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Restaurant News

  1. Semifinalists for 2017 James Beard awards include Tampa Bay chefs Chris Ponte and Ferrell Alvarez

    Food & Dining

    Chris Ponte, chef-owner of Cafe Ponte in Clearwater and On Swann in Tampa, was clearly recovering from Valentine's Day, a nightmare for chefs and the second busiest restaurant day of the year. (Mother's Day is first.) Ferrell Alvarez of Rooster & the Till in Tampa was coming off two weeks of 16-hour days thanks to some …

    Ferrell Alvarez is chef and 
co-owner at Tampa’s Rooster & the Till.
  2. Dining Planner: New restaurants: Suegra Tequila Cantina, the Raven, the Grateful Fed Pub

    Food & Dining

    CELEB POWER: Suegra Tequila Cantina

    Suegra Tequila Cantina opens sometime in March.
  3. Interview: Guy Fieri talks new projects, criticism and the Triple D effect at Disney Springs in Orlando

    Food & Dining

    LAKE BUENA VISTA

    It didn't go smoothly. Guy Fieri was visiting Disney Springs — the reimagined dining, retail and entertainment district at Walt Disney World Resort — for the relaunch of Planet Hollywood. The restaurant had been completely overhauled, transformed into a four-story stargazing …

    Fieri poses with one of his “Big Bite Burgers.” He created the burgers and some signature sandwiches for Planet Hollywood.
  4. Restaurant reviews: Morimoto Asia, STK, Planet Hollywood and more create an adult vibe at Disney Springs

    Food & Dining

    LAKE BUENA VISTA

    Some years back I spent a weekend exploring all the allures of Downtown Disney's Pleasure Island for a book I was writing. As far as I could tell, it was Disney's version of Vegas, the place overrun with pharmaceutical conventioneers behaving badly. What happened in PI stayed in PI, largely …

    Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs.
  5. Here are some of the outrageous foods to be found at the 2017 Florida State Fair

    Food & Dining

    I don't know precisely when state fair food became a game of shock-and-awe one-upsmanship. I'm going to speculate that it started with a corn dog. Followed by a bigger corn dog. And then some savvy entrepreneur started contemplating what else could be done with all those wooden sticks.

    Aerial view of the Florida State Fair midway. The state fair opens Thursday. [Florida State Fair Authority]
  6. Dining Planner: This Valentine's Day, have romantic foods come to you

    Food & Dining

    TAKEOUT DATE: STAY IN

    Long before Cosmo was writing stories on sexy foods, author M.F.K. Fisher explored "the almost vascular connection between love and lobster pate, between eating and romance." Whether it's the placebo effect or something legitimately scientific, some foods are just dang …

    Available at Lobster Haven in Tampa is the Golden Bucket, which includes a Maine lobster, middle neck clams, black mussels, large shrimp, craw fish and a snow crab cluster served with red potatoes and corn.
  7. Restaurant review: Dunedin stalwart Sea Sea Riders continues to earn a solid reputation for seafood-driven fare

    Food & Dining

    DUNEDIN

    How do you last 30 years in the restaurant industry? It's a careful balance of staying the same and constantly changing. You want to maintain your identity, celebrate and showcase the things that make you special. And at the same time you want to stay fresh, updating your look and offerings to suit a …

    Sea Sea Riders underwent a major renovation at the end of 2015, which created a more open floor plan, but the original wood beams, ceiling details and windows were preserved, as was the wrap-around veranda.
  8. Restaurant review: New to Tampa Bay, Smashburger's burger technique yields a solid patty

    Food & Dining

    CLEARWATER

    Even the Incredible Hulk didn't have his own "signature smashing tool." Smashburger has one. Another contestant in the premium burger wars, this one debuted in Clearwater in December, with a Tampa location slated. What they preoccupy themselves with is this: the Maillard reaction. This is the chemical …

    Smashburger’s delectable barbecue, bacon and cheddar burger, topped with battered onion strings on an egg bun, is plated with veggie frites, quickly fried (not battered) green beans and carrots. The burgers have a great caramelized crust and a surprisingly moist interior.
  9. Dining Planner: Cigar City Brewpub closes in Carrollwood, Fuzzy's Taco Shop opens near USF

    Food & Dining

    Inside scoop: Comings and goings

    Oysters from Sea Salt restaurant in St. Petersburg as part of a tutorial.  In North America there are at least 150 varieties of fresh oysters, all of them essentially coming from only 5 types of oysters: Kumamoto, Pacific oyster, Atlantic (Eastern) oyster, Olympia, and European Flats. But then it gets complicated. Oyster flavor profiles have advanced to the point of being akin to wine tasting. Connoisseurs discuss the salinity & complexity of the oyster, the finish, the hints of melon or cucumber. Other common tastes found in oysters include seaweed, mineral, iron, copper, sweet, vegetal, lettuce, umami and mushroom.
  10. Restaurant review: Catcher and the Rye in Palm Harbor is pleasant, but needs to work on cook times

    Food & Dining

    PALM HARBOR

    Is it kosher to begin a restaurant review with a poll? As a teen, I loved Holden Caulfield. In fact, I had a passion for most of Salinger's characters, from Esme to Seymour Glass and definitely Teddy. My daughter, now 21, thought Holden was a drip. A whiny, entitled narcissist. The poll: Holden …

    The Catcher’s Rye — pulled pork, sliced prime rib, candied whiskey bacon, crunchy slaw mix and house bourbon barbecue sauce — is served on marble rye atop a bed of waffle fries.
  11. Tampa Coffee Club subscription service aims to get local roasters' creations into more mugs

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA

    It was an epiphany. One triggered by an intense pour-over of Ethiopian sidamo, with its deep winey-chocolatiness and citrusy bright acidity. I sat with Leon and Roseanne McIntosh on bar stools in the front window of the thronged South Tampa Buddy Brew and talked about their year-old venture, Tampa Coffee …

    Leon, left; Bill; Roseanne; and Mariann McIntosh pack orders for their monthly coffee subscription called the Tampa Bay Coffee Club.
  12. Ford's Garage restaurant to replace Rowdies Den in downtown St. Petersburg

    Food & Dining

    Ford's Garage is expanding into downtown St. Petersburg.

    A new Ford’s Garage location will replace Rowdies Den, but the restaurant’s president, Marc Brown, has assured Rowdies owner Bill Edwards that it will remain the official gathering spot for Rowdies fans. The location is near Al Lang Stadium, where the soccer team plays its home games.
  13. Review: At Portillo's, dogs are Chicago and the curse is lifted

    Food & Dining

    BRANDON

    On Thursday, both Tampa Bay Portillo's locations were thronged with Zobrist jerseys and other Cubs-obilia with a side order of non sequitur Blackhawks garb. The 71-year Curse of the Billy Goat had been broken, the Chicago Cubs had won the World Series, and restaurant general manager Jeremy Sasso was so …

    The Chicago-style dog is topped with chopped onions, tomatoes, a kosher pickle and sport peppers on a poppy seed bun.
  14. Dining Planner: This weekend is all about beer and seafood

    Food & Dining

    Dynamic Duo: Sea and suds

    This week is about two things, so pay attention: Beer. And. Seafood.

    BEER NIGHT ST. PETE

    Patricia de Jesus, Christina Matsuo and Hope Pedrerotalk while sampling rose at the St. Pete Wine & Food Festival in 2015.
  15. Food for thought: Deputy mayor launches next Healthy St. Pete dine-around

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin wants to take you to dinner.

    Brick & Mortar a great place for an appetizers.