Tempting, Salted Caramel Brownies (Amelie’s French Bakery), luscious flan (Oliver & Henry’s), and petite cakes (The Cupcake Spot) call my name. No sweets craving went unfulfilled this past Sunday.
The gastronomic gods dialed up a postcard-perfect day for Taste of South Tampa in Hyde Park Village. As independent restaurants ride out the vexations of an ailing economy, a cornucopia of veterans like Shells, CDB’s, and Tampa Bagel Co. and new kids Eats, Pinkberry and Horizon Bay (among three dozen others) enticed eaters. Throngs of people mingled, munched and exerted their opinions by casting ballots for their favorite eateries.
The Best Taste of South Tampa went to Hyde Park’s CinéBistro (there’s a 2nd location in Wesley Chapel, www.cobbcinebistro.com), for the second year in a row. Tuna tartare with a ginger-soy dressing, Greek salad with artichoke hearts, feta and peppers and penne fra diablo, comprised an eclectic menu of winning selections.
“We’re very excited,’’ says John Kayackas, CineBistro manager. “I think we’ve served 1,000 plates of tuna,’’ he adds about the swell of gatherers.
At least 90 percent of CinéBistro customers show up early to dine at the movie theatre.
“People like that we’re more than candy and popcorn,’’ adds Kayackas. Since movie tickets cost $14.50, a few patrons have visited the luxe lobby just for a glass of wine.
GrillSmith placed second, then Kontiki (read my review) at this South Tampa Chamber of Commerce event (tickets were $40). People may not think of Tampa’s GrillSmith www.grillsmith.com as a rib joint but its slow cooked ribs with a brown sugar, onion and garlic sauce, play a role in the restaurant’s popularity.
“They’re awesome,’’ says a biased fan, Jenny Madden, who is managing partner of GrillSmith.
“This is the first year we participated in the Taste of South Tampa, and we had a great time and were really thrilled,” says Jenny, The ribs and the lemon feta chicken are its two signature dishes, she adds. A lemon-butter sauce adds a sophistication edge from artichokes, feta cheese and fresh basil atop grilled chicken.
Velvety, chocolate decadence, a flourless, rich cake with a layer of ganache and real whipped cream, was a nice presentation and heavenly tasty. Servers carried some 300 individual treats on trays to distribute to the crowd.
GrillSmith has six locations with a new one in Brandon.
The Taste, sponsored by Older, Lundy & Weisman, raised funds for Best Buddies Tampa Bay and The Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
Lifestyle FamilyFitness missed an opportunity to allow al fresco diners a chance to work off their calorie melt down.
Find it: 1609 W. Swann Ave., Tampa
Way to Pay: Amex, MC, V, Discover
Reach them: (813) 514-8300
Caveat: No one under age 21 admitted
There’s hope for Tampa: The former Seven Seas nude-dancing lounge, until its operator was evicted, has a new venue coming up from Ryan Quinn, owner of two South Tampa restaurants. Extensive renovations are under way to open Fire Bar and Grill this summer. Quinn is owner-operator of The Bungalow restaurant nearby. More information
Not your mothers’ juice box: An Olive Garden in Lakeland accidentally served sangria to a 2-year-old whose parents thought he was getting orange juice, OrlandoSentinel.com reports. Parents suspected there was a problem when their son’s tantrum reached Charlie Sheen heights. Website
Cloddish guests: The dog days of summer are ahead and hopefully your family doesn’t look like the slightly exaggerated diners in this clip. Watch the video