelty of ordering my food from iPads influenced me and I think it was a fun concept to try. I don't know that I want every place to start doing that, but something new is always fun. And again, even though you are ordering from an iPad, there are plenty of servers around to answer your questions.
Carmel Cafe and Wine Bar
3601 Swann Avenue
Tampa, FL 33609
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
La V Vietnamese Fusion couldn't be a better addition to downtown Saint Petersburg. A few tables outside for people watching, and inside, simple, elegant lines with beautiful artwork on the walls. Everyone walking in the door, along with ourselves, were greeted promptly on walking in the door the evening we were there. There are a number of chairs at the bar along with tables or booths at the back of the restaurant. We chose a table at the front of the restaurant so we could see the whole place. Our server arrived promptly with menus and gave us a couple of minutes to look them over.
We were delighted to see that along with the usual selection of wine one sees at most restaurants, they offered a French white, rose, and red. We are fond of French rose and find it is a good wine pairing for anything that has a hint of heat or spice, so we chose the lovely selection they offered from Provence, France. A good glass of wine in hand, we made our selections. We started with Shrimp Roll on Sugarcane and Fresh Tofu rolls. The shrimp rolls were very good, but I really loved the Fresh Tofu rolls with the fresh taste of mint inside and a yummy peanut dipping sauce. For our entrees, we ordered the Grilled Prawn on Vermicelli, Lemongrass chicken on vermicelli, and sesame beef on fried rice. All of our dishes were very good and it was hard to pick a favorite, but I have to say the sesame beef on fried beef was my favorite by a narrow margin and I loved the crisp vegetables served on the side of our entrees. I know this is going to be a new favorite of mine.
441 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701