This Video Will Change the Way You See Tampa

Ben Bradley and Right Hand Films used a quadcopter to capture a unique view of Downtown Tampa. The aerial footage will completely change the way you see our city.

Footage includes shots of the Rivergate Tower (aka the Beer Can Building), Curtis Hixon Park, and Museum of Art at one of the best times to be in downtown. As the sun sets, you can see beautiful reflections on skyscrapers and the Hillsborough River.

You can check out other cool films by Ben Bradley and Right Hand Films on their website.

Another Platt Street Casualty: The Deck Is Closed

Can anything stay open on Platt Street in South Tampa?

Between Urban Cantina, Monsta Lobsta, The Rack, and Stacked Burgers (not to mention the old SoHo Pizza), Platt Street between Armenia and the Crosstown is starting to look like a ghost town.

And it just got a little worse.

This is now what it looks like inside the late-night pizza favorite — The Deck.

The sign is gone, the phones disconnected, the pizza ovens removed.

Another staple of the SoHo area is gone. And much like when The Rack closed, it was very sudden and no one seems to know why.

The Deck’s website is still live but there appears to be no signs of its impending return.

Do you have news or information about the closing of The Deck? Share your thoughts on The Deck closing or favorite memories from SoHo’s best dollar slice night in the comments below.

Dinner at The Vinoy Renasissance

When considering dining options in downtown St. Pete, one of the spots that rarely crossed my mind was the Vinoy Renasissance. The posh, historic hotel, resort, and golf club was a place that always felt too much like a weekend destination to be a considered a casual dinning spot.

But I was wrong.

The Renaissance Marriott property may be a well-known gleaming gem along downtown’s waterfront, but it’s elite appearance doesn’t make it exclusive. It’s open and inviting for members, guests, and walk-ins alike.

Four of its restaurants are open to the public. The more upscale options are still casual enough to be inviting. Both Alfrescos and Merchand’s Bar and Grill serve American-style cuisine in upscale yet warm and unique atmospheres. (More about Marchand’s later.)

The Veranda Cafe coffee house and the Lobby Bar Veranda and Patio are great options for the spontaneous stop off at the Vinoy. While the inside of the hotel is amazing (the beautiful modern renovations that highlight the historic integrity of the interior are definitely worth experiencing), you don’t have to make it through the doors to enjoy what the hotel has to offer. Dining and drinking on the veranda is a great way to get a taste of the Vinoy while indulging in a little bay breeze.

But if you want to experience the full flavor of The Vinoy Renaissance, you have to make a visit to Marchand’s Bar and Grill.

Marchand’s Bar and Grill

I was lucky enough to experience the restaurant for myself during a tasting of their new Farm to Table menu.

Farm to table is a big element of the cuisine at Marcharnd’s. Their chefs and culinary teams work closely with dozens of farms in the area to bring the freshest meats, fish, and produce possible to the table.

Menus constantly rotate to accommodate the seasons of the area’s local food market, but one thing will remain the same — quality food done right. Here is a look at the menu items I was lucky enough to experience.

1st Course – Florida Avocado

Crisp Prosciutto, Pickled Radish, Duck Egg, Rocket Greens, Buttermilk Dressing

Chardonnay – Hahn SLH Estate, California

2nd Course – Spiny Lobster Cake (Carlo Eats’ Favorite Course)

Celery Seed, Chipolte-Lemon Grass Remoulade

Sauvignon Blanc – Starmont, California

3rd Course – Braised Veal Cheeks (Dive In’s Favorite Course!!)

Cabernet Linguini, Escarole, Bronzed Sweet Onion, Pecorino

Malbec – Trivento Amado Sur, Mendoza Argentina

4th Course – Lake Meadow’s Game Hen

Orange-Honey Crust, Charred Cabbage, Saison Beignet

Jai Alai IPA – Cigar City Brewing, Tampa

5th Course – Fried Flounder

Corn Spoon Break Andouille Stuffed Peppers, Jalapeno Butter

Key West Sunset Ale – Florida Brewing, Melbourne

Dessert

Plant City Strawberry Cannoli & Banana Cream Pie

Prosecco – Mionetto, Italy

1925 Fall Classic Dining

Don’t worry if you can’t open your wallet wide enough to splurge on these fancy food items (entrees range from $22-38) — although it would be totally worth it. To honor the year that it opened, Marchand’s offers an extremely affordable three course menu for $19.25 Sunday through Thursday (5:00 PM – 6:30 PM). So you can taste the experience of a Vinoy meal (starter, entree and dessert) at a price you can manage.

Along with fine dining menu items, Marchand’s also offers plates for all meals of the day. With separate menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, sushi, and dessert, it’s a great place for the day’s first or final bite.

So don’t overlook the Vinoy as simply a beautiful backdrop to St. Pete’s waterfront. Stop by to taste, savor, and explore St. Pete’s most visible hidden gem.

Vinoy Renaissance Details

Located at 501 5th Avenue NE  St. Petersburg  Florida  33701  USA. For more information find the Vinoy on Marriott.com.

The Best of Clearwater Beach Uncorked

Rain couldn’t stop the 3rd annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked.

Fans of fine foods and spirits came out in droves to mingle under two tents filled with world-class food, wine, and mircobrews. For two days (February 8th and 9th), the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa hosted hundreds of foodies looking for sand, sun, and something to eat. (Those who attended Sunday got an extra serving of sun).

The event, which benefited the University of South Florida School of Hospitality and Technology, didn’t disappoint. Attendees mingled with acclaimed chefs, winemakers, spiritproducers, brew masters, and culinary experts while enjoying food and drink from awesome establishments and vineyards.

Restaurants:

  • SHOR American Seafood Grill
  • Caretta on the Gulf
  • Oystercatchers
  • Crabby Bills
  • Jimmy Crow’s Nest
  • Salt Rock City
  • Rumba Island Bar & Grill
  • Marlin Darlin Key West Grill
  • Island Way Grill

Wineries:

  • Rosatello
  • Rex-Goliath
  • Milestone
  • Classical Wines
  • Dreaming Tree
  • Island Grove Wine Company
  • Red Diamond
  • Chateau St. Michelle
  • 14 Hands
  • Columbia Crest
  • Manifesto
  • Le Mistral
  • Aviary
  • Florida Orange Groves Winery
  • E&J Gallo
  • Hahn
  • Jamieson Ranch
  • Light Horse

Of the dozens of fine foods and drinks at Clearwater Beach Uncorked, I definitely had my favorites.

Favorite Wine: Island Grove Wine Company 

Because I’m a big fan of sweet wine, Moscato is always a favorite. So I was happy to stumble across a specialty Moscato flavor from Island Grove Wine Company. The winery, located in North Central Florida in Alachua County offers a variety of fruit flavored wines, but my favorite had to be the Blueberry Moscato. Muscat grapes blended with ripe, fresh blueberries brought me my favorite glass of the event.

Favorite Food: Caretta on the Gulf

My favorite restaurant from the event also had my favorite booth presentation of the day. The team from Caretta on the Gulf was not only whipping up one of the best bites of the day, they were also throwing high flames from the burner while perfectly preparing their bacon wrapped jumbo shrimp. It was fun to watch and even better to eat. A big win for the Sandpearl Resort restaurant.

Favorite Spirit: Midnight Moon Moonshine

The Spirit Beach Club was packed full of awesome spirits, but my favorite libation had to be the tastes of Midnight Moon moonshine. Made popular by shows like the Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners, moonshine is making a modern day comeback. Mightnight Moon is getting it right by riding the wave with classic moonshine styles and a variety of flavors that include an original and apple pie flavor, as well as cherry, strawberry, blueberry, cranberry, and blackberry.

If you didn’t make it to the event, you can browse the photos of those who did by searching the following social profiles and hashtags:

And make sure to follow along these social profiles so you don’t miss out on this awesome culinary event when it comes back to Clearwater next year.

CBU Cheers!

Clearwater Beach Uncorked

While the rest of the country is stuck in the snow, Clearwater is about to get live on the sand.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked, a Food and Wine Adventure is coming!

For two days (February 8th and 9th from 1-5pm) Clearwater Beach is going to be turned into a wine-enthusiast and foodie paradise. The 3rd annual event will feature a Grand Tasting Village with unlimited sampling of world-class food, wine, and mircobrews, along with a Spirit Beach Club serving top shelf spirits, liqueurs, and novelty cocktails.

Acclaimed chefs, winemakers, spirit producers, brew masters, and culinary experts will also be on the beach discussing dishes and drinks.

It’s a can’t miss beach event sponsored by Bright House, the City of Clearwater, the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa, and Publix Super Markets.

Ticket Information

  • One Day Grand Tasting for ONE – $85
  • Two Day Grand Tasting for ONE – $130
  • Two Day Grand Tasting for TWO – $250

Tickets include access to the the Grand Tasting Village, Spirit Beach Club, and the Uncorked Beach Club — located in a secluded area of the Hyatt overlooking the Gulf.

If you opt to go for the Two Day Grand Tasting, you can make a weekend out of it. The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach is offering a an exclusive pre-Valentine’s Day VIP rate exclusively for guests of Clearwater Beach Uncorked. VIP room rates are limited so book early.

A percentage of ticket sales from the event will benefit the University of South Florida School of Hospitality and Technology.

Get Social with Clearwater Beach Uncorked

Clearwater Beach Uncorked is going to be all over the social sphere so if you make it, be sure to share your experience. And if you can’t make it, feel free to follow along (if you can handle seeing so much foodie fanfare.)

15 Movies to Watch Over the Holiday Break

The holidays are finally here.

For most people that means time to eat, shop, and be merry. And for a few of us, it means packing our bags and heading home for the holidays. Many Floridians travel back to their much colder home states during the holiday season. And since most of us have lost our ability to withstand the cold, we might be spending a few extra nights cooped up and curled up by the fire watching movies.

So before you head home for the holidays, make sure that whichever family member agrees to house you has their bundle tv plan set up or at least a Netflix account you can use. These movies will help you make the most out of your frozen movie marathons.

Home Alone

This movie is awesome because it can be enjoyed by all ages. Who doesn’t love to watch evil, awkward home burglars get hit in the face by a full paint can?

Forrest Gump

If you are lucky, you are going to have one or two days this holiday vacation where you have absolutely nothing to do. So spend the day with a movie that lasts a lifetime.

Ernest Saves Christmas

Ernest probably brings you back to childhood the same way that 90′s nostalgia like Goosebumps books and Legends of the Hidden Temple can, but you probably haven’t watched it in years. Watch it again… then never again.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

You have to love National Lampoon’s movies because they are edgy enough that the older crowd will get a laugh, but not so raunchy that the younger crowd will notice the totally inappropriate jokes.

Elf

I once watched Elf with my friend’s 90-year-old grandmother who didn’t speak English, and she laughed the entire time. This movie is so good it translates to funny in any language.

Sixteen Candles

Gather your mom, aunts, and sisters around and spend a girl’s day with Sixteen Candles or any other movie staring a teen-aged Molly Ringwald.

A Christmas Story

Do you really think there can be a top holiday’s movie list without this classic? You probably have watched this movie a million times in bit and pieces, but have you ever sat to watch it start to finish? Try it this year.

The Shinning

Gather your grown family members around and get creeped our together. There is a definite added creepiness to watching this movie when the snow is pouring down outside.

Bad Santa

A Christmas movie so good that it is aired on television channels year round.

Four Christmases

If you are splitting your holiday season with separate sections of your broken family, you will find the humor in these all too familiar situations.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Watching Jim Carry stumble around in his oversized mean, green suit is something that will make you laugh, cry, then laugh till you cry.

It’s a Wonderful Life

I’ve never seen this movie, so I’m adding it to the list because if you are like me, we really need to see this classic. Add it to this year’s list.

The Dark Knight Trilogy

One Batman movie can take hours. So over holiday break may be your only opportunity to have enough time to watch the entire series back to back.

Scrooged

Everyone could use a little Bill Murray in their holiday season. You might as well make it Christmas themed.

Wizard of Oz

Whether you think it’s creepy or one of the best movies of all time, the Wizard of Oz is always an awesome movie to bond over mutual mocking or love with the right members of your family.

What is your favorite movie to sit around and watch during the holidays?

Jim Bean Bourbon & Brew Fest

The festivals just keep coming in Tampa. But between the music and the booze festivals there hasn’t been an event quite like this weekend’s Bourbon and Brew Fest.

The event will bring together country lovers and Bourbon connoisseurs for a full day of boot-stomping bands and smooth, strong drink.

General Admission ($20-25) grants access to the Bourbon & Brew Festival with all day re-entry privileges. The day includes performances by Billboard chart-toppers, the LoCash Cowboys and opening acts the Southern Train Band, The MOJO Gurus, and Grant, and ends with a fireworks display overlooking the river and Downtown Tampa skyline.

Inside the event, all Bourbon Drinks and Specialty Craft Beers will start at $5 and there will be entertainment including a mechanical bull and cornhole. Some of the brands that will be serving at the event include:

  • Jim Beam (featuring The Original, Jim Beam Honey, Jim Beam Maple)
  • Red Stag Black Cherry
  • Maker’s Mark
  • Knob Creek
  • Basil Hayden
  • Booker’s
  • Angel’s Envy
  • Wild Turkey
  • George Dickel
  • Laphroaig
  • Sweetwater
  • Southern Tier
  • Woodchuck
  • Widmer Brothers

In order to sample the 40 different brands at Bourbon and Brew Fest, you will need a Knob Creek Grand Bourbon Tasting Ticket ($85-100) which grants admission and unlimited all day sampling.

It’s going to be a classic, country rocking kind of day.

Full Event Details:

  • Date: Saturday, November 23
  • Time: 3pm-11pm, LoCash at 9:30pm
  • Location: The Heights Waterfront, 1920 N. Ola Ave., Tampa 33602
  • Additional Event Info

Fleming’s Steak Experience Takes It Up a Notch

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar launched a new menu this October, and it features a unique way to personalize steak preferences and allow diners to customize their dining experience.

You start the process by selecting a cut of meat. The Prime New York Strip and the Prime Dry Aged Ribeye are the only two steaks available in all preparation methods so start there for a blank canvas for your steak creation.

Select a Steak Aging Method

Then make a decision on the aging process for your cut of meat.

As meat ages, natural enzymes breakdown hard connective tissue in the meat. This leads to a more tender and flavorful cut of steak. Most people are familiar with dry aged steaks. During dry aging, water evaporates from the steak leaving behind a higher level of flavor, along with a more tender cut of meat.

But now Flemings is offering a choice between dry aged and wet aged. In wet aging, natural juices are sealed in to produce a more tender and juicy final product.

  • Dry Aged – Cuts are aged a minimum of 21 days allowing a richer, bolder flavor with a distinctive nutty note (available for the Prime New York Strip and the Prime Dry Aged Ribeye).
  • Wet Aged - Cuts are aged a minimum of 21 days providing a juicy, flavorful, and savory bite (available for the main, bone-in, petit and Newport filet mignons, prime bone-in Ribeye, and Prime New York Strip).

Choose a Steak Cooking Style

After selecting the pre-prep of the steak, guests can select how they would like their steak prepared in the kitchen. Fleming’s now offers two choices for this as well.

  • Classically Prepared – Fleming’s classic preparation in which steaks are expertly seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper then broiled at 1,600 degrees.
  • Iron Crusted – A new preparation method where steaks are iron crusted and finished with butter and fresh parsley.

Pick a Steak Companion

Then it’s all about the finishings. Fleming’s offers four different companions for your steak.

  • Truffled Poached Lobster with béarnaise sauce and caviar
  • Diablo Shrimp baked with a spiced barbeque butter sauce
  • King Crab with Herb Butter simmered with fresh herbs and garlic and topped with caviar
  • Flavor Trio three steak spreads: gorgonzola and mascarpone brûlée, sweet onion bacon jam, and cabernet mustard

How to Create the Perfect Steak

After trying a few different variations of steaks and preparations, my suggestion for the perfect steak from Fleming’s:

  1. New York Strip
  2. Dry Aged
  3. Classically Prepared
  4. With Flavor Trio (because the gorgonzola and mascarpone brûlée is amazing)

About Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Nationally acclaimed Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar offers the best in steakhouse dining – Prime meats and chops, fresh fish and poultry, generous salads and side orders — with a unique wine list known as the Fleming’s 100®, which features more than 100 wines served by the glass.

Best Apartment Living In South Tampa

Tampa has great neighborhoods that feature mostly single family homes, condos, and apartments. When trying to decide if you are ready to purchase your own home or condo, you might find a good temporary home in one of these high-end apartment complexes.

Post Hyde Park

Neighborhood: Hyde Park/SoHo | Location: 502 S. Fremont Ave.

Features/Amenities:

  • 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms
  • 2 Swimming Pools
  • Three Story Buildings
  • Fully-Euipped, 24-Hour Fitness Center
  • Resident Business Center
  • Urban Vegetable Gardens
  • Controlled-access entry gate
  • Walking distance to Hyde Park, Bayshore, and SoHo

The Vintage Lofts at West End

Neighborhood: North Hyde Park | Location: 801 North Rome Ave.

Features/Amenities:

  • 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms
  • Swimming Pools and Spa
  • Controlled-access entry gate
  • 4-Story Parking Garage
  • Public Area Wi-Fi

Bell Channelside

Neighborhood: Channelside | Location: 1120 E. Twiggs Street

Features/Amenities:

  • Covered Controlled Access Parking
  • Poolside Seating
  • 2,700 Sq. Ft. Fitness Studio
  • Yoga and Spinning Room
  • Cyber Cafe
  • Complimentary Coffee Bar
  • Billiards Area and Outside Kitchen

Element

Neighborhood: Downtown | Location: 808 North Franklin

Features/Amenities:

  • Resort Style Elevated Sundeck with Spa, WiFi, Outdoor Bar, and Cabanas
  • Poolside Clubroom with TVs and Entertainment Kitchen
  • Fitness Center with State -of-the-Art Weight and Aerobic Equipment
  • Walking distance to Curtis Hixon Park, Straz Center, and Downtown Restaurants

Post Harbour Place

Neighborhood: Harbour Island | Location: 8000 Harbour Post Drive

Features/Amenities:

  • Studios and 1, 2, and 3 Bedrooms
  • High Ceilings
  • Hardwood Floors
  • Four Swimming Pools
  • Boat Slips with Lifts
  • Walking Distance to Channelside,  Tampa Bay Times Forum, and Downtown Restaurants

Pierhouse Channelside 

Neighborhood: Channelside | Location: 1226 E. Cumberland Ave.

Features/Amenities:

  • Nautical Themed Art Park
  • Resort Inspired Pool
  • Two-Story Fitness Center
  • Clubroom with Fireplace and Flat Screen Televisions
  • Large spa
  • Poolside Grilling Area
  • Easy Acess to Ybor, Channelside, and Downtown

The Slade

Neighborhood: Channelside | Location: 1190 E. Washington Street.

Features/Amenities:

  • Infinity Pools
  • Salt Water Pool
  • 2-Story Fitness Center
  • Club Room and Cyber Cafe
  • Whirlpool Spa
  • Rooftop Sun Deck
  • Gated Parking

NoHo Flats New

Neighborhood: Channelside | Location: 1190 E. Washington Street

Expected Opening: Now Leasing

Features/Amenities:

  • Pool Lounge with Seating and Flat Screen Televisions
  • 1, 2 and 3 Beedrooms
  • Outdoor Grilling and Dining Areas
  • Wireless Internet
  • Fire Pits

Tired of Apartment Living?

If apartments just don’t cut it and you are ready to get a home of your own, make sure to take the right steps. While going through the process of finding a home or condo, Keller Williams lists the best steps as:

  1. decide to buy
  2. hire an agent
  3. secure financing (choose a loan officer, get approved)
  4. find your home (search, search, search)
  5. perform due diligence (use a homeowners insurance calculator to find insurance rate, consider property taxes, get an inspection, etc.)
  6. make an offer
  7. close
  8. move in

Whether or not you are looking for an apartment as a temporary home or a long-term residence, Tampa has a variety of high-class, amenity-rich properties to choose from. Which do you think is the best?

The Rack in Hyde Park Closes Its Doors

A South Tampa staple shut its doors this week when The Rack in Hyde Park closed down.

On Friday October 11, the marque facing the traffic coming east on Platt Street was removed — no more messages about all you can drink happy hours or half off sushi specials.

After noticing that the signage was removed, we called The Rack and received no answer. The Facebook page and Twitter account for the Hyde Park Rack seem to have been taken down as well.

The Brandon Rack is still open. When we called to ask what happened at the Hyde Park location, a staff member confirmed that the Hyde Park location was closed, but said the reasons why were not discussed with the Brandon staff.

Whatever the reason for closing, it’s a loss to South Tampa, and now, we can only hope another awesome restaurant moves into the prime location near SoHo. Who else is bummed that The Rack closed? What do you want to see go in its place?