Seasons 52 Valentine’s Day menu tasting

Full disclosure: We were invited to Seasons 52 for a complimentary tasting of their Valentine’s Day menu options and a variety of dishes on their regular menu in exchange for our opinion. Opinions are our own and are not the opinions of Seasons 52 or its affiliates.

We popped over to Seasons 52 in Tampa for a tasting of their Valentine’s Day menu items and a few items off the regular menu. Here are thoughts on the things tried:

Starters

  1. Pinot Noir & Mini Riondo Prosecco paired with Flatbread Mushroom “Four mushroom” Goat cheese, truffle oil, scallions, four different mushrooms.

From the start we were served Pinot Noir as well as given a Mini Riondo Prosecco. Our server, Adam, recommended to pair the wines with one of their flatbreads on the menu. We felt that we needed to try the four mushroom flatbread, due to the umami flavors coming out of the cooked mushrooms and goat cheese being a perfect match for our wine.

Main Course

The presentation was wonderfully done, with my first bite I took a sip of wine and was met with satisfaction, just the right saltiness, buttery-flavor joined with the natural umami od the mushrooms as well as fresh greens to bring balance to the dish. It was truly a pair made from heaven. I wanted to gobble it down, but there was more food on the way.

  1. Grilled Artichokes with preserved lemon hummus – Celery hearts, radishes, green olives

          I was extremely curious to try the preserved lemon hummus as well as seeing how well it would pair with a grilled artichoke. To my surprise I was taken back by how delicious it was, the lemon hummus joined with the artichoke packed a flavorful punch that also went well with the starting wine. I truly enjoyed the presentation of the dish and the colors that popped such as the radish and the variety of beautiful color greens.

  1. Wood grilled Handline Tuna
    • Mint tabouli, tomato salad, preserved lemon hummus.

The wood grilled handline tuna was recommended immediately by our waiter. Morgan had no hesitation that this would be an amazing dish to have if you were looking for a seafood dish for your evening. Served on a bed of mint tabouli with an appealing, wood-grilled, handline tuna-seared to perfection with a beautiful display of tomatoes on top. The lemon hummus complimented the mint tabouli with wood-grilled seared tuna. It is a perfect rendition of sea meeting land joined by the natural flavours coming from the tomato. This is must order from Seasons 52!

  1. Slow braised Beef Short rib
    1. Stone ground cheddar grits, heritage carrots, horseradish crema

The slow braise Beef Short rib was the first recommended dish if seafood wasn’t an option. The presentation was beautifully done, the three different colored carrots appealed to my eyes, but I knew that the delicious gleaming slow-braised beef short rib was the star of the bowl. Seasons 52 literally blew me away with not just taste, but also the beauty of the dish. As I took my first bite, iIwas overwhelmed with the flavors, from the horseradish crema, combined with the cheddar grits, applied to the short rib, my mouth just continued to water as I chewed the delicious combination.

  1. Mac N Cheese
    • Cave-aged Gruyere cheese sauce, panko crust

You can never go wrong with a Mac N Cheese that is piping hot! The cave-aged gruyere cheese sauce had a beautiful rich creamy and slightly nutty taste. Gruyere cheese is usually found in fondue , so I knew what was coming towards my tastebuds. Absolutely an amazing combo that I truly enjoyed!

  1. Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

            Brussel sprouts cooked right is always delicious. Brussel sprouts cooked with a caramelization? Now that’s a star side dish, honestly it made me so happy, the profile of the flavors complimented each other so well. During my meal,  I found myself joining the flavors with the main meals that really continued to make my salivate.

  1. Maine Lobster Tails

The Maine Lobster was phenomenal, the grilled marks and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper with a coat of butter is always a magical flavor combination. It was extremely fresh and applying the roasted lemon to the tail joined the flavors like a proposal on the day of St. Valentine.

Did I mention that if you get engaged at Seasons 52 you get to enjoy a free champagne toast every time you dine for a year?             

It’s the perfect idea to propose love!


Dessert:

For dessert you can indulge with the various of flavor, such as: a strawberry shortcake with fresh cut strawberries topped with whip cream or a chocolate pudding smores shot with a graham cracker for the extra crunch.

My favorite dessert was the carrot cake, oh my goodness the flavors were amazing! It was creamy and packed with flavor. It is probably the best carrot cake I have ever enjoyed.

Seasons 52 also offers pecan pie, a tiramisu, and a coconut cookie cake, which were all wonderfully delicious as well.

Overall, we had a great time at Seasons 52. Check them out!

Restaurant Name: Seasons 52

Neighborhood: WestShore

Address: 204 North Westshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33609

Cost: $$

Phone Number: (813) 286-1152

Website: http://www.seasons52.com/

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Review: WTR Pool & Grill Tampa

Hello!! My name is Natalie Kass and I’m a fellow travel blogger based in Tampa (see: Journey to the East). Last week, Carlos invited me to experience WTR Grill’s new dinner menu debut. I made it just in time to snag some beautiful photos with the setting sun, and dinner began shortly thereafter.

As a Florida native, I’m very familiar with beach hotels/restaurants. In fact, I’ve visited this location twice before and never knew about WTR Grill because the space was totally unrecognizable. Beachside venues are made to be transformable so they can accommodate diverse events — from weddings, to concerts, to formal events — which is why I never noticed the restaurant side of it!

The general aesthetic of beachside venues are always “beach themed,” meaning, light blues, soft lighting, and beach artifacts as decor. Usually, you can only get what I call “beach food” which might include burgers, fries, and chicken tenders — strictly casual dining items. However, WTR Grill’s new dinner menu offers more sophisticated dining options like NY Strip and Steamed Snapper!

In my opinion, the aesthetic of WTR Grill does not accurately reflect the upscale dining experience they’re trying to sell. For example, there was a large, empty space in the middle of the restaurant and ship rope hanging from the ceilings.

If they want their space to be cohesive with their menu, I would suggest keeping it traditional and elegant: fill the empty space with tables lined with nice tablecloths (rather than keeping the tables bare), and remove the ship rope and perhaps replace with a lattice design.

The actual dinner was served in 3 courses with 3 dishes each. Here is my review of all the menu items:

First course:

  • Chef’s Soup of the Day — Cajun style soup with sausage and okra

This soup is perfect for cold weather. Chef Joe Garcia explained that it was one of his sous chef’s homemade recipes that had been in her family for generations — you can definitely taste the love! The Cajun broth itself is loaded with spices and anchors the rest of the ingredients. If Florida gets hit with another cold front — I’m going back for seconds.

  • Apple Panzanella Salad

I was most skeptical about this dish because I don’t usually like fruit mingling with my veggies, but this salad actually turned out to be one of my favorites of the night! The sweet apples and tangy dressing were perfectly balanced — I ended up having 2-3 portions!

  • Kale Caesar Salad

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the kale itself (it had a lot of dressing on it), I really liked the baked cheese and multigrain bread that came along with it. The baked cheese was similar to a soft, cheese cracker and the multigrain bread was freshly baked, but I would order these 2 items as an appetizer without the kale.

Second Course:

  • Crispy Brussel Sprouts

Whenever I roast brussel sprouts at home, they have this distinct “roasted” taste, so I was expecting that when I tried this dish. However, these brussel sprouts maintained their fresh, green color. Not only that, but the bacon accompanying it was high quality and delicious!

Out of all 3 appetizers, if I were trying to get my greens in for the night, I would choose the Apple Panzanella Salad.

  • Caribbean Shrimp Lettuce Wrap

I was really looking forward to this dish as I anticipated a “mango-chili-salsa” experience….but it just wasn’t. The lettuce made the wrap taste bitter, so I decided to ditch the lettuce and just eat the shrimp and glaze. Still, there could have been more flavor — whether in a sweeter mango or a spicier glaze.

  • Smoked Salmon Dip

I, personally, am not a huge fan of Salmon or Lox sandwiches, which is what this dip reminded me of. I took one bite and decided it was not for me. For those who do like it, though, the dip was creamy and had lots of Salmon slices in it.

Third Course:

  • Pepper Crusted NY Strip Steak

When I used to work at a steakhouse, the chef taught me “If a steak is cooked right, you don’t have to put sauce on it!” Since then, I’ve never used A-1 sauce or any other kinds of sauces. Additionally, I usually order filets or sirloins, so I was excited to try a different cut. To my surprise, the strip came paired with a mushroom gravy which I decided to try “just for fun” — I am so glad I did because the gravy completes the steak! By itself, the steak was just okay (again, I prefer a filet or sirloin), but with the gravy? Amazing!!!! I would order the NY Strip again as long as it comes with the gravy.

  • Steamed Florida Snapper

Oddly enough, as a Floridian, I’m not a huge seafood fan. But when Chef Garcia explained that the Snapper was steamed with just a little bit of white wine and minimal spices, I decided I would try the fish. I was surprised by how much I liked this dish because I didn’t taste anything overly fishy at all! In fact, it tasted really clean. Additionally, the jasmine rice underneath was a nice touch because it soaked up all the flavor. As a non-seafood lover, I have been proven wrong and would definitely come back to order this.

  • Seafood Pasta (scallops / shrimp)

Usually when I eat a red-sauce pasta, I can taste the acidity from the tomato which is why I usually go for a creamy alfredo sauce. This seafood pasta, however, even though it was made with a red sauce, actually tasted sweet! I don’t know how they did it, all I know is that I went back for seconds! This dish is not overly fishy and it was my favorite dish of the night — I’ll be back soon to order it again.

Dessert:

  • Waffle Cone with Brownie & Ice Cream

The homemade waffle cone was crisp and not stale at all. I think the brownie inside was mixed with cookie dough because it wasn’t just a chocolate – it was chocolate, cookie, ice cream, and whipped cream all in one. I ate mine and my partner’s!

Overall, I enjoyed dining with a nice view of the Tampa Bay. I would most likely come back to WTR Grill after a day at the beach so I could enjoy something more sophisticated and creative than regular old “beach food!”

Restaurant Name: WTR Grill

Cuisine: American, Seafood

Neighborhood: Rocky Point

Address: 7700 W. Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa, FL 33607

Phone Number: (813) 281-0566

Menu: http://wtrpool.com/pool-grill-menu/

SF Beer Week 2019: Anchor Brewing Battle of the Bands

Today I had the pleasure of attending the Anchor Brewing Battle of the Bands at SoMa StrEat Food Park for the Battle of the Bands, a part of San Francisco Beer Week 2019.

Today was my first at the SoMa StrEat Food Park and I was impressed with all the food trucks and the park itself which was well-positioned for some terrible weather that mostly included cold winds and rain. There were heaters and plenty of covering from the wet weather…I have not seen this done in Florida.

Street Meet Tacos Truck at SoMa StrEat Food Park in San Francisco.
Carne Asada Super Taco from Street Meet Taco Truck in San Francisco at SoMa StrEat Food Park.

I tried the Street Meet Taco Truck which is originally from San Bruno. They were selling some a super taco with rice and beans for just $5 and I couldn’t say no to that. The carne asada was tasty and it was a great meal. I always appreciate when food trucks offer lite items that can allow you to visit other trucks and see what they have.

The Sarap Shop, Filino-American Food Truck food at SoMa StrEat Food Park in San Francisco.

My friend tried The Sarap Shop, which is a Filipino-American food truck with a number of unique offerings including vegan sisig. Their Why You Laing dish features Taro leaves with coconut milk sauce and looked really good. You can an egg to anything in true Filipino fashion.

Anchor Brewing was serving a number of their beers at the event. I had the California Lager (4.9% ABV) which certainly matched its description as crisp and clean in flavor. It was a great beer to enjoy on a cold day. Anchor Brewing is San Francisco and America’s oldest craft brewery that goes back to 1896 an was sold in 2017 to Sapporo Holdings for $85 million.

The best part of the whole event though was going over where the crowd was rocking out to a number of bands though with your beer and having an excellent time. People in San Francisco love to dance everywhere and this was no exception.

It was a good day.

SF Beer Week 2019: The Brew Coop x Faction Brewing

Faction Brewing at The Brew Coop for SF Beer Week 2019.

It’s SF Beer Week 2019 and although I appeared to arrive too late to attend most events, there are a few that I am able to check out. Tonight – I checked out an event with The Brew Coop and Faction Brewing.

The Brew Coop opened recently off Valencia and 19th Street in the Mission District. The concept is a pour-your-own beer concept, think The Pub, but instead of having British beers it has craft beers from around California. Customers can get their own beer cards and load them with cash to use at the beer stations, pouring as much or as little as beer as they want.

Tonight was very lively at The Brew Coop with many customers coming in and out to drink and watch sports….mainly basketball on television. It certainly had that sports bar vibe with some hip-hop backdrops.

Faction Brewing held a trivia contest for some complimentary beer and the crowd was busy playing games and catching up with friends.

Winter Pilsner from Faction Brewing at The Brew Coop

I had a chance to chat for some time with the Sales & Marketing rep from Faction Brewing, Corey Hennegan. We talked about craft beer, the many differences between beer in Florida and California, and the history and mission behind Faction Brewing. I then tried Faction Brewing’s Winter Pilsner beer (7.2% ABV) which was so incredibly smooth, I was blown away by it.

I drink pilsners at most breweries, but none taste quite as good as this Winter Pilsner. Hennegan mentioned that it is one of the pride and joys of Faction Brewing. I highly recommend it and could easily drink it all day.

The Owner and Head Brewer of Faction Brewing, Rodger Davis, has been in the West Coast beer scene for at least 20 years and it shows. Brewers carry their experiences like chefs into their craft brews. I always notice subtle differences at Leaven Brewing in Riverview from KJ Lynch’s experiences at The Brew Hub and Ft. Lauderdale Brewing. It’s noticeable. Rodger Davis worked at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro in the past as well as Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley.

After the Winter Pilsner, I needed some food so I ordered the Carne Asada Fries at The Brew Coop. When perusing reviews online, most people seemed to mention the Carne Asada Fries and I’m previously a fan of that dish from California Tacos-To-Go, which previously hailed from San Diego before their sale.

The style of the Carne Asada fries at The Brew Coop isn’t the same as SoCal style fries. It’s still good though. Their bar food is savory, flavorful, and filling without being greasy which is great. It truly went down well with the beer. You can’t say that about most dive-bars selling food.

Triple IPA from Faction Brewing

I enjoyed a Triple IPA from Faction Brewing with my Carne Asada fries and I was impressed that despite the hops – I enjoyed every last sip. I finally found an IPA I can love…not a small feat. It went really great with the fries as well. Beer pairing is a slight hobby of mine.

Brew Coop Owner, Gore Song, told me the idea was to create food that can be enjoyed by customers with their beer without the harsh after-effects of bar food and I completely agree that this was the case. Prices will run you about $10-$20 total which is about standard for bar eats.

The menu was created by Tim Luym, a James Beard Rising Chef Nominee from Alchemy Bar. Chef Ronnie Taylor is also a part of Brew Coop, him and I are both acquainted from his work over at where I have eaten at in the past with my friend Jo from JBKollaborations.

I still have plenty of things to try on the menu, but I think repeat visits would be necessary. The Brew Coop is perfect to visit with some friends to split a few dishes and enjoy some brews, maybe watch a sports game. The noise level certainly spikes when it gets busy, but what sports bar doesn’t?

The location in the Mission District is next to many other San Francisco popular shop names like Boba Guys and Stonemill Matcha. Watching the transformation of the Mission District as former SF resident in the 90s is intriguing and also quite exciting.

I’ll be back.

Event Name: SF Beer Week: Wings x Faction Brewing

Bar Name: The Brew Coop

Neighborhood: Mission District

Address: 819 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Website: http://www.thebrewcoop.com/

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

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

Head to OBTown in Oakland for authentic Korean fried chicken

When you tell a fellow American that you lived abroad in Seoul, South Korea they usually ask a few questions about kimchi, bulgogi, and bibimbap and whether you visited North Korea or ate dog…but most people in the United States are comfortably unaware that some of the best fried chicken in the world is made in South Korea. Boy are they missing out.

Example: Korean fried chicken (KFC) chain Bonchon is quickly eclipsing Kentucky Fried Chicken (insert irony), but even Bonchon can’t compare to the local friend chicken establishments. It doesn’t surprise me though.

Chicken and beer restaurants are some of the hottest concepts in Seoul and charge premium prices for quality chicken, pickled radish, potato wedges, and beer. Craft beer’s growing popularity in Seoul has also brought new pubs that are pairing the beers with specialty chicken such as Brew 3.15 Korean Fried Chicken and Craft Beer by popular Seoul Eats blogger Daniel Gray. Luckily, there are options inside the San Francisco Bay Area that can be enjoyed.

OBTown or Oriental BBQ Town in Oakland, California serves some of the most authentic Korean fried chicken that I have enjoyed since leaving South Korea. The restaurant doesn’t like anything special from the inside and the inside blasts Korean Pop songs from the early 2010s including many I loved while studying abroad at Yonsei University.

One of my friends who I dined with regularly in Seoul introduced me to OBTown and I make it a point to head there every single time I visit California. The chicken is moist and succulent. KFC is double-fried and cooked to perfection. Secret recipes of seasonings vary from establishment to establishment but these chickens are not dry or plain. The only restaurants that compare are in Duluth or Koreatown in Georgia (I’m sure L.A. probably also has some good choices).

You’ll want to share with a friend as most Korean food is made for group dining (something Americans often ignore when they dine at Korean restaurants).

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Spontaneous post-exam fooding last night 🍗

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The Korean name is called Yang Nyum Chicken (양념 치킨) and can come spicy, sweet & spicy, or plain. Personally, I enjoy every type of Korean Friend Chicken but your preferences can certainly be satisfied. The various chicken dishes will run you back about $20.

The really great thing about Korean Fried Chicken is that it can be paired with almost any food and still taste great so feel free to also order from the other plentiful Korean options on the menu or just order more chicken because it is truly incredible. I do recommend a Korean lager beer with it such as CASS to wash it down.

OBTown has a late-night happy hour from 9PM to 11:30PM that is also a MUST.

Do yourself a favor and get to OBTown in Oakland as soon as possible for some excellent Korean Fried Chicken and you will be hooked. You will not regret it.

Restaurant Name: OBTown (Oriental BBQ Chicken Town)

Cuisine: Korean, Fried Chicken

Neighborhood: Rockridge, North Oakland

Address: 6101 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

Phone Number: (510) 595-5338

Cost:$$

Eating Cubans in San Francisco: Isla Vida

I was born and lived in San Francisco until I was 8 years old. During my childhood Caribbean restaurants were far and between. Caribbean culture in general was mostly hidden from public view.

Most food media was limited back then as well since it was the 1990s and media did not have the multicultural voices of today. My exposure to Caribbean cuisine growing up was mostly from home cooking until we moved to Florida where it thrives.

Now that I am back in San Francisco I see a number of restaurants taking root in the direction of this food and I welcome it.

Today I decided to check out Isla Vida (Island Life) after finishing an article about The International Cuban Sandwich Festival and making myself crave a Cuban nearly 3,000 miles from home. Isla Vida has a Miami-like vibe to its interior with floral features (without the house music) although there is still room for growth in the interior. It has only been around for a few months.

The menu is fairly simple with Cuban and Jamaican influences and Isla Vida proudly refers to itself as Afro-Caribbean. The signature items are the smoked chicken and sandwiches as well as the Guava BBQ Ribs.

The restaurant is fast-casual but feels similar to a sit-down restaurant. If it was in South Florida, there would be a DJ inside spinning music, but the playlist was pretty enjoyable regardless.

Chef and Co-Owner, Jay Foster, and Co-Owner, Matthew Washington, are one of the only black business owners in the Fillmore which is a historically black neighborhood once called “Harlem of the West”, according to KQED.

There are many recent cases of chefs and restaurateurs moving into specific neighborhoods throughout the country and world with a mission to enrich them with history and culture in the last few years, a renaissance of a past when immigrants and minority groups formed powerful neighborhoods filled with music, art, and food. Food is a powerful way to create change. That is the San Francisco I remember as a kid.

I went for the Cuban Sandwich or Cubano ($13) as they call it. The Cuban Sandwich is originally from Tampa so I wanted to compare and contrast how people in San Francisco are enjoying their Cubans compared to my home city.

The Cuban Sandwich at Isla Vida comes with oven-roasted and wood-fired pork, ham, manchego, mustard, and a pickle on bread and comes with a helping of mixed greens, dressing, and shoestring fries.

The first thing I noticed is that the sandwich does not have salami. Salami is included in a traditional Cuban in Tampa due to influences from Italian immigrants that goes back to the 1800s and a is a foundation of the sandwich. Although I did find myself missing my salami, I was quite happy with the additions added by the chef.

The second thing I noticed is the swap of dijon mustard which is something that might have people from Tampa fuming, but for me the dijon mustard worked really with the smoked pork stacked on top of the sandwich. The swap of Swiss cheese for Manchego wasn’t noticeable in my opinion due to the bold flavors throughout the sandwich.

I admit that I am much more open-minded than some of my fellow diners in the East Coast who expect their roots to be maintained exactly that way, but to me food is always evolving and chefs should be respected for taking risks and rewarded when it works well.

Isla Vida Cubano or Cuban Sandwich with smoked pork.

One of the biggest differences is the addition smoked pork. Isla Vida is not the first place to use smoked pork in the country, however restaurants in Tampa move towards pulled pork as a topping on their Cuban. The smoked pork really worked on Isla Vida’s Cuban and it has a very unique and flavorful finish that is perfect when you hit the aftertaste of ham, mustard, and crunchy bread as you take each bite.

The only thing I would add is more ham to the sandwich to better balance the smoked pork, it is great but personally I would add more ham to taste it more.

The smoked pork almost made me want Guava BBQ sauce on my sandwich, but I feel I would have completely betrayed my sandwich and roots if I fully entertained that so I ruled against it.

Fries at Isla Vida

The portion size was generous. I could have easily have split the sandwich with someone and ordered some more sides, but I hardly can ever finish a Cuban in general. Your mileage may vary. The salad and fries were plentiful.

I would like to try the tostones and maduros in someday to see how they line up to my experiences. Isla Vida is also offering brunch and I am interested in giving that a shot in the future as well.

Hopefully they also add some cocktails in the future as that would be a major add. I also found myself craving a Cafe con Leche with my sandwich and I think it would be a powerful addition to the menu if done right.

I will return to Isla Vida in the future for more food and am happy to recommend it as a former judge to the International Cuban Sandwich Festival.

Isla Vida San Francisco

Restaurant Name: Isla Vida

Cuisine: Caribbean, Cuban, Jamaican

Neighborhood: Fillmore

Address: 1325 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

Phone Number: (415) 678-5171

Website: http://www.islavidasf.com

Cost: $$

Menu: http://www.islavidasf.com/#menu

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/islavida.415/

Instagram: @islavidasf

Twitter: @islavidasf

Jubao Palace Noodle Bar at Hard Rock Tampa

Full disclosure: I was invited to Jubao Palace Noodle Bar at Seminole Hard Rock & Hotel Tampa for a complimentary meal tasting in exchange for my opinion. These opinions are my own and do not reflect Seminole Hard Rock & Hotel Tampa.

Thai Tea is my favorite and probably one of the main reasons why I go to Jubao Palace. The one at Jubao tastes as authentic as you’ll find at the best places in town including The Wat Thai Temple. Totally worth it and delicious.

As if that wasn’t enough, we had Vietnamese coffee as well. Vietnamese coffee is guaranteed to keep you up at night when you need cram. I’ll warn that the caffeine dose is high. It’s delicious though and I highly recommend it.

What would Asian food be without fried rice? The fried rice at Jubao Palace is completely filling and a great option if you need to fill up before having a few drinks and hitting the slots. One thing I appreciate is that it isn’t too salty, some places go overboard with soy sauce.

All the starters at Jubao are delicious, but the favorite of the evening is The Spicy Garlic Cucumber dish. This one I highly recommend. It is has a nice finish with red pepper flakes.

My favorite thing on the menu? The pork belly! The pork belly is crispy and delicious. My friend Natalie Kass who has lived in Macau as an English teacher said it is comparable to her experiences abroad in Macau and China.

It’s a generous portion so you may want to share and order some appetizers with it. The duck is also excellent and made traditionally. The chef has plenty of experience in local Chinese cuisine and has worked at big names around town.

For those of you that like noodles. Jubao has pho and a variety of different styles of soups that you can enjoy. Broths are rich and filled with flavor. Personally, I can never finish my soup – but I know many people who can down this in minutes. The portion is larger than some Vietnamese places around town.

We topped it all off with some noodles which was probably much more than I can handle, but still quite delicious.

The best part about Jubao is that it is open late! You can grab your Asian fix well into the wee hours of the morning and there is almost nowhere else in town that you can do that. Most Asian restaurants in Tampa close by 10PM or 11PM at the latest. Jubao is open til 4AM and sometimes 5AM on the weekends.

Overall, Jubao has a good-sized menu of Chinese and Vietnamese food. There is much more seating space now that they added a whole new wing to it and it was much needed as the place is constantly busy with customers.

Now when you get that late-night craving, you’ll remember this post and go on over for your fix at Jubao Palace Noodle Bar.

Restaurant Name: Jubao Palace Noodle Bar

Cuisine: Chinese, Vietnamese

Address: 5223 N. Orient Rd., Tampa, FL 33610

Cost: $$

Phone Number: (866) 388-4263

Menu: http://bit.ly/2D6ckIK

Website: http://www.seminolehardrocktampa.com/tampa-contemporary-dining.htm

Restaurant News: Sparkman Wharf now open

Image via Strategic Property Partners

Sparkman Wharf is now open in the latest Water Street Tampa completion.  I had the pleasure of going to a blogger preview this Tuesday of the new food destination. 

After visiting I can say it is more of an outdoor food hall with multiple vendors selling different kinds of food and drinks. 

Continue reading “Restaurant News: Sparkman Wharf now open”

Review: Amy’s Organic Soups Golden Lentil Indian Dal

I have been shopping for some new soups lately and came across Amy’s Organic Soups Golden Lentil Indian Dal. I found the soup at Sprout’s Farmers Market on-sale for about $2.50 per can.

I was really surprised with how great the flavors were in this soup.

You can really taste the organic tomatoes, organic carrots, and organic red lentils and it isn’t spicy besides a little organic black pepper. I have a bit of spice sensitivity and I was just fine with this soup. The ingredients tasted rich and full of flavor. It tasted savory and I gobbled it down.

Many store-bought soups are too watery and that wasn’t my experience with this product.

I would recommend getting some Naan bread or pita bread on the side. This soup would pair well with any dish and was quite filling on its own. The soup also has no trans fat and like the rest of their line is Non-GMO as well as gluten-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, soy-free, corn-free, tree-nut free, vegan, and kosher. Their cans have non-BPA lining too.

The sodium level is 56% of your daily value or 1,360 milligrams with 2 servings or 1 can so if you’re watching your salt intake this soup may not be for you unless you’re going to balance the rest of your diet out. It is low sugar with only about 6 grams in a can.

I recommend Amy’s Organic Soups Golden Lentil Indian Dal. Great flavor and quality for the price.

Sabor A Cuba – Excellent Cafe con Leche and Cubans

I visited Miami a few weeks ago and have been craving a Cafe con Leche since then. I asked around and tried some recommendations such as La Segunda and Bodega, but neither of them had that bold coffee that I grew to like during my trip in Miami.

During my visit last weekend to Dunedin for ice cream my sister’s husband suggested Sabor A Cuba.

Sabor A Cuba is a little house on the north side of Downtown Dunedin that sells Cuban cigars, coffee, and sandwiches. The owners give you that mom and pop vibe. No pretentiousness. I knew I was going to need to have a coffee the minute we stepped inside.

The Cafe Con Leche? Excellent. Bold coffee flavors going down my throat. I had a nice rush of energy right afterwards and the Cuban Sandwich? I LOVED it. This isn’t a Tampa Cuban Sandwich, but Miami style (no salami folks). I understand that some people in Tampa will not appreciate that, but I am a man that enjoys the variety in life.

What makes a good Cuban Sandwich to me? It’s not a specific thing inside the sandwich, but the combination of everything together. When you take a bite there should be crunch and as the ingredients move around in your mouth, you should feel some happiness and pleasure on your taste buds. This Cuban did that.

The sandwich will run you $8, but it’s a purchase I would make in the future again.

If you haven’t stopped by Sabor A Cuba, I recommend giving them some love. They regularly have live music outside and this is the real deal.

Restaurant: Sabor A Cuba

Cuisine: Coffee, Sandwiches

Neighborhood: Dunedin

Address: 828 Highland Ave., Dunedin, FL 34698

Phone: (727) 238-5368

Cost: $

Website: http://www.saboracubainc.com