Getting back from Boston on Wednesday, I was invited to a birthday dinner for a good buddy and luckily it was at my favorite Italian places, The Laughing Cat in Ybor City. There was over a dozen of us, the owner always comes out to greet you, and mentioned he had a special Italian Family style dinner he could provide for us since we were a large group with Apps, Salads, Main Courses, and desserts...we opted to just order off the menu,,,I write about the Cat many times...and again, a winner..just fresh, flavorful, large portion Italian at it's best in a great atmosphere.
Thursday it was off to Fort Lauderdale for the day for work(nice to have 5 daily non-stops on Southwest to Lauderdale, quick 45 min and easy flight),and arriving back I met with a buddy at the Wooden Door Irish Pub a few blocks from my house for some dinner. We decided to check out thier wings, and a Cheesesteak Sandwich and a Cuban Sandwich. The wings were ok, nothing spectacular, the sandwich's were horrible to say the least. The Cheesesteak came on a very tiny roll, barely any cheese or toppings, just some very small amount of chewy meat, with a side of some chips. The Cuban was barely a cuban at all, as in barely any meat, my buddy took the meats and cheese off one one half and just pout them on the other half...and I wont go into the rest of his night..let's just say he advised me he didn't get any sleep. I like the fact there is another watering hole in my neighborhood, but I think it be wise to keep with the liquid refreshments.....
Friday, about a dozen of us decided to go see a play, Choosing Your own Shakespeare, in Ybor City from Hat Trick Productions. A friend I know is an actor in this very small, independent troupe. There plays take place at the Silver Meteor Gallery off 6th Avenue near 22nd Street(just near the Columbia Restaurant).
Before the show, we decided to grab some eats at the Columbia, we were having our typical late afternoon torrential downpours so it was easy to valet park in front of the place, and decided to eat in the Bar area, ..very authentic and historic decor, very large bar area and tables for dining, they also usually have a live band playing jazz or the like. Professional service, we ordered the Imported Red Sangria which they make fresh in front of your table, and also shared the 1905 salad, which they also prepare tableside, and a few tapas items including meatballs, calamari, and an crab dip with artichoke and fresh Romano cheese...very good, although we unfortunately tasted the meatballs for the rest of the night.
The play was one of the Best I have seen in a while, and had the whole sold out audience, about 2 dozen of us - obviously a very small, intimate theater- laughing out loud, excellent stage presence, acting and comedy, It was perfect how they blended so many of Shakespeare's plays together and also involved the audience.
After the play, we walked along 7th Avenue, Ybor was starting to come alive with the numerous bars, clubs and restaurants, we went over to Streetcar Charlies, as some of us wanted to eat, then it was over to Spurs, Club Czar-which had two different DJ spinning, and a very fun and entertaining atmosphere, then 7/14 and The Forge.
Saturday we returned a friends truck to his house in the South Seminole Heights neighborhood after using it to move some furniture. He has done alot of work to this 1920's bungalow, nice wrap around front porch, and great detail to the structure, many of the homes in this area are all unique and well cared for.....we grabbed some lunch in that neighborhood at Bungalow Bistro. A quaint small restaurant along Florida Avenue. Ive read about their burgers, and the reports are correct, one of the tastiest burgers, juicy and thick, I had mine loaded with portabella Mushrooms and Provolone cheese. We also had a crab cake sandwhich and Roast Beef sandwich were were both very good as well, although my buddy said the roast beef lacked some flavor and was a little small on the portion size. Very friendly service, when in this area, I recommend the place. Towards the end of Saturday and after helping my buddy spend some money on new furniture and a nice flat screen TV, we had some slices of pizza at Westshore Pizza, and am very happy to see my favorite Gelato is back, La Casa Dolce gelato is now being served at Westshore Pizza, and just a few blocks from home!!