Sunday, August 31, 2014

220 EAST Restaurant, Davis Islands

For our August escape we headed out to a restaurant on Davis Islands called 220 EAST which was located at…....220 East Davis Islands Boulevard….hence the name. As a sometimes directionally challenged person I think its nifty to make finding your establishment so easy to plug into the GPS.
Just down the street from 220 EAST is a wonderful little Thai restaurant called…..Thai Island Restaurant. (Another example of how to make finding a particular cuisine a little easier for customers) We visited Thai Island a couple of years ago and enjoyed it very much (especially the Sake). As we were leaving I had walked down the block and peeked into 220 EAST and put it on my mental list for future escapes.
So I have no one to blame but myself for this month’s escape as it was my pick. Now to be fair it wasn't all bad, but it wasn't all good either.
I was eating light and opted for an appetizer of Satay Chicken with Teriyaki sauce. It was very good and the portion was more than generous. To round out my meal I had Field Greens with oil & vinegar. When you’re eating light like this it’s a great option to order an appetizer and a salad and have them served together.
Two in our group had the Chicken Thai Cobb salad and gave it very high marks – it was a generously portioned dinner salad.
It went downhill from there. Two others ordered the Beef Stir Fry with Oriental Sauce and both of them were very disappointed. The sauce was overly sweet and the beef was tough. Two strikes against it. One of the specials that evening was Rainbow Trout and unfortunately it wasn’t special at all. And we were bothered by the add-on charges like $1.50 more for Almondine and another charge for a side, things that should have been explained when she ordered.
As for ambiance, it strives to combine a hint of elegance with a rustic pub like atmosphere but I'm not so sure they pulled it off. The outside of the restaurant doesn't match the inside at all except for a large wine cellar displayed in the entry. Once inside its like any other pub. The restaurant was busy including young families probably drawn by the pizza menu. With an evenly split thumbs up and thumbs down vote from our group, we won't return. But I could be tempted to head back to Thai Island down the street some time to have a little more of that Sake along with some delicious Thai food.
Fun Facts: Davis Islands (plural) is an archipelago made up of two islands (a third island was filled in to make room for a landing strip when they built Peter O. Knight Airport). With a population of about 6,000 it has a charming small town neighborhood feel. I look forward to exploring more restaurants and points of interest in this somewhat out of the way section of Tampa.
220 East on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cine Bistro - Dinner IN a Movie

As self proclaimed FOODIES we were dying to see the new Steven Spielberg/Oprah Winfrey movie - The Hundred Foot Journey. When I scanned the internet to find out where it was playing I chanced upon CineBistro in Hyde Park. My curiosity piqued, I delved further into their website and decided if ever we were to try out this movie going concept, this particular film was the perfect pairing for it.
The concept of Dinner and a Movie is an old one, but we found this new twist of Dinner IN a Movie to be extremely pleasant. I'm sure not all Movie/Dining venues are created equal, but CineBistro in Hyde Park excels in every way I can imagine. With an extensive upscale menu that includes Wagyu Beef Sliders, Brie and Pear Flatbreads, Kale Salad, a variety of artisan sandwiches served on delicious brioche breads, and a lovely assortment of desserts, this is surely not the kind of movie food we've all come to expect. No more do you have to settle for hideous microwaved hot dogs and cheeze whiz nachos-ugh! There's a new chef in town. And what a pleasure to be served on real china with cloth napkins - it was like dining in a 5 star restaurant albeit in semi-darkness - but then again don't we all look better in dim light? The food was very good and even the popcorn was served in a large trendy looking ceramic bowl.
Here's how it works. You must arrive at the theater 30 minutes before the movie starts. Once seated your waiter or waitress will smoothly greet you and welcome you to CineBistro. You order your food and beverages and pay right away. There's a 17.5% tip automatically added. They return within 5-10 minutes with your food and check back with you several times until the movie is about to start so if you eat quickly enough they can clear the plates for you. If you care to have anything more after the movie has started, you may walk down to the lobby cafe and get it.
The seating is marvelous. Rich, comfy leather recliner rockers with side trays that slide out or away for your meal. And while there are no bad sight lines, clearly the best seats in the house are in the back row where they provide leather ottomans so you can really lean back, put your feet up, sip your wine or espresso, and settle in for a relaxing movie experience. It's awesome.
Reservations can be made online and there is a $5 service charge added. You can also purchase your tickets in the lobby. No one under 21 is admitted to the theater - something else that adds to the elegant experience. And here's a seating tip - as I mentioned, the last row of every theater has the uber comfy ottomans so take note of that when you select your seating. Also, the schedule changes on Tuesday of each week so to ensure your good seat reserve a few days in advance.
Hyde Park is known for its trendy upscale eateries and I noticed some people coming in to enjoy a relaxing meal in the beautiful lobby cafe even if they weren't staying for the movie.
Another nice touch in the lobby was free strawberry and mint infused chilled water. And keep in mind that you don't have to dine at all - just come for the comfy movie watching experience. I think next time we'll do dessert and coffee. Because yes, there will definitely be a next time.
CineBistro on Urbanspoon