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Jackie Colson-Miller

Jackie Colson-Miller, CIPS
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3401 Henderson Blvd
Tampa, FL 33609
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Restaurant Week Launch Party…My “Winning Picks”…Tampa Real Estate News and more!

Last night was the Launch Party for Dine Tampa Bay’s Restaurant Week, which takes place from August 19 – September 2. Over 40 of the Tampa Bay Area restaurants will be offering prix-fixe menus and several of the restaurants offered “samples” last night, so here are my “winners” and “losers” from the evening events!

The highlight of the night was a “celebrity chef/news personality” team cook-off. Five teams were given a bag of ingredients, on the order of the Reality show, “Chopped”, and had to create a unique dish in TWENTY minutes. The chef could only counsel the media celebrity…no touching, or cooking, allowed. The “mystery bag” contained chicken cutlets, broccoli florets, greek yogurt, guava paste and “cheese in a spray can”….no doubt the “challenge” ingredient in the bunch. Yes, they had some spices and condiments to work with, but as they shouted “Ready, Set, Go”, I wandered among the “cooking teams” making mental notes of who I thought the winner should be. I quickly honed in on the Preston Rudie(10 News) and Gerry Myalynowsky (Puff n Stuff Catering),team, who had created a “roulade” filled with the broccoli and cheese and were busily working on sauce with the guava paste. They offered me a taste and extracted my opinion. “Too Sweet”, I said. Gerry said, “Listen to the lady” and Preston followed the instruction, adding a few ingredients to “soften” the “sweet” and when they whisked the yogurt into the mix, sliced the roulade and plated it perfectly….I predicted their win! And, win, they did! Kudos…Preston has hidden talents in the kitchen! And, Gerry provided an amazing “fig” appetizer for all of us to “nosh” on throughout the night. I want that recipe! They were both “winners” all the way around.

A few restaurants from the group participating in Restaurant Week were offering samples from their menus. I would have liked EVERY sample to come from the Restaurant Week menus, because they might have swayed me to add a few more restaurants to my “already reserved” list. Restaurant Week is a great opportunity for chefs to “step outside the box” and create a unique menu, not just selections from the regular menu. That’s MY opinion, for what it’s worth.

Here are my thoughts on what I sampled last night:

Melting Pot: No Fondue in sight! They offered a “Bruschetta” from their appetizer menu. It was very tasty: Salmon, Capers and Sun-dried tomatoes were perfectly blended atop a slice of toasted baguette. It would be perfectly paired with a light, white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc. It was a “Winner”.

Melting Pot on Urbanspoon

Bella’s: This “South Tampa” staple has been turning out consistent food for many years. It was great to see Larry, who has been with Bella’s for the duration! Their bruschetta and chopped salad have been pleasing palates for years. Last night was no exception. Yes, they were simple and not “outside the box”, but no complaints. “Winner”.

Bella's Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Grillsmith: This local chain offers one of the best menus when you need ” something for everyone”. It is one of my favorite places to take clients for lunch, kids for dinner, or nibble on something with a glass of wine in the bar. I admit, that I usually order the same few things, so I was happy to step outside of “my” box and will be adding their offerings to my next visit. The lemon feta chicken was a yummy melange of chicken, artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, basil and lemon butter sauce. Delicious! Their “Voodoo Shrimp” was perfectly seasoned with a creole seasoning and served on buttered, toasted baguette. It was a “win” for Grillsmith.

Grillsmith on Urbanspoon

Chart House: I know the Chart House from my college years in Rhode Island, but I had yet to visit their latest venture in the former “Landry’s” space on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Their “nibble” last night was very popular! it was a Crab Mango Stack: a base of avocado, topped with fresh, spicy, mango salsa, lump crabmeat, remoulade sauce and a few slices of crispy wonton. BIG WIN!

Chart House on Urbanspoon

Roy’s: This was my only disappointment of the evening. Roy’s “taste” was a butterfish in a soy glaze, topped with caviar. The fish was fresh, but the dish was overwhelmingly salty. I pushed the caviar aside after the first bite, but it was still “too salty”…too much soy sauce, or too much salt? No idea…but, sorry,
Roy’s was a “Loser”.

Roy's on Urbanspoon

Be sure to make reservations for Restaurant Week! I already have four reservations and am working on a few more! Check out the menus and make your plans early. I guarantee the best places will be booked very soon!

If you “spot me” in any of the Featured Restaurants during Restaurant Week, please stop by my table and say “hi”. I’ll be blogging on my all of my dining experiences all along the way!

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