Apps · Articles · Restaurant News · Uncategorized

Cut restaurant wait time down with TorchFi interface

Tired of downloading apps for businesses you frequent to your smartphone? I cannot count how many different apps I have downloaded to my phone for businesses that I never open.

Local start-up company, TorchFi, aims to end the push for restaurants to make their own app and gives restaurants the ability to connect with their customer via a Wi-Fi connection.

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Customers can access restaurant menus through the TorchFi connection and order their food and pay online – avoiding getting caught in line during busy lunch or dinner rush times. They can simply walk into a restaurant and sit at a table and order their food when they connect to the available Wi-Fi. The wireless interface can also help customers call a waiter to help them.

On the business side, the restaurant will receive data about overall customer buying habits/trends and make life easier for their customers – repeat customers can easily order their regular orders with a smart interface that remembers past orders by a customer. All without forcing a customer to download their individual app.

TorchFi is currently targeting fast-casual businesses with busy lunch and dinner rushes. Tampa is a perfect target with plenty of concepts having their beginning here or expanding in the area including Burger 21, PDQ, 4Rivers Smokehouse, Mission BBQ…to name a few.

TorchFi is starting locally with The Attic and Moxie’s Cafe. Downtown Tampa, South Tampa, Brandon, and Carrollwood all have busy lunch rush crowds that could be alleviated using this interface. The interface can also be used for malls and food courts, retail brands, salons, and spas.

For more information, visit TorchFi online at http://www.torchfi.com/

Articles · Food Events · Wine

Paul Hobbs Wine Dinner @ Council Oak Steaks & Seafood

Council Oak Steaks & Seafood in Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa will host a Paul Hobbs wine pairing dinner on Thursday, January 19th, 2017 at 7PM. Paul Hobbs Winery has a long list of accolades to its credit.

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Photo credit: PaulHobbsWinery.com.

Forbes has called Hobbs the “Steve Jobs of Wine”. He founded Paul Hobbs Winery in 1991 and Vina Cobos in 1999. Hobbs was twice named Wine Personality of the Year by Robert Parker, Jr. and continues to be a leading consultant winemaker around the globe.

The event kicks off at 6:30PM with a cocktail reception and performance by Backstreet and will then lead to a 4-course dinner at 7PM prepared by Chef Dave Puatu featuring: Smoked Quail Ragù with Bramare Appellation Lujan de Cuyo Melbec, Argentina; Chilean Sea Bass with Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Russian River Valley; Japanese Wagyu Filet with Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer Las Piedras Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena; and Sweet Escape with Stratus Vineyard Ice Wine Riesling Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Each guest who attends will receive a commemorative bottle of Paul Hobbs 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Tickets are limited and cost $333 per person with taxes and gratuity included.

Call (813) 627-6630 to make your reservation.

Council Oak Steaks & Seafood opened in 2007 inside Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. All steaks are dry aged 21-28 days and cut right in the restaurant’s very own on-site butcher shop. The fresh fish is line-caught in Florida and the Alaskan king crab legs are from the Bering Sea. Custom salt water tanks also keep the live Maine lobsters fresh.

Articles · Restaurant News

St. Petersburg restaurant features Trump Tower Burger

Boulevard Burgers & Tap House located in St. Petersburg (not in Russia but Florida) will honor President-Elect Donald Trump with a “Trump Tower Burger” special for the month of January. Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration will occur on Friday, January 20, 2017.

Trump Tower Burger

According to a press release, the burger will embrace the traits of Mr. Trump and “his empire” with features that embody him including: “double patties for “Trump Tower” sky-high height, onion straws that embody Trump’s famous blonde locks, and good ol’ American cheese”.

Donald Trump is a well-documented fast food junkie, often frequenting fast food chains instead of local shops during the campaign trail and has been recorded stating he eats fast food because “at least you know what they are putting in it”.

Like many Americans, Donald Trump is considered overweight and has slightly high cholesterol, according to Bloomberg Politics. Trump’s fast food habit led Esquire to state “large obnoxious man enjoys large obnoxious meals”.

The restaurant claims they want to “Make American Cheese Great Again” as well – whatever that means. Boulevard Burgers & Tap House was opened in 2014 on Gulf Boulevard across from St. Pete Beach and features burgers, craft beer, fresh seafood, and live entertainment on weekends.

Boulevard owner, Marco, has establishments throughout New York and St. Petersburg’s Fortunato’s On Central and the Local 662. The management recently acquired De’Lites Ice Cream next to Boulevard Burgers with a new concept planned for Fall 2017.

Boulevard Burgers & Tap House. 5905 Gulf Boulevard, St Pete Beach, FL 33706. (727) 201-4906. blvdburgers.com

Articles · Dining Guide

Things To Do New Year’s Eve 2017 in Tampa Bay

Looking for something to do for New Year’s Eve 2017 in Tampa Bay? I have you covered!

Anise Global Gastrobar: Ring in 2017 with craft cocktails, a buffet, champagne toast, and more in Downtown Tampa with some of the best bartenders in town.

Mastry’s Brewing Co.: If craft beer is your scene head over to Mastry’s Brewing Co. on St. Pete Beach for their Gatsby Gala this NYE.

Ox & Fields Restaurant + Bar: Enjoy a 4-course meal available with optional wine pairings at The Ox this NYE. Menu items such as Tofu Stuffed Baby Portobello, Roasted Squash Ravioli, and Crisp Skin Snapper make the list of options.

Pisces Sushi & Global Bistro: This Sushi Battle Tampa Bay 2016 winner will serve sushi all night on NYE as well as other goodies such as live music and a champagne toast.

Snobachi Handcrafted Ice Cream: This new Thai Ice Cream Roll shop in Ybor City will have it’s Grand Opening on New Year’s Eve – enjoy discounts all day long as they celebrate.

Articles

Impressions: Buya Ramen Pre-Opening Night

I visited Buya Ramen last night as a guest for their pre-opening night where they gave a sneak peek of the menu as the servers and cooks prepared for their opening happening tomorrow August 10th. Please note that this experience was a preview for the restaurant and may not reflect the actual opening or dining experience.

The restaurant has plenty of seating with 104-seats and the decor of the restaurant has a swanky-upscale vibe with a touch of hipster that is at home with many of the options in the EDGE District and Downtown St. Petersburg. Plenty of natural light exists from the windows at the entrance and the dimmer lighting sets a more relaxing mood for the evening.

Food fight art @buyaramen #stpete #CarlosEats #foodies #local #shoplocal #ramen #instaburg #buyaramen

A post shared by Carlos Eats (@carloseats) on

 

I was a fan of the wall art that included what appeared to be a ramen battle ensuing between hungry and nude geishas. It caught my eye more than the rooster  wall painting.

Drinks could not go wrong with local mixologist Ryan Pines at the helm. Two drinks were served for tasting.

1) The Geisha: Reyka vodka, cocchi americano, thai basil, and peychaud’s bitters

2) Mr. Sulu: Knob Creek rye, buya vermouth, dolin dry, and bitterman’s chocolate mole bitters

I leaned on the rye heavily – both drinks were not for a light-weight drinker. The bar at Buya Ramen is beautiful and could easily be a popular place for drinks after work or on the weekends with some appetizers.

 

Speaking of the appetizers I really loved the Seaweed Salad that mixed in some delicious hijiki (which I normally detest at most restaurants in bentos) and the Pork Belly Bun was excellent and rivaled Tampa favorite Anise Gastrobar.

Back to the drinks – the wine selection was exquisite and really made me excited for what was to come. Restaurants who have a great wine program usually are in tune with their taste buds.

I was a fan of both the Giminez Riili ‘Buenos Hermanos’ Torrentes and the Clos de Chacras ‘Cavas de Crianza’ red blend. Both Argentina wines were easy to drink and wouldn’t detract from a meal and could easily be enjoyed on their own.

I tried all three of the ramens between different people’s bowls available for tasting: Crispy Duck, Wagyu Brisket Ramen, and Mushroom. The first two were tonkotsu (pork) ramen which is one of my favorite types and the last was shio (salt).

My favorite by far was the Wagyu Brisket Ramen – the flavor was rich and enjoyable. It was quite different from the shoyu (soy-sauce) based ramen at Japanese Kitchen Dosunco. If I could any of the 3 ramens I would choose the Wagyu Brisket.

One of the nice things about having new ramen shops in town is that chefs can display different ramen types. The lack of ramen shops in the past has made that difficult.

The shio ramen was my least favorite by far and tasted quite like a clear onion soup with mushrooms on-top. Normally I am actually a fan of this type of soup, but didn’t find it to be comparable to the tonkotsu broth. Still, it’s an option for many people who cannot or choose not to eat pork broths.

All the servers we encountered were friendly – especially considering the chaos of having over 100 guests around the restaurant sampling all kinds of food and drinking from the bar. Most servers seemed to have some experience and were often checking on all the guests despite the crowd.

The kitchen in the back seems to be small and considering the number of seats in the restaurant – hopefully the turnaround time for ramen after opening will be efficient and quick. 

 

Buya Ramen has plenty of potential. I could see it growing and helping to spread ramen culture across the bridge. Pretty much everything I tried was delicious and seemed to aim for a savory palate. I will return after they open and have some time to get settled to see how the full menu is and how the kitchen and service keeps up with demand.

Articles · Uncategorized

Tampa needs more Korean BBQ

For as happy as I am about the Japanese ramen and izakaya food gods shining on us lately in Tampa, there is another food concept that I am not seeing enough of in Tampa: Korean BBQ.

Korean restaurants are sprinkled around Tampa with Sushi Ninja perhaps leading the pack with the biggest menu of authentic Korean dishes (we even have a delicious Korean food truck called Mmm Bap) – but concepts usually lack Korean BBQ grilling. The popularity of Japanese hibachi/teppanyaki steakhouses and all-you-can-eat concepts (see Koizi, Saki, Ginza) suggests that given the right promotion and effort – Korean BBQ could be huge for the Tampa Bay area.

Izziban Sushi in Orlando has made the concept thrive and now has two concepts in Orlando and one down south near Miami. Izziban offers Korean BBQ with the option of a la carte or buffet with as much meat as you want and the addition of classic sushi rolls and appetizers with prices ranging from $20 for lunch/late-night and $30 for dinner.

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Other restaurants in the Orlando area have caught on and are offering their own take on Korean BBQ with some sticking to just pork belly or samgyupsal and other more basic meat choices. The prices are comparable to what it costs for just one dish of Korean food here in Tampa and perhaps an appetizer.

Another case for more Korean BBQ in Tampa is the communal vibe that eating Korean BBQ has. This is representative of Korean culture where often co-workers, family members, or friends will enjoy a meal today and share their food. It makes food part of the bonding process in eating out and makes food more social. This could be big for corporate events, birthday parties, and family get-togethers.

Grills for Korean BBQ are smaller than those used in Japanese steakhouses and provide for more conversation –  you also are usually in charge of cooking your own food in these concepts.

I’m not sure if I even have a preference on how the concept should arrive here in Tampa. All I know is there is a serious lack of options for Korean BBQ in the Tampa Bay area and that it could be a popular concept if someone would invest in bringing it here.

Here is a quick look at Korean BBQ via Eater:

So who wants to be first and help turn Tampa Bay on to the K-BBQ craze?  I’m waiting.