Daffodil Bar at The Orchard Hotel San Francisco

I have a deep love for hotel bars. Usually there is a relaxing environment to them that still speaks elegance and many times quality bartenders find themselves there enjoying a bit of a relief from busy nightclubs and dive bars. Daffodil restaurant bar inside The Orchard Hotel San Francisco and located just minutes from Union Square fits the bill.

The bar has a focus on sustainability and local and is still in the middle of blossoming and expanding its menu. One of their local products they serve is Lake Tahoe Vodka which is distilled in Mountain View, California and made with Lake Tahoe water. The bar aims to use farm-fresh ingredients whenever available as well in its cocktails.

The Orchard Hotel is inspired by “Orchard Road” in Singapore, one of Asia’s most famous shopping streets and a luxurious place to shop, dine, and explore. Owner, Mr. S.C. Huang and family, hope to recreate that feeling in their boutique hotel.

Many Americans were first introduced to Singapore last year when “Crazy Rich Asians” became a world-wide success and one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen.

On the cocktail list you’ll find the Singapore Sling, La Mission Mary, Swiss Sidecar, Vesper Martini, and more with daily specials also available. The Singapore Sling was created in Singapore in 1915 at Long Bar inside Raffles Hotel and is a tasty gin concoction. If you’ve never had one I recommend giving one a try.

Beer fans can indulge in 21st Amendment Brewery from San Francisco, Ballast Point from San Diego, and it wouldn’t be a San Francisco bar without Anchor Steam. Wine enthusiasts can find a variety of California wines from Parducci Wine Cellars, Wilson Creek Winery, and Sterling Vineyards…to name a few.

Prices are fair for a tourist area in San Francisco and will range between $6 for a beer and $14 for a cocktail depending on your choices. Daffodil offers happy hour daily from 4:30PM-6:30PM and offers 1/2 price beer, house wine, and well-drinks.

Name: Daffodil

Venue: The Orchard Hotel

Neighborhood: Union Square

Address: 665 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

Phone: (415) 362-8878

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 4:30PM-11PM, Closed Sundays

Website: http://www.theorchardhotel.com/daffodil-restaurant

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The Rez Grill Hard Rock Tampa happy hour impresses

Full disclosure: I was invited to The Rez Grill for a tasting of their happy hour menu. Any opinions displayed are my own and do not represent Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Last week I went out to The Rez Grill for a happy hour tasting (called “Social Hour) at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa. Guests can enjoy food and cocktails for just $7 from 3PM-6PM from Wednesday-Saturday.

During my visit I tried to stick to things I didn’t try during my last tasting. I do recommend the Benton’s Ham based on my last visit.

My favorite thing I tried was the banh mi! It was incredibly delicious and totally a great deal. We liked it so much that we ordered it twice. This banh mi is gourmet, the bread perfection, and the chef makes the Pâté from scratch and it shows. Also the pork…so good!

The second thing I would recommend is the Smoked Fish Dip. The fish itself depends on the day you visit, but I had Rainbow Trout in my dip and it was truly delectable down to every last taste.

The chopped salad is what you would expect from at traditional restaurant, it had some remnants of a 1905 salad to it. Not a bad option when you’re sipping on some of their sangria.

Note: The sangria at The Rez Grill comes in a caprisun pouch and is called When We Were Young. It’s a novelty that is really catching on. The sangria was excellent and was clearly soaked in plenty of fruit. They thankfully put the straw in before I had the pouch, saving me the trouble of trying to put the straw into the pouch.

For cocktails I only tried the 1944 Mai Tai which packed a punch and was more than enough for me during the visit. I’d really like to try more of the drinks in the future and I’m actually going to return this week for happy hour again.

Free parking at Hard Rock Tampa and this menu certainly makes The Rez Grill and attractive happy hour spot that I highly recommend that you check out soon.

Join the Tampa Bay Foodies Club for a Meetup on Wednesday, 6/13: http://www.meetup.com/Tampa-Bay-Foodies-Club/events/251532483/

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:

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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

 

 

Hotel Bar now serving Downtown Tampa

Downtown Tampa has a new spot now open called Hotel Bar. The bar is a classy establishment that serves libations created by famous hotels around the world and also gourmet food.

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During my visit I tried the Hotel Nacional made with cana brava, giffard peche, pineapple, and lime. The cocktail comes from Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, Cuba. You’ll find other cocktails on the menu from countries including England, Japan, France and a nice selection from New Orleans.

The food menu includes lamb tartare, wagyu ragu, roasted lemon chicken, and prime rib as well as finger food such as deviled eggs and pita chips with various dips. Late night diners can enjoy a late night fare menu.

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The bar and restaurants fits in perfectly with the growing community around Downtown and offers a new spot to go out for a group outing or drinks after work. The ownership comes from Fly Bar & Restaurant who has been serving Downtown Tampa for years.

I am looking forward to big things to come from Hotel Bar and all of Downtown Tampa as our city keeps growing.

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Photos via Hotel Bar instagram

Name: Hotel Bar

Address: 200 N. TAMPA STREET, TAMPA FL 33602

Phone: (813) 533-2650

Hours: Open daily / 4PM-3AM

Website: http://hotelbartampa.com/

SoHo Sushi North

I have been by SoHo Sushi North numerous times, but never stopped in until this past week. It is the same plaza as the fantastic Wood Fired Pizza, and these two restaurants really do make this plaza boom with foodie activity. I first heard of SoHo Sushi when they became a sponsor for the Japanese Club at USF‘s “A Night in Tokyo” cultural event (a Japanese cultural-themed dinner).

We came during their “Happy Hour” which is from 5:00PM-7:00PM everyday and offers $5-7 special rolls and appetizers as well as 2-4-1 house wine, draft beer, and hot sake. USF students can get 10% off with their student ID making SoHo Sushi North affordable for the college students nearby and for diners who don’t mind having dinner early.

We decided to order two appetizers: their $5 Sunomono (cucumber salad topped with crab, steamed shrimp, octopus, and fined with rice wine vinaigrette) and $6 Geso (Japanese style calamari, flash fried and dressed in ponzu sauce).

The sunomono was excellent and had a very refreshing taste to it. It was a nice start to our meal and whenever we wanted to refresh our taste buds throughout our meal the rice vinaigrette really hit the spot. The shredded crab and shrimp were delicious and although I don’t like cucumbers on my sushi (I feel it detracts from the taste of the fish), I love cucumber on the side with some sauce. There was enough for two people to share so I say $5 is not a bad price for some sunomono.

The geso was quite a change in taste buds from the sunomono we had before it. The calamari was a little rough, but still quite tasty and the ponzu sauce was the best part of this appetizer. We could have dipped almost anything into the sauce and been happy. Although the geso wasn’t my favorite food of the night it was pretty good and I think I would try it again and see if maybe the chef just timed the cooking a little off on the appetizer. $6 is a great price for calamari. It is a nice switch from the usual calamari found in most restaurants and the batter was noticeably less greasy as well.

We decided to order four rolls and went with the K-Town Roll ($6), Lobster Tempura Roll ($6), SoHo Roll ($5), and Tuna Fresh Roll ($7). They came rather quickly and it wasn’t long before we had a pile of food in front of us. The Lobster Tempura Roll (top right) was tasty on the inside, but the outside tasted a little odd…like the tempura didn’t reach the amount of crunch one desires when having a tempura roll. Still definitely worth the price, but a little off what we wanted.

The fish was good in the other rolls, but the mayo was a little off-putting. My friend mentioned that the mayo tasted American and I couldn’t help but agree. The mayo was detracting from the roll and indeed the two rolls that had mayo on them would have been better without it. On the other hand, the rice paper was a refreshing change from your average sushi roll and kept the sushi from becoming too heavy. I also thought the tuna and salmon were both appetizing and my friend commented that the tempura chips were great.

Overall, I would say the sushi at SoHo Sushi North was good, but not the best I have had. They face fierce competition in the area with Tomo Sushi and Joy of Tokyo within a few minutes of driving distance and Tokyo Sushi Japanese Restaurant down on Fowler Avenue. SoHo is really a seller because of the good deals they offer with their Happy Hour and USF 10% student discount that few sushi restaurants will match nearby. With the rough economic times everyone faces today you can’t deny a good deal.

As we were about to close our check we decided we would have some dessert and order their fried ice cream for $6 (pictured below). The ice cream tasted satisfactory (not too sweet and the fried piece on top was a pleasant finish) and was a nice close to our meal.

Soho Sushi on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: SoHo Sushi North

Cuisine: Japanese

Neighborhood: USF

Address: 2826 E. Bearss Avenue Tampa, Florida 33613

Phone Number: 813.977.8744

Website: http://www.sohosushinorth.com