Articles · Restaurant News

Bento Cafe opening in Downtown St. Petersburg

Popular Asian eatery, Bento Cafe, is planning to open their first Tampa Bay location in Downtown St. Petersburg in the Spring of 2018. According to St. Pete Rising the location will feature 80 seats along with outdoor sidewalk tables.

It makes sense considering how much Downtown St. Petersburg has grown over the years, but it is definitely a little disappointing to all the USF – Tampa students that have waited years for a location after frequenting locations at the University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and even University of North Florida. Apparently Bento is also looking for 2 locations in Tampa.

Bento Cafe has been hinting at a Tampa Bay location for over 2 years on Facebook and seems to be expanding rapidly across the state over the next year or so. Hopefully in the future Bento will look at the USF area as a potential future investment area.

Bento is known for their fast-casual Asian environment with inspirations from Japanese, Thai, Korean, and other Asian cuisines. 

Their sushi rolls are quite popular and their sashimi rice bowls are a personal favorite as well as their Spicy Cream Chicken. In addition, Bento also sells bubble tea and other popular Asian drinks.

Visit Bento online at http://www.bentocafesushi.com/

Articles · Food Events · Restaurant News

Burger Culture South Tampa now open

Full disclosure: Burger Culture and I cross-promote on events and I have consulted for Burger Culture. Last year’s popular Grilled Cheese Festival was coined by Burger Culture. Any opinions stated are my own and do not reflect Burger Culture specifically.

Burger Culture is finally open in South Tampa after much planning in preparation for a second location. The new location is in North Hyde Park at 2304 West Gray Street.

The full menu is available and their current hours are 11AM-9PM although that is subject to change in the future. Delivery is still available through UberEATS, extending Burger Culture’s delivery range.

The interior has a warehouse vibe with lots of art painted on the walls by local graffiti artist, Justin Bass. I was honestly really impressed with all the artwork both inside the building and the mural made last week during Burger Culture’s Launch Party. I just got back to town from San Francisco and truly believe that art and culture is what Tampa needs if it is going to become a bigger city.

You can reach Burger Culture at (813) 992-7444.

This Sunday, July 23rd – Burger Culture will host a Grilled Cheese Sunday Brunch and I’ll be there from 12PM-3PM. The event will showcase gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, brunch sides, and complimentary champagne (while supplies last). Come out and check out the new location.

RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1303073126456560/

Articles · Restaurant News

Oishi Sushi & Thai Thani Shutting Doors July 31st (Channelside)

Oishi Sushi and Thai Thani located in Channelside announced today that they will be closing their business for good on July 31st, 2017 after 13 years of business due to the Channelside demolition occurring in the plaza as the next phase of Jeff Vinik’s plans for Downtown Tampa begin.

They invited their loyal customers to visit them over at Asiatic Street Food + Noodle Bar in Ybor City and to come visit them in Channelside in these finals weeks of operation.

Surviving 13 years in Channelside is certainly an accomplishment for the Oishi Sushi and Thai Thani owners that experienced many challenges from the 2008 Financial Crisis and the boom and slowdown of Channelside District over the years including the closure of the Channelside Cinemas theatre.

Channelside suffered many hardships for local businesses that operated in the plaza over the last decade and went from a busy nightlife and restaurant to scene to an empty part of town – especially as the Tampa Port Authority battled over plans to change the Channelside Plaza.

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Hopefully the owners will open another sushi and Thai restaurant in the future and bring their recipes to the food scene again.

Restaurant News

Petit Piquant now serving kouign-amann pastries

Full disclosure: I was invited to Petit Piquant for a tasting of the new kougin-amann pastries in exchange for my opinion and feedback on my blog. Opinions are my own and do not represent Petit Piquant.

Delicious pastries from France? I am on-board. I visited Petit Piquant last week to try their new pastry that launched this past weekend: kouign-amann. The pastry comes from Brittany, France and can be identified between a croissant and brioche. Piquant decided to make the pastries both sweet and savory with a variety of flavors.

On the savory menu: LOX, Braised Short-Rib, Roasted Tomato & Goat Cheese.

On the sweet menu: Lemon, Guava, Strawberry, Cinnamon Sugar, Passionfruit, and Raspberry.

Kougin-Amann at Petit Piquant

I tried an assortment of these pastries and truthfully enjoyed them all. My favorite was the Guava – I felt like it pays tribute to the City of Tampa and Ybor City as well as played well to my Spanish roots. The Braised Short-Rib was a close second and would be a great snack in the afternoon hours.

Petit Piquant is located just off Howard Avenue maybe one or two blocks from I-275 and just north of South Tampa. The bakery and shop is quaint and reminds me of a cafe you might see in San Mateo or San Francisco.

I tried Piquant’s privately sourced coffee from Colombia during my visit and enjoyed both a cold brew and latte that definitely paired well with the pastries at Piquant. The coffee has chocolate notes.

I also enjoyed an Arnold Palmer made with TeaBella tea which was excellent as well…if you’re not feeling up to coffee during your visit.

I see Petit Piquant as a great place to stop by in the morning on your way to go to a meeting or a place to grab a quick coffee and bite before you head to another part of town and hope to visit again soon.

The kouign-amann desserts from Piquant will also be available at the Tampa International Airport’s Illy Coffee and Bay Tea & Coffee Company.  I recommend giving it a try and seeing what flavor you like – I’m definitely curious to find out what other people enjoy.

Restaurant name: Petit Piquant

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Cuisine: Bakery, Cafe

Address: 1704 N Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33607

Phone Number: (813) 251-1777

Hours: Monday-Friday 6:30AM-6PM, Saturday-Sunday, 8AM-3PM

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PetitPiquant/

Website: http://piquantbrands.com/

Restaurant News

S Bar Speakeasy and Sushi Bar now open (Brandon)

Full disclosure: I was invited to S Bar for their preview night about a week ago where they served complimentary hor d’oeuvres to the public to preview their restaurant. I visited again today on my own for some sushi for lunch and decided to write a post about their grand opening. Opinions stated are my own.

Brandon has a new concept called S Bar open that fuses 1920s speakeasy cocktails and southern bistro food with a sushi bar. The restaurant opened to the public last Sunday June 11th, 2017.

Beautiful bar area inside @s__bar #vipnight #taste #foodies #sushi #tampafl #tampabay #CarlosEats

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Scooby Snacks @s__bar #CarlosEats #sushibar #tampabay #tampa #tampafl #sushi #foodies #taste #vipnight

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The location was formerly known as The Rack in the past and the entire restaurant has been re-done to have a more intimate and upscale ambiance. Many of the staff members and management also are related to The Rack and you’ll find some of your favorite sushi rolls from that time on the menu at S Bar.

Sushi rolls range from about $4 to $16 and include the popular Volcano Roll and The Rack rolls from the previous tenant of the establishment. During the days of The Rack, I was personally in love with the Volcano Roll and many places simply could not compare. Specials are being developed and will roll out in the future – most information for that will be posted to their Facebook page.

The southern bistro menu includes grits, fried green tomatoes, corn bread, and more in development. The menu will be fully available in the near future.

S Bar seems to be targeting a more upscale crowd then its predecessor and it would be a great place to grab some drinks locally in Brandon or to go out on a date night or a night out with friends for young professionals or professionals in general.

Yellowtail Nigiri @s__bar #CarlosEats #tampafl #tampabay #foodies #brandonflorida #brandonfl #sushi #nigiri

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The Executive Chef for S Bar, Gia Tran, has previously worked at Ocean Prime and won the Sushi Battle last year in 2016 and also ran the Urban Sushi Burrito food stand that could be found at most Big City Events festivals such as the Margarita Festival and Rum Festival.

If you’re in Brandon driving down State Road 60 off I-75, stop by and give it a look.  The restaurant is open late daily and apparently brunch is in the works.

S Bar - now open

Restaurant name: S Bar

Cuisine: Sushi, Southern

Neighborhood: Brandon

Address: 1025 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, FL 33511

Phone Number: (813) 575-7227

Website: http://www.thesbar.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theSbar/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/S__bar/

Restaurant News

Oishi launches early bird sushi happy hour (Channelside)

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Oishi Sushi located in Channelside. I was invited to taste the sushi in exchange for writing up a post about their new sushi happy hour and for my opinion on their sushi. Any opinions written are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the sponsor.

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Oishi Ultimate Japanese Cuisine located in Channelside has launched an early bird sushi happy hour for hungry fans to enjoy sushi at more than reasonable pricing. The special is every day from 4PM-7PM except during special events.

Enjoy Gyoza, Shumai, and Karage (Japanese Fried Chicken) for just $4 during happy hour. Sushi rolls are $5 or $6 and include favorites such as the Rainbow Roll, Volcano Roll, Hi-5, Rock Lava, and more.

Hibachi is also discounted during the early bird special to $12-$14.

It had been some time since I visited Oishi (or Channelside) and was really impressed with how good everything tasted.

Oishi seems less busy now that the Tampa Riverwalk has taken much of the thunder of Channelside, but the product still tastes fresh and approachable.

I remember a similar thing happening in the past with Qachbal’s Chocolatier downstairs. The shut down of the movie theater in Channelside really hurt the local businesses there.

Love boat sushi from Oishi

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During my visit I tried the Double O Roll, Fire Fighter Roll, Hurricane Roll, and Sex on the Moon.

I normally wouldn’t order sauce on my sushi and keep my rolls fairly simple, but these rolls had balance and you could taste each part well. The caviar and roe on top of the rolls was a nice touch.

My favorite roll I tried was the Hurricane Roll ($11.50) which is spicy octopus, conch, avocado, and fish egg inside a roll topped with white and red tuna, onions with spicy mayo, and eel sauce on the side. I am not normally a fan of octopus – but I gobbled it up.

Another favorite was the Sex on the Moon ($12.95) which has cream cheese, asparagus, avocado, eel, shrimp tempura, smelt roe with tuna, tempura flakes, eel sauce, spicy mayo, caviar, scallion, and sesame. Cream cheese and asparagus in my sushi rolls are not my thing normally, but I was impressed at the flavor combination. I recommend it.

If it was up to me, I would have some live music and try to have more events and promotions to bring people back to Channelside – the plaza is still great for having events – it has to compete more now that the Riverwalk is busy with tourists and locals though.

I hope local businesses like Oishi pull through – if you haven’t been in awhile I recommend heading back for a taste – the happy hour is more than fair.

See full happy hour menu:

early-Bird-Menu

BONUS: Since Oishi is located next to Thai Thani – they also have delicious Thai Tea 🙂

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Restaurant Name: Oishi Ultimate Japanese Cuisine

Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi

Neighborhood: Downtown Tampa, Channelside

Address: 615 Channelside Dr. Tampa, FL 33602

Phone: (813) 228-9202

Website: http://oishitampa.com

 

 

Food Events · Restaurant News · Sponsored

Ceviche Paella Porch Party Sundays: $25 Unlimited Sangria and Paella

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant about the Paella Porch Party series they are currently hosting. I have been compensated for this article. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Sundays in South Tampa are getting more upbeat with Ceviche’s Paella Porch Party series being held on Sundays from 11AM-4PM. Enjoy unlimited paella and endless house sangria (white/red) for $25 during this special event.

For those who haven’t tried Paella – it is a Valencian rice dish from Spain. The name of the dish comes from the Old French word paelle which means pan and the Latin word patella meaning pan. The dish is often cooked in a large pan with all the ingredients cooked to perfection. It can also be cooked in small pans for personal servings.

House sangria normally goes for $7 a glass and around $20-$40 a pitcher and the Paella on the menu is normally over $20 – making this a great deal for Sunday Brunch attendees.

I’m personally a fan of Ceviche’s sangria and have celebrated numerous occasions there with friends – it definitely stands as one of the top places to get sangria in Tampa Bay.

Ceviche South Tampa is located at 2500 West Azeele Street Tampa, Florida 33609. Ceviche was founded in 1997 as the original tapas restaurant in the region.

Visit Ceviche online at http://www.ceviche.com/tampa/

Food Events · Restaurant News · Wine

Ruth’s TasteMaker Dinners: DAOU Vineyards & Winery

Ruth’s Chris Steak House recently began hosting a new dinner wine series called Ruth’s TasteMaker Dinners. The restaurant is teaming up with 6 pairing partners at 106 locations for this series including DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Johnnie Walker Whisky, Chateau Montelena Winery, Marchesi Antinori, and more.

I will check out the DAOU Vineyards dinner this Friday evening as a guest at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Look for my write-up afterwards.

On the food menu: Jerk-Marinated Pork Tenderloin, Honey & Soy Glazed Atlantic Cod, Coffee & Chocolate Braised Short Rib Ragout, Petite Filet Mignon, and Molten Chocolate Cake.

On the wine tasting list: 2015 Chemin de Fleurs, 2015 Chardonnay, 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Cabernet Reserve and Pessimist.

Reservations can be made online at: http://www.ruthschris.com/promotions/daou-wine-dinner

DAOU is located in the Adelaida District of Paso Robles in California on a 212-acre hilltop estate and has a focus on creating Bordeaux style wines that combine Old World wine traditions with New World techniques. DAOU has a mission to produce first-growth Cabernet Sauvignon that will rival many of the greats.

The family business is run by brothers Georges Daou and Daniel Daou.

A look at the menu:

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Restaurant News

Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach’s Ocean Hai Supports Local Charities

The next time you dine at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach‘s Ocean Hai restaurant, sit at table #31 to support Pinellas County local charities.

Bamboo + 💚 #werklife #bcvsocial #foodstyling #bcvtravels

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The program “You Dine, We Donate” will select a new local charity every month to feature and donates all net proceeds from food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases at the assigned table to a cause. Here is the upcoming list:

  • April: Autism Awareness Month – Tampa Bay Chapter
  • May: Troop Rewards
  • June: Pinellas County Lifeguards
  • July: Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • August: Pinellas County Schools
  • September: Eckerd Kids
  • October: Hooked on Hope
  • November: Clearwater for Youth
  • December: Arts for Life

Not a bad view for lunch!

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Ocean Hai is the signature restaurant at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach serving Asian-fusion cuisine with inspirations from Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand, and China.

Chef de Cuisine John Capponi previously worked at Tampa’s On Swann in Hyde Park Village as Executive Chef and as Executive Sous Chef at Skytop Lounge in Pennsylvania.

The Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is located at 100 Coronado Drive and is ocean-front. Clearwater Beach was recently named #4 on the 2017 “Top 10 Traveler’s Choice Beaches in the United States” by TripAdvisor.

Visit Ocean Hai online to book a reservation at http://www.wyndhamgrandclearwater.com/dining/ocean-hai

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/