Tuesday, June 23, 2009

IKEA - Ybor Dinner; Kayak and Bay View lunch; Fathers Day brunch.

Buddy of mine came back from his trip while I watched his kids(Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Chiuaua), and we went over to check out the new IKEA that opened in Ybor City. At 7pm on a Wednesday evening, the place was EMPTY, plenty of up front parking, grabbed a yellow bag as we entered and proceeded up the escalator to begin out tour...meandering in and out of every imaginable type of Home Ware displays..kitchens, baths, bedrooms..appliances, furniture...this place has Everything and its HUGE...we stopped off for some of their Swedish Meatballs on the 2nd level cafe, offering great views of the Port and downtown Tampa skyline. Finishing the tour downstairs through all the housewares, and knick knacks, we stopped by the grocery area where my buddy took home some of the frozen meatballs and stuff. AS a reminder, you must bring a bag to take home the goodies you purchase, or buy a bag from IKEA.

Afterwards, it was dinner at a fav of mine in Ybor - El Puerto. a HUGE perfectly cooked and delicious 22oz skirt steak and Chicken Fired Rice was shared...enough for four people, I was able to take some home for lunch and dinner the next day.

Friday dinner was with the family at Cappy's pizza on Bay to Bay Blvd...a large Greek Salad and this time we did a small NY Style with Pepperoni and a Ham and Cheese Calzone..I was surprised and a bit disappointed that the Calzone only had Mozzarella Cheese, and no Ricotta Cheese. Still the pizza is some of the best I've had in Tampa Bay area.

Saturday a few friends of mine and I ventured out to Kayak the Hillsborough River. Our friends at Canoe Escape brought us to Sargeant Park along 301 to start the Hillsborough River kayaking...beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife, and lazy paddle down the river to Morris Bridge Park, about 2.5 hours. Being shaded and on the water kept us cool...it was hovering in the mid-90's today.
After getting back home and cleaning up a bit, we enjoyed a great lunch along the Bay at Hula Bay..once again, a perfect meal(the grilled grouper sandwich's and roast pork soft tacos), perfect views, and great company.

Sunday was Fathers Day, and about 5 of us fathers(of the four legged kind), went to Datz on MacDill Ave for their Sunday Brunch...around 130pm, there was about a 20 minute wait, we wondered around on the lower level, tasting wines, cheeses, breads and such..there was a great female singer entertaining the Fathers Day crowd. Upstairs we were seated in the bar area, with a bottle of wine and free draft beers for the fathers..we were already having a great time. The sandwich's here are HUGE!! The Meats and Cheeses are top quality, service was a little slow and awkward though. Some of us ordered Omelets which unfortunately were on the small side compared to the Colossal sandwich's and Salads.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hula Bay Sushi - Lodge Sushi - Redbox - SudsFest

A buddy of mine is in town for a couple of weeks, so we ventured to Hula Bay, off Westshore, south of Gandy on the Bay...and tried their Sushi...It was a Wednesday evening, and the outside tables at 7pm were all full, even Duke's Bar was completely full, so we were seated at a table inside, still with great views of the Bay. They have a listing of over a dozen specialty rolls, and of course your main stream Sushi and Sashimi. Surprisingly very fresh, and very good...I have never been dissapointed with the food at Hula Bay, and now the Sushi comes with good recommendations..with a great scene and views.
After dinner..we went to AMC (free popcorn Wednesday's)...and saw The Hangover...this one goes down as one of the classic's, like Caddyshack, Animal House, etc...one you will want to see a few times...just non stop laughter!!

Thursday, after helping a friend move into her new apartment in South Tampa, we met a few people at The Lodge, on Howard Avenue in Hyde Park neighborhood of South Tampa. Lots of pretty people, we put a few tables together outside, and enjoyed the company, and somewhat dry air(still very warm, but the circulating fans kept things cool on the patio). Their menu is all over the place..in a good way...from over a dozen kinds of sliders, to Steak and Eggs anytime, and my favorite>>Tatar Tots! We tried the Sushi here(as if I didnt already have enough this week), and found the Ahi Tuna App with cucumber salad to be very good, their specialty rolls are also all over the board..and the ones we tried were both very good, for a place that doesn't necessarily specialize in Sushi.

Friday was movie night with the kids....and I now find Redbox rentals so convenient and CHEAP. For $1, you can rent all the latest new releases, along with many older classics..you just go online, find a redbox near you(almost all Walgreens and SweetBay supermarkets), rent one on line..then just go to the redbox, slide your credit card, and out comes your DVD movie....return it within 24 hours, and its just $1, or $1 each day you have it...no late fees, you can return it to ANY redbox...so quick, convenient...love the RedBox!

Saturday evening was the annual SudsFest at the Florida Aquarium downtown Tampa - Channelside. For $50, they open the Aquarium from 7pm to 11pm, and not only can you enjoy all the attractions at the Aquarium, but throughout their were over a few dozen beer tables, sampling beers from all over the country...AND over a dozen local restaurants, dishing out their specialities...AND live music, inside, outside on the deck, and in the Shark Tank area...it seemed each time you turned a corner, there was something new....it wasn't crowded AT ALL, no lines for beer or food, and just turned out to be a great Saturday Night at the Aquarium with really good friends.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SIde Bern's and a night out

Saturday evening, a bunch of us met at Side Bern's restaurant on the corner of Howard Avenue and Morrison Ave in the Hdye Park neighborhood of South Tampa. A Tampa institution, well known for culinary delights, famed chefs, and exclusive ever changing menu's with each season. Free Valet parking along the entrance along Morrison Ave, and there is nice patio area for waiting for every one to arrive and early cocktails before being seated inside for dinner. Service is impeccable here, your waiter and an assistant to the waiter. Very high end, and exclusive menu, portions are very small, but it is the taste you come here for...most of our meals we ordered were superb...Lamb Sirloin, Halibut, the Tuna was said to be just ok. Its a once in a lifetime opportunity to impress someone, but definitely not your casual type of eatery.

After dinner, it was a quick walk across the street to the total opposite environment to where we were...the Tiny Tap...grabbing a pitcher from the freezer, we enjoyed some very cheap draft beer,and a few rounds of pool, before heading out on Howard Avenue, and actually hailing a cab to take us 5 blocks north on Howard to CHEAP...very pretty people, the music was keeping all happy, there are several rooms to see and be seen....then a cab to my neighborhood stomping ground...Green Iguana Westshore!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Downtown Tampa for Happy Hour, A Rays Game, and Taste of Pinellas

Nice weekend, with no rain, and what seemed to be a reprieve from the humidity, nice dry air!

Started Happy Hour on Friday evening at Taps, from 5pm-7pm they have 1/2 off all drafts and $4 house wines. I tried a few different ales, like the Salty Dog with a hint of Blueberry, and actual Blueberry's in the beer...and some Hefe Weizen's....apps were very tasty here, the three dips with Warm Pita bread included generous portions of Hummus, White Bean and a Jalapeno infused Black Bean dip..we needed more Pita bread and they gladly obliged...also are a variety of tasty Bruschetta for sampling as well. It was then onto Boss Hogs, a kind of Sport Bar on Franklin Street, there was some live acoustic music...the food is just OK here, i think the BBQ pork and chicken sandwich's turned out best, the wings are kind of small and they were chewey...we did try the inside out wings, tossed in a blue cheese sauce, with buffalo sauce for dipping. It was then onto the Hubb for a stiff one and interesting people watching....a .25 cent trolley ride got us to Channelside where we tried to get into a new place next to Banana Joe's only to be told we had to enter all the way at the other end at Maragaria Mama's...I did not want to walk thru three bars to get to the new establishment, so we ditched that...then to Stumps where they wanted $5 cover...we just wanted a cold beer, and they pointed to the outside bar in the courtyard...we ditched that, and had a chilly one at Tinas Tapas...good bartender, and some good people watching at the bar. I'M not a big fan at Channelside..seems like its just a pre-fab place with a few bars, too many rules and covers to get in and just check out some places, and bouncers with bigger heads than anything else....I do like the Splitsville, Thai Tani and IMAX theater there, and thats prob the only reason for going to Channelside. It was thena cab back towards home at a stop at the Green Iguana Westshore, where a GREAT band, Category 3, was playing all kins of covers, from Genesis, to Van Halen, to RUSH, and Led Zeppelin....stuff you dont normally hear, and they were really really good...and entertaining. Cant wait till they come back this side of Tampa Bay again, im now a follower of Category 3.

Saturday, after a great breakfast at First Watch in downtown Tampa, we walked over to the Rays store on Tampa Street, and purchased some tickets to the Minnesota/Tampa Bay game this afternoon...$16 seats which included a concert by 3 Doors Down...good game, we hit over 10 strike outs so free pizza for everyone from Papa Johns, and the concert was ok...you really need to be on the Field to enjoy it, since Tropicana Field is so large, the acoustics are HORRIBLE!! Not a place for live music....

Sunday, we biked over to the Taste of Pinellas, along Coffee Pot Blvd and the waterfront in downtown St. Pete. For over 20 years this festival that benefits all childrens hospital has brought tens of thousands to the beautiful Vinoy Park in downtown St. Pete, for waterfront tastings of lots of Pinellas County restaurant fare...we had Red Mesa Steak with Chimichuri and Fish Tacos...great!...also BBQ Pork sandwich's and a Chicken Wrap from some other places, and Virgin Mojitos...always good stuff....there was an excellent Frisbee Dog Show, with some amazing Border Collies...and the music was more hard rock from local bands, until KC and the Sunshine Band closed the weekend long venue. Dinner on Sunday was at Hula Bay along the waterfront in Tampa...another great band playing at the lower level Duke's...and as usual the Mahi Mahi Tacos, and Burgers were winners....

Work takes me to Johnstown, PA for the week..