Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Venue for Sushi, Sashimi, and Saki

When it comes to sashimi, there is no place like The Venue!  It is a real pleasure to see the choices of fresh fish and delightful combos being created at the bar.  Since we eat there regularly, Phillip knows my preferences and makes up some of the coolest plates!

Ed loves the fried vegetables and sushi rolls like the Hurricane.  Besides my regular order ( salmom, salmon, and more salmon as the chef chides), I get to try different variations for sashimi dinners. This week, I tried his Sashimi Poki, and let me tell you, I will go back for that again!

It has all the ingredients for a full meal: tender mixed greens, edamame peas, diced cucumbers and tomatoes mixed with Philip's special dressing , and of course, salmon...all this pressed onto brown rice.  It is both beautiful and delicious.

For a special treat, try their Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies; it comes with a white chocolate fondue, marshmellows, and strawberries... definitely worth sharing!

The Vinnoy 2012

The holidays is certainly the time to enjoy downtown St. Pete, and staying at the Vinnoy is easy access to all the shops, restaurants, and parks.  From the lazy rockers on the verandah to the fabulous golf course, the Vinnoy fits the billet.  Ed and I loved our stay and play vacation.

501 5th Avenue NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 894-1000

Hole #10
Duke a beautiful Belgium
Order up a Princess Carriage, and the lighted horse drawn buggy takes you around town to see the lights.

''Henry'' and ''Duke'' and friends are in downtown St. Petersburg to take you on a beautiful waterfront ride and throughout the downtown area. Times and hours are seasonal and weather can change the schedule, but they are usually here every day. They have two carriages - a Cinderella (which lights up after dark) and a traditional carriage, shown here. Both carriages can accommodate six adults comfortably. Prices are variable depending upon the ride or special event. Reservations can be made along with pricing by calling the cell phone at (816) 215-8613. Come enjoy a relaxing ride that everyone enjoys including Duke and Henry.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Parkshore Grill

There is a fun place in downtown St. Petersburg that I'd love to tell you about!  Right on the beautiful Beach Drive across from Straub Park is a great place to enjoy great American cuisine. What impressed me the most was the warm welcome and the beautiful interior; we chose to sit in the back of the restaurant. From there, we admired the curvaceous lines of the decor, the hubbub of the busy kitchen, and the comings and goings of the eclectic crowd.

Parkshore Grill offers an array of sustainably fished seafood, organic salmon, and organic produce. I don't know why, but that just makes me feel good about what I'm eating. On the first visit, since we had such a hard time deciding what to choose, we already knew we'd be back for a second visit. So, this time we decided to try the Mixed Grill which had filet mignon, Berkshire pork belly, and lamb chops, and for the second entrée, I chose the Seafood Risotto with lobster, mussels, shrimp, cobia, and saffron risotto. I cannot begin to tell you how good they were, of course, we also had the crab avocado salad. I haven't had lumps of blue crabmeat like that since I visited Maryland a couple of summers ago! Not only did that salad taste great, but the presentation was beautiful.

Now back to that mix grill; I guess you could say that filet mignon and lamb chops are on my favorites list, but it was the Berkshire Pork Belly that was the biggest surprise. It was like a heavenly square of the best bacon in the world. There's no real way to describe it except that it is chock full of flavor – a mix of scored crackling and tender bacon. (See links below.) I'm not sure if I could resist ordering that every time I go... maybe I could talk Chef Grant into having that as an appetizer! Anyway, I can also recommend the sides. Oh yeah, we saw those crispy ale battered Vidalia onion stacks go by, and the special scallop potatoes, but nevertheless, we still enjoyed our buttermilk mashed potatoes with our meal.

The grand finale, and it was, was a special sampler of Parkshore grills classic cheesecake, decadent chocolate bar with hazelnut brittle, and a few fresh seasonal berries. Need I say more? Add to that, a couple of wonderful cappuccino coffees, and you will have one of the best dining experiences around.

I was lucky enough to meet their renowned Chef Tyson Grant and our Patissier, Chef Delgado.  It was an exceptional dining experience. Since that evening, we've returned a couple of times and to eat brunch there on a Saturday morning. Nothing like cheese blintzes with fresh berry compote or banana stuffed French toast with maple butter, candied spiced pecans, and applewood smoked bacon. Be sure to start with a mimosa or one of the best bloody Mary's in town. Top that off with a little shopping in downtown St. Petersburg's trendy boutiques, a visit to the Dali Museaum, or Chihuly:   and that's a weekend to hang your hat on! 

Mixed Grill

Executive Chef Tyson Grant and chef Delgado

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Oystercatchers at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is worth making reservations for a sunset dinner for two - or more. (The beautifully landscaped, winding drive to the restaurant was lovely to see.) We started the evening off with Oyster Soup that had East Coast oysters, frizzled leek, and truffle oil. You could say that I'd probably order anything with truffles; truffle oil, truffle dusted, etc. Next, we ordered an Oystercatchers Salad - watercress, frissee, stone fruit, grilled ricotta salata, and blueberry vinaigrette, and  the Roasted Hearts of Palm. Both were excellent. Adding a favorite bottle of wine, their fresh baked bread, and the fantastic view sure made for a superb start to the evening.

Warm and delicious dessert!

Oystercatchers' Salad

Oyster Soup

Mixed Grill

The restaurant ambience was quite romantic and the staff were superb. The room was modern and airy. Our waiter slipped in and out to drop off water, fill our wineglasse, and attend to our needs without us hardly noticing his comings and goings. For our entrées we chose the Seafood Mixed Grill with fingerling potatoes, grilled vegetables, and sauce rouille. The presentation of the meal was beautiful. I would say one concern was the fact that the food, including the vegetables, had that smoked taste. Although Ed enjoyed it, I felt that it was too pervasive through the whole meal. I think I would have enjoyed the vegetables more without the smoky taste. I did not think to ask the waiter if that might be a possibility, but next time I will.

The other entrées going by looked amazing also. It was really nice to have Sven, the executive chef, come and ask us how our meals were. In mentioning the taste, for me, was a bit too smoky, the chef offered to re-cook my meal. Of course, I had enjoyed the meal enough to just take him up on his offer of a lovely dessert. They really seem to care about their customers. Coffee and a glorious sunset was the topper.

Max, our server, told us the Sunday brunch was worth another visit. We are definitely going back.

For a preview and pic of a spectacular sunset check out their gallery: