Tampa Bay Food Monster

…eating food since 1985.

Posts Tagged ‘bar’

Smokey Bones’ Smoked Prime Rib

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on December 6, 2012

steak is the best. it’s pretty much the best dinner ever. you get a steak dinner, and you feel like you’re tearing into an animal. there’s something primal about it. empowering. a steak dinner makes you feel like a king.

…but a prime rib dinner makes you feel like a god.

them smokey bones

i was given a so-very-kind invitation to come check out the new smoked prime rib dinner (¡¡¡LIMITED TIME ONLY!!!) at smokey bones. i have been to smokey bones before, long ago, and i recall it being a positive experience. “smokey” means smoked, and “bones” means meat, so one may infer that this is perhaps a barbecue type place. and, back when i visited the bones in my past, that would be a mostly accurate description. now, though…

inside the bone

oh. well according to this photograph, smokey bones is a rather low-key meeting place for the elderly, made entirely out of wood. but that’s not true! perhaps my photo skills are lacking. really, smokey bones has been completely remade in the image of the “kinda cool hip place”. it’s hard to describe exactly what it has become, partially because the restaurant now teeters between restaurant worlds. it’s kind of like a smokehouse meets an outback steakhouse. meets a late night club. there’s a huge bar. the lighting is low. lots of sexy cocktails. and some interesting placards, with information running the gamut between “servers are people too” and “hey boobs are pretty cool, right?” so yeah, a bit all over the place.

i do not dislike the makeover, but it is not the most comfortable. it can be summed up thusly: they played “we will rock you” by queen, and rather than play naturally through to the second part of the song, “we are the champions”, they played some sort of hard rock remix of “we will rock you”. the same song they had just played.

smoked wings

we began our meal with a nice appetizer, as recommended by the extremely kind and accommodating contact i had with smokey bones. i love wings. have i mentioned that before? big fan. i will start by saying that these wings are not traditional wings. they aren’t what you think of when you think of wings. instead, they are some of the most impressive non-traditional wings i have ever had. these bad boys are coated in rib rub and smoked, then fried, then coated in a DIFFERENT rub, then given a light sweet glaze. and they are incredible. super crisp outside, like fried chicken, with a delicious, steamy, tender smoked interior. perfect counterpoints to each other. salty and savory, and the glaze was spicy and sweet all at once. it was like eating ribs. tremendously good, and a must-buy for any visit to the bones.

smoked prime rib

and, of course, the smoked prime rib. prime rib – tender, juicy, melt-in-your mouth perfect beef. it is the most wonderful food i can imagine. dip it in au jus… what more could you ask for?

smokey bones’ smoked prime rib is a bit different, though. the rib is smoked in-restaurant for hours. the au jus is served on top, rather than on the side for dipping. and, to be quite honest, the whole thing is a disappointment. you would think that the ultimate in tender preparation would mix perfectly with the ultimate in tender meats. instead, you are left with a smokey monstrosity. one bite and you are overwhelmed with smokey flavor, masking the quiet, intrinsic beauty of the cut. the salt and pepper seasoning makes the edges just a bit too salty to enjoy properly. the au jus was a bit thick, almost more of a gravy than a juice. and, in spite of all conventional knowledge, the prime rib was not tender. it was not tough, but it was far more chewy than it should have been. the most enjoyable bites were those not dominated by the smokey flavor, found near the fatty portions of the rib. otherwise, this dish was sadly not worth ordering.

and i did not feel like a god. i just felt like a slightly disappointed man.

apple pecan crisp

the meal ended on an up note, however, with the apple pecan crumble. this delightful little dish was, again, recommended by my contact, and was superb. it’s basically what you get when you cross an apple cobbler with a pecan pie… which is just as amazing as it sounds. served super hot, with a lump of vanilla ice cream on top. the crisp crust played well against its hot sticky insides, melting the ice cream into a river of cool relief. a perfect dessert. the only thing i could ask for is more pecan goodness in a largely apple dominated dessert.

it was a good visit. the place has changed a lot, but it’s a kind of cool, hip change. the prime rib was a disappointment, but the dessert was great, and the wings warrant another visit all on their own. they also have a build-a-burger thing going on, with more options than you’ll ever need, which is probably worth checking out. and my friend got baby back ribs, which looked amazing. i’ll just have to realize my godhood elsewhere.

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill on Urbanspoon

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EATS! American Grill

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on July 31, 2012

 

EATS. AMERICA. GRILLS.
 
all the best stuff, packed into one place. that place? eats! american grill. it’s like uncle sam got stoned, wrote down all the food he craved, and passed out. then his sneaky nephew, america itself, went through his star spangled trousers, swiped the list and a wad of dough, and made a restaurant with it. this is that restaurant.

eats american grill

eats! resides on south dale mabry, waaayyy down there past the krystal burger and britton plaza. the basic idea is this: it’s a bar/grill type restaurant, featuring traditional american dishes from all across the country. i’m not talking hominy and grits, i’m talking american born ultra foods, like HAMBURGERS and CHILI CHEESE CONEYS. if you ever have any doubts that america is great, just grab a philly cheesesteak or some buffalo wings, and go to town on them as you think about all those lazy starving kids in their godless third world countries. that is what america is all about.

inside eats

i was invited to check out eats! by fellow food-eater tracy of my other city by the bay. she organized a whole nice little event, which supplied me with enough food to feed a small third world country. i had never been to eats! before, but was delighted to find that the restaurant itself matched the food theme, providing guests with booze and sports television in addition to the food. also, the kids corner *shudders*. it’s a nice enough atmosphere, reminiscent of a ruby tuesday’s. we were seated, and immediately given alcohol. SWEET SWEET NECTAR.

magic hat 9

magic hat #9 was my choice. specially brewed by harry potter himself, magic hat #9 is rumored to be distilled from dumbledore’s blood. crisp, a bit bitter, but generally light and mildly fruity. a good beer.

house chips

our drinks were accompanied by eats!’s in-house made potato chips, which were thick, crisp, and warm. they were served with their fancy homemade ranch dressing, whose secret recipe may or may not involve mexico. a really solid seasoned sauce.

jalapeno pepper jack slider

and the real food begins! we started with sliders, in the style of jalapeño pepper jack, and black and blue. the jalapeño pepper jack sliders were decent, but nothing special. the pepper jack and peppers and grilled onions didn’t play into it as strongly as i would hope, and there was no sauce, leaving the burger patty to fend for itself, which i don’t think really works for a slider. the meat was good, but you look for an assortment of exciting toppings in a slider. exciting toppings like you might find on:

black and blue slider

yes, the black and blue is the winner of the two. blue cheese, to me, is always a risk. i like it, but only in moderation, because i’m too much of a baby to handle it. but the ratio of blue cheese to juicy burger to bun to INCREDIBLE little red onions was perfect, making this a tiny lil’ puck of grilled goodness. vote YES on black and blue.

the wings

and there were wings! god i love wings. shown above, from left to right, are the cajun bbq, sweet thai, spicy chipotle, and garlic parmesan. they were all fried and super crispy, which i like, and all decent sized. the best was the cajun bbq, a sweet, sticky, spicy mess of awesome. solid barbecue sauce. not too spicy, but highly enjoyable nonetheless. the sweet thai were just that – sweet. like a honey sweet. not bad, but nothing amazing. the spicy chipotle were really not all that spicy at all, with a light afterburn to the glaze. and the garlic parmesan were a bit of a disappointment, reminding me of twinz’ traditional wings, mostly just naked, with a bit of garlic and parmesan flavor. i will have to try their buffalo, to get a real taste of that AMERICANA.

midwest blt

the light spiciness of the wings comes as a bit of a surprise, with the knowledge of eats!’s heat sauce, as featured on their midwest BLT. this little gem comes standard with bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomatoes, which is a cool twist, on toast, with spicy sauce and giant peppers skewered to them for a touch of in-your-face-attitude. AMERICA STYLE. however, the sandwiches we were given had the “heat sauce”, rather than their regular spicy sauce, which was like dropping a nuclear bomb six miles outside of the city – the residual radiation is enough to give your tongue cancer. it was so intensely spicy that i had two bites, and i could not finish the rest. and i am someone who enjoys spicy foods. now, had this been an eating contest, i could have finished it no problem, but this is not something you would want to eat casually.

still, points for a fun sandwich. just don’t ruin it with the heat.

philly cheesesteak

near the end, they threw a couple more sandwiches at us, including a philly cheesesteak. i had just recently lamented never having tried a cheesesteak with cheese whiz in my review of philly phlava, so i was surprised to see this sandwich indeed served with the whiz. unfortunately, i didn’t really get the philly vibe from this sandwich… the meat was just not right. maybe overcooked? it was a bit tough. i like the idea of the cheese whiz, and it was okay, but i’ll have to try it elsewhere because this didn’t meld together right. the bread was decent, though.

bin on weck

and there was the bin on weck, which is really a beef on weck, which my girlfriend drunkenly called “bin on wet”, which i amended to the funnier “bin on blech”. however, my feelings do not reflect her negative ones, nor the hilarious joke i made. the beef on weck sandwich is from new york, and traditionally consists of roast beef on a kümmelweck roll, served with au jus and horseradish sauce on the side. it is served here with the horseradish sauce directly on the sandwich. i don’t especially care for horseradish, but this sandwich all came together really well for me. i love au jus, and the horseradish was not too intense (much like the blue cheese, so maybe they just know how to portion properly). i think their french dip would probably be superior, with the addition of cheese and the subtraction of the horseradish altogether, but this is still good. my only complaint would be the intensity of the caraway fruits (strong anise-type taste), which kind of makes it gross. again, french dip is probably the way to go.

fried oreo chocolate martini

at the end, we were provided with the amazing fried oreo chocolate martini, a chocolate martini with a fried oreo stuck on top. amazing. it was great. with oreo crumbles around the rim (totally inspired), it was a sweet and creamy chocolate drink. like a yohoo! but with alcohol. and the fried oreo is so incredible. the drink is great, but definitely something you don’t want to order all the time. just every now and then, as a special treat. they also serve a fried oreo sundae, which is probably awesome.

SO. all in all, a great time, and a good restaurant. the concept really works for me, but the execution is a bit lacking. again, it comes into chili’s and tgi fridays territory because of the televisions and the bar. i don’t mind the bar, but a straight up focus on the foods and the areas they come from would probably be to their benefit. and some of the regional dishes were not up to par, which was disappointing. i want this to be the first place i think to go to when i want a philly, but i think maybe it’s impossible to maintain excellence among such a variety of dishes. HOWEVER, they do have this:

eats challenge

…which is exactly like the big belly burger challenge, which is the first thing i think of when i think the word “excellence”. so there’s that!

EATS! American Grill on Urbanspoon

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Bahama Breeze’s Legendary Island Cocktails

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on July 3, 2012

Setting: The “Internet” – a futuristic wonderland of glowing circuits and pure information flowing, through a series of tubes, from computer to computer. Thousands of people are all around, transporting themselves on computer keyboards functioning much like flying surfboards, wearing backwards baseball caps. Love flows freely.

BAHAMA BREEZE, a giant beast of man with a tiny palm tree apparently growing from his head, approaches FOOD MONSTER, a slovenly, unbathed man. There appears to be food in Food Monster’s beard.

Bahama Breeze: Are you the Food Monster?

Food Monster: (suspicious) …I am the one known as Food Monster.

Bahama Breeze: Do you like food?

Food Monster: Yes.

Bahama Breeze: Do you like to drink?

Food Monster: I enjoy a snifter of brandy now and then.

Bahama Breeze: Would you like to come to my place and eat and drink and invite as many people as you want?

Food Monster: (enraged) I AM NOT MADE OF MONEY!

Bahama Breeze: Free of charge.

Food Monster:

Bahama Breeze:

Food Monster: I reluctantly accept your proposal.

AND SO IT CAME TO PASS that the food monster and four of his most loving friends went to bahama breeze to sample their legendary island cocktails. and what, pray tell, makes these cocktails so “legendary”? they were all birthed from “world-famous island bars”, and allegedly each have their own unique legend. we… we were not told the legends, so i will have to make them up as i go along. not an easy feat! but a job i shall take up for you, the reader. SO PAY ATTENTION!

bahama breeze

bahama breeze is a chill place. i reviewed it in the early days of my blog, almost two years ago (here). i still regret not getting that grouper. they must not have seen that blog, because they still invited me to this rather large blogger event.

event

we were situated outside, which is normally a “florida no-no”, as outlined in my first book, AH AH AH! THE ULTIMATE FLORIDA NO-NOS GUIDEBOOK, but they had so many fans set up, it was like a constant, wonderful beach breeze on a hot summer day – an ideal situation for enjoying island drinks, i’d say. there were about a billion other people there; the place was packed, and it wasn’t even due to the event. i guess this is just the favorite local spot to go to and get trashed after work. lots of… lots of “cool dudes” there.

steel drummer

“cool dudes”, like the “live band”, consisting of one dude playing the steel drum who looked suspiciously like he wasn’t playing the steel drum. i dunno i guess there’s a lot of subtlety and finesse to playing that thing that i don’t understand. regardless, the sounds coming out of the speakers standing near this gentleman was a lot of island music, all of which sounded exactly like this:

[i recommend you play that song while reading this review, to get the full effect.]

so they sat us all down, and we were each given three tickets to exchange for delicious island beverages. not tiny thimble-full samples, mind you; they were giving us full drinks. they also brought out a bunch of food items, mostly appetizers. the food was not billed as being legendary.

salsa

food items such as salsa! a nice, fresh salsa that doesn’t necessarily blend itself together into a cohesive salsa, but makes use of fresh ingredients, and has a kick.

corn pancakes

and these corn pancake… things! they were strange, like potato pancakes, but with corn. they actually taste like corn fritters, or corn casserole, sweet and a bit chewy. they were served with a mango salsa chutney deal, which was nice and had a little spice to it. and the other thing you see there is butter, which is kind of weird. but whatever. they were decent, but not something i’d likely order.

pulled pork

and there was this! this one was special. pulled pork, served atop fried plantains, with a nice warm molassessy barbecue sauce. the pork was decent by itself, nothing really special, but when paired with the plantains and sauce, it somehow worked really well! definitely a good combination.

so these were the foods we began with. we had put in our drink orders, and soon they arrived.

parrot passion

THE PARROT PASSION from puerto rico

“Premiere drink from the renowned Parrot Club in Old San Juan. A knockout blend of passion fruit juice, orange juice, Cointreau and Bacardi Limon… this drink will get you out of your cage and singing.”

AS LEGEND HAS IT, the parrot passion was the only drink actor jack nicholson would drink when staying in puerto rico for the filming of the famous island scene in easy rider. one night he decided that even the drinks being served to him were impure, and so he resorted to drinking his own urine. he died the day before the film saw its release, as a result of complete liver failure.

the drink is excellent! one of the best offered as part of the legendary island cocktail set. light and heavily fruity, with lots of passion fruit, orange, and lime flavor. it was delicious, with no trace of alcohol whatsoever. a good start!

the original daiquiri

THE ORIGINAL DAIQUIRI from cuba

“The glamour of 1950’s Havana… Bacardi Superior Rum, lime juice and fresh squeezed sugar cane pressed daily in-house. Hand-shaken with crushed and cubed ice for a special kind of cold.”

LEGEND STATES that the original daiquiri, the one that this recipe is based on, actually consisted not of lime juice, but of the juice of cuba’s infamous panchlora nivea, the cuban cockroach. the large green bug was considered a delicacy, but once they were hunted to extinction in 1915, the recipe substituted the similar-in-appearance-but-not-really-in-taste lime.

oh god okay well this one wasn’t great. it was not served to me, as they described, “a special kind of cold”, unless that ‘special kind’ is actually just warm. it was lime-tastic, very limey and VERY tart, but it totally suffered from being warm, bringing out the taste of alcohol, and letting the sugary sweetness fade a bit away. i assume it was warm due to having trouble keeping up with the huge crowd, but it was disappointing nonetheless.

painkiller

THE PAINKILLER from the british virgin islands

“Pusser’s Dark Rum, Cream of Coconut, pineapple and orange juice, finished tableside with freshly ground nutmeg. Originated at the Soggy Dollar Bar where patrons swim to the bar to pay for this tasty beverage with wet Washingtons.”

LEGEND TELLS of a pair of young lovers vacationing in the british virgin islands. one evening, they decided to have a drinking contest; first to pass out would be responsible for the bar tab that night. they drank extensively, passing the point of simple drunkenness early on, and even going beyond simple belligerence to the point of simple embarrassment and public shame. the others at the bar around them soon became concerned for the couple’s safety, but they insisted no one touch them, or stop them from drinking. one of them pulled out a gun, and threatened to kill the first person to come too near them. the drinking continued well after the bar had closed, and the couple laughed, cried, argued, wrestled, danced, performed various sexual acts, and yelled insults at passersby. eventually, one of them finally submitted to alcohol poisoning. the other went to sleep, and the next morning invented the painkiller to cure their mild hangover.

this one… this one i didn’t really care for either. the alcohol is definitely present here, which i guess isn’t a terrible thing. i mean, rum is an islandy drink, and it’s a good one. but i mean… it’s coconut cream and pineapple, with some orange juice. we’re basically looking at a piña colada here, with some orange juice spilled in it. so that was what i expected. it’s just not as good as the real deal. the nutmeg did not factor in for me.

coconut shrimp

amid the heavy drinking we were blessed with the sweet stylings of bahama breeze’s famous coconut shrimp. i discussed them in my actual bahama breeze review, wherein i mention “delicious, stringy cat”. so go read that if you’re interested. but you can keep looking at them here, if you want. i’m cool with that. go for it.

havana hotel special

HAVANA HOTEL SPECIAL from cuba

“Synonymous with the historic and star-studded Hotel Nacional in Havana… a tantalizing trio of Bacardi Superior Rum, pineapple and fresh lime juice, rounded out with a splash of DeKuyper apricot brandy.”

THE LEGEND GOES THUSLY: many years ago, rumors started circulating among the staff at the hotel nacional that there were “angry spirits” roaming the 13th floor. guests staying on the floor frequently went missing for days, only to finally wander back into the hotel with no recollection of their time there, indeed without realizing any time had passed at all. one plucky young elevator operator decided to see for herself what went on up there, and decided to spend an evening in one of the rooms on the floor. that evening, as she got ready for bed, she heard a strange noise out in the hallway. she went to see what it was, and found one of the guests from another room on 13 standing ion the doorway, staring into her with deep, blank eyes. the two stood, quietly looking at one another, until the strange man beckoned for her to follow him. she felt compelled to follow, not knowing why. the two went down the very elevator she ran daily, down to the fifth, fourth, third, second floor. down to the first. and then, somehow, down below that. BUT THERE WERE NO FLOORS BELOW THE FIRST! the doors opened up to a bar, at which they served the havana hotel special. and they proceeded to get shitfaced for days and later forgot all about it.

yeah. true story. the drink is good! a good balance of sweet and sour, yet still light. a refreshing cocktail.

goombay smash

GOOMBAY SMASH from the bahamas

“Made famous by the Grandmotherly Miss Emily at her Blue Bee Bar… Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum and Meyer’s Original Dark Rum mixed with fresh orange and pineapple juice.”

I AM LEGEND. the goombay smash was created when the grandmotherly miss emily got shitfaced playing mario brothers, and she thought “goomba” ended with a “y”. later her sexier, cooler friends made fun of her for the simple mistake. she had been drinking what became known as the goombay smash.

ohhh yes. the dark rum plays strongly here, which is a great balance for the light fruitiness of the drink. the spiced rum also plays into it pretty well. basically, if you enjoy rum, you are going to enjoy this drink. warm, spicy, sweet, and refreshing.

dark n stormy

DARK ‘N STORMY from bermuda

“Bermuda’s infamous waters have terrified many a strong sailor. Beware, the combination of Gosling Black Seal Rum and ginger beer brews a storm cloud no fool would sail under. Warning: if served in a triangular glass, do NOT drink.”

LEGENDARY POKEMON – the dark ‘n stormy was actually conceived as a drink to be served during performances of a highly offensive minstrel act of the same name.

allow me to quote my notes directly: “gingery… bitter. earthy. like earth. not very pleasant. not sweet at all. ): it’s like eating dirty dirt.” now, i may have been tipsy at this point, i cannot quite recall, but the takeaway is that the ginger beer is a big part of this drink, so if that’s not what you’re looking for in a summer cocktail, stay away from it.

quesadillas

and there were quesadillas! the chicken filling was a bit over seasoned, and their pepper taste (giant slices of pepper inside) really only worked when combined with some of the salsa it was served with (perhaps the sour cream worked similarly… i don’t know because i hate that stuff). it was alright, but nothing special.

batida de coco

BATIDA DE COCO from the islands of brazil

“Brazil’s quintessential coconut cocktail made with Leblon Cachaca Rum, Cream of Coconut and pineapple juice. Batida, pronounced ba-chi-da in Portuguese, means shaken… and this rhythmic concoction will make you want to shake your tail feather.”

THE LEGEND: brazilian barman alvaro thais took a trip to puerto rico, had a piña colada, then stole the drink for his own bar renaming it the batida de coco.

yeaaaahhhh so a batida can use whatever kinda juice it wants, or coconut cream. or both. this batida uses coconut cream and pineapple juice, making it… just a piña colada. which is fine by me! i love them. it was well prepared, creamy sweet and perfect. the perfect cocktail. and it did, in fact, make me want to shake my tail feather, so extra points for that.

barbados rum punch

BARBADOS RUM PUNCH… from barbados

“You’re officially welcome in Barbados when you’re handed one of these… Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, passion fruit juice, fresh lime juice with Grenadine and Angostura bitters. Finished tableside with freshly ground nutmeg.”

THE FINAL LEGEND GOES: there is a hidden temple located somewhere in barbados, inside which young children are brutally forced to perform meaningless tricks and run obstacle courses for the amusement of others. if they do not cooperate, the temple guards will whisk them away to a secret location within the temple, and do god knows what with them. the temple guards are known for drinking liberal amounts of barbados rum punch.

the final drink in the legendary island cocktail set is one of the good ones. there is a strong passion fruit flavor carrying the drink, playing sweet and just a bit tart. the nutmeg also surprisingly has a noticeable impact here, which is a nice little touch. it’s a solid drink.

and finally, after all was said and done, we got a taste of what we had really come for in the first place:

DA BAAHHGAAAS

allow steve martin to field this review for me:

yes, it was a pleasant time for all involved. i would like to thank bahama breeze for giving me this opportunity, and making me think it would be a good idea to make up a bunch of stupid stories about drinks. now let’s all go there and get drunk together.

Bahama Breeze on Urbanspoon

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Seasons 52

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on March 30, 2012

every once in a while, some legitimate establishment, a classy joint, will get in contact with me and invite me to their place for something nice to eat. or drink. it is always very pleasant, but i tend to get the suspicion that perhaps they meant to message scallywag journeys, not me. and then when i show up, with scraps of my last meal still sitting in my full, luxurious beard, they maybe begin to regret not double checking who this “food monster” is before sending out the invite.

MESSAGE TO POTENTIAL INVITERS: my reviews contain words like “ass” and “fuck”, and often reference vomiting. be warned.

so whether it be intentional or no, seasons 52 asked me to join them and a group of elite food critic-types for a special event celebrating their spring menu launch. as i would later learn, seasons 52 changes their menu every season (thus the ‘seasons’ in the name)… (the 52 is for the 52 weeks in each year, representing their weekly practice of sacrificing a market fresh goat to the god of the current season, be it WINTROUS, keeper of snow, or SUMMULON, the boiler of faces). the event would give us an opportunity to sample their new dishes, and take part in an interactive webcast of the head chef and wine chooser extraordinaire. also to rub elbows.

the main dining room

so i took this as an opportunity to prove, not just to the general public but to myself as well, that i am perfectly capable of carrying myself like a gentleman, and fitting in with those damned uptight blue bloods [who i secretly openly hate]. so i slipped into my fanciest dinner tuxedo, strapped on my most bold two-tone dinner tie, put on my elegantest dinner slippers, doused myself with my most fragrant dinner cologne, and coated my puffy lips with watkins patented dinner salve. i was most assuredly the classiest. they had to love me.

the table

on our arrival (i was accompanied by my equally-classy but far sexier assistant), we were directed to the decadent krebstar room, a special room reserved for meetings or bachelor parties in the back of the restaurant. inside we found a beautiful dining table, complete with glasses and silverware. fighting my instinctual urges to steal everything in sight, i settled for drinking one of the complimentary cocktails offered to us. they were serving strawberry kir royal, which is strawberry-infused vodka, with agave nectar and zardetto prosecci, which i believe is a fish-based wine. despite my harsh dislike for vodka, based on a single college party, this drink was surprisingly tolerable. light and bubbly, with a distinct strawberry flavor. my rampant alcoholism began taking over my senses, but i fought it off, reminding myself that each dish would be paired with a wine. only a bit of waiting until my next drink.

while the other guests arrived (all four of them), we were kept entertained by one of the managers, and a constant influx of delicious appetizers.

flatbread guy

apparently seasons 52 is known for their flatbreads. or at least they are one of their more celebrated items. we were treated to two different varieties of these flatbreads:

ripe plum tomato flatbread

the ripe plum tomato flatbread has little slices of tomato dudes, coupled with basil, roasted garlic, and parmesan cheese. the tomatoes were good, but this seemed to me nothing special. i mean, it was well presented, but i was not blown away. i have had more interesting flatbreads. of course, this was just an appetizer. still, i couldn’t see these as being as famous as they made them out to be.

artichoke & goat cheese flatbread

more to my liking was the artichoke and goat cheese flatbread, also featuring spinach, balsamic onion, and roasted peppers. now this one impressed me. the artichoke played beautifully with the cheese (which i wouldn’t have minded more of), and the spinach blended well into that flavor. the onions and peppers kicked out as a separate presence, which maaaaybe detracted from the main flavors here, but honestly i was pretty happy with them being there.

i found the second flatbread to be more crisp, likely having been made more recently. but that crispness was exactly what you’re looking for here, becoming more like a cracker than a bread, which i could eat endlessly. and that i did, having stuffed the rest of the flatbread down my pants when nobody was looking.

artichoke dudes

we were also treated to these little beauties, artichoke-stuffed artichoke leaves. with artichoke. the artichoke leaves had arugula and parmesan cheese, and were topped with an incredible balsamic glaze. we will see elements of this later.

artichoke-stuffed artichoke leaves

these turned out to be incredibly delicious, and i regret only having one. i had already used up the majority of my extraneous pant space on the flatbread, so i decided not to steal any of these. foolish mistake. it was a nice, warm treat, with the parmesan cheese kind of taking a lead after the balsamic glaze fades. a lot of flavor, but not too much at once. good appetizer. i continued chewing on the leaf throughout the dinner.

webcast

after a while, the exciting webcast began. the whole production reminded me of shitty late night infomercials, with hosts that you could tell were not quite entertainers. the hosts were, in fact, the creators of the menu, giving us a unique insight into the food and wine pairings they’d designed. near the end, they fielded questions brought the them via tweets. tweetz. #S52Spring

none of the questions i asked were given any mention, likely due to the constant spelling errors, and their largely offensive and often pornographic nature. having quietly slipped to the back of the room to polish off whatever was left of the wine and vodka, i suppose my sobriety was quickly escaping me.

luckily for me, food was now to be delivered, with its alcohol sopping properties. of course, unluckily for everyone else, everything was to be accompanied by more wine.

tomato & haas avocado salad

we began our tasting with a tomato and haas avocado salad. it used arugula as a base, and featured the same balsamic glaze as we experienced before in the artichoke leaves. and they chucked a nice piece of grilled bruschetta in there for good measure. the arugula turned out to be a great starting point, with a fairly strong flavor for a green. the thick balsamic glaze played sweet against it. the avocado was ridiculously creamy and delicious, a nice counterpoint to everything else present. the tomatoes i have little to say about. they were there. i mean they were hanging out with us. but i don’t know who invited them to the party. the grilled bruschetta’s charred exterior was a really nice compliment to the rest of the salad. it was excellent.

columbia river steelhead trout

next up was what would prove to be the star of the evening for me, as well as one member of the couple who came in during the salad course. but only one of us would end up embarrassing himself by singing about it at the end of the meal (it was me). this was one of the entrées – columbia river steelhead trout, served with “spring vegetables” and basmati rice with lemongrass sauce. the dish was accompanied by a glass of botani moscatel seco.

the trout… so. good. it was still mild, but with a full, fresh flavor. perfectly seared. the rice and lemongrass sauce was amazing, light, going well with the veggies. it was all extremely springy. SEASONS 52!! and the wine was like something i’ve never had before; it was light but it packed a large floral flavor, almost grassy. it played well with he fish, and almost perfectly paired the lemongrass flavor. incredible combination.

lamb t-bone chops

next they brought out the lamb, served with asparagus, truffle mashed potatoes, and with a red wine glaze. this was all accompanied by allegrini palazzo della torre, a rich red.

i was not nearly as impressed with the lamb as i was with the trout, finding the char grilled flavor to be overwhelming except in the very center of the chop, where i was met with perfect, tender lamb. it was disappointing, and i’m not sure whether this was intentional or not. i appreciate a nice smokey charred flavor, but i was far more interested in getting the lamb here. the potatoes were delicious, and the asparagus was asparagus. but the wine!

my god, this wine. it was a deep red wine, with such a lush, rich flavor. it was velvety, like a milk chocolate. sweet, smooth, warm, dark, beautiful flavor. pairing it with the lamb worked really well, and it would cut through the char flavor bringing out a bit of sweetness. it was an excellent pairing, and it is a wine i would love to drink by itself. perfect.

spicy snow peas & shiitake mushrooms

we began winding down the evening with a serving of spicy snow peas and shiitake mushrooms, served with roasted almonds. the spicy asian sauce they were drizzled with was perfect, warm, sweet, and lightly spicy. the mushrooms were excellent, and the almonds were a nice light touch; everything played perfectly against the snow peas.

this was served with a lioco indica rose, a light beautiful fruity wine. i usually hate roses, but this was a pleasant surprise, and worked to bring out the fresh flavor of the snow peas.

mini indulgence deserts

at the end of the meal, they tossed a couple of these trays filled with tiny desserts on the table, and gave us a sweet riesling to wash it all down with (but not too sweet). by this point, i had drank all my wine, and also managed to wrestle a few glasses away from my tolerant assistant. needless to say i was pretty trashed. my former plan to prove i had couth went out the window, as i had already begun stripping off layers of clothing. the revelation of the desserts was the final straw in my transformation from man to beast, and i leapt across the table and threw the mini desserts back like a bunch of jäger shots, as the rest of the guests screamed.

the “mini indulgences”, ranging from red velvet to key lime pie, were all quite delicious, none too sweet, and perfect endings to the meal.

our hosts helped hose me down after the mess i’d made, and calm me. eventually i sobered up, and they were kind enough to let me go without filing any reports with the cops (which is good for me because i’m on probation). after excusing myself to the bathroom to clean up a little, i joined my assistant and some of the remaining food reviewers left from the dinner, and we all had a nice drink at the bar. sitting among them, i finally felt accepted for who i was, despite the fact that i was no longer wearing pants.

here’s a photo of us all watching something on tv. what a magical evening it had turned into. just look at how casual and classy we all are! best friends forever.

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

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Uncle Fat’s Tavern & Full Liquor

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on February 17, 2012

uncle fat's

ohhhhhhhhhhhhh yes. this is my kinda place. right? right. a tavern. and what exactly is meant, by “tavern”?

tav·ern/ˈtavərn/
Noun: An establishment for the sale of beer and other drinks to be consumed on the premises, sometimes also serving food.
See: redneck bar

right. redneck bar. got it. thanks google! so pulling into this place, parking my volkswagen in a parking lot of pickup trucks, and taking out my camera to snap pictures for the blog, i started to think maybe i was a bit out of place. i started getting nervous. but the promise of great wings as recommended by my friend was tempting enough to get me through it.

this place is located a bit “off the beaten path”, on temple terrace highway near 301. nearish. it’s in a little plaza with a sweetbay. it’s close enough to big streets for easy access, but removed just enough to get picked up by a group of angry good ol’ boys and never be seen again. it’s the sweet spot.

inside the fat's

it’s the sweet spot inside too, where you’ll find yourself seated amongst real ‘salt of the earth’ types, true fans of beer and probably nascar. the bar is clearly where the action is, so my friend and i elected to sit in a booth with a good view. we, in turn, were eyed with curiosity by some of the locals, and i had to do my best to keep from staring back, smiling, or waving at who i knew deep down would never want to be my friends.

the setup is pretty typical for this type of place, a few freestanding tables, booths along one wall, pool tables on the other side of the room, a small stage of karaoke (don’t do it! it’s a trap!!), all centered around the bar, where the lady servers lived. it’s the kinda place you’re better off electing to pick wings up from rather than dining in. because, you know, fag drags.

biggest wienny

a quick glance at the laminated placemats that serve as menus in the bar gives you an immediate sense of the class this place has. biggest “weinny”, eh? oh, uncle fatty!

the menu is divided into two large sections: “teasers” and “pleasers”. this serves the dual purpose of being indicative of portion size, and fun for the kids. teasers include the wings. pleasers includes stuff that isn’t wings. so who gives a shit. let’s get real here: i want wings, and i want them now. and nothing else on the menu is going to oh god you guys have fried pickles wtffff

fried pickles

so i had to order the fried pickles. how can i not? these are quickly becoming my favorite appetizer item. it’s the perfect combination of fried and pickle. uncle fatty’s pickles were exceptional, with a nice crisp fried exterior, somewhat thick layer of batter, and solid dill pickle chips on the inside (that’s solid as in decent quality, not toughness). best of all, the batter they used was just a bit spicy, so there was a lot going on here. served with ranch dressing, this is the kind of food you are going to burn your mouth on, over and over again.

chili cheese fries

i was also easily seduced by the chili cheese fries, being a disgusting “food monster”. so that’s two separate appetizers. I AM A MAN. these bad boys appeared to be of ore-ida descent, nothing special going on in the french fry category (outside of being well fried). the chili was disappointing, consisting entirely of seasoned beef chunks and beans. that is to say there was little to no sauce at all. which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it left the fries a bit dry and not as well coated as they could have been. the cheese was pretty damn good though. the best part here was the li’l tomatoes. there were little pieces of diced tomato throughout, which may or may not have been part of the chili, and really improved the overall quality of the fries. it was my favorite part (which is kinda sad, actually).

fatty's wings

AND THEN there were the wings. these were pretty much the wings of the gods. they were exactly what you want in a bar/grill style hot wing. fried to crisp perfection, good sized wings (a bit larger than average) covered in a good quality sauce (ordered medium, with a mild burn, basic vinegar wing sauce). these are a perfect baseline to judge all other wings by; this is what you are looking for when you order chicken wings. my only complaint is that maybe they could have used a bit more sauce, but even then there was enough at the bottom of the basket to sop up whatever extra you needed.

they are not the best wings i’ve ever had, mind you, and they are definitely not the most unique, but they are good fucking wings.

not pictured are the honey barbecue wings which i tried (and were excellent! again well fried, with a great, sticky-sweet honey barbecue sauce) and a philly cheesesteak (served with sauteed mushrooms and onions, and was entirely forgettable. the cheese was a lame white (american?), and they may have used steak-umms for the meat).

all in all, i was pretty satisfied. was it worth losing my friend over? i did mention that they raped and killed my friend, right? anyway, it wasn’t worth his life. but i would go back to pick up wings from them, that much i’m sure of. but if you do plan on dining in, check out this informative article before going, and you should be just fine.

Uncle Fat's Pub on Urbanspoon

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