Friday, May 21, 2010

Market on 7th - Ybor, FL

This is a hole in the wall pizza place that serves absolutely delicious thin crust pizza. My family and I stopped in and ordered an extra large cheese pizza on the way to Tropical Heatwave. After you order your pizza, you can grab a drink at the bar and then they take your payment right up front. We grabbed a seat at the bar where we were able to see the cook make our pizza and pop it in the oven. Also, we were able to see the music stage at the end of the long room that had a band performing. After a short wait, yummy pizza was in front of us, and like I said, it was very good. I just wish they had a schedule of bands that will be playing there. I looked on the web, but I couldn't find that they had any website. They have a myspace page, but the last time someone logged in was August of 2009, so I didn't think there was any point to putting a link it.

Market on 7th
1816 E 7th Ave
Ybor City, FL 33605

Market on 7th on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Seasons 52 - Tampa, FL

I think I have mentioned on my blog before that I don't usually like to blog about national chain restaurants, and I believe on my some 90 plus posts that this will be my second post about a national chain restaurant. I love supporting local businesses, and that is still my philosophy. However, once in awhile a chain can catch my interest, and when a friend suggested we dine there, I jumped at the chance. Seasons 52 it supposed to inspire healthy, but delicious eating. If you look on the menu when you dine there, I think no item is supposed to be over 475 calories and desserts are served in shot sized glasses, rather than large portions.

We were seated rather quickly with our party of friends, and give an explanation of Season 52's concept of seasonally inspired food with new specials every week. We took a look at the wine menu which featured a number of wines by the glass from around the world. After ordering our drinks, we decided to start with one of the flatbreads with tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese. My son and I decide to order the organic Salmon(just as an FYI, I researched about organic salmon later on, and I found out there is really no such thing as organic salmon. That is a whole other story though). My husband chose the Penne Pasta with vegetables and lemon basil sauce. This is originally the Tiger shrimp penne pasta, but Seasons 52 is able to accommodate vegetarians, which is nice to know. The pasta turned out to be quite nice. As for the salmon, it was quite delicious and served with asparagus and carrots, both of which I always like. My favorite part of the meal was dessert with the mini indulgences. The chocolate peanut butter mousse was my favorite, but the cheesecake with mango was quite good, also.

The only thing that was annoying about the whole experience was that the restaurant was quite loud. It was very hard to hear each other talk, and I think however the space was built, it contributed to that noise level. It was a beautiful space, but too noisy. I would still rather support local business, but it was fun option to try with tasty, healthful food on the menu. If anyone has suggestions for local restaurants that support using products from local farms, I would love to hear from you.

Seasons 52

204 North Westshore Blvd
Tampa, FL 33609

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

Strachan's Homemade Ice Cream - Dunedin, FL

I love ice cream any time of year, but as the weather turns warmer, its seems ever more enticing. After a lovely dinner at Pan y Vino in Dunedin, our next logical stop was for ice cream. It was very convenient that Strachan's was walking distance from Pan y Vino. The ice cream shop itself was charming with its black and white floor, but I was more interested in what was in the ice cream case. Before we even chose our flavors, they gave us a sample of ice cream with a sauce called Yummy sauce. Yummy sauce is a chocolate caramel sauce that was very delicious.

As we were pretty full after our meal at Pan y Vino, we decided to share two scoops of chocolate chip mint ice cream and vanilla. We all thought it was a very good quality ice cream and a perfect way to satisfy our sweet tooth. Yay for Strachan's!

Strachan's Homemade Ice Cream

310 Main Street
Dunedin, FL 34698

Strachan's Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pan y Vino - Dunedin, FL

My family and I made a run over to Dunedin one evening to hear one of our favorite local musicians Rebekah Pulley. We figured as long as we were over in that neck of the woods, we would head over and try Pan y Vino. We had often passed it by always thinking it looked like a cute little place to dine. We arrived rather early, before the dinner rush, so it was a bit quiet inside, but we had our choice of places to sit. We chose a spot along the wall, that allowed us to see the whole room. Our eyes were automatically drawn to the tile fronted pizza oven in the back corner, which gave the room a rustic feel. Our server quickly took our drink orders of wine and we were soon ready to order.

The menu consists of appetizers, salads and pizza. We decided to order two pizzas for the three of us. One was the Classic Margherita, which is always a must for my son. Our other choice was the Four cheese, which consisted of mozzarella, ricotta, pecorino romano, and goat cheese. Our favorite was the margherita pizza. The four cheese was good also, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. In this case, it was too much cheese, of which I thought the goat cheese was especially overwhelming. This is a matter of preference though, so while it was too much for me, others may love it. All in all, it was a lovely meal and a very cozy spot to dine. I would love to go back and try some of the other pizzas.

Pan y Vino
369 Main Street
Dunedin, FL

Pan Y Vino on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 13, 2010

St Pete Brasserie - St Petersburg, FL

My family and I had a chance to attend the 600 block art party this past weekend in downtown St Petersburg. This was an awesome event and that gave locals and visitors alike a chance to visit recent and new openings of art galleries on the 600 block. It was a fun evening with live music and models on the street. Before heading over there, my family and I wanted to have an evening meal at the nearby St Pete Brasserie. For those regular readers of my blog, I had posted about my experience in December that didn't exactly go as expected. However, I wanted to stop by again because I had heard some good things from people who have ate there recently. Also, as I mentioned in my last post, stuff can and will happen in any restaurant and that should not deter one from going back and giving any place another try. Whatever the case, we went back and I was wowed. When I first read the menu with excitement, THIS was the experience I was looking and hoping for that night. Let me tell all about it.

We were quickly given a nice table. For drinks, we started with a Bloody Mary for my husband and a nice Rose for myself. I don't drink Bloody Mary's myself, but my husband said they have one of the best tasting ones in town. We started our meal with the onion tart that we had tried last time. The tart was delicious and a nice light wine like a rose paired wonderfully with it. I decided to go with the prix fixed menu that include soup, salad and an entree. The soup I had that night was a chicken and mushroom with rice. This was a delicious soup with a lovely brown broth and the mushrooms gave it a nice smokey flavor. After my son tried my soup, I had to share with him he liked it so much. This was followed by a nice salad and shortly thereafter, our meal arrived.

My son ordered the burger with brie and pommes frites. Not much on adventure, he left the aioli and other toppings off. I got a chance to taste his burger, which turned out great. If I am in a mood for a burger, this is where I am heading. My husband again ordered the vegetable risotto, which was the only vegetarian entree on the menu. The risotto was so rich and creamy and just absolutely delicious. However, for me, the star of the show was the Beef Bourguignon. The beef was fork tender and absolutely divine over rice. My only regret was that we were heading to the 600 block party afterward, so I couldn't take my leftovers with me because it was so good and a very hearty portion. We finished with a trio of creme brulee which was a perfect end to the meal.

I am so happy that I went back to the St Pete Brasserie because we had such a wonderful experience that evening and it really adds something nice to Central Avenue. My family and I look forward to going back again.

St Pete Brasserie
539 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701

St. Pete Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gateway to India - Sarasota, FL

My family and I recently drove over to Sarasota to do some shopping, and after we were done we stopped over on Hillview Street to find a place to have a small pick-me-up. Hillview Street in Sarasota has a number of restaurants, and there are a number of places left there for us to try. On this particular evening, we stepped into Gateway to India. I have to say the restaurant was real beautiful inside and themes of India dominated. There was the Hindu god Ganesh that is inside the beginning of the restaurant along with brightly painted walls and artfully arranged cloth drapery throughout. We were promptly given a table along with the menus.

For drinks, we decided to go with a beer from India, Kingfisher beer, a nice lager that goes just perfectly with spicy food. For appetizers, there was a large selection of vegetarian options. For our vegetarian appetizer choices we ordered the Vegetable Pakoras and the Samosas which were filled with potatoes and peas. For a non-vegetarian appetizer, we chose the Chicken Tikka. After what seemed like a short wait, our appetizers arrived. The food was attractively arranged and the vegetable appetizers came with a tamarind chutney a mint chutney for dipping. The samosas and the pakoras were quite delicious and the chutneys that came with them were both good, but the mint chutney was our favorite and quite irresistible. My son and I enjoyed the Chicken Tikka, but I would have maybe liked it a little bit spicier, but levels of spiciness are always rather a matter of personal preference. While we went for just appetizers, it ended up being quite filling and we left very satisfied. This is definitely a place I would stop in next time to try the full meal experience.

Gateway to India
1960 Hillview Street
Sarasota, FL 34239

Gateway to India on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Whistle Stop Grill and Bar - Safety Harbor, FL

Through various singers that I know, I heard the Whistle Stop Grill has live music on different nights, which is always a bonus to me. After checking out their website, we headed over on a Tuesday night to hear the Tampa Bay Fingerstyle Guitar Guild play some music. Upon arrival, we found ample free parking spots in the street to park. The small parking lot was already full, which I always feel is a good sign. The front of the restaurant faces Main Street and you can walk up to the take out window and perhaps order some ice cream. We headed around back because all of the seating is outdoors. Part of the space is covered, so if it rains you are somewhat protected from the elements. Further umbrella topped tables stretch out onto the grounds. We were quickly given a table where we could see the live music.

A server promptly took our drink orders and then we looked over the menu. For appetizers, we started with the corn fritters that came with dipping sauce. The corn fritters were delicious and I loved the sweet taste of the corn inside of the fritters along with the lightly spicy dipping sauce. For our entrees, my husband and I both went for the Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches. We had heard that the fried green tomatoes were quite the thing there, so we knew before coming that was what we wanted. I was a little disappointed that for the sides, they were out of the sweet potato fries because that was the one other item that we heard was a must try and we didn't get to try them. Predictably, my son ordered the cheeseburger with provolone cheese. The Fried Green Tomato sandwiches were served on ciabatta bread with provolone cheese and aioli. The sandwiches were a real treat and I loved every bite of them. My son's burger was good, but the fried green tomato sandwiches were a winner for me. Overall, we loved the feel of the place, and it was nice to listen to the guitar music while eating. This was a fun place and great for the whole family.

Whistle Stop Grill and Bar
915 Main Street
Safety Harbor, FL 34695

Whistle Stop Grill on Urbanspoon