Wow, I love this time of year, weather gets cooler, and something is going on!!
Thursday evening went to the USF Bulls vs Cincinnati Bearcats nationally televised football game for Big East Conference dominance....It was a great game, but the #8 ranked Bearcats dominated the second half and beat the Bulls 34-17 in front of almost 65,000 fans. We arrived about an hour before the game, easily parking in the #10 lot on the corner of Himes and Columbus...met lots of other alumni in the game.
Friday was the Grand Opening of a new movie watching concept, Cinebistro opened in Hyde Park Village. Great concept, purchasing your tickets on line like a concert or play, you choose your seat in advance...when arriving you are greeted by a very modern lobby/lounge area where you can pick up your tickets, and about 30 minutes prior to the movie, they open the theater and you are ushered to your seat with a menu....the theaters are HUGE, nice brand new, state of the art, and the chairs are the most comfortable, bigger then a First Class seat on the fanciest of airplanes, with large armrest, and they are in pods of two, so you are never to close to strangers but perfect for a date or couples, and since there are only about 30-50 seats per theater, it makes for a very intimate evening. The menu is good, lots of different choices, Calamri Appetizers, served in a popcorn box with popcorn, and two dipping sauces. Also we tried the Seared Ahi Tuna, a small portion served atop some Field Greens, and the Chuirassco Steak, another small portion with a 'scoop' of black beans mixed with rice, and a few thin stands of Paps Fritas...when you order a soda, its HUGE(probably 24 oz.), and the bowl of popcorn, also HUGE. No paper or plastic here, real utensils, glassware, silverware, plates, etc....Everything is 'served' to you, no need to wait on lines, their is no 'snack bar'...it is service at its best...a remote keypad is punched in with your order, and goes directly to the kitchen..within 15 minutes, your order arrives right at your seat, and you pay right then at your seat. There are about 15 minutes of previews, and after that, the theater goes dark, and the service stops, no one getting in your way, etc. If you want anything, just go to the cocktail lounge bar, and ask for it. Full Bar, Full Menu, and its 21 and older only.
I will definitely be coming back to watch a movie here for special occasions, to impress someone, ability to reserve a seat. Probably wont be dining here except for sodas and popcorn, maybe an appetizer instead of popcorn, or even just dessert. The meals were OK, I felt like they were more of 'banquet/catered' type meals, nicely displayed, with OK flavor. Its also kind of awkward eating on the trays in front of you, and dont even think about getting an Appetizer, meal and dessert together, as everything comes out at once, and there is no room for all that. A great experience, great concept, exclusive niche that is sure to be very successful in Hyde Park.
Saturday we took the kayaks up to Canoe Escape to be transported to the Hillsborough River, again a great trip, LOTS of wildlife and birds and gators, the weather was perfect...just so serene and relaxing.
Saturday evening was a trip to downtown St. Pete's Vinoy Park, found parking easily off Coffee Pot Bayou near the City Pool, for 'Pops in the Park, a free concert held throughout the year and the Tampa Bay area by the Florida Orchestra. It was great to be able to relax in the waterfront park, listening to the music, with the St. Pete Skyline in the background.
Sunday we were all off on the bikes, drove to Clearwater, and started on the Pinellas Trail south of Clearwater(parking off Turner Street)..we biked over the Memorial Causeway Bridge to Clearwater Beach for Frenchys Stone Crab Fest...a pound of large claws for $11...delicious!! Then biked along the new beachwalk to Shepards for some football and people watching, listening to a live band. We then biked back to downtown Clearwater's Coachman Park where the Clearwater Jazz Holiday was happening for its last of a 4 day run....laying on the grass, sun in our faces, listing to great Jazz.
We wrapped up Sunday with a stop at Whiskey Joe's on the Coutney Campbell Causeway, if you ever wanted a place with amazing views, this is the spot...LARGE bar area, with some couch seating, and a large outdoor deck. The food we had seemed to be mediocre at best on this trip..Beer Cheese Soup, which was very watery for my liking, my friends stated it tasted like canned nacho cheese sauce with some water. Then onto Sliders, 4 small burgers, which were overcooked...and they didn't come with any fries...I would order the full burger next time, and cut into 4 pieces if someone wants sliders. Fish Tacos, very minimal piece of grouper split between two soft flour tacos, but you get a HUGE topping of cole slaw, these were more like 'Cole Slaw Tacos, with some fish', they came with chips and a good salsa. We also shared a chopped salad with Chicken, and although tasty, it was DRENCHED in dressing, we found it needed to be eatin with the chips to give it some sustenance. Soooo, for watching some great sports and cold drinks in the HUGE bar area, or enjoying the outdoor deck..this seems to be a great spot. And the views throughout the place are incredible, we almost felt like we were actually on a boat. Maybe next time ill try some of the main entrees.