Restaurant Review: Tampa, FL

The first portion of the trip (in Tampa) included several nice dinners out on the town. One of our clients jokingly billed herself the 'social coordinator' (like on a cruise ship), and made some really good selections, so I thought I'd write up a quick restaurant review.

Cafe Japon, in International Plaza (high end Tampa mall): excellent sushi. We ordered way too much, and stuffed ourselves with raw fish and sake. They had one of my favorites (amaebi, or raw sweet shrimp)--they are one of the places that serve up the shrimp heads (fried tempura style) along with the shrimp. Yum! [crunch crunch crunch]. Like eating a big fried bug. <JabbaTheHut>HO HO HO HO HO</JabbaTheHut>

Next night was Tampa Bay Brewing Company, in the Ybor City section of town. A bit of a disappointment--they are moving, so they have shut down their brewing operations, and were not serving fresh brewed beer. Food was take-it-or-leave-it.

A Cuban place called Columbia Restaurant was next. It is definitely one of The Places To Go in town. The appetizers were really good, but my entree (Cuban Roast Pork) was a bit dry. We found the waitstaff to be noticeably obsequious--a slight annoyance. One interesting point was that dress--even in a nice restaurant like this--is pretty casual in Florida. It caused me cognitive dissonance to watch waitstaff in tuxedos serving people in Tevas and shorts--"Why are you serving these people, instead of kicking them out?"

The last evening was Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. I'd say this was one of the big winners of the lot. All of the food was delicious and had lovely presentation. I had the butterfish in a miso soy glaze--exceptionally yummy--I don't know if it was the type of fish or the preparation method that made the meat so spectacular, but I'll have to try finding and preparing it sometime. As a note to the Bay Area crowd, it looks like there's a Roy's in SF.

However, as fun as it was to sample fine restaurants on the company dime, after four nights in a row, the three-hour social dinners with several drinks started to wear me out. At that point, I was ready for a half-hour salad dinner, and then crashing.


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