Friday, April 30, 2010

Chattaway - St Petersburg, FL

One day for lunch, my son and I headed over to the famous Chattaway, which is rather a institution in St Petersburg because it has been around so long. The most famous item on its menu that I was longing to try was the Chattaburger, as it has received numerous awards in the Tampa Bay area. So with much anticipation, we were ready to eat. Arriving at the Chattaway, I parked out back. From the parking lot, I could see glimpses of table umbrellas through the thick Florida greenery. Across a little wooden bridge that was next to a Koi pond that had a cute rubber ducky display, and we were inside a lost garden. Okay, maybe not a lost garden, but it makes it seem more exciting. However it was very pretty as all of the outdoor seating was surrounded by this lush greenery, and the soft perfume of flowering shrubs were in the air.

All of the seating is outside on this patio area and there are a few seats at the bar, at regular tables, and at picnic tables with benches. There is also a lot of umbrellas that will be welcome as the weather turns hotter. However, on the day that my son and I were there, this was not a worry. We grabbed a bar table and a friendly server soon took our order. We knew what we wanted, so it was quick and painless. I ordered the Chattaburger with just ketchup and pickles. For my son, it was the Chattaburger with American cheese. After a short wait, our meals arrived in baskets with burgers and french fries. I love baskets. This was a very delicious, juicy burger. As I have mentioned in a couple of other posts, I am looking for the "perfect burger," and this is definitely at the top of the list. Number one, yet? I don't know because I haven't tried everywhere yet. This was a nice size burger, but we decided to try dessert. When you are there, they just have you look in the case to see what they have. I chose the peach and berry pie with ice cream. Again very yummy, and the pie crust was especially good. I can't tell you how many times I have had pie with a good filling but a bad crust. This one was excellent.

After we were done eating, all that was left was to pay the bill. Just a little bit of information you need to know when dining at the Chattaway is that they only accept cash, so come prepared. This is definitely a winner in St Pete and a very quaint and relaxing spot to go and escape from it all.

358 22nd Avenue South
St Petersburg, FL 33705

Chattaway on Urbanspoon

Old Farmer's Creamery - St Petersburg, FL

In need of an ice cream fix, my son and I headed over to Old Farmer's Creamery in St Petersburg. It is not hard to miss, if you drive on 4th street, just north of downtown. It is not hard to miss because it is this big red building meant to bring to mind a barn. The fence in the parking lot out back continues the farm theme as it is painted white and black like a cow. Head inside to see where the real fun starts along with the continued farm them.

Inside, one will find multiple cases of ice cream and the hardest part for some might be what flavor to chose. I heard they make their own ice cream and I asked to make sure. The reply was they make their own ice cream, but at a separate facility, as there is not enough space at the shop. I was happy to hear they make their own ice cream rather than mass produced ice cream that one can already buy in the grocery store. After a look through the ice cream cases, one of which was devoted to various chocolate flavors, we made our choices.

I have to confess, we did not go out on a limb when we made our choices. I already knew whatever my son chose would involve chocolate. Predictably, he chose one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of vanilla. For myself, I am a solid lover of vanilla ice cream, so I chose one scoop of classic vanilla ice cream and one scoop of pecan praline ice cream. On top of that I added hot fudge and whip cream. Sounds like a sundae to me, except I chose not to add the nuts and cherry to make it an official sundae. The ice cream was pure decadence and delicious and we both loved it. One of the things that impressed me most about the pecan praline was that it had a nice crunch. Sometimes I buy it from other places and it has kind of lost its crunch. Happily, this was not the case at Old Farmer's Creamery.

I could go on about Old Farmer's Creamery and their ice cream forever, ice cream lover that I am, but I won't. I say go try the ice cream and let it speak for itself. Enjoy local ice cream here in St Petersburg!

Old Farmer's Creamery
2531 4th Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33704

Old Farmer's Creamery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nitally's Thai-Mex Cuisine - St Petersburg, FL

Wow, this place is yet another jewel in the Grand Central District! My family and I have heard a number of great things about Nitally's from friends and acquaintances, and we just had to give it a try one evening. Plus, it sounded interesting to hear about Thai-Mex fusion food. From the outside, the restaurant is rather inconspicuous, but step inside and all of that changes. The walls are painted in soft pastels and asian art adorns the walls. We particularly enjoyed a framed art pieced that had two scorpions inside. Oh, and I must not forget the budha statues. That tables were also covered in soft pastel colored cloths and the benches had cushions for comfort. A big chalkboard adorned the back wall with a extensive list of hot and cold drinks along with some specials. Overall, they environment was peaceful and it just made you want to relax, get comfy, and stay awhile.

We were met with a cheerful smile upon entering, even though we arrived about a half an hour before closing time. We got to pick our own table and our server took our drink order and gave us a little time to look over the menu. My husband, the vegetarian, was happy to see that a lot of dishes could be made vegetarian or vegan, upon request. We started with the spring rolls. They were delicious and came with a nice sweet and spicy dipping sauce. For our entrees, we ordered the Yellow Curry Rice, the Garlic Shrimp, and Pad Prik Khing. We ordered the Yellow Curry Rice with vegetables, and it was mouthwatering, spicy, and flavorful. Full of tasty green onion, brocoli, carrots, and a bit of garlic and loved by us meat eaters, also. The Garlic Shrimp was just as wonderful as the dish before it. There was plenty of shrimp for my son and I to share along with carrots and cilantro on top to enhance the flavor. The dish came with white rice that was great for mixing with the garlicky sauce. The final dish I want to mention is the Pad Prik Khing. This was one of the dishes that we requested to be vegetarian and the cook was able to make it that way. Also, we added tofu to it. The tofu soaked up all that good red curry flavor and we enjoyed the green beans in the dish. This dish also included white rice.

This is really a wonderful place and the spicy and fresh flavors were just the thing to tempt our taste buds. The only regret I have is that there were so many things I wanted to try, and it was so hard to choose when ordering. Next time I go, I would like to try some of the fusion dishes listed on the menu. Perhaps the Panang Burrito. The service was very friendly and prompt. My family and I look forward to working our way down the menu.

2462 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33712

Nitally's Thai-Mex Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Dairy Inn - St Petersburg, FL

Dairy Inn is another one of my local favorites for soft serve ice cream and burgers. It is rather funny that it is a favorite of mine now because I drove by it for like five years without ever stopping in to try it. I just thought it was an attempt to be a knock-off of that other national chain. How wrong I was! They are steps above those other guys. Per Dairy Inn's website, they are the oldest ice cream parlor in St Petersburg and have been around since 1947.

My family and I like to stop in for the soft serve cones. I usually like the vanilla soft serve cone, or sometimes I like to have it dipped in chocolate. My son typically gets the soft serve twist. They also have a rotation of different soft serve ice creams and on my last trip there I enjoyed the Dulce de Leche soft serve. I just might need to make it back again before that goes off the rotation. I am not really sure how often they change those flavors, so I better make it quick.

Dairy Inn's burger is a big contender in my search for the elusive, but "perfect burger." These are nice sized burgers that come wrapped in paper and they are one of my favorites. They are juicy, messy, and probably not part of a health conscious diet. However, when you take a bite, all of that seems to float out of your mind. Again, this burger is a serious contender for best burger. In fact, it has won numerous awards in the bay area for best burger.

So, moral of the story, don't judge a book by its cover. Nor, a ice cream parlor by its looks. Line up at the window, place your order, and enjoy! Don't forget they serve breakfast, too. Seating is outside tables only.

Dairy Inn

1201 Martin Luther King Junior St N
St Petersburg, FL

Dairy Inn on Urbanspoon

Rollin' Oats Market and Cafe - St Petersburg, FL

I love to support local businesses and one of my favorites is the Rollin Oats Market and Cafe. They have two locations with one in Tampa and one in St Petersburg. The St Petersburg location is the one I frequently use and it is conveniently close to downtown. They offer organic foods, whole foods, nutritional products, and a host of other items along with a cafe in the back.

There are a number of things I like to get there. I like to bottle my water there or grind my own peanut butter. They have a beautiful fruit and vegetable isle. I like to get bulk items from the bins, such as: granola, nuts, dried fruits, rice, flour, etc. They really have a large selection of bulk items. Oh, and check out their spice rack where you can weigh and buy bulk spices. This way one can buy the spices they need and not worry about them losing their flavor after staying in the cupboards for years. And the cheese section, oh my! They really have a large selection of local and international cheeses and this is my FAVORITE place to get cheese because of the variety and reasonable prices. Right next to the cheese, there is a large selection of single bottles of beer from the US and international brews. That is great for trying new beers, when you are not sure that you want to buy a whole six pack.

The last spot I want to mention is the cafe/deli in back. Their is a case filled with different entrees to take for dining at home. Or perhaps you need a quick lunch, you can order a sandwich or something at the counter. I usually like to stop and get some of the baked goods. One of my favorites is the lemon bars, which go great with an afternoon cup of coffee. My son is partial to the chocolate-chocolate chip muffin.

I feel like there is so much more I could say about Rollin Oats, but it is probably best to go out and see it for yourself. And, pssst..........they are way better than that "other" national chain. Shop local, yay!

Rollin' Oats Market and Cafe
2842 9th Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33704

Rollin' Oats Market & Cafe on Urbanspoon

El Cap - St Petersburg, FL

In search of "the perfect burger," my son and I headed to El Cap for lunch. We had heard it is one of those places in the Tampa Bay area that is famous for their burgers. According to their menu, El Cap has been around since 1963. I figure if a restaurant is able to stick around that long, there must be something good going on there. We entered the restaurant through the outdoor seating area, and seated ourselves inside. It had one of those nice, hole in the wall atmospheres. The wall was plastered with numerous and various best burger awards, along with other memorabilia. If you don't want a table, there are a few chairs at the bar.

After studying the menu, my son and I had our orders ready. For drinks, we chose IBC root beer. For burgers, I ordered the "World Champ" hamburger. This was a plain burger and for a little extra, I added grilled onions. My son chose the "World Champ" cheeseburger. Along with the burgers, I ordered a basket of fries. After a short wait, our burgers arrived. I liked the size of the burger because it reminded me of the patties my mom used to make that were not to big or not too small. And the taste impressed with the toasted bun, juicy burger, and grilled onions combining for a great burger. I tried my son's cheese burger, which was also quite tasty. The fries themselves were quite good, but nothing extraordinary.

So, did I find "the perfect burger." Well, it was pretty, pretty, good. But, I don't know if it is the best burger. I am looking for that elusive taste and experience that I remember from my childhood. I guess I have keep on exploring the Bay area and let you all know how that works out. As for service at El Cap, it was friendly, but no nonsense. They had a lot of customers there that were all waiting to order their burger. This is definitely a place I would return and as an added plus, it is budget friendly.

El Cap
3500 4th Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33704

El Cap on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 26, 2010

Anghiti Indian Cuisine - Tampa, FL

My husband had to head north of Tampa for a photo shoot, so my son and I decided to come along because I wanted to try an Indian Restaurant that was in the vicinity. After dropping off my husband, my son and I headed over to Anghiti which was located on Fowler Avenue. Located in a strip mall, the inside was simply decorated with a Indian theme running throughout. We were quickly given a table. At that point, all we needed to decide is if we wanted to order from the menu, or try the lunch buffet. A quick look at the buffet that everyone in the restaurant was eating from made the decision for us, we would eat from the buffet.

The buffet had a nice selection of choices, more than I would have been able to try if I had ordered off of the main menu. There were chutneys, appetizers, meat entrees, vegetarian entrees, rice, and naan. For an appetizer, I chose the potato samosa along with some chutney. A samosa is a flaky pastry that is filled and then deep-fried, and it was very tasty along with the chutney. For meat I tried the curry chicken, tandoori chicken, and the lamb biryani (a rice pilaf). For the vegetarian entrees, I tried the dahl(lentils) and the aloo palak(spinach with potatoes). For dessert, I tried the Gulab Jamun and the ras malai, both were excellent. The buffet even included hot chai. Everything was beautifully spiced and to date, this is the best Indian restaurant I have tried in the area. We cook this food in our home, so I know when I have found something really good. Sometimes, I go to some Indian restaurants, and the food is somewhat bland and the spices have been tamed down to much. However, at this restaurant all of the dishes had a nice blend of spices with just the right touch of heat, and yet not too overwhelming.

After finishing the meal, I ordered some palak paneer(spinach and cheese) to go for my husband. He too was impressed with the quality of the food, and he can't wait to go back and sample more dishes. The only disappointment was that the owners of the restaurant wouldn't let me take any pictures of the restaurant's interior. They have a nice restaurant, so it is a pity that I do not have pictures for their restaurant, as is the case with other restaurants I have visited. Although I don't have any pictures of the restaurant, I do have a picture of the food I ate that day, but that does not begin to describe the taste of the food. Overall, it was great food and polite service.

Anghiti Indian Cuisine

2047 East Fowler Avenue
Tampa, FL 33612

Angithi Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 23, 2010

Taps Wine and Beer Merchants - Tampa, FL

What a wonderful evening of great food and music. We headed over to Tampa to hear a local singer that we follow, Meredith Marsh, perform at this downtown spot. We had never been there before, but we dearly wanted to hear Meredith perform. We arrived downtown and found a pay parking lot across the street from the restaurant. If you are lucky enough to find a spot, metered parking is free in the evenings. The restaurant has a hip vibe with bar tables and a long low couch towards the back with cool skeleton pillows on the couch. We dined at one of the tables outside on the sidewalk, where Meredith was singing. Outside, there is also a low couch and tables for those who want to get a little more comfortable. Outside is beautiful with views across the street of the University of Tampa.

When seated, our server brought us an extensive beer list and a wine list. The wine list had a number of nice choices, but I would have loved to have seen a few more international choices. The evening was warm, so I decided to go for a Rose, a favorite warm weather wine of mine. Rose wines were something I didn't care to try in the past, but this last year, I have developed quite the love for them. My husband chose the Sauvignon Blanc, which was quite nice. Like I said, the beer list was quite extensive with a large draft and bottled beer selection. Next time, I would like to go there and try some of the beers.

For food, we started with the beer queso nachos. This was a generous plate of nachos with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa on top. They were delicious and the guacamole was some of the best I have had in a long time. My son ordered the Roast Beef sliders Au Jus. These come on a baguette sliced into three portions with provolone cheese and they were quite tasty. My husband chose the vegetarian sandwich, which was roasted vegetables including mushrooms, peppers, onions, roasted asparagus, Gorgonzola cheese, and garlic mayo on a baguette. The roasted vegetable sandwich was my favorite out of our three orders. The strong cheese with the roasted vegetables was absolutely wonderful. For myself, I chose the turkey and brie sandwich with pear chutney and arugula on a baguette. This was very good and the pear chutney along with the brie really brought the sandwich together. Along with our sandwich was a nice salad with a strawberry on top that was quite lovely.

This was a truly lovely evening with good food and great music. The service was polite, but a bit slow at times. This is a place I would love to play a repeat visit to, especially if Meredith is playing. Good food, good drinks, and good music. It couldn't get any better.

Taps Wine and Beer Merchants
777 North Ashley Drive
Tampa, FL 33602

Taps Wine & Beer Merchants on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Craftsman House - St Petersburg, FL

If you don't keep your eyes wide open, you just might drive past the Craftsman House craft and art gallery that is located in the Grand Central District. I know the first time we went looking for it, we drove past it. The Craftsman House is located in a 1918 renovated bungalow (This information can be found on the Craftsman House website). Local artists and craftsman display and and sell their work there, which is quite beautiful. Tucked in the back of the bungalow is a cute little cafe where you can order coffee, wine, beer, wraps, sandwiches, salads, soup, and bakery items. If you order a coffee or hot drink, they serve it in handmade pottery, which is a lovely touch.

On the day we were there, we went to the counter and placed our order. We ordered three Boylan's Root beers that just hit the spot that day. An added plus is that they were made with real sugar versus corn syrup, yay! For eating, we chose the hummus wrap, the pesto chicken wrap, and the roast beef and focaccia sandwich. With our orders, we also got to choose from chips or salad, but we all went for the chips that day. After ordering our food, we chose a table on the front porch. In addition to the tables and chairs scattered around, there is a quaint little porch swing. After a short wait, our food arrived. The wraps and sandwiches come in generous portion sizes, and I really could have shared a sandwich with my son because it was too much to finish. However, we were all in agreement that the food was very good and this is definitely a place to make repeat visits. Also, this is a good place to keep track of upcoming events on their website because they have music playing sometimes in the evening, plus other events. A winner for us!

Craftsman House
2955 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33713

Craftsman House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chappy's - downtown St Petersburg, FL

For lunch one weekday, my son and I decided to head over to Chappy's for lunch. My husband declined to join us for this one because we could not really find anything for vegetarians on the menu, as far as entrees went. And we don't really count salads as a meal option. So, my son and I walked in and seated ourselves as the sign up front indicated. I liked the looks of the place. It was a long room with mostly bar tables along the sides and a couple of regular tables by the windows up front. We both liked the cool art on the walls.

Our waiter was very prompt in bringing us drinks and taking our orders, but I am afraid to say that was the only thing that was prompt that day. For lunch, we ordered a burger and the Shrimp Po Boy. My son's burger was good, but nothing special. I loved the battered shrimp that was in my Po Boy and I was happy with my selection. Both the burger and po boy came with big cut fries that were lightly dusted with seasoning, and which we both liked.

So, we enjoyed our food, but it did not arrive promptly. After ordering a burger and a Shrimp Po Boy sandwich, we waited about an hour for our food. While waiting, I saw a table of two get up and leave because they couldn't wait for their food any longer. Another table behind me complained to their server that they had already waited too long and that if the food didn't arrive in 5 minutes, they were leaving. Their food did not arrive in five minutes, and they all got up and left. I did hear the server tell another party that was waiting for their food that they had gotten behind due to a large party they had been there earlier. I understand these things can happen. However, before taking orders, they could have advised customers that they were behind by a certain amount of time and asked if customers would still like to order, or if they would like to dine there another day. This was a weekday lunch time, and a lot of people there were taking a lunch during their workday and needed to eat in a hurry. Give people a choice, so as not to lose customers in the long run. Again, good food, but need to communicate with the customers.

247 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Chappy's on Urbanspoon

the Cupcake Spot - downtown St Petersburg, FL

When in the grip of a cupcake craving, and no time to bake some at home, I like to head over to the Cupcake Spot that is located on Central Avenue in St. Pete. A cute little spot, with a big display case filled with delicious options. The hardest thing that there is about going in there is how to decide which cupcake I want to eat. I take almost as long as my son to decide. Just the other day, I enjoyed the Better Than cupcake. This was a chocolate chip cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting and a few small chocolate chips on top. I love cream cheese frosting, so I was very happy with that selection. I also, tried the Tuxedo cupcake, which was a yellow cupcake topped with vanilla frosting on one side, and chocolate frosting on the other side. The Tuxedo was very good, but I still like the Better Thans cupcake best. There is only a couple of tables inside, but most people do what we do and just grab a cupcake and eat it as they walk along on the sidewalk. Or they can pack it up for you to take home. If you need something to drink, they offer milk and coffee.

405 Central Avenue, #102
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Cupcake Spot on Urbanspoon

The City Pier Restaurant - Anna Maria Island, FL

If you ever make it to the north end of Anna Maria Island, a must place to stop in for the novelty and fresh grouper is The City Pier Restaurant. At the end of a long pier, this lone restaurant offers a great view of the gulf. Of course, it helps that the gulf is all around you and under the restaurant you are eating in. When my family and I dine there, I always go for the grouper, just because it is very fresh, which is not always the case at a lot of places. I always have my grouper fried, but they also offer it grilled or blackened. The dinner comes with a choice of two sides, and I always opt for the fries and coleslaw. Seafood seems to have a starring role on the menu, but they do offer other choices, such as, beef, chicken, and pasta. Also, they have a few sandwich and pasta options for vegetarians, which is always great for our family. There is a house wine and a few beer choices on the menu, too. When done enjoying the meal, hop outside and put some coins in the telescope to get a look at the skyway bridge that one can see from the City Pier Restaurant.

100 South Bay Blvd
Anna Maria Island, FL

City Pier Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Waterfront Restaurant - Anna Maria Island, FL

My son and I needed to go to Bradenton one day, and once we were done with what we had to do, we figured as long as we were already that far, we might as well head over to Anna Maria Island to visit an old favorite of ours. When we used to live in Bradenton, my family and I liked to head over to The Waterfront Restaurant quite a bit for Saturday lunches or Sunday brunches. Located on the north end of Anna Maria Island, one might miss it if they didn't know it was there because you do need to take a turn to find it. The restaurant was originally a 1922 cottage and one can appreciate the feel of that when you visit. There is a cozy fireplace inside for cold Florida evenings, but on the beautiful day that my son and I were there, we chose to dine out front on the porch. From the porch, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the gulf and you can almost pretend you are on vacation with the relaxing environment.

For lunch, my son enjoyed the mini beef hot dogs and fries from the children's menu. Usually one to order from the grown ups menu, he went back to the simple pleasures of an earlier, younger time, but he was a happy camper! For myself, I ordered the Fish tacos made with seasoned seared grouper and served with pico de gallo and red coleslaw on the side. The tortillas were grilled which was delicious and also meant that the tacos held up to the end. The fish was perfectly seasoned and with the addition of the pico de gallo, it was fantastic! It was hard to leave that wonderful view after finishing our meal, and I hope we have reason to venture over that far again, and soon.

111 South Bay Blvd
Anna Maria Island, FL 34216

The Waterfront on Urbanspoon

The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge - Albert Whitted Airport @ St Petersburg, FL

Before it had even been open a week, my family and I headed over to The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge out of sheer curiosity. The restaurant is the one and only restaurant located in the terminal at Albert Whitted Airport, and by the looks of it, it takes up most, if not all, of the second floor of the terminal. The restaurant itself has the feel of any typical airport restaurant, but with some history and memorabilia related to the Albert Whitted Airport. There are seats at the bar or tables inside, but the whole draw for my family and I was the outside seating overlooking the runway and the waterfront beyond. Diners seated on the outside patio can enjoy watching planes take off and it was great entertainment for the adults and few children that were seated around us. Just a note in advance, it can get loud while some of the small planes are waiting for takeoff, but it was still enjoyable for us.

For drinks, there is a full liquor bar available, and a wine and beer list. We ordered the Riesling, which was a nice complement to the Cheese Fondue that was served with granny smith apples and sourdough bread for dipping. The fondue was delicious, but not really a fondue in the traditional sense that you get a fondue pot, but lovely, nonetheless. Also, while waiting, they brought us toast points with a vegetarian bean dip that was quite tasty and garlicky. For dinner, we tried the Wild Mushroom Ravioli that is covered with a parmesan truffle cream sauce and served with grilled asparagus on top. Again, this was quite delicious and I was quite surprised because I was not sure what to expect from an airport restaurant.

The service there was good and I was pleased with our experience there. I read on the restaurant's website that they play live jazz on Thursday evenings, so I would probably enjoy stopping in for that sometime. Another good fact to know is that they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which leaves one with a lot of options for stopping in and checking it out.

540 1st Street SE
St Petersburg, FL 33701

The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cassis American Brasserie - St Petersburg, FL

Cassis is an excellent and welcome addition to the restaurant scene on Beach Drive in downtown St Pete. My family and I decided to try it for the first time during the lunch hour. Upon approaching Cassis our first impression is of the outdoor seating which is a beautiful spot to enjoy the nice weather that St Pete is enjoying right now. I especially enjoyed how the small tables next to the restaurant have their chairs facing out towards the sidewalk. When we have traveled to Europe, all the restaurants have their chairs facing this way, so that the diner can enjoy people watching and the scenery. However, as this was our first time there, we opted to dine indoors. Entering the restaurant, we enjoyed the light, bright view offered by the windows and the yellow walls further cheered the overall feel of the restaurant. An eye-catching spot is the bar with yellow back-lit mirrors. There are attractive leather backed booths to enjoy the dining experience.

Now for the dining experience. We were promptly seated at a table and our server took our drink order of 1664 Kronenbourg Pilsner. She also gave us the specials of the day which include the omelette of the day and the pasta of the day. We started with an order of onion rings which includes a garlic aioli dipping sauce. These were the best onion rings we have had in a long time. The onions were fully cooked inside so that when one bit into it it broke off without having the whole onion come with it and the garlic aioli was a perfect complement to the onion rings. For our entrees we went with the basics. My husband ordered the omelette - minus the meat, which includes a salad on the side. This was a plain tomato and onion omelette and was delicious and it was nice to have the mixed baby greens on the side. My son and I both ordered the Cassis burger, which comes with caramelized onions and swiss cheese on top. However, my son opted to order his without the caramelized onions. For our sides, we ordered the french fries which are cut like real fries with bits of the potato peel and everything and were majorly delicious. One thing I need to mention that we loved was that the french fries and onion rings came in small paper brown bags to soak up the oil and we felt that was a nice touch.

Overall, we loved Cassis and can't wait to go back. Next time, we will go and try the outdoor dining and perhaps we will try some of the entrees from the dinner menu. The service was excellent here and combined with the beautiful dining setting it made for a nice experience.

Cassis American Brasserie

170 Beach Drive Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Cassis American Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fortunato's Italian Market - St Petersburg, FL

Located on Central Avenue in St Pete, Fortunato's does brisk business. I expect one of the reasons for that is because they offer pizza by the slice. Just stop in and look in the case and pick the slice of you choice, grab a drink, and you can be on your way again. Delicious and convenient. You can also order a whole pizza, hot and cold subs, pasta, soup, etc. This place has a regular spot on my rotation and I am glad they are in downtown St Petersburg.

259 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Fortunato's on Urbanspoon

Kahwa Cafe - downtown St Petersburg, FL

I am absolutely in love with Kahwa Coffee's 2nd location that opened up in St Pete. I enjoyed going to their other location, but the second store has some added extras. First, Kahwa Cafe is a nice, bright space with huge windows overlooking the street. There is more room at the cafe, which means more tables. Also, don't forget to check out the cool art on the wall. Since Kahwa has opened, I have attended two art openings there and can't wait to see what future artists will be showcased there. I was happy to see the addition of a small lunch menu. You can order a soup, salad, or a sandwich. So far, I have tried the Grilled Chicken with Brie, arugula, and lindonberry jam. Also, the mozarella with tomatoes, basil, and a basalmic vinagarette. Both sandwiches were made on baguettes and I loved both of them, but particularly enjoyed the Grilled chicken sandwich. I think it was the lindonberry jam on the grilled chicken sandwich that really made the sandwich.

For those of you who have enjoyed the croissants at Kahwa's other location, you can still enjoy those at the cafe along with a few extra options to fulfill your sweet tooth. I have tried the brownies, which are delicious. Another bakery item that I spot in the case from time to time is the berry and lemon bar. When it is there, I always get it because that is my favorite. And I love the service there and how they remember what you drink when you walk in the door. Best coffee in town!

204 2nd Ave South
St Petersburg, FL 33701

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Bernini of Ybor - Ybor, FL

After a lovely evening stroll in Ybor, with thoughts of Italian food in our head, we decided to stop in and try Bernini's. Bernini's is elegant, without going overboard. The art on the walls features pictures of Italian sculpture and the decor in general is supposed to remind you of Italy. A lovely staircase leads upstairs where there are more tables overlooking the main dining area, but we dined downstairs on the evening we were there. Our first order of business was to order a couple glasses of chianti and that taken care of, we looked over the menu. While we were waiting for our meal we enjoyed some hot bread with basil and olive oil dipping sauce.

For myself, I ordered the chicken madeira, which was excellent. The chicken was grilled and covered in a rich madeira wine sauce and grilled portabello mushrooms and on the top of that was goat cheese, which really completed the flavors in the dish. All this was served on top of garlic mashed potatoes. Again, this dish was totally yummy. My husband and son decided to go for the wood fired pizza and chose the pizza margherita and the pizza florentine. The pizza at Bernini's is really wonderful. Besides the delicious toppings, what really made the pizza was its delicious crust. The crust was crispy and it stayed that way to the end of the meal. I had planned to try the dessert menu, but we were all so full after eating that delicious meal that we couldn't even think about dessert. Definitely dessert next time. As for the service, it was very attentive and our server made sure our glasses were full and he checked back in general. We will be happy to dine there again.

1702 East 7th Avenue
Ybor, FL 33605

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bella's Italian Cafe - Tampa, FL

One evening my family and I had plenty of time on our hands, so we decided to go for a drive over to Tampa's Soho District and try out Bella's Italian Cafe on Howard Street. Bella's is located in a newer style strip mall, with a parking lot out back that was a tad bit small because we weren't sure if we were going to find a parking spot, but luck prevailed. Soon we were inside and at a table near the open kitchen where we could catch some of the action going on there. Overall, the decor of the place reminded me of a typical Italian chain restaurant, except that it isn't a chain.

After ordering a glass of Chianti and some sodas we took our time looking over the menu, which was quite large. I started off with the asparagus soup which was made with chicken stock and described as being creamy without the cream, and it was topped with mascarpone cheese. The soup was my only disappointment of the evening and this is a case where some cream was needed to give it some taste or richness. After the soup, everything went very well. My son chose the lasagna napoletana made with bolognese sauce, which was my favorite out of the three dishes we tried. My husband ordered the pesto pasta, which is always a favorite of his and it was quite good. Now, for myself, I had wanted to order something else, but no one else ordered pizza and I found it impossible to go to an Italian restaurant without trying their pizza; just a thing I have. I liked the pizza, but the sauce was a little spicier than I normally enjoy because I typically like my pizza sauce to be a plain tomato base. This is a matter of personal preference because my husband and son liked the pizza sauce. Finally, we ordered the Vesuvio for dessert. This was a basic chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream on the side. What a delicious and decadent way to end the meal. Overall, I enjoyed Bella's and I will go back again if I find myself on that side of the town and I thought the service there was excellent.

Bella's Italian Cafe
1413 South Howard Street
Tampa, FL 33606

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