Monday, June 12, 2017

The Bull Grill Brazilian Steakhouse, Tampa

Hubby had been dying to go to one of these for a long time. We'd eaten at one in NYC before we moved down here and he remembered it fondly. The Martins invited us along to Bull Grill and we said sure, why not?! The restaurant is dimly lit creating an intimate atmosphere. We were guided to the buffet sides which included some less than inspirational salad fixings, but the hot dishes were pretty good with our favorites being their Seafood Paella and the Lasagna Bolognese.
But in this place IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MEAT! Once we got our sides and drinks a steady stream of young handsome waiters glided past our table with a skewer of some kind of meat (sirloin, rib eye, sausage, pork loin, lamb, chicken) and all the encouragement they needed was to see our card facing with the green side up which meant bring it on! I'm embarrassed to say it took us quite a while to turn our card over to red and by then we were so stuffed. It was very tasty BUT, how much can one eat? This is the trouble with most buffets and Americans are known for over indulging, myself included. Buffets set up a mindset of "let's taste everything and let's get our money's worth", but really it's a bad trap.
I'm glad we went as we had a pleasant evening out with friends, but I don't need to go back as that would be a bad habit to start.
Bull Grill Steakhouse
4820 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa FL 33603
Phone: 813 877-7500 /
Bull Grill Brazilian Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ulele, Tampa

Our hungry group headed over to Tampa Heights to check out Ulele, a very cool restaurant that opened to great reviews and long waits for reservations in 2014. The brainchild of the Gonzmart family of Columbia Restaurant fame, this converted Water Works factory offers great views of the Hillsborough River. The building was restored beautifully with a mix of industrial and modern art and sculptures, many from the Gonzmarts’ private collection and some commissioned just for Ulele. With seating on two floors and an outdoor bar and tables, it can accommodate huge crowds which when combined with the high ceilings accounts for Ulele’s one negative – the noise. However, if you can score a table upstairs you’ll find it a little quieter.
The menu offers a fusion of Native American cuisine and multicultural influences using items indigenous to the area.
I ordered the “Chief Red Eagle” Duck made with a port wine orange marmalade and in my usual corny spirit comically ducked when the waiter brought it to the table. (groans all around) I haven’t had duck in about 40 years and following Chef’s suggestion wisely asked for medium to well done. It came with Mashed Potatoes and Spinach sautéed with garlic and while I absolutely loved the duck and the spinach, the mashed potatoes were thick and cold. But what stood out for me was my Roasted Beets & Poached Pear appetizer with a balsamic charred red onion, whipped goat cheese, blackberry honey gastrique, toasted almonds and watercress. As I'm writing this my mouth is watering and I will definitely order this next time.
Hubby had the Crackling Pork Shank served with Wild Rice and Green Beans and he enjoyed every bit of it. Kathy went for the Water Works Meatloaf which was served as thin slices similar to Salisbury Steak and served with Popcorn Mashed Potatoes – yes you heard me right, Popcorn and Mashed Potatoes. Weird but delicious and an obvious nod to the Native American corn - it was very good.
Hollie ordered the 3 Sisters Stuffed Portabello and it was not only delicious but plentiful enough to take half home to enjoy another day. We followed dinner with a little stroll on the River Walk and it was a brilliant evening - gorgeous views and a lively energy from the crowds enjoying the outdoor seating on this balmy night. We'll be back to Ulele for sure. A great place to bring out of town visitors or your ladies' lunch club.
Ulele Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Bernini's, Ybor City

A lemon drop martini and dinner at Bernini's was a great way to start off our Great Escape. As part of our "Restaurants Revisited" theme, this year we're picking out some old favorites to see if they still measure up to our first experience. Bernini's gets a somewhat mixed review not for the food which was excellent, but for the other things that can make or break an evening out. My lemon drop martini was served in a stainless steel glass which I found quite interesting - a good way to keep it cold. But I was disappointed that it had no lemon garnish so the one you see pictured here came out of my water glass. It's the little things you know?
We had made our reservation more than a week in advance knowing what a busy place this is. When our party of 8 arrived they led us to a table on the main floor that literally had 6" of room all around it with people pushing past from the bar and diners knocking knees on the other side. We politely but firmly declined and noticing a free 8 top by the door simply said we're taking that one. Once seated comfortably the service was pretty good and very friendly. Our food came in a reasonable time frame and we were all happy with our meals. I had the Arugula/Pear Salad and the Lamb Lolipops which were delicious and 'peared' beautifully (forgive me).
For traditional Italian entrees, hubby had the Eggplant Parmesan which didn't measure up to his home made, but in some perverse way he insists on ordering things he knows he can make better (sigh). Ken had the Penne and Sausage and enjoyed it. Cheryl had a simple Linguini tossed with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella - it was light and very pleasing. Having eyed a platter passing to another table nearby, Mike ordered the Lasagna and loved it.
The negatives were the noise - the location was once The Bank of Ybor and was built in grand style with lots of marble and high ceilings so it's extremely noisy. And while we could put up with that, we were less than thrilled to learn that the women's room was out of order on a Saturday night. Yikes.
We ended the evening with dessert at Jollywood where very tasty Mini Cannolis from Publix were served with Coffee and Espresso along with some Fresh Strawberries. We'll go back to Bernini's for sure, but it will be a weekday evening to avoid the crowds.
1702 E. 7th Ave, Ybor City (Tampa) Florida 33605
Reservations highly recommended
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Monday, January 30, 2017

Wheat + Water, Bradenton

The first thing that hits you when you walk into Wheat and Water is the aroma of something wonderful happening in the kitchen. The intensity of it put my taste buds on high alert and made my mouth water.
The restaurant has a nice ambiance, and they had a full house.
We settled in and ordered some classic Italian dishes like Spaghetti and Meatballs or Shrimp Scampi. My Chicken Parmesan was a too generous portion of three cutlets so two came home with me for the next day. The pasta was very good and home made (hence the name Wheat & Water - what you need to make pasta from scratch). I noticed great looking pizza at nearby tables and vow to try one next time. A couple of us had the Caprino Chicken - Grilled chicken breast, goat cheese, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil with a white wine lemon butter sauce and it was declared delicious. The service was very good, and we enjoyed a lovely glass of Malbec and their crusty sour dough bread, both perfect accompaniments to the meals.
One person in our group follows a Gluten Free diet and while the menu boasts several GF options, on closer inspection I noted that at least three GF dishes were described as being lightly coated in Italian bread crumbs. Whoa, that's not Gluten Free - so make sure you read that section carefully. I'm guessing you can always ask them to 'hold the bread crumbs'.
The evening ended with coffee at Casa Martin and dessert was a Duff Camouflage Cake made by our cake expert Mike. It was quite unusual and of course quite tasty. Duff cake mixes are the brainchild of Celebrity Chef/Baker Duff Goldman who opened his cake decorating studio in West Hollywood in 2015, a place where you could have a cake decorating party and let your imagination run wild. Now my only hope is that after indulging in a slice of 'camouflage' cake the resulting calories will also be camouflaged and not end up on my hips!
7303 52nd Place East, Bradenton, Florida (941) 216-3562
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Black Rock Bar & Grill, Brandon, FL

Date night movie and dinner found us in Brandon looking for something new. You know that feeling when you are just tired of the same old thing. So we took a chance on Black Rock, a restaurant on Providence in the former Mimi's location.
They succeeded in transforming Mimi's warm cozy atmosphere into a rather cool dark club with lots of televisions that I rather object to. Multiple TV's are for a sports bar and I think they set the wrong tone here.
They're pushing a new concept of cooking your meat at the table on a 755 degree hot rock. We didn't feel that adventurous so we stuck to the traditional menu, starting with an order of Mussels that was very good. It was kept hot in its dish sitting atop a hot rock so we did get a bit of the trendy experience.
I ordered a potato encrusted Red Snapper served over mashed potatoes with green beans. It was delicious however they were too heavy handed with the topping of fire roasted tomatoes and I just pushed them off to the side. Something else I had to push off to the side was a rather large shrub of sage that adorned the top of my fish. As an avid fan of cooking shows like Top Chef and Chopped, I have learned that if you can't eat it, don't put it on the plate. Here is the offending plant and as you can see I am not exaggerating.
Hubby had a Shrimp Po Boy that was disappointing. I watched nearby tables as waiters ceremoniously rolled a cart and delivered their hot 'rock' and a slab of beef that looked like a filet mignon. Diners were instructed to carve bits of meat from the huge slab so they could cook quickly. To tell you the truth I wasn't impressed. It looked like a gimmick that I felt risked getting an uneven cook on your meal. For the rather high priced menu I would expect the chef to cook it for me. What would one do if the meat didn't come out right? Complain to oneself?
On the bright side, I enjoyed a fabulous glass of Malbec "Terrazas Alto de Plato" and I vow to hunt it down and stock my wine rack at home.
804 Providence Rd, Brandon, FL 33511 813) 445-4111
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Black Rock Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato