Thursday, April 30, 2009

Old Northeast Tavern - St Petersburg, FL

Have you ever been driving along and you discover a neat little place to eat? This happened to me when I was in St Pete's Old Northeast neighborhood. This place looked so cute and inviting from the outside that I just had to see what I would find inside the Old Northeast Tavern. Inside was just as cute with the walls painted to resemble quaint European shops. If you are lucky, you can get a booth by the huge windows that open out onto the sidewalk. I am happy to say they have a nice selection of imports on draft as well as bottled beers. If you have read some of my earlier posts, by now you probably realize I am into imported brews, in particular German and Belgium brews. They have a nice menu and the thing I like about them is they combine flavors and ingredients in unique ways. Take for instance the Jerk Chicken and Plantain Quesadillas with raspberry coulis which is delicious beyond words. Another favorite of mine is the Tavern Steak Panini with portabella mushrooms, spinach, provolone, and a yummy chipotle aioli. If pizza is your thing, they do a great job on those, too. You can get a plain pizza, or if feeling adventurous, try the Garlic Shrimp pizza or the Cajun Chicken pizza. This is just a really comfortable place to hang out in the Old Northeast neighborhood. Also, if you stop by on a Saturday night, there just might be live music playing. This is definitely one you will want to give a try.

Old Northeast Tavern
201 7th Ave N
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Old Northeast Tavern on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 27, 2009

Roman Gardens Ristorante - St Petersburg, FL

I like to make a point of getting out and finding local restaurants to enjoy my food. I think it is important to support local business and I am very happy when I find a good one. The most recent one I discovered and dined at was the Roman Gardens Ristorante. This restaurant was located on Central Avenue in the Grand Central District of St Petersburg. As one might guess by the name, they serve Italian cuisine. You can dine outside on the sidewalk tables or, as we did this day, grab a booth or table inside. The decor is cheerful and Italian themed. If you like, you can enjoy a beer or wine for lunch. They have only a couple of choices for beer or wine, but the selection that they do have is thoughful and will do nicely for your dining experience. For lunch we ordered a cheese pizza with chopped basil on top, beef lasagna, and penne with tomatos, basil, and red pepper flakes. We all loved our food, however, the penne was spicy and very hot. This is not a negative on the penne, which we loved, but a warning for anyone who may like their penne a little less spicy. The lasagna was great and the pizza had a crisp crust and lots of gooey cheese, just the way we like it! Along with the food, the service was attentive and the chef even came out to see if we enjoyed our food. This is definitely another one we will return to dine at in the future.

Roman Gardens Ristorante
2642 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL

Roman Gardens Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Table Restaurant - St Petersburg, FL

For awhile, I have been wanting to try the Table Restaurant in St. Pete, but I had not quite ever gotten around to it until last night. First, the Table restaurant is beautiful and if you are in a mood to dress up, this is a nice place to go. You can dine at one of the regular dining tables or grab a bar table by the window and watch the world go by outside. You can grab a table outside, but to get the true ambiance of the restaurant, one needs to dine inside, at least in my opinion. On this occasion, we sat at one of the bar tables by the window, and listened to the guitarist who was playing relaxing Spanish tunes on his guitar. Our server brought us our menus and the wine list. One of the things I was disappointed about was the wine list. There were hardly any French or Italian Reds on the wine list. California wines dominated the list, along with a few other wines from the west coast and South America. Because we did not find any wines we liked, we decided to have beer. They did have a nice number of imports on their beer list. For an appetizer, we had the Shitake Chicken Lollipops with sweet potato crisps and a lovely Inca Cola Chipotle glaze. Everybody agreed that they were very tasty. Along with this, the server brought us warm bread filled with gooey fontina cheese that were great, but then with melted cheese you can never go wrong.

Next, on to dinner. The three different entrees we had at our table were the Panca Marinated Free Range Chicken Breast, the Flank Steak, and the Crab Encrusted Salmon. Now, this is where I was rather disappointed. I felt there was a lack of seasoning in the food and altogether it was not to my taste. This was pretty much what everyone felt at our table. The chicken was rather overdone, and the steak was just not what steak should be. I felt that the experience was rather a bit of a let down, but maybe it just happened to be an off night. I always like to give places a second chance, so sometime I might go back and try it again at a later date. Maybe.

Table Restaurant
539 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

TABLE Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lost Kangaroo Pub in Bradenton, Florida

If you ever find yourself in Bradenton, you will want to make a stop on Main Street. Located in this small and unpretentious downtown, you will find the Lost Kangaroo Pub. In this little oasis, there are 26 beers on tap from around the world. Grab a pint at the bar and a cup of peanuts from the barrel and grab a seat inside at the bar or a spot outside to watch the world go by. If sports are your thing, they have a giant big screen tv inside for game days. If you need more than peanuts to get you by, don't despair, you don't need to leave the Roo for longer than it takes for you to walk next door or across the street. Next door you will find Fav's Italian Cusine, and across the street is Fisherman Joe's. When your order is ready, both restaurants will walk your food right over to the Roo. So, grab your pint and drink up!

Lost Kangaroo Pub
427 12th Street West
Bradenton, FL 34205

Lost Kangaroo Pub on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shakespeare's English Pub, Sarasota

When in the mood for a pint, I head over to my favorite english pub in Sarasota. I have been going there for over a year now, and I always leave there happy. Although I go there for lunch quite a bit, I like to go in the evening best. In the evening it is lighted up with cheery miniature lights that are strung up along the wall, and the candles on the table cast a cheery glow. Grab a spot at the bar, or if you like grab a table and watch the crowd. It is a very inclusive crowd with everyone from college kids, the after work crowd, to a few families sprinkled here and there. If pool is your game head to the back and enjoy a game with your pint. The food here is pure comfort food with a emphasis on British fare. Some of the dishes I have enjoyed here are fish and chips, curried chicken and rice, and cottage pie. My favorite dish there is the pasties and they usually have the pastie of the day on the board. Whatever the choice of the day, I think they are all good. British fare not your thing? They make very good burgers with a combination of different and interesting toppings. The Brie sandwich with mushrooms, almonds, and red onions that are caramelized in balsamic vinegar, is yummy. They have some English, Irish, and German beers, among others, on draft. If you don't see what you like on draft, they have a large selection of bottled beers from around the world. Head over and grab a pint!

Shakespeare's English Pub
3550 S. Osprey Ave
Sarasota, FL 34239
(941) 364-5938

Shakespeare's English Pub on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday Brunch at 5 One 6 Burns Restaurant in Sarasota

I recently made a discovery in an unassuming location behind a mighty banyan tree in a sweet little bungalow. That discovery was 5 One 6 Burns Restaurant in Sarasota. I might not have even known of this charming little restaurant if I hadn't felt the need to have my lunch with music. Thus, the search began. Geri X happened to be playing at 5 One 6 and I really wanted to hear her, as she the big up-and-coming artist in the Tampa Bay area. So, we headed over to the restaurant where we were warmly greeted. When we arrived, we were given a table inside. However, we really wanted to sit outside because Geri X was going to play under the banyan tree and we wanted to watch her. All the tables outside were full at that time, but when one became free, the waiter was nice enough to move us outside. Needless to say, the music was great!

Next, I need to move on to the food, which was delicious. We ordered the steak and frites and the prime burger. The steak was wonderful with its touch of barbecue sauce. My dad had a special way of grilling steaks and this reminded me of that. The prime burger was equally delicious. And the frites, or fries, that came with them were out of this world! All in all, it was a delightful Sunday brunch with good entertainment and I will definitely be back again.

5 One 6 Burns Restaurant

516 Burns Court
Sarasota, FL 34236

5 One 6 Burns on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kahwa Coffee Shop in downtown St Petersburg

In a trendy little shop in downtown St Petersburg, near the Old Northeast neighborhood, is Kahwa Coffee. The coffee barista takes your order at the bar, and you can drink your coffee right there at one of the bar stools or grab one of the tables inside or outside on the sidewalk. If you are tired of the big chain coffee shops, like me, Kahwa Coffee is a refreshing change. Kahwa coffee is one of my favorite spots to get a espresso drink in the area. All of their drinks come in one size only, so if you are used to having a big mug of cappuccino sitting in front of you, this is not the place to get it. The saying "quality over quantity" applies here. Need something to eat? Although they offer only four or five bakery items, the butter croissants and chocolate croissants are so delicious that I don't miss the variety there. The croissants are the perfect treat to go along with the coffee. Stop by and give them a try because you might find your favorite new coffee shop.

Kahwa Coffee Retail Cafe
475 2nd Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Kahwa Coffee Roasting on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Red Mesa Cantina in St Petersburg

I recently stopped by Red Mesa Cantina in downtown St Petersburg for lunch. We ate our lunch in the bar area that overlooks the outdoor seating, which is a nice area to eat lunch, too. I like the bar area because it has all these luchador masks all over the place. On this particular day we decided to have the tacos for lunch. The nice thing about Red Mesa Cantina is you can order as few or as many tacos as you like and you can have a combination of different tacos. I order the steak fajita taco and the shrimp taco. I enjoyed the steak taco immensely, but the shrimp tacos are always my favorite. Also, we tried the chipotle chicken wings with gorgonzola dipping sauce. Although I normally like my wings spicier, I thought these were very tasty. All of this was washed down with a cold beer and altogether a delicious lunch.

Red Mesa Cantina
128 3rd Street South
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Red Mesa Cantina on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 10, 2009

Globe Coffee Coffee Lounge in St Petersburg

When one walks through the door of Globe Coffee Lounge in downtown St Petersburg, it feels like being transported back to the seventies. There is an eclectic mix of mismatched table, chairs, and flowered sofas that bring to mind the way houses were decorated back in the 70's. It's even fun ordering coffee to see what cup you get because it looks like they went to garage sales or flea markets to keep up with the theme. It is quirky in a nice way and one almost always gets a hello upon entering the Globe. What I really love going there for is their homemade treats, from the seven layer bars to the chocolate luv cake. If you need a quick bite to eat for lunch or dinner, order one of their sandwich, wraps, or soups - yummm. If you like, you can stop by in the evening for a beer or wine and they make a pretty mean sangria, also.

My final comment is that if you are looking for a local place to hang out and relax, this is a good pick. Sometimes when I stop there I see people sitting around playing games from the mountainous pile of games that are there. It is a good idea to keep track of their calendar online because you never know what fun event might be going on there. One night, I had a lot of fun when they had singer Joe Popp playing along with a bunch of his friends who joined in at various times. I have also noticed that JoEllen posts online what new goodies she has baked. I suggest stopping by and making yourself at home.

The Globe Coffee Lounge
532 1st Avenue North
St Petersburg, FL

Globe Coffee Lounge on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Crepes at L'Olivier Bistro in St Petersburg, Florida

When one thinks crepes, one thinks France. If I had not seen an ad for L'Olivier Bistro in St Pete, I would have never known that such heavenly crepes could be found in St. Pete. L'Olivier is located in the plaza off 2nd Ave NE, in St Pete, between Baywalk and the Pier. It is not noticeable, until one goes up the stairs and into the plaza. Once in the courtyard of the plaza, one sees the charming L'Olivier with its romantic outdoor seating and its rather charming interior with all the feel of a french bistro. The day I was there, I sampled the La Provencale crepe, a chicken and cream sauce based crepe, and Crepes Lasagna. The favorite all around was the chicken and cream sauce based crepe, however the other two dishes were equally appreciated. The Crepes Lasagna used crepes instead of noodles, and was delicious with its layers of beef and cheese. Along with the meal, we enjoyed a delightful french Vouvray, Chateau de Valmer, a white wine. The server was very polite and attentive as we selected our dishes and wine. It was delightful to watch and listen to a black and white french music performance playing on the tv. To finish the meal, we had a Crepe Suzette and a crepe with nutella. The favorite desert was the crepe with nutella, but then chocolate is always a good finale. When we dined at L'Olivier, we went for lunch, but its appearance lends itself to creating a romantic setting for an evening with that special someone.
111 2nd Avenue NE
Downtown St Petersburg, Florida


L'Olivier on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tapas at Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant

For those of you who don't know what tapas are, think appetizers or appetizer sized entrees. The thing I love about tapas is that it allows you to try a wide variety of flavors and one is not confined to just one entree. The tapas are especially good at Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant. There are four Ceviche locations, but I have only been to the locations in downtown St Petersburg and downtown Sarasota. The downtown St Pete location is a really nice location and you can take your tapas inside or outside, however I tend to enjoy sitting inside unless I am there having breakfast. I have only been to the the Sarasota location once, and on that occasion I went up to the third floor bar. On that particular night, I wanted to dine as well as listen to the great music that was played by Italian singer Silvia Wakte. Thanks for the great music Silvia!!! Both locations offer a really nice vibe.

Now for enjoying the tapas, first grab a glass of wine or the sangria and sit back and don't rush things. If you like, you can start out with a couple of tapas and then order more as you go along because Ceviche is definitely a place to sit back and relax, talk with your friends, and share tapas. I always like to have some of the seafood tapas, such as the salmon, mahi-mahi, calamari, or the garlic shrimp in olive oil. The prime fillet with mushrooms and the quail are especially delicious. Oh, I forgot to add that keep that bread basket handy because it is great for dipping up some of the olive oil or sauces in your dishes. And after all that, if you still have room for desert, try the tres leches cake(three milk cake) which is deceptively simple, but absolutely divine.

As I mentioned above I have been to the St Pete and Sarasota locations. In both locations, the servers were very friendly and always made sure my drinks were filled. In St Pete, my food always comes out hot and delicious. However, on the one instance that I dined in Sarasota, not all of my food came out as hot as I would like it and I am not sure why. However, I plan to try the Sarasota location again and see if that was just a one time fluke. This is a really beautiful restaurant and I want to give them another try. Another plus about both locations is that they never make one feel like they want to push you out of your table and it is yours as long as you want to enjoy it.

Ceviche St Pete
10 Beach Dr
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Ceviche Sarasota
1216 1st St
Sarasota, FL 34236

Follow-up: I went to Ceviche in Sarasota again because I wanted to see if the food would turn out as good as it does at the St Petersburg location. And while it was good, it still was not as hot as it needed to be for complete enjoyment. This might have been because we dined in the Flamenco room on the third floor. The main dining room was on the first floor and the trip up to the third floor might not work. As the music was good, however, that might be a place to go if one only wants to have some drinks and listen to the music when they have live music playing. I guess it is back to the St Petersburg Ceviche that I know and love.

Ceviche - St. Pete on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lunch At Cafe Dolce - St Petersburg, FL

Just west of downtown St Pete, on Central Avenue, is a great little Italian eatery, Cafe Dolce. Upon entering the cafe, I enjoyed the cheery yellow walls with art pieces and pictures on the wall, featuring Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, among others. I went there for a Saturday lunch and on the menu was homemade soup, sandwiches, and pizza. Everyone in my party decided to go for the pizza that day. The pizzas are personal pizzas, although depending on your appetite, you might have some left over because they were generously portioned. We orderd a plain cheese, the four cheese al formaggio, and the di pollo(chicken) pizzas. The pizzas were all the way we liked them, with crisp crust, just the right amount of sauce and cheese, and baked to perfection. The di pollo with chicken and roasted peppers was a clear winner at our table, followed closely by the plain cheese pizza. However, I personally felt one couldn't go wrong with whatever pizza topping was chosen. Our waiter that day was very friendly and he made sure everything was in order and he was on hand when we needed another wine. The wine we chose that day was a house red and we found it to be a nice table wine. Before leaving the restaurant, I checked out the dinner menu which was much more extensive than the lunch menu and I will definitely be back to try dinner! Cafe Docle also gets extra points for being reasonably priced, so check it out if you haven't already.

Cafe Dolce
2444 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL

Cafe Dolce on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Stop at Pastry Art Bakery and Cafe

Whenever I find myself in Sarasota in the morning, I love to make a stop at Pastry Art. This little gem is located on Main Street in downtown Sarasota. The shop is eye pleasing both inside and out, but the real pieces of art can be found inside its glass display case. There are so many items to choose from that I never know where to start. So far, I have tried the turnovers, almond financiers, chocolate chip cookies, lemon raspberry coffee cake, and various bars. Without fail, everything has been delicious. They also have a large number of dessert items to enjoy there or to take home for later. And did I mention the coffee? The guys make great espresso drinks and the coffee is very good, also. They also offer lunch and one can order soup, sandwiches, or a panini, but so far I have not been able to make it there for lunch. As a final note, I find the best time to go there is on weekdays because one is more likely to find a table to sit inside the cafe or outside on the sidewalk. If you go on Saturday, when the farmers market is going, finding a table is almost impossible and the line is long because Pastry Art is just that good.

Pastry Art Bakery and Cafe
1512 Main St
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 955-7545

Pastry Art Bakery on Urbanspoon