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Reviews

Miller’s Ale House

Normally I try to refrain from reviewing chain restaurants, but my first visit to Miller’s Ale House was such a good experience that I have decided to write about it. My friends recommended their Honey Mustard Wings, we ordered 50 wings for about $24. Not bad pricing and more than enough to feed 5 people. The wings tasted great and didn’t need anything on top, though some of my friends added some spicy sauce and some extra honey mustard sauce. Normally I always dip my wings in blue cheese no matter the flavor, but these wings were so good I didn’t bother. It also did not take long for the wings to come out, which was good because some people dining with me were extremely hungry.

Delicious Honey Mustard Wings!

Tampa Yelpers also happened to recommend the Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure (my friends favorite) from the dessert menu, so we decided to have a moment of gluttony and indulge in dessert.

The Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure (homemade ice cream cake with Oreo cookie crust, caramel, chocolate fudge, and heath bar crunch) was the best part of our visit. Every bite was an enjoyable as the last. The chocolate taste was there, but not overdone. You could taste the cake and ice cream well without a strong contrast from the rest of the dessert. It mixed together perfectly and this has to be one of the best desserts I have had (and certainly the best in a pub). It tasted so good that waiting for someone else to have their piece made me a little anxious…next time I really want to try their other version which has Nutter Butter cookies inside.

A good dining experience…now I want to check out the one in Brandon.

Miller's Ale House Restaurants on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Miller’s Ale House

Cuisine: American

Address: 14803 N Dale Mabry Hwy. Tampa, FL 33618

Neighborhood: Carrollwood

Phone Number: (813) 969-0020

Website: http://www.millersalehouse.com/

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Reviews

Jackson’s Bistro-Bar-Sushi

Two exchange student friends I made from South Korea recently finished up their semester here at USF in Tampa. I wanted to take them to a nice restaurant before their trip back home, so I took these friends out to Jackson’s Bistro on Harbour Island by Downtown Tampa. I have been visiting this restaurant since I was a kid and it is has been the place of important times in my life, such as my dinner before my senior prom in high school. The restaurant has a nice selection of seafood, sushi, and a great waterfront view of Tampa. Jackson’s is spacious with many rooms and outdoor seating and is used as a nightclub during the weekends.

My two good friends from Seoul, South Korea.

We were seated quickly after entering and were able to select a window with a nice waterfront view of Tampa. While gazing at the sushi menu we decided to order their new england style clam chowder ($5.95). The clam chowder was appetizing, but not the best I have had. The taste was not strong enough to my liking, but was still appetizing with some crackers. Once we cleared out our soup we decided to order some sushi: I ordered a California handroll ($4.50) and a Rainbow Roll ($9.95) (tuna, whitefish, salmon, and shrimp over a California Roll), while my friends ordered Jackson’s Arizona Roll ($6.95) (yellowtail) and Hollywood Roll ($6.95) (an upscale California Roll made with blue crab claw meat).

The sushi tasted fresh and was appetizing. The rolls were large and had plenty of ingredients inside. I assumed my Rainbow Roll was still on the way and after some time passed I checked on the waitress and she admitted she forgot to put that in. Service took a dip after that. The waitress didn’t come back around for maybe thirty minutes. I finally got my Rainbow Roll after the wait.

The Rainbow Roll tasted great and the wait wasn’t so bad since I was conversing with my two friends while I waited. However, after this we asked for our check and it took the waitress forever to bring our check. When she finally brought it she didn’t come back to check on us anymore and we had to actually get up and talk to someone about paying our bill (I was pretty embarrassed because it is the last meal I would have my friends in the USA and I wanted them to have a perfect meal). The sushi was great so I hope Jackson’s will work on their customer service because this waitress was not satisfactory.

Oh well, the view was still great and the skies were clear that day so we went outside to take pictures with the great view that is offered here. Here are some of our pictures goofing around out back:

Jumping pictures hehe.

A great waterfront view of Tampa indeed.

Jackson's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Jackson’s Bistro

Cuisine: Sushi, American

Address: 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd. Tampa, Fl 33602

Neighborhood: Downtown Tampa

Phone Number: (813) 277-0112

Website: http://jacksonsbistro.com/

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Reviews

Sushi Ninja

Sushi Ninja, located in the Bell Shoals shopping plaza off Bloomingdale Avenue in Brandon, is a quiet little sushi restaurant and bar that we decided to visit yesterday. The restaurant was empty at around 3pm and we made our way to the bar. All you could hear was water falling from their little waterfall. The restaurant itself was full of wooden booths made to look traditionally Japanese and decorations can be found all over, giving the restaurant a relaxing vibe to it.

At the bar my sister and I sat and had lunch. The owner made our sushi rolls, she was friendly and we found out that we actually know some of the same people. My sister ordered salmon skin with cream cheese and I ordered a California Roll ($4.00) with miso soup and ginger salad. The ginger salad was fantastic, savored it down to the very last bite. The miso soup was also great, enough flavor without tasting too powerful.

Ginger salad and Miso Soup.

When we got our rolls though, that’s when I decided this place is pretty awesome. The rolls were eight pieces and large. They weren’t cheap with the masago or the avocado (one of my sushi pet peeves). There was plenty of fish and it tasted fresh and flavorful. I ate my California Roll so fast that I ended up decided to order another one because it was just that good.  My sisters salmon and cream cheese was also great, though I am not a fan of cream cheese. The service was quick and painless and my sister and I were pretty much the driving voices there. They have a selection of Japanese sakes and Korean liquors as well, though we decided against it today and there were a wide variety of rolls on the menu.

You can see in this photo they were not cheap with any ingredients.

Prices for regular rolls were average, but many of the specials were over $12 or even $15 dollars. We did not make in time for their lunch special, but may have to try that out someday. The food here was unexpectedly great (it’s been a few years since I last ate here) and I would return again in the future.

Sushi Ninja on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Sushi Ninja

Cuisine: Sushi

Address: 887 E Bloomingdale Avenue Brandon, FL 33511

Neighborhood: Brandon

Phone Number: (813) 662-3377

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Reviews

The Italian Kitchen Cafe

My family and I ate at the Italian Kitchen and Cafe last weekend. A small restaurant located on 301 in in the Sweet Bay Shopping Plaza in Riverview. Looking at the plaza its in you wouldn’t expect to find such a nice place, but once you walk into the restaurant you feel like you’ve entered a different world. They have used mirrors, painting, and decorations, such as columns to make the place feel fancy and elegant. The actual restaurant is not very big, but has plenty of space for dates and a special area for large parties as well. Prices were between Olive Garden and Carrabba pricing. My Fettuccine Alfredo was only $9.99. Other entrees ranged from $10-$20.

They were quick to seat us and to take our orders and within a few minutes brought our server brought us some bread.

The bread tasted great! What was better than that was the dipping sauce they gave with it that made me want it more and more throughout my dinner. A mixture of olive oil and seasonings.

My Mom ordered their Chicken Piccata ($14.99). I sampled it and it tasted a little too salty with a pungent taste. The texture of the chicken was made right, but the sauce tasted a little off. The pasta was average.

The entree that stole the show was my Step-Father’s Sinful Chicken Parmesan ($14.99).  A few bites of that and we all ended up wishing we ordered that instead. The marinara sauce and mozzarella tasted great and the chicken was crispy. The spaghetti pasta was the best out of the three types we had. In a future visit I think we would all choose the Sinful Chicken Parmesan as our meal choice.

My entree was a standard Fettuccine Alfredo ($9.99). I chose this entree because it is my favorite type of pasta and I wanted to try one of the classics here before venturing into other types of food. They accidentally made the wrong type of pasta at first, but quickly corrected their error when it came out covered in broccoli and mushrooms. The Fettuccine Alfredo was average at best. The pasta was a little too thin for my liking and almost felt like Linguine (my least favorite pasta type) and the Alfredo sauce was nowhere near creamy enough and it ended up tasted watery.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with my meal and would have preferred to have had this at Carrabba’s or the Olive Garden instead. Next time I would definitely order their Sinful Chicken Parmesan. Service was good and the waitress was very attentive to us. I would return again in the future.

Italian Kitchen & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: The Italian Kitchen Cafe

Cuisine: Italian

Address: 6915 US Highway 301 S Riverview, FL 33569

Neighborhood: Riverview

Phone Number: (813) 671-0953

Websitehttp://italiankitchencafe.com/

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Reviews

Hiro’s Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Hiro’s Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar is a popular spot among many people because of it’s late night half-off sushi special. It’s open until 2am from Sunday-Wednesday and 3am from Thursday-Saturday, which is pretty late for a sushi restaurant. Many of my friends frequently drive from Tampa out to St. Petersburg to enjoy some late night sushi with their pals. The place is alive with loud music and a packed bar as well a many customers at the tables and hibachi. The sushi is cheap, indeed, but there is a slight trade-off in quality of the roll when you eat late night there. However, the atmosphere makes up for it.

Most of the sushi rolls are heavy on the sauce to mask the sushi because sometimes it doesn’t taste very fresh, in my opinion. You get what you pay for though. If you just want some cheap sushi to enjoy with friends then Hiro’s is for you. They have a number of appetizers which are half-off as well.

The mussels there are pretty good.

The California Roll was average though neither the Alaska Roll nor the mackerel were appetizing (with the Mackerel having a very strong fishy taste that wasn’t anything like my amazing mackerel at Tokyo Sushi) and I probably would not order either again.

Despite some rolls not tasting  fresh, Hiro’s still has that unbeatable late-night special that attracts many and it is a really cool place to hangout at night with friends, the atmosphere is enjoyable and nothing like some sushi restaurants that are dead silent around night time. I don’t think I would ever go here alone (unless I was sitting at the bar) because it is the perfect place to bring a few friends.

And here are two of my friends: Jason & Mikey

Hiro's Tokyo Steakhouse & Sushi Bar (St. Pete) on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: Hiro’s Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Cuisine: Japanese

Address:5250 4th St N St Petersburg, FL 33703

Neighborhood: Northeast St. Pete

Phone Number: (727) 522-4476

Website: http://www.hirostokyosteakhouse.com/

Categories
Food Holidays Reviews

Thanksgiving at The Columbia

My latest Creative Loafing article is about my Thanksgiving dinner at The Columbia. This year my family decided to go out to eat instead of the usual tradition of making dinner at home. I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to review a special restaurant dining occasion: eating out on Thanksgiving. I was surprised to find that many people also partake in this every year.

You can read about my experience in-depth by following this link: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/11/29/thanksgiving-dinner-at-the-columbia/

Columbia Restaurant on Urbanspoon

For pictures of my meal follow the cut

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Reviews

THE Tampa Taco Bus

The Taco Bus in Tampa is like a landmark…people are always there and it has over 500 ratings on Urbanspoon and 80 Yelp reviews, which is a huge number for this city. Foursquare shows check-ins even into the wee hours of the morning. A 24-hour taco truck is a godsend to this city where restaurants start to close up shop around 10pm on weekends. They have a great menu with a variety of choices and ingredients; several beverages as well, there is nothing that someone cannot love about the Taco Bus.

If the Taco Bus was in California, it would be just another taco truck…but it has successfully done correctly what I have often pondered was missing in Tampa: authentic tasting Mexican food. Anyone who is from California or some other state heavily populated with Mexican people knows that the majority of the places in Tampa or Florida that claim to be “Mexican” restaurants are actually using canned beans, pre-made rice, and no actual Mexican ingredients.

Everything from the cheese to the seasoning on the meat at the Taco Bus tastes like real Mexican food, and although the style is slightly different from what I’m used to in Northern California, Taco Bus still makes an authentic meal that I can actually enjoy. Their Carne Asada tastes great and I have tried their tacos, burritos, and recently I finally gave their quesadillas a shot. I wasn’t disappointed.

My friends burrito. I like my burritos with Carne Asada and some refried beans/sour cream.

The quesadilla ($4.99) was pressed perfectly to be crunchy and with all the ingredients warmed to the right temperature.

The inside of my quesadilla looked amazing. Plenty of cheese, tomatoes, chicken, and onions.

I also get their horchata on every visit. Although their horchata tastes a little different then how I prefer it, it still tastes great and you get a ton of horchata for just a few bucks. Usually the food comes out quick and although lines get long they move pretty quickly. There is plenty of space inside and outside to eat as well. I am in love with the Taco Bus and would totally wear one of their t-shirts if I had more money.

They are opening a Taco Bus out in St. Petersburg and now all I can do is hope they bring one out to Brandon!

Taco Bus on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Taco Bus

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 913 E. Hillsborough Ave, Tampa FL 33604

Neighborhood: Seminole Heights

Phone Number: (813)232-5889

Website: http://tampatacobus.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Taco-Bus/151303904885189

Twitter: @TacoBusTampa

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Reviews

Origami Sushi for Jason’s Birthday

I dined at Origami Sushi on Waters Avenue for my friends birthday a weeks back. The place has a great ambiance, it was so dark that we couldn’t read the menu correctly until they turned up the lights a little bit…plenty of couples were in the restaurant. The restaurant had plenty of space so our party could have its own area in the back. The hosts and waitresses were very attentive and helpful with whatever we needed to have a great birthday dinner. One thing I noticed was that there was a picture for every sushi roll on the menu so you knew what a roll such as their Halloween Roll would look like, not many restaurants will go that far and it was a great idea that I wish more restaurants would practice.

Follow the cut for my review 🙂

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Reviews

Izziban Sushi (Orlando)

I have a friend who is a sushi guru. He eats sushi every single week, multiple times a week and one of his favorite places is Izziban Sushi. After hearing about it for the longest time, I finally had a chance to come to Izziban Sushi after the Orlando Japan Festival. My time at Izziban was memorable and quite a delicious food encounter!

We showed up just in time for their Happy Hour Special (5-7PM) and were able to have sushi rolls for $3.99 and appetizers as well! The dumplings (pictured above) were quite appetizing. But what was REALLY AMAZING was…

Their cream cheese (crab rangoons) were just the BEST I have EVER had hitting my taste buds without being to creamy but just right…they were quickly devoured by my friends and I and this is when I decided Izziban was a pretty awesome place. If an appetizer can make a place then that is quite a feat in itself. If only someplace closer to home had these…

The atmosphere at Izziban was nice, though quiet. A pretty big restaurant with plenty of seating both a tables, booths, and a sushi bar. The televisions there were playing K-Pop videos and I found out later that the place is actually owned by Korean people and that Izziban has an excellent Korean food menu as well. One thing I noticed while looking around the restaurant was that they had “irrashaimase” or いらっしぁいませ (Japanese for “welcome” frequently said at Japanese businesses when you enter) written in hiragana in the front, I love it when restaurants go that extra mile.

One of my good friends and I.

All the rolls were appetizing and didn’t need much soy sauce added to them, I think Izziban’s sushi gives you way more than your moneys worth during this early bird special.  Service was average, although the waiter could have been a little more attentive to our table.The place was slow customer-wise (probably because it was a Sunday), but still with prices like this and quality like this I would be here everyday if I lived in Orlando. I really liked their Golden California Roll and the masago tasted great.

We couldn’t resist trying some of their Tempura Ice Cream. It was pretty tasty, but couldn’t match-up to the excellent Tempura Ice Cream my friends and I eat at Dragonfly Sushi. Overall, Izziban Sushi had some excellent sushi, appetizers, and dessert all at affordable prices and any opportunity I have to return here will be utilized.  Until we meet again Izziban…

Izziban Sushi on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: Izziban Sushi

Cuisine: Japanese, Korean

Address: 1700 W Sand Lake Rd Ste D124 Orlando, FL 32809

Phone Number: (407) 850-5088

Website: http://www.izzibansushioforlando.net/

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Reviews

USF Dining Guide

Hungry by USF and wondering where to eat? Then check out my Dining Guide! A list of some of my favorite restaurants within a few miles of the University of South Florida Tampa Campus. Don’t waste money at disappointing restaurants again. Enjoy!

http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/10/22/dining-guide-university-area-eats/