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.

 

A Piece of Cake

Funny enough, that’s exactly what we want to share about today! A Piece of Cake is a local cakery and dessert bar company that specializes in event cakes and dessert bars for your events. We recently took a trip to their location in Tampa to help our friend taste some cakes for an upcoming wedding. With no pun intended, it was a fun time and we are going to make our review of the experience short and SWEET (HEHE).

A Piece of Cake Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

We showed up and walked into the small space where we were greeted by owner, Laurie. We sat down and discussed the upcoming nuptials and looked through some photos of other cakes that have been created before to give us some common ground and ideas as to what our possibilities were.

A Piece of Cake Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

Before we tasted

After deciding on the size and shape of the cake we wanted, we went on to the fun part…TASTING! We tasted many different flavors including vanilla, chocolate, marble and funfetti… YUM! We also tasted the different frostings because the baker creates multiple variations to provide the event with exactly what you are looking for. Cookies and Cream icing was my favorite and so was funfetti. Although those options are a bit “out there” as far as formal events, we enjoyed the small bites of deliciousness and eventually came to agreement on what we would order.

A Piece of Cake Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

AFTER

The process was quick, tasty and effortless. Laurie makes it really easy to find what you are looking for and provides you with direction if you are lost. She comes with lots of experience so she knows what works and what doesn’t. This was also a really big help.

As we were getting our things together, we connected eyes with a WALL of popcorn! Not only was it colorful, but as we surveyed the flavors of each, we realized there was a wide variety of those too! From sweet to savory and everything in between, IPop Gourmet Popcorn provides flavors ranging from Wasabi to Cheddar Pretzel Ale to Pina Colada. You should definitely check out their website for unique flavors and to order up a taste of your own! Enjoy!

-Nicholas

#SMDAYTampa 2015

Social Media Day was launched by Mashable back in 2010 as a way to recognize and celebrate all things social media in our community. It gives social media enthusiasts and professionals an opportunity to connect offline with the networks they have been communicating with online all year long! June 30th was chosen as the date to celebrate, so that’s exactly what we decided to do!

Social Media Day Tampa Bay Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

After being involved in Social Media Day the past few years here in Tampa Bay, NHIE decided it was our turn to take the reins and throw an over the top party to honor all things social media in the Bay Area! We began by reaching out to sponsors to see who would be game and where we could throw an awesome event. Well, these two things came super easy to us! Thanks to Reeves VW, we had our title sponsor in a snap and when you combine that with Ferg’s Live Tampa, we knew we were off to hosting an amazing event this year!

Next, we needed food and drinks. Cue JJ Taylor Distributing FL, Inc. and Tito’s Vodka. These two really stepped up to help provide our attendees with great beer and cocktails while we all got to hang out face to face. Ferg’s handled the food which was a crowd pleaser and we just HAD to invite our friends at The Sweet Tooth Cakery back to create some more awesome cupcakes! We definitely couldn’t have done it without their help. And speaking of help, let’s not forget the amazing raffle prizes that were donated to help raise money for local startup, Tech Start Tampa Bay. Their goal is to inspire local youth through the use of technology. With the help of our amazing raffle sponsors, we were able to bring in over $700 for the charity that will now be used to revamp a few of their after-school programs for local students interested in tech!

What were these prizes you ask? Well, let me tell you, they did not disappoint! Here’s the list of Raffle Packages we were able to put together thanks to all of our local sponsors!

Raffle #1 Get Fit Package ($100+ Value)

Fitlife Gift Pack

  • $25 Gift Card
  • Cooler
  • Water Bottle

Tampa Bay Water Bikes

  • Two Biyak or Water Bike Rentals

Royal Blue VW Baseball Cap

 

Raffle #2 VW Bus Bag ($100+ Value)

Vintage VW Baseball Cap

Tampa Bay Water Bikes

  • Two Biyak or Water Bike Rentals

 

Raffle #3 VW Backpack ($100 Value)

 

Raffle #4 VW Wireless Bluetooth Speaker ($90 Value)

 

Raffle #5 Local Love Pack #1 ($60 Value)

 

Raffle #6 Local Love Pack #2 ($150 Value)

SoHo Cycle Gift Pack

  • 4th of July Tank Top
  • 10 pack Gift Certificate

 

Raffle #7 Sunday Funday Pack ($94 Value)

Coast Bike Share

–    Two Pack of One Month Memberships

 

Raffle #8 Ritz Ybor VIP Package ($150 Value)

Raffle #9 Guy’s Pack ($80 Value)

Ella Bing Bowties

–     2 Ella Bing Bowties

 

Raffle #10 Great Escape Room Package ($170 Value)

The Great Escape Room

 

Raffle #11 VW Corn Hole Set ($75 Value)

            $50 Bonefish Grill Gift Card

 

Raffle # 12 Girl’s Pack ($125+ Value)

Green Body Green Home

–     60 Minute Facial

Bumble Tampa

  • Girl’s Goodie Bag

 

Raffle # 13 Ferg’s Live Raffle ($50 Value)

 

#SMDAY Award Picture Prizes

Social Media Day Tampa Bay Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

So we had everything ready to go for the event. Now, how can we make it a unique experience for some of our favorite VIPS? Well, Reeves helped out a ton by providing us with six of their awesome VW cars to participate in a VIP blogger caravan! We paired up the VIPs, had the cars labeled to match their riders and sent them out to find 4 local landmarks in Tampa. @SMDayTampa on Instagram posted a clue on their page which drivers then had to locate and take a group photo with. Once posted online, the @SMDayTampa team would post the next clue. It made for a great time, so thanks to Green Bar Labs for holding down the social media and website for the event!  Additionally, we got to bring along our new friend, PJ Agostini, local photographer and head of Agostini Photography for additional support during the event. He was a back seat rider who snapped away as we drove on our journey through Tampa Bay. Stay tuned for all of his awesome coverage of the event! And if you didn’t follow the screens last night at the event, you should definitely check out #Tagboard, a cool way to discover social media for an event and quickly share it with the attendees!

We were so pleased with how everything turned out that we are already working on plans for the next #SMDayTampa! We began last night by announcing the first ever Social Media Day Awards. Next year, we will honor some of our best community leaders in social media after considering feedback from the Tampa Bay audience. We look forward to seeing how this play out over the next year.Social Media Day Tampa Bay Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

So again, thanks to everyone who helped make last night’s event a HUGE and OVERWHELMING success. We look forward to making next year’s even better! Until then, tweet….post…comment…like….share….and follow us! #NHIETB

Social Media Day Tampa Bay Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay

 

– Nicholas

Craving a Beer Pedi

So Father’s Day is tomorrow and if you are anything like us, you may have only bought the card so far. Well, Crave Spa  has got you covered! For the past few years, Crave has teamed up with Cigar City Brewing to bring guys the Beer Pedi. We know, it sounds too good to be true. Well, it isn’t! I was invited out this past week to test it out and wow was I impressed!

I checked in and got my seat as my new nail pro grabbed all of the materials. She filled a bucket with an extra “hoppy” batch of Cigar City brew. What’s interesting is that Cigar City donated this beer to the spa because it is a batch that is not able to be served to the general public due to the high amount of hops in it. Well that works out really well for Crave because extra hoppy beer provides benefits to a pedicure. Hops help exfoliate the skin, getting rid of dead skin cells and the active yeasts in beer contain ingredients which rejuvenate and hydrate skin. Not to mention, while the pedi is happening, Cigar City has also provided Jai Alai’s for the guest of honor!

In no time, my feet were squeaky clean and ready to roll! It was a fun experience and my feet now look awesome! What a fun Father’s Day treat and a great way to increase the male clientele at the spa! Wherever there’s beer, men will come. So book your appointment NOW for tomorrow’s Father Day Beer Pedi before it’s too late. Ask for Sara…she was awesome! Have fun! I know I did.

Disclosure: NHIE received a complimentary Beer Pedi through a Crave Spa partnership in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are our own.

-Nicholas

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