Monday, May 30, 2016

Cedar Reef Fish Camp, Bradenton

Our gang headed south to Bradenton this weekend to check out Cedar Reef Fish Camp. First impressions count, right? And so when I hear a reference to "Fish Camp" I imagine being on the water somewhere, not in a shopping plaza. However, once you walk through the doors you are surrounded by that casual dive by the bay atmosphere and I liked it!
We were seated at a long table with half of us sitting in chairs and the others against a lovely high backed banquette. My only complaint for the evening was that our very nice waitress served the whole meal by passing plates down to us instead of coming around behind our chairs to set the plates down. It may seem like a small thing but when you're in the middle of a bite with your fork in mid air and you have to stop and lean back because there's a plate being passed under your nose to the person next to you - well, that's just bad form. That may have been forgiven for those seated at the banquette side, but there was plenty of walking around room behind my side of the table to serve and bus properly.
Cheryl & Ken started with a crab dip surrounded by tri-color chips and they found it good but not great as it seemed to have too much of a cheese flavor. And my hubby started with the charmingly named "Bubba's Wedgie" which he rather enjoyed opting for Ranch vs. Blue Cheese dressing.
Five out of eight of us went for the Blackened Redfish served over rice and black beans. Here's something neat.....while trying to figure out if any of us had ever had Redfish, I stumbled upon a handy "Fish Dictionary" in the back of the menu that explained all the different types of fish.
FUN FISH FACT: Redfish are one of many game fish to catch along the Tampa, Clearwater, and West Coast areas of Florida. Reds can be found along the whole Gulf Coast and also up the Atlantic Coast, as far north as North Carolina.
Ken ordered Shrimp & Grits with the heat turned up "New Orleans Style" adding Andouille sausage, smoked bacon, and caramelized onions. Hubby went for the Garlic Mussels and upped the ante by having it served over linguini. Of course it came with garlic bread to sop up the luscious garlicky goodness. Smiles all around the table. All of this was washed down with some Happy Hour priced beer and wine (yes, we're senior citizens) and we left satisfied and happy with our meals. Back to the Fox Hole for Peach Kuchen, Hollie's Nana's recipe using peaches freshly picked that morning at the U-Pick Farm out at Fort Lonesome. Nana's recipe is generously shared below courtesy of Hollie:
Peach Kuchen
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar (separate out 2 T.)
½ cup butter
6 - 8 peaches (fresh is best!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 egg yolks
1 c. heavy (or sour) cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 T sugar in mixing bowl. Cut in butter until texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Pat over bottom and half way up sides of 8 x 8 baking dish. Skin peaches by cutting a small X in the base, then place in boiling water for 30 seconds, followed by ice water for 10 seconds - the skins should slip off easily. Slice (or drain canned peaches or thaw frozen peaches) and arrange over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining sugar & cinnamon. Bake 15 minutes, then pour mixture of slightly beaten egg yolks and cream over top. Bake 30 minutes more. Best served warm or at room temperature. Serves 9.
We'll definitely be back to Cedar Reef some time to sample the rest of their menu.
7240 55th Avenue East, Bradenton, FL 34203
Cedar Reef Fish Camp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Friday, May 27, 2016

Frescos, St. Petersburgh

This week our good friends invited us on a boating excursion of Tampa Bay. What a treat! The day was picture perfect, the Bay was relatively calm, and we were wise enough to go midweek and avoid the crowds. We ended up in St. Pete at Frescos and if you've never docked at a marina and hopped out of the boat onto the pier you are definitely missing something. I felt positively jaunty. There's even a special boat parking meter - who knew?
We found a table on the patio and enjoyed the balmy breeze and the view of a variety of very cool looking yachts and boats. It really is a whole way of life, this boating thing.
Hollie and I both ordered the Portabella Salad: a beautiful presentation of Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Roasted Red Peppers and Feta with a Balsamic glaze. It was almost too pretty to eat but I tucked in and finished half of the very large portion with an eye toward bringing the other half home for later. Too bad for me that while we were talking and looking around hubby stole my reserved Portabella Mushroom and gobbled it up. Harumph....oh well.
Hubby had the Steak Portabella Wrap: Sliced sirloin, portabella mushrooms, spinach, sautéed onions, roasted red pepper, provolone and horseradish sauce with a side of Bowtie Pasta. He reports that the steak was very tender and he enjoyed it immensely (and then stole my Portabella I'm not letting it go). Service was quick and efficient and we thought at first that our young waitress was taking a personal phone call while servicing her tables only to learn that her phone was a mini POS system. Marvelous. Some time back I wrote a review of a restaurant where instead of menus we were given a bunch of iPads on which to place our orders directly with the kitchen. I didn't like it at all, but I do applaud the use of iPhones as POS systems.
Mike opted for the Steak Sandwich topped with mushrooms & caramelized onions served on a hoagie with French Fries. Yum.
This part of St. Pete is so charming with museums and restaurants and shops and parks. Whether by boat or by car I've put this lovely part of town on my List of Places to Go as there's lots to explore.
Located in Downtown St. Petersburg at the foot of the Pier
Fresco's Waterfront Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Bahama Breeze, Brandon Westfield Mall

Shopping at any mall can be exhausting and stressful. This week hubby and I dragged ourselves out of Penney's (mission accomplished) and found ourselves too hungry to look for a restaurant. Luckily there are some tasty options at the Brandon Westfield Mall so for the first time we tried Bahama Breeze. It's located in the spot previously held by Sin Equal and we'd always enjoyed going there and wondered why they left. As it turns out we were in for a treat. Ever diet conscious, I ordered a turkey burger (sans bun) and a side of Cuban black bean soup. I have to say it was THE most delicious turkey burger I'd ever had. It was moist and flavorful, topped with caramelized onions, guacamole, tomato and arugula. And the soup was heavenly, rich flavor with just the right amount of seasonings (I know a little something about black beans as its one of my few specialties). Hubby had the Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes) Sandwich ....I've never quite understood that moniker..... served on Cuban bread and served with a side of yellow rice and black beans. He was very pleased with it.
Our waitress Tiffany was sharp, friendly, very good at her job and the whole experience was so pleasant we're sure to go back again soon - even if we don't have any shopping to do.
805 Brandon Town Center Drive, Brandon, FL 33511 / (813) 681-0904
Bahama Breeze Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, May 9, 2016

Escape to Cafe Dufrain

It was a balmy evening so we were very happy to be seated outside on the patio with beautiful views of Hillsborough Bay. The Tampa Bay Times Forum is just across the bay and we dined against the backdrop of thunderous roars from the fans cheering their team on.
This is an interesting part of town. Harbour Island is a little triangle of land that sits between Tampa's mainland and Davis Islands, and it has a cool vibe with its lovely townhouse type condos and rentals and trendy restaurants and shops. It's kept very clean and beautifully landscaped and has the feel of a 'walking' community, especially the promenade along the river. Cafe Dufrain is pretty and our waiter was gracious and very accommodating. It's the little things you notice, like when after having just cleared the salad plates away I dropped a bit of tomato and a few moments later he glided by and surreptitiously swiped it away without drawing attention to my sloppiness and kept moving. Clearly he keeps a keen eye on his tables. I liked that.
Since they don't offer a small side salad hubby and I shared the Greek Salad, the highlight of which was the little mound of potato salad buried under it. Hubby was so impressed with it that he ordered an additional side portion. Long a great fan of potato salad, he's taste tested it at hundreds of restaurants in the many years I know him and found most of them wanting. For him the perfect potato salad has a little drop of pickle juice in it and this one seemed to be a winner.
I ordered their "Local Shrimp Tacos" with the house-made potato chips....and it was very good with just enough heat from the jalapeno crema and pico de gallo to make my taste buds dance. The chips were well done and not at all greasy and I ate every bit of them.
Hubby opted for the Dufrain Steak Burger which also came with chips and he enjoyed it. There's not much you can say about a burger except that it was prepared as ordered as this one was and the dressing was tasty.
Ken's plate was quite impressive - deep jewel toned slices of Spicy Tuna Tartare with a Wasabi and Sriracha Aioli (the spicier the better for Ken). I'm puzzled why they called it 'Tartare' since it was sliced rather than diced up. In any case it was declared yummy and as you can see the presentation was beautiful.
The menu is a little pricy however they had some reasonably priced options and we went with those. Cafe Dufrain boasts that more than three quarters of their menu items are sustainable, organic and/or locally grown, and while this is a noble and admirable effort in keeping with the growing health conscious trend, it does come at a price. They couldn't persuade us to stay for dessert because we were headed to Kaplantown for coffee, laughter and conversation and the most gorgeous bowl of berries I'd ever seen. Look at Cheryl's fancy presentation! It definitely put a smile on my face.
We'll be heading back to Harbour Island to check out some of the other eateries soon I'm sure. We never get tired of exploring Tampa Bay and all it has to offer.
Café Dufrain
707 Harbour Post Dr., Tampa, FL 33602 | 813.275.9701
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