Coppertail Stein & Vine Kitchen now open

Coppertail Brewing had the Grand Opening for Stein and Vine Kitchen (S &V Kitchen) last week at the brewery in Ybor City. The pub fare from S & V Kitchen will be available to guests daily from 11AM to 11PM when they visit the brewery.

Coppertail Brewing is located at 2601 East 2nd Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 just outside Ybor City near IKEA.

Menu items are identical to what you’ll find at the Stein & Vine location in Brandon and includes the “Juicy Lacey” Cheeseburger, Pig Wings, and Tator Tots…to name a few. Food is also available for take-out with a special Monday special that includes a growler on the Coppertail Facebook page.

You can find the full menu for S & V Kitchen on Coppertail’s website at: http://coppertailbrewing.com/the-food-1/

Coppertail Brewing was founded in 2014 by Kent Bailey and Casey Hughes. The idea was to bring more hop-forward and Belgian influenced beer to the market. All their beer is brewed and bottled in Tampa for Florida distribution. Coppertail beer is available at tap rooms and restaurants, Total Wine, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Publix, and at the brewery.

Stein and Vine was founded in 2012 by Ty and Lacey Mathis. The owners live within walking distance of their restaurant and pub and are friends with the owners of Coppertail Brewing.

Advertisements

Ocean Prime unveils new terrace, dining room

This is a sponsored post for Ocean Prime. I was invited to visit the restaurant for a dinner tasting to experience the new terrace and dining room and to check out additions to the menu and share my opinions with my readers. Opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Ocean Prime.

Ocean Prime recently finished a re-design to their terrace and dining room.

I visited the restaurant on Monday to experience and see it for myself. It is quite beautiful and features outdoor seating that can sit up to 80 guests with lakefront views. New high-top tables have also been added by the outside bar. The design is modern. Private dining is available in the terrace. The interior added improved woodwork and new seating, light fixtures, and fresh paint.

Dining at Ocean Prime has been a pleasure since they first opened and this visit was also enjoyable. Our waiter Brian Atwood was excellent and very helpful when going over the wine menu.

He recommended a Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from 2014 which seems to be an exceptional year for California wines. The wine was excellent with our meal. It’s always helpful to have a waiter that understand good wine.

We started our meal with the Prime Roll ($18) which features Tempura Shrimp, Cream Cheese, Scallions, and Beef Carpaccio. Ocean Prime is a restaurant you wouldn’t expect great sushi at, but it truly delivers on sushi just like it delivers on steak and seafood. I voted for Ocean Prime in the 2015 Sushi Battle as a Judge and would gladly vote for them again after enjoying this roll.

I will normally shy away from cream cheese in my sushi rolls, I feel like it detracts from the main ingredient – but they perfectly matched the flavors here. The prices of the sushi rolls are not much more expensive than you’re mid-tier restaurants, but with much better quality.

The Teriyaki Salmon ($37) at Ocean Prime is also excellent. Ocean Prime is a seafood restaurant, but even their Polynesian influences beat out some of the best known Polynesian restaurants in the business, even in the higher-end restaurant space. Attention to seafood quality and sauce are the key here. I recommend this dish for a lighter dinner.

Would it really be a tasting at a steak and seafood restaurant without a steak? This special is the 30-day dry aged ribeye steak (MKT) and it had incredible marbling and was packed with fatty pockets from the dry aging process. The black truffle with it was quite an addition. Truffle always has a strong flavor so you might want to keep it to the side.

The Jalapeno Au Gratin ($12) is a perfect side. Utterly cheesy on top with plenty of potato inside. Initially you might think you can order another side, but I guarantee this dish is quite filling.

The food and drinks at Ocean Prime perfectly match the restaurant and the new upgrades to the terrace and interior only complete a great experience. Ocean Prime can fit both a personal and business atmosphere and I am consistently impressed with their dedication to quality.

I’ll be back soon.

Ocean Prime Tampa serves lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Dinner is served from 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Sundays, dinner hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. 

The lounge is open daily, and happy hour is offered Mondays through Fridays from 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays from noon – 4 p.m. For more information, visit the website or call 813-490-5288.

To host your next gathering at Ocean Prime Tampa, contact event sales manager Jo Truett at PrivateDiningTampa@cameronmitchell.com or call 813-490-5288.

Whatever Pops sells quality grilled cheese sandwiches

I haven’t had a chance to stop in at Whatever Pops in Seminole Heights yet.

However – I just tried their grilled cheese for the first time today at the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa located at 600 North Ashley Drive, which is running for the next 7 weeks and features ice skating, vendors, and food from vendors like Whatever Pops.

The grilled cheese I had was phenomenal. Excellent mix of cheeses and sourdough bread. Gooey and yet crispy at the same time. Every last bite. Maybe one of the better grilled cheese sandwiches I have enjoyed in Tampa. Serving at $6 is a reasonable price for a specialized market as well.

The order came out quickly as well.

The only thing I was sad about was that they ran out of tomato soup. That will most certainly be a reason to return in the near future though.

The attendant at the stand told me sales in Seminole Heights are down 40% ever since the Seminole Heights Serial Killer made the news. People from all over town are coming over to try and support, but she said regardless sales are still down and fall during the night at levels that are hurting business.

Please keep the local Seminole Heights businesses in mind if you’re trying to pick a place to eat or shop at. Maybe consider ordering some catering or delivery from them if you’re not able to stop by.

Seminole Heights is one of the reasons our local food scene in Tampa has grown over the years and it would be a shame if those businesses were to close because of something completely beyond their control.

Visit Whatever Pops in Seminole Heights at 5127 North Florida Avenue Tampa, FL 33603. Reach them at (813) 559-7677.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town now open

This is a sponsored post for Busch Gardens about their annual Christmas Town event. I visited the theme park with media passes to experience the event for a first-hand account. Opinions are my own and do not reflect those of Busch Gardens.

Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season has finally started. Busch Gardens is now running their annual Christmas Town event from now until January 6th. January 1st to January 6th will have a new Three Kings Day Celebration.

See a calendar with the schedule for Christmas Town: http://bit.ly/2jZURf9

The winter event features tons of photo opportunities for families, couples, and friends.

You’ll find Christmas characters spread throughout the theme park including Santa Clause, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and others. The park penguins are on-display and there is also a Sing-A-Long Express Train running with holiday songs playing on-board.

Shows and musical events include Christmas on Ice, Carols of the Bells, and the Holiday Hills Brass Band. The Christmas on Ice show is quite popular and actually fills to capacity so I would recommend showing up a little before the showtime to make sure you get a seat.

Busch Gardens added more food items to the menu including mini doughnuts and a number of other specialty items.

The prices vary but each thing will probably run you anywhere from $4-$10. They are selling sampler packs and if you’re planning to hit a number of booths, it might be an economical option for you and your group. The food stands and theme park restaurants are also open with some specialized items added.

I think a cool addition to think about for the future might be to add a food truck park with snow around it or maybe an ice bar with adult beverages.

The theme park rides are also open which leaves a ton of things to do. My favorite was the Cheetah Hunt which zooms past many of the lights and Christmas trees as pictured above.

I would recommend showing up earlier so you can have time to get on rides and also enjoy all the Christmas festivities before the theme park closes. We did enjoy a ride or two during our visit but chose to spend more of our time looking at the lights and enjoying the holiday additions.

The lights have really become more impressive in the last few years and it will certainly give you a piece of the holiday spirit. I loved the Christmas trees and displays. This unusually chilly weather lately will also enhance it. I recommend visiting Busch Gardens Christmas Town if you’re looking for a special night out with the family, a date, or a night with some friends.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Christmas Town Santa

Christmas Town is included with Busch Gardens admissions tickets.

For a limited time, guests can pay for a day and get two parks now through 2018 FREE. Guests can enjoy unlimited admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay through Dec. 31, 2018 and to Adventure Island through the 2018 season.

For more information visit Busch Gardens online at: http://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/christmas-town/

Roux Tampa launches new lunch menu and it’s excellent

Full disclosure: I was invited to Roux Tampa for a tasting of their new lunch menu in exchange for my opinion. Any opinions stated are my own and do not reflect Roux Tampa or any affiliates.

I visited Roux Tampa today for a tasting of their new lunch menu. The new menu has a variety of dishes added alongside items that were traditionally available. Most menu items are $12 or less, providing an affordable and quality experience.

Boudin Balls at Roux

We started with the Boudin Balls ($7): Two crispy boudin balls with rice, pork, onions, green peppers, seasonings, creamy pepperjack cheese, Zatarain’s Creole mustard crema. These were excellent and plenty to share. Every last bite was delectable and a waiter nearby was correct to mention that they went great with the in-house hot sauces at Roux.

Florida Gator Bites at Roux Tampa

The Florida Alligator Bites ($14) also did not disappoint. They were crispy in a way that might remind you of Bang Bang Shrimp though with a Cajun-twist. I also loved these – they were on the heavier side compared to the Boudin Balls, but went extremely well with the cocktails tried.

Cornbead Skillet at Roux Tampa

Another appetizer we indulged in was the Roux Iron Skillet Cornbread ($9) which features sweet corn, streusel topping, jalapenos, and Steen’s Cane Syrup butter. First of all, everyone who goes to Roux should have this on EVERY visit. It is phenomenal. It might not be new to the menu as I remember it being served in the past, but it is memorable and delicious down to every last bite.

All three appetizers stood up well and I would have been happy with any of them, but like I said you must order the cornbread if you visit Roux. If you love yourself that is.

Cucumber Fizz at Roux Tampa

Cajun Mule at Roux Tampa

Then there was the Cucumber Fizz Cocktail and Cajun Mule. The Cajun Mule features an exclusive Tidal Boar Cajun Ginger Beer that twists the expected flavor of a Moscow Mule, but in a good way. Both drinks were refreshing and exactly the kind of drinks you want to enjoy in Florida.

The ingredients balanced well and the booziness was just right, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the importance Datz Restaurant Group has placed on drinks at their establishments.

Moving on to the main courses…

Steakburger at Roux Tampa

Pork Belly Banh Mi Po' Boy at Roux Tampa

We enjoyed the Steakburger ($12) with fries which has a ribeye-filet patty that will most certainly satisfy a quick burger craving, but the Pork Belly Banh Mi Po’ Boy ($12) stole the show.

Each piece of pork belly hit your tongue with pleasurable fatty goodness. The composition of the sandwich fit the banh mi name well and the ingredients were all fresh. The French Bread in the sandwich had the crunch we all have come to expect from a delicious banh mi sub without hurting the jaw.

The Asian-Creole fusion works well and I’m quite curious to see how this could be utilized in other dishes considering the heavy influence the French have in Vietnamese cuisine.

It’s important to note that this isn’t your average banh mi and to examine that in the pricing as well since a banh mi sub will normally run you somewhere between $4 and $7 by itself.

Red Beans & Rice at Roux Tampa

We couldn’t leave without having some red beans & rice ($8) which is a staple of New Orleans cuisine. The dish normally adds meat on top for an additional charge, but we wanted it as a side dish. It’s a solid dish and a true homage to Louisiana Creole cuisine.

Summer of 75 at Roux Tampa

Finally, before leaving I had the Summer of 75 which is a gin cocktail (please keep reading!) that actually tastes more like a pineapple French 75 (hence the name I assume). This cocktail was excellent and continued the excellent mixology menu. Well-balanced and not too sweet, while having the right amount of booze. Roux could carry itself on its cocktail selection by itself, but of course the food is also great.

To conclude, what we have here is a great lunch menu and cocktail list that is well worth your time and fairly priced. Stop by Roux for lunch. I’d recommend it.

Roux Tampa. 4205 South MacDill Avenue Tampa, Florida 33611. (813) 443-5255. http://www.rouxtampa.com/

Portillo’s rolls out delivery in-app on Thursday in Tampa/Brandon

Portillo’s Hot Dogs will roll out delivery in-app on Thursday, November 2nd for Tampa and Brandon. Customers will be able to use the website and Portillo’s app to order delivery to their doors within a 30 minute radius of Portillo’s locations. The app will allow customers to customize delivery orders to their preference.

In addition, the delivery on the app will offer Portillo’s fast packs which are great for quick catering for groups. Types of snack packs include hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, salads, and more.

There is a $15 order minimum for deliveries.

Portillo’s first launched their app last August in an effort to help people place takeout orders for drive-thru or in-store pickup. This addition of delivery expands the app for customers.

Use promo code BEEF for a limited time to get $5 OFF your first order from Portillo’s.

Download Portillo’s app for iOS: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/portillos/id1122104646?mt=8

Download Portillo’s app for Android: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.olo.portillos&hl=en

St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival this Friday! FREE Admission.

The Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association will host the first St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival this Friday, November 3rd from 6PM-11PM at Albert Whitted Park, Downtown St. Petersburg, in collaboration with Carlos Eats and the City of St. Petersburg, Florida.

The event is FREE to attend. Food trucks will accept cash and most major credit cards.

The first 400 guests will receive a complimentary Asian folding hand fan. 400 lanterns will be spread around the event for your enjoyment. Live music will be performed by Acoustic Thunder (Covers 50’s to current). Tampa Taiko and a Lion Dance Troupe will be in attendance at the event.

Adult beverages will be available for purchase.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Parking information:

These lots will be available in addition to Downtown St. Petersburg garages:

Albert Whitted Parking (adjacent to the event) – Take 1st Street SE. to Dali Blvd

Dali Museum Parking – Take 1st Street SE. to Dali Blvd

Al Lang Parking – Corner of 1st Street SE & 1st Ave SE

Participating food trucks: 

Participating dessert trucks:

What: St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival

Venue: Albert Whitted Park, Downtown St. Petersburg

Date & Time: Friday, November 3rd, 2017, 6PM-11PM

Address: 480 Bayshore Dr SE St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Cost: FREE To attend

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1858715594391995/

Dave & Buster’s Tampa opens Monday October 30th to the public

Rumored for years, Dave & Buster’s is finally opening its doors to the public on Monday, October 30th, 2017. It is the 102nd location for the franchise which was founded in 1982 in Dallas, Texas.

The new building is located at 10209 Estuary Lakes Drive Tampa, FL 33619. The location is next to Bass Pro Shops and right at the tip of Brandon. It is easily accessible from I-75 and also the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and located of Faulkeburg Road.  It will be open Sunday to Thursday from 11AM to Midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11AM to 2AM.

Coming in at 40,000 Square Feet – the building has a modern sports bar, dining area, and game room that will attract people of all ages. Parking is easily available in the parking lot right out front and there will be a number of deals available to customers.

More than 230 jobs are being created as a result of Dave & Buster’s entering the area and they are still hiring.

Dave & Buster’s Deals

Happy Hour is available Monday to Friday from 4:30PM-7PM Sunday to Thursday from 10PM-close.

Happy Hour includes:

  • 1/2 price cocktails
  • $2.50 domestic pints
  • $1 off 22 oz. drafts
  • $1 off glasses of wine
  • $3 off bottles of wine

2 for Tuesdays:

  • $2 tacos
  • $2 select beers
  • 2 FREE plays with $10 power card purchase/re-charge (all day)

1/2 price Wednesdays:

  • 1/2 off games all day

Football Game Day Specials (10/30/17-2/4/18 on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays):

  • $3.50 22 oz. select draft beers
  • $5 game day appetizers

U Poke Spot: Quality poke bowls arrive in Tampa near USF

Full disclosure: I was invited to try the menu at U Poke Spot in exchange for my opinion about their food. These opinions are my own and do not reflect U Poke Spot.

U Poke Spot opened recently just a block away from USF across from MOSI by Einstein’s and Qdoba. It’s a fast-casual Hawaiian-style poke restaurant.

Despite the national popularity of poke, it hasn’t quite taken off yet in Tampa. Many restaurant have tried to use poke as a marketing tactic to upsell their typical fish without offering real poke. Often times the sauces will be downright awful or the fish doesn’t taste good.

Poke Rose at The Hall on Franklin was the first serious take on poke in Tampa, but unfortunately it does not allow you to customize your bowls. The Poke Cafe may be good to the people in Dunedin, but to me it was a disappointing example of poke.

img_6413

U Poke Spot resembles more of what I expect in a poke restaurant. The owners background ties back to sushi restaurants, so the fish and toppings reflect that and they go well.

They have salmon, tuna, spicy salmon, spicy tuna, octopus, and even chicken for people who are trying to avoid fish all together. Some toppings include masago, edamame, tempura flakes, seaweed salad, guacamole, mango salsa, crushed nuts, and more.

The main sauce is poke sauce but there are at least 4 other available. The eel sauce and spicy mayo sauces I tried were also great and just what you would find at any sushi restaurant. To be honest, this is the best poke I have had since I last went to San Francisco.

Some things I hope to see added to the menu are tamago (Japanese egg) and eel.

I went with the spicy salmon all the way and added a bunch of toppings and I found all of them to be fresh and flavorful. I built my bowl the same way I would build a sushi burrito or a sushi roll and modern poke is pretty much that.

The guacamole was flavorful, but I would be interested in seeing the guacamole mixed with some other things perhaps in the future. I’a Poke in San Francisco has sun-dried tomato guacamole which sounds ridiculous, but is actually ridiculously amazing with poke and sushi burritos. The cool thing about poke bowls is you can constantly re-invent the menu for customers.

The key to a good poke bowl will depend on how you mix the fish, toppings, and sauces. You have to think about how the flavors all complement each other. There are pre-arranged bowls to help those who might struggle with that.

The prices seem a little expensive for the college area it is situated in with 2 proteins at $10.95 and 3 proteins for $13.95, but it is actually comparable to other poke restaurants. The price will mostly increase when you add higher end toppings such as guacamole or avocado which is expensive pretty much anywhere.

On average I think a typical for me would probably run around $13-15 which isn’t unfair for the bowl portions in my opinion. The truth is quality fish is never going to be cheap without something else to make up for the margins lost such as alcohol or events.

The owners could mitigate that feeling for students by providing a rewards program, student discount, or flash sales that will draw them in even if they are reluctant. Although students claim to be price-conscious, they are willing to spend extra for the right brands. See Chipotle, iPhones, electronic music festivals, etc.

I was also a fan of the drink selection with numerous drinks from Japan available including various green tea brands, Japanese Ramune sodas, and Calpico which I love.

This selection was also available at poke places I visited in San Francisco and the owners of U Poke Spot told me much of their inspiration came from poke restaurants in New York that they visited.

The interior is modern with digital screens and clean and to me makes a good case of probably a franchise one day if U Poke Spot is successful.

The owners indicated they will be adding sushi burritos to the menu as well which I look forward to trying in the future.

I really enjoyed U Poke Spot and look forward to coming back again soon. It is the first time I have felt like poke is being done how I imagined it in Tampa. I recommend giving them a look.

Restaurant name: U Poke Spot

Neighborhood: USF, Temple Terrace

Cuisine: Poke

Address: 5001 E. Fowler Ave., Unit F, Tampa, FL 33617

Phone Number: 813-533-3707

Hours: 11AM-10PM Sunday-Thursday, 11AM-11PM Friday & Saturday

Menu: http://www.upokespot.com/menu-2/

CONTEST: Big Storm Brewing & William Dean Chocolates Team Up

Big Storm Brewing and William Dean Chocolates are joining forces to make a chocolate stout beer. William Dean is well-known as the chocolates featured in the popular film “Hunger Games” series. They are seeking help from the public in naming this new craft beer.

The partners describe the beer as a “toffee chocolate stout, the beer was crafted to intrigue the palate and invoke thoughts of chocolate covered toffee. A true work of art made from the finest ingredients, this stout pours black with deep garnet highlights. Flavors of sweet toffee and caramelized sugar pair together with a hint of rich, indulgent chocolate”.

People can come into the Big Storm taprooms to try the beer and get inspired. Names can be submitted directly to namethebeer@bigstormbrewery.com. Winner will be revealed on Thursday, November 16th at Big Storm Brewing.

The person who is first to submit the winning name chosen for this new beer will receive a private 8-person Big Storm Brewery tour, a tap handle for the new beer, a 20-piece box of William Dean chocolates and a supply of the new Big Storm-William Dean beer.

Entrants must be at least 21 years or older and names can be submitted until 10AM on November 13th.

William Dean will soon be releasing a chocolate and macaroon made with Big Storm beers as well.

As they say in District 12: