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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That’s Amore

Tonight my parents took me out to That’s Amore, an Italian restaurant on Harbour Island where a singer they used to follow at the Jazz club “The Fox” was spotted by a friend singing. Being the food critic guy that I am, I started researching the place before I got there and found many negative reviews around Urbanspoon and Yelp. We cautiously headed to the restaurant unsure of what to think about it.

When we got there we were greeted with a pretty spectacular view of Downtown Tampa and complimentary valet parking. Upon entering we heard the piano and found a few seats by the door. The place was pretty busy, but the entertainment had yet to really start. We ordered some drinks and we noticed that the waitress was swamped, her ability to keep up with our table and many others was quite impressive. I think the restaurant should probably look into getting her some help during these busy nights, she seems to be managing…but a little too slow and you could get one of those angry writers. After taking a look at the menu my parents ordered a Veggie Pizza and some wings.

My Step-Dad was pleased with his wings and we discovered that one of my family’s favorite bartenders was also working in this place. The pizza arrived and looked quite unique. I had a slice so I could add it to my pizza tour. The sauce was made from marinara and not from your regular pizza sauce, it gave it a fresh and powerful taste. The toppings were all on thin crust and it almost tasted like something you could whip up in the oven, but much better. All the toppings were pretty good and the pizza actually had a slight kick of spice to it as well, which my family loved, and although I am not much of fan of spicy food fan, I still liked it.

After the pizza I decided to give some of their dessert a shot. I ordered a Tiramisu ($8.95). It was decent, although a little too much liquor for my liking. It stayed true to the taste, but I think I prefer the Olive Garden when it comes to this dessert.

If I was just going to review this place based on food and service, I would probably say that it is a mediocre experience and that it has a nice view (like many others have said). However, once the main Jazz singer for the night Cleo Heart (visit her website) hit the stage it was clear that all these critics had missed something. Vibrant and full of energy, she brought the crowd to the place and really brought that restaurant to life along with her on key pianist. She brought the experience from okay, to I’ll be back for sure. Extremely friendly to any stranger in the crowd, she was witty and her songs all had pizzazz. To be able to kick back to her singing while having a meal or some drinks, now that is worth coming here. She performs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday nights so I would recommend visiting during these times.

A restaurant that advertises itself as a “romantic Italian restaurant” has made the right move to have her sing there. The view of downtown waterfront, some interesting food, a bar, and live music combined makes this place a pretty cool spot to be at in Tampa.

That's Amore on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: That’s Amore

Address: 700 Harbour Post Dr. Tampa, FL 33602

Phone Number: (813) 221-9889

Website: http://www.thatsamorerestaurant.com/