The Great Beer Challenge St. Pete

St. Petersburg, an area booming in growth and night life, is hosting the first ever Great Beer Challenge this Saturday, August 29th. The event will involve between 40 and 60 teams of four competing in games revolving around beer. The event will take place at the World’s oldest and largest shuffleboard court, the St. Pete Shuffleboard Court from 2-5pm. Teams will be involved in a series of 5 games; corn hole, flip cup (my favorite), steinhold, dizzy bat relay, and of course the shuffle on the largest shuffle board courts in the World! Individual tickets are $30 and a team of four is $110 with “full access beer swag”, and if you just want to watch spectators tickets are $20. At the end of the competition a winning team will be crowned!

Great Beer Challenge Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

My team is very excited for the games and are looking forward to an event in a different setting than a house or bar. What makes it even better is that the sponsor is Sweet Water Brewing Company, an Atlanta based craft brewery known for their Sweet Water 420 Extra Pale Ale, a West coast style beer with an alluring hop flavor and crisp finish. Other sponsors include Tampa Bay Times, The Flavor Run, & Hoverowl. The Sweet Water slogan is “Don’t Float the Mainstream” meaning to stop living life in the same routine every day, and this event definitely captures the essence of doing something different!

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This is the inaugural event for the group and we already hope this becomes an annual event. We are excited to meet new people and hope to see you there!

Great Beer Challenge Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

#craftbeers #sweetwaterbrewery #tampabay

-Clay

 

Meet Clay

We have some fun things coming down the line for us here at NHIE Tampa Bay and the first BIG announcement to share is that we have a new contributor to our blog! We met Clay a while back when we were out checking out a few of the new spots around town. We share a lot of similar interests and he loves finding new things to do around Tampa Bay. So….meet Clay!

Clay Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

“My name is Clayton Clemens, I am a junior at the University of Tampa studying communications and advertising. I am a member of the university’s swim program, and work downtown as a part time server. I am originally from the Philadelphia suburbs but have no intention of leaving Florida. I enjoy all varieties of music, am an exercise enthusiast, enjoy trying new foods/beverages, and living life with an open mindset. I am looking forward to joining the NHIE team, and helping uncover the local treasures that the Tampa Bay area has to offer.” – Clay

Follow us as we continue to spread our #EverythingLocal love around Tampa Bay!

-Nicholas & Ryan

This Is Haven

When you look up the definition of the word “Haven” in the dictionary, you may see things like, “a safe or peaceful place, a sanctuary, a place of rest”. Well last weekend we had our first dining experience at Haven Tampa and let’s just say we found our new “SoHo Sanctuary”.

Ryan and I met up with two of our favorite SoHo girls who we always have a good night out with. If not brunching and pooling it up on a Sunday, the four of us like to find new restaurants to explore together. So this night, we took a chance and headed over to Haven. The former Sidebern’s restaurant, which one of the girls had visited had been completely transformed into this new concept restaurant that specializes in award-winning wines paired with charcuterie and a wide range of cheeses.

Haven Tampa Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

We began the meal by ordering some cocktails. The girls decided on a nice bottle of white wine to share. Ryan and I, as most would have predicted, began with a round of margaritas. What we didn’t realize when ordering and were intriguingly surprised by was the punch of smoky flavor that the margarita packed. When looking back at the menu, we realized that flavor came from the “smoked agave” that was used to sweeten the drink. It was definitely a different flavor than our typical margarita choices. For our second round, we went more traditional and replaced the smoked agave with the usual sweetener.

Haven Tampa Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

We then began our foodie adventure. Our waiter had explained that Haven is built on the concept of small plates that can be shared if you prefer. He suggested 2-3 dishes per person, but we weren’t trying to over indulge, so we discussed as a group and made our game plan. We decided to share a cheeseboard (with 4 cheese choices) and then we would each order 2-3 dishes per pair. The cheeseboard was really good. It was served with little pieces of bread, grapes, jam and honey.

Haven Tampa Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

Moving on to the dinner portion of the meal, we were charged up and ready to eat! I went for The Chicken Pastrami, which came with pretzel gnudi, swiss fondue, and crispy chicken skin. Pretzel gnudi is a soft pretzel ball covered in crushed pretzel pieces. The Skirt Steak, Ryan’s contribution to the meal, was served with shishito peppers (which are sweet not spicy), hickory salt, miso dijonnaise, and tomato bread. Tomato bread is basically bruschetta on top of a crostini. It was cooked perfectly and was a perfect portion for the two of us to share. We even had enough on our end to let the ladies try a bite or two.Haven Tampa Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

The girls opted for the Goat Tacos. It came as two tacos filled with chipotle, cabbage, passionfruit guacamole and of course, goat. They said they were delicious and commented that they were a pretty decent sized taco, so the two were plenty. They also “splurged” for the Charred Shrimp. It came with pickled serrano peppers, chinese broccoli, and a miso yogurt. This was the only “problem” we encountered. We were a group of four and there were only three shrimp served in this dish. Luckily, Ryan doesn’t eat shrimp, so we made it work. We all agreed that it would have been great if there were more shrimp because we all really enjoyed the flavors of the dish.

Haven Tampa Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

For sides, Ryan and I settled on the Whole Roasted Cauliflower. It came in its own kettle with covered in shallots, ginger, ham, and goat’s milk beurre noisette. It was HUGE and really delicious! We loved the crips on top. The girls went for the Macaroni and Cheese, which is always changing because of the cheese used to make it each night. I stole a bite or two of this and it was really good!

Haven Tampa Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

We finished our meal and all agreed that the food we got was the perfect amount for the four of us. We felt comfortable, but not overly full. So, when we heard they have Bern’s Classic Ice Cream on the menu, we had to indulge. It is a vanilla ice cream with coffee and macadamia nut flavors. For people who don’t really do ice cream because we don’t drink regular milk…..it was awesome!

Haven Tampa Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

So we ended the night on a high note, making sure to snap a few pictures out front as we were leaving. All in all, dinner at Haven was a success. We tried a bunch of dishes and with the wide variety of menu options, we will have no problem going back to try and bunch more. Cheers!

 

-Nicholas

 

 

Wine Down Wednesday

By no means would we consider ourselves gamblers. BUT, when the food at a restaurant is that good, we don’t mind meandering our way through a casino to get to it. Last Wednesday, that’s exactly what we did. Council Oak at The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa invited us to come and try their $10 “Wine Down Wednesday” menu in the Council Oak Lounge. Having been to a Hard Rock restaurant before and had a great experience, we knew we had to jump on the opportunity.

Carne Chophouse Ybor Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

Ryan had a late night at work so I enlisted none other than our favorite wino, Megan from I Run For Wine, to join in the fun! Megan and I met in Ybor at Carne Chophouse for a drink during their happy hour before making our way to the Hard Rock. Carne is a great spot to grab a drink before a night out because they offer $2 Finlandia Martinis all day every day until 7pm. Unfortunately or fortunately, I am tequila lovers, so this was no problem for me!

We eventually made our way towards the casino (a quick and easy 15 minute drive on I-4), and found our way to the restaurant. Walking up, my eyes set on this large glass window overlooking the prep kitchen for the butcher on site. He was working on cutting all of the different cuts of meat offered fresh each night in the main restaurant. We will definitely have to visit again to try the main dining experience. But I also took notice of the large Wine Down Wednesday advertisement out front of the doors that boasted the $10 specials all night in the lounge.

We found a seat at the bar and got to ordering! We started with the obvious….WINE! We each ordered a glass of white, one sauvignon blanc and one chardonnay, and quickly moved on to the food menu. For one, neither myself nor Megan are big fan of Bleu Cheese and we noticed that many items on the menu included that as an ingredient. No need to worry, all of the cheese options were able to be subbed out, so we were still able to choose from the whole list.

Council Oak Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

We figured we would start slow and if needed, we could continue placing subsequent orders since most of the dishes were smaller, shareable items. For round one, we ordered the Grilled New York Strip Flatbread (sub Mozzarella cheese) and the Council Oak Sliders. Ok so in the end, we left after ordering 3 orders of the sliders because they were just that good! I brought home a pair for Ryan to try and even after a day or two in the fridge, they still were perfect! The flavor was on point and they were cooked to perfection! The sliders were definitely a fan favorite for us foodies, but don’t get me wrong, the flatbread was good too. Then we ordered a Charcuterie Board with mixed cheeses, jam, honey, some cured meats and toasted crostinis. We loved all of the fixings that came with this dish and I would definitely order it again when I go back for the next Wine Wednesday.

The atmosphere of the lounge was great. The lighting was low (a bit tricky for pictures but we made it work) and the service was pretty quick once the order was placed. What we really liked was the entertainment. Not only did we have seats facing out into the casino so we could people watch like it was our job, but their was a live band playing that night. They killed in playing some classic tunes from our younger days. It was great! (Check out a clip on our Instagram)

All in all, we were extremely pleased with our Wine Down Wednesday experience at Council Oak Lounge and would definitely recommend it for the affordability for the food and wine at just $10 EACH! This deal allows guests to really dive in to experience the various flavors Council Oak offers and what’s really cool is that the wines by the glass offered during Wine Down Wednesday are typically only available by the bottle on other days of the week. Reservations are not required for “Wine Down Wednesday” and guests can enjoy a “wined down” night of sipping and tasting from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday. So head there this week.

-Nicholas

Disclosure: I received dinner through a Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa partnership in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

This is how we ROUX

So last weekend, we were looking for a new brunch spot to try that we hadn’t been to yet. We threw out some ideas, but for most of them, one of us had tried for brunch before. When we got to Datz, a fan favorite, we were quickly reminded that Datz has a sister restaurant, Roux, that always slips our minds when thinking of places to go for food. Well, not anymore!

http://nhietampabay.com/2014/06/11/datz-is-expecting/

We headed over to Roux to enjoy a Nola inspired brunch for two. The only other time I had been to Roux was over a year ago when they first invited a few bloggers and friends to taste their menu before opening their doors. Well we walked in and boy had it changed since the last time I had been. The finishes on the floors, wall and ceilings (shown above) are beautiful and match perfectly with the southern inspiration reflective on the menu.

Roux Brunch Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

Now, of course NHIE does not know how to brunch without some bubbles, so we ordered up some champagne to start. We chose to 86 the O.J. because we felt classier than normal in the beautiful set up that Roux has created for guests and figured…Why not?

Roux Brunch Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

Now, onto the food! We were intrigued by many of the items because they are definitely on the more advanced palette side of menus. But, we were not scared to venture into new territory thanks to some suggestions from our awesome waitress. We went for the whackier of items and ordered a piggy full of Florida Gator Bites. Now, we were warned that they have a little kick and that the champagne would help cut them, so it was a perfect pairing. The bites were served in the coolest little piglet bowl and tasted much like a boneless chicken wing does that was drenched in great tasting cajun remoulade sauce. On the side was some pickled squash and onions that added a nice crunch to the dish.

Roux Brunch Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

Then, we moved on to the next bite. We had heard amazing things about the chargrilled oysters and can still remember how delicious they were on our last trip to Nola at Acme Oyster House (sorry Drago fans), so we knew we had to try some of those. What is really nice about Roux is that during Happy Hour, they offer $1 oysters. So we were able to finagle getting a pair to try and boy were we pleased!  The chargrilled goodness and crispy cheese made for a yummy bite for each oyster. So good!

Roux Brunch Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

This is the amazing skillet meal I ordered for brunch that I clearly didn’t even put a dent in because it was so massive. The Fais Do Do  includes creole red beans and rice, andouille sausage, poached eggs, and hollandaise presented in an iron skillet. It was so tasty, but I had already enjoyed so much other food that I was only able to make it through the eggs and sausage. I would highly recommend if you are extra hungry!

Roux Brunch Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

Ryan’s dish was delicious as well..a twist on the typical eggs benedict. Eggs Sardou is a classic eggs benedict dish served on top of an artichoke heart instead of english muffin with creamed spinach, poached eggs, and  hollandaise sauce on top. It was a nice play on the traditional dish and the artichoke and creamed spinach definitely added a cool new taste to the mix. Yum!

After all of the great things we tried at Roux, there was still so much more we wanted to try but had no room for. We left out the Chicken and Waffles Roux (that looked massive when it passed our table), the Roux Praline Pull-Aparts (a yummy and sweet sounding app to share with the table), and a side of Smoked Mac N’ Cheese. So we now know to keep Roux in mind when thinking about a place to go for a delicious meal in South Tampa! Oh and rumor has it, the menu for brunch is going to be changing up a bit in the coming weeks, but only for the better of course. And what does that mean? Well… looks like Ryan and I will be heading back soon to taste all of the new things added to an already killer brunch menu at Roux, not to mention maybe dabbling in some of their new signature cocktails called #Rouxtinis. Cheers!

-Nicholas

 

Disclosure: We received brunch through a Roux partnership in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are our own.

 

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