- Gina De Lucia
- Apr 26, 2018
- 3 min read
It seemed like overnight downtown St. Pete went from having no breweries to being filled with them. Craft beer has become part of our culture in recent years and is a large part of what makes our city unique.
One brewery that has done a great job of setting themselves apart is Cage Brewing, located in the Grand Central District. There are neon-colored alien murals decorating the walls, exterior walls, a variety of arcade games, foosball, air hockey, and a lot of good vibes.
Chances are you have noticed the brewery on the rather large corner lot on 1st Ave S and 22nd St. It’s especially hard to miss at night when the hundreds of Christmas lights are illuminating the patio. About half of the outdoor area is covered, paved, and filled with picnic tables. Most recently, they added a brand new structure with more even more bathrooms. For entertainment, there is Cornhole (or “Bags” as some people call it) and human-size Connect Four. The remaining outside area is grassy and much less shaded. As with most breweries, they are dog (and kid) friendly inside and out.
There’s an actual inside bar but you’ll find that most people spend their time at the bar located in the warehouse. There are a couple of TVs, the arcade games (did I mention they are free?), a Florida State flag (Go Noles!), and plenty of local art. Look up and you’ll notice a sign that says ‘Brewery’ in large letters and just above it, “R Bar & Grille” Sign. The long-time casual seafood restaurant on Treasure Island was once owned by Cage Brewing owner, Bob Hughes.
The story behind the brewery goes like this: Once upon a time, a line-cook at R-Bar was brewing beer at the restaurant during his downtime. Then one day, owner says if you’are really going to do this, we’ve got to abide by the law. So he built a small “cage” that housed the brewing equipment so it was considered a designated brewing area. Owner decides to sell the restaurant and instead gives this brewery thing a shot. And line cook, Eric Richardson, becomes head brewer at owner’s new brewery. And that’s how Cage came to be, opening in January 2016.
That was the version I heard in my head when the bartender shared this sweet story with me. The brewing area is still behind a “cage” – it’s just now a much larger. Something that head-brewer, Eric, likely appreciates as someone who is almost 7ft tall as told to me by the bartender. I didn’t get a chance to meet him, but, I hope to soon.
The beers that Cage is most well-known for has to be the two versions of their mango beer, the Mango IPA, and the Queen Krush Double IPA. Galaxy Cat Pale Ale is another popular pint and goes along with the alien space theme they’ve got going on.
Many events are held here, including the annual “108 Sun Salutations” by the Body Electric Yoga Company. Since the brewery is located very close to the Warehouse Arts District, quite often they’re used as the venue to host the more artsy events. I recently saw that a local artist was doing a glow-in-the-dark canvas painting class there. How cool. Plenty of people also have birthdays, showers, etc. there.
Some may consider the brewery to be “hipster” but it’s more along the lines of hippie. There is even a dedicated stage for their weekly live music and frequent open mics. One musical act playing there regularly is Dead Set, a Grateful Dead cover band. They’re really good so if any of you out there are Dead Heads, you should probably make your way over to Cage next time they play. Another local favorite, Betty Fox Band, has played there a couple times and has another show in May. Any of the musical acts Cage books are great and the sound quality isn’t for the faint of heart. My fiancé and I live a few blocks from the brewery and we can often hear bands jamming out, which we love.
On the bars, you’ll see a menu for Urban Brews and BBQ, which is located across the street. For a minimum of $10, they will even deliver food to you.
Next time you pass by Cage Brewing, be sure to stop in for some game time and a pint on the patio.
Cage Brewing Beer Reviews
Queen Krush Mango Double IPA – Cage Brewing (Double IPA)
Queen Krush Mango Double IPA
Pour & Head: Cloudy with a small amount of head
Color: Tanagrine / Carrot / Apricot – depending how the light hits the glass.
Aroma: Citrus aroma with strong mango notes.
Flavor: Tropical fruit flavor from the mango and on the sweeter side with hints of honey. Lower bitterness with light malts. A strong and boozy beer that still tastes light and refreshing.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and soft-bodied
Finish: Light and crisp
Overall: A lot of citrus flavor and sweetness from the mango. Flavorful but not too hoppy or bitter. A crisp, clean beer that’s refreshing and drinkable despite its strength.
Galaxy Cat – Eric’s Pale Ale (APA - American Pale Ale)
Galaxy Cat – Eric’s Pale Ale
Pour & Head: Cloudy with a small amount of head
Aroma: Slight citrus and tropical notes. Some earthy notes.
Flavor: On the bitter and hoppier side. Some tropical notes but not too sweet. Slight pine flavor.
Finish: Lingering taste of bitterness
Overall: Full-flavored with bitterness and grassy elements. Slightly heavy and has a lot of flavor for how low alcohol it is.
Craft brewery known for their Mango IPA with a lot of games, two bars, and a sprawling outdoor patio.
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Written by Gina De Lucia
As a St. Pete native, Gina has loved watching the "Sunshine City" blossom into what it has become today. Having only ever left to attend FSU, she returned home after earning Bachelors degree in Accounting. Gina embarked on an exciting career as a CPA, despite her true passions for writing, food, and travel. After spending years feeling unfulfilled at work, she began blogging as a creative outlet. Gina's blog "Local Baysics" (www.localbaysics.com)combines her love of Tampa Bay with her eagerness to discover local hidden gems. Sharing her experiences through writing and photography allows her to feel truly connected to the local community while also immersing herself in St. Pete's unique culture. In her spare time, you will likely find Gina with her fiance and heeler/hound pup at her favorite foodie destinations, a local brewery, or doing yoga.
View all posts by: Gina De Lucia
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- August 5, 2022 10 Best St. Petersburg Brunch Spots 2022
It’s the weekend and time to treat yourself to a terrific brunch, but where should you go? We have compiled a list of the best brunches in St. Pete to help with your decision. Before we get into the list, an important thing you should be aware of is that there are other publishers of “best of lists” that do not actually go to the establishments, or actually eat the food. We absolutely DO. (How can anyone recommend something they never experienced?) Unfortunately, we’ve seen it a lot—from national and local publishers. We are also aware of a local publisher that offers paid placement in best-of-lists. There is no paid placement here. WE PERSONALLY ATE ALL OF THIS FOOD, AND WENT TO ALL OF THESE PLACES, AND THESE ARE ALL OUR PHOTOS. Best Brunch Spots in St. Pete Chosen by Locals 2022 First, we’d like to give you our top three best brunches. 1.Wild Child 2710 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33712 (727) 954-7425 Wild Child Website Wild Child was overwhelmingly recommended in our Facebook Group, and now we know why. All of the food was so astoundingly delicious that it seems like they are working with some type of special magic over there. The Blue Corn Grits with Monterey jack cheese, bacon, pickled jalapeños and scallions were some of the best I’ve ever had, and I am a total grits snob. The Potato Latkes with crema, dill, chives and an added caviar bump was incredible. The crunchiness and texture along with the flavor, and contrast with the crema made this an experience in eating. At this point we were so full, but we had to try the BEC – bacon, egg, American cheese, English muffin, hot mayo sauce and potatoes, and we couldn’t stop eating it. Even though we were stuffed, we couldn’t resist the Chicken Karaage Biscuit – biscuit, miso honey butter and home fries was nothing short of spectacular. (Karaage is a Japanese cooking technique in which various foods—most often chicken, are deep fried in oil. The process involves lightly coating small pieces of the meat with flour, or potato or corn starch, and frying in a light oil.) 2. Social Roost 150 1st Ave N St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 202-6113 Social Roost Website Social Roost opened right around New Year’s 2021, and they launched their brunch in April. It’s definitely one of the best in St. Pete. Lori said, “Brunch today at Social Roost Kitchen and Bar was beyond phenomenal! I must say that they have the most inventive and incredible menu for brunch that I have ever seen. So much more to go back for. We didn’t get it this time but they have shakshuka…wow! We started with bubbles and three hours later we finished with bubbles. But in between you will see the most incredible food!” 3. Sauvignon Wine Locker & Trattoria 241 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 827-7896 Sauvignon Website Sauvignon Wine Locker opens for brunch on Sundays at 10:30. They have some spectacular Italian and American dishes on the regular menu that can be ordered during brunch, and the brunch items will blow you away as well. Two of my favorites are the Biscuits & Sausage Gravy and the Oxtail Hash. Biscuits & Sausage Gravy – house made pork sausage, creamy sausage gravy poured over flaky biscuits. If I was making biscuits and gravy, this is how I would do it, though I’m not sure I could do it this well. So many times when I order biscuits & gravy at other places, I’m reminded of the old Wendy’s ad with the old lady shouting, “Where’s the beef!?!?!” – except it would be “where’s the sausage?”. That’s not the case at Sauvignon. This is packed with delicious chunks of sausage, and the biscuits are to die for. Oxtail Hash – braised oxtail, pan fried with potatoes, onions & sweet peppers. This one is one of the real stars of the show. We were told it has become a crowd favorite and we know why. It has everything going for it – deep, rich flavors of slow-cooked meat – crispy, crunchy and unctuous at the same time – and then you mix in the runny egg yolk. It’s eyes roll back in your head foodie heaven. Sauvignon Full Review of Brunch THE REST OF THE LIST IS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER 4. The Bier Boutique 465 7th Ave N St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 827-2691 The Bier Boutique Website The Bier Boutique uniquely does brunch on Mondays from 11-3. This makes for a fun crowd of service industry folks, tourists, and anyone that doesn’t have a 9-5 Mon-Fri gig, (which is more and more people these days). We love the Breakfast Tots – A pile of housemade tater tots loaded up with cheddar cheese, bacon croutons, a fried egg & chives with a side of sour cream. Also, the Tots & Gravy and the Brunch Burger are excellent choices. 5. Cassis Brunch is served Tue–Thu from 11am–3pm; Fri–Sun from 8am–3pm 170 Beach Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 827-2927 Cassis Brunch Menu Cassis offers American classics with subtle French influences for brunch, lunch, and dinner. They serve simple, hearty food and drinks at affordable prices right on Beach Drive. Cassis has lots of outdoor seating offering a great view and is ideal for people watching. My favorite item is the Chorizo Sausage Benedict – homemade biscuit, avocado, smoked paprika, hollandaise. By the way, they have the best sausage links I have ever had and they offer fresh squeezed orange juice. 6. Datz 8:30AM – 3PM • SAT || 8:30AM – 9PM • SUN 180 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 202-1182 Datz Website Datz is certainly the place for a hearty brunch. They are the home of comfort food with flair, a foodie wonderland filled with bacon, cheese, and house-made breads. The Shrimp & Grits have cream cheese and an Indian Makhani sauce that is delicious. They […]
- August 3, 2022 Buona Ristorante: A True Locals Hidden Gem
Buona Ristorante has been serving up their Italian classics in St. Pete Beach for the past 14 years. The restaurant, that is ultra popular with locals and visitors alike, is tucked in the back corner of the Dolphin Village plaza on the busy main strip of Gulf Blvd. Because of its location in the plaza, Buona is not exactly visible from the road, but that doesn’t keep the masses from flocking to enjoy their Italian cuisine daily. The restaurant is quite unique compared to most concepts. Not only do they have their quaint dining room, but they also have an ultra busy pizza take-out counter at the front of the restaurant as well. It is quite genius actually, and boy oh boy do both the dining room and the take-out counter keep the folks at Buona Ristorante working hard. As many times as we have been in the Dolphin Village plaza, we had never before noticed the restaurant. For our first visit in we arrived around 5:45PM on a Monday evening. A few groups were seated at tables inside and a few tables were occupied outside near the main entrance – but nothing overly crowded…yet. By the time 6:00PM hit, there was steady traffic flowing in to both dine in and retrieve take-out orders from Buona. By 6:30, if you didn’t have a reservation inside there was a brief wait and the tables outside (even with the intense heat that evening) were filling up quickly. By the time 7:00PM hit and we were finished with our meal we couldn’t believe how crowded it had become (and considering it was a Monday). That’s always a great indicator for me about a restaurant and how the community perceives it. And with Buona Ristorante it became obvious rather quickly that this community loves them. The outdoor seating that I was referring to above is the area at the entrance of the restaurant (parking lot side) as those are the tables that we saw as soon as we arrived. Little did I know, there’s actually another more scenic patio area on the water-side of the restaurant which faces a small marina on the intracoastal of Boca Ciega Bay. I was so disappointed that I did not find out about this hidden waterfront patio until after our visit. When we arrived we were asked if we wanted to sit inside or outside and assumed the outdoor referred to was the one facing the parking lot, so naturally we chose inside because of the heat. Had we been informed of the other patio with a view and perhaps a nice breeze we definitely would have opted for that. Because their dining room is so small, I do feel that they should really advertise the scenic patio as much as possible. Who doesn’t love a view of the water? Our service the entire time was truly wonderful. All of their staff was very professional, hospitable and ultra kind, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons why they’ve become as popular as they have. Another reason for their ever-growing popularity has to be the food of course. Delicious bread and an olive dip/spread were presented at the table first. This little snack comes with most all of the entrees and is exceptionally delicious – especially the focaccia. Don’t skimp on the olive spread either. In fact, I recommend stirring it up and spooning it onto each bite of your delectable bread. Warning, you’re not going to want to stop eating the bread, but you simply must to save room, as the meal is only going to get better from there. Promptly after the bread delivery, the Antipasto salad hit the table in all of her glory. This pretty little plate is comprised of greens, cherry tomatoes, Genoa salami, prosciutto, pancetta, fresh mozzarella, Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini and an extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette which brings the whole gang together. With the amount of pizzas we saw within the first ten minutes of being seated, we knew that we could not not order one. We decided on a 12 inch (there is a choice between 12 and 16) as we knew we would be indulging in pasta as well. Nonna’s pizza jumped out at me immediately even though it’s one of the last pizzas listed on the menu but it appealed to me in that “less is more” type of way. Mozzarella, garlic and a spiral of pomodoro sauce – that’s it. And trust me, that’s all that it needed. The crust was light and not ultra thin, but also not ultra thick. Every bite was just delicious, as the minimal but mighty ingredients were able to speak perfectly for themselves. If you don’t jive with gluten, fret not. Buona has a 12″ gluten-free cauliflower crust for you. Buona also accommodates to folks who can’t decide on just one pizza by allowing guests to do half and half as long as they order a 16″ pie. With so many different pasta dishes and entrees to choose from we decided to let the menu favorites noted with an asterisk mark lead the way. My selection was the Gnocchi Alle Noci which is a dish of small potato dumplings sautéed with Gorgonzola cream sauce and topped with walnuts, crispy pancetta and a honey drizzle. The dish wasn’t quite what I expected but I still enjoyed it – this girl loves gnocchi. It leans more sweet than savory and I believe that that’s due to the honey drizzle at the end. As the dish cooled off, the honey made everything just a touch chewy. My husband was set on the Rigatoni Marinara which is listed under the classic favorites section of the menu. With the rigatoni you have the option of adding meatballs, meat sauce or sausage for a small price upgrade which I definitely recommend, especially with the sausage. Two large sausage links were served on top of the rigatoni which wasn’t what we had envisioned […]
- August 1, 2022 Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa Recipe
Tacos are a love language for a lot of folks. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why the handheld treat appeals to the masses, but I have a few guesses. There are so many taco renditions out there that you’re bound to fall in love with at least one. One of my personal favorites is Baja style which originated in none other than Baja California, Mexico. This type of taco is usually comprised of a white and flakey fish, often fried, a cabbage slaw of sorts and usually some kind of crema/sauce. This taco recipe was of course inspired by the refreshing Baja style taco, but I’ve added even more excitement with a bright mango-avocado salsa. Both fruits are in season in Florida during the month of August and Rollin’ Oats has plenty of them waiting for you – organic, ripe, juicy and delicious. Don’t limit the use of this salsa to just these tacos – have it as an appetizer with chips, spoon it on a salad, etc. I have found that we humans are quite particular when it comes to our tortilla shell preference. Flour or corn? Soft shell or do we want crunch? Street style or perhaps a bit larger? There are so many questions. Because of this, I’ve left the tortilla preference totally up to you and Rollin’ Oats has a variety of shells all over the board for you to pick from. Flour, corn, hard shell or even grain-free (made by Siete and they’re fantastic). As for the Cod, you’ll find a ten ounce bag of wild-caught in the frozen section at the back of Rollin’ Oats which proved to be incredible-tasting. If you aren’t a fan of cod or can’t find it, any flaky fish will suffice. Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa These are going to be your summer go-to taco for any occasion. Don't limit the use of the salsa to just this dish – it's great on salads and as an appetizer on its own too. Mango-Avocado Salsa1 avocado (diced in small cubes)1 mango (diced in small cubes)1/2 medium onion (diced)1 lime1 jalapeno (seeds and stem discarded, minced)2 tbsp cilantro (fresh, roughly chopped)salt (as needed)Chipotle Mayo1/4 cup mayo2 tsp liquid from can of chipotle chiles1/2 lime (juice of only)1/2 tsp salt (more as needed)Cabbage Slaw1 cup red cabbage (finely chopped/shredded)1 cup green cabbage (finely chopped/shredded)1/2 lime (juice of only)1/2 tsp salt (plus more as needed)pepper (to taste)Beer-Battered Cod & Taco Assembly10 oz Cod (preferably wild caught and cut into 2-3" pieces)2 cups vegetable oil2 cups flour (all purpose will do, divided)12 oz light beer (I used Cigar City Jai Low)1 tsp baking powder1 tsp cayenne2 tbsp salttortilla shells (flour, corn, grain-free – whichever you prefer…)cilantro (chopped)lime wedgestortilla shells of choice Mango-Avocado SalsaCombine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and salt as needed and then refrigerate until ready for taco assembly.Chipotle MayoWhisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and season as needed. Refrigerate.Cabbage SlawStir all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Taste and season as needed and also pop into the fridge until later.Beer-Battered Cod & Taco AssemblyIn a medium bowl combine 1 1/4 cup flour, beer, baking powder and one tbsp salt. Whisk until smooth without chunks. Add remaining flour, salt and cayenne to another medium bowl and combine. Pat cod pieces with a paper towel and season with a pinch or two of salt.Toss cod pieces in dry flour and cayenne mix and then dredge in batter. Set dredged pieces on a cooling rack set over parchment to catch the drippings.Heat oil (it should be 2-3 inches thick – if not, add more) over medium high heat until 350-375 degrees (you can use a deep fat thermometer for precise temps). Add fish pieces (you can do this in two batches) and allow to fry for 3-4 minutes.Flip and fry for another three minutes until cod is cooked through and golden brown in color. Remove and allow to cool on a parchment-lined plate.To assemble the tacos, add a spoonful of the cabbage slaw, 1-2 pieces of fish, salsa, drizzle of chipotle mayo and cilantro and lime wedges as needed. Main Course, Main DishAmerican, MexicanBeer-Battered Fish Tacos, Best Taco Recipe, Fish Taco Recipe
Situated on 34th St. N, in the Lealman vicinity of St. Pete, sits a new steakhouse concept which was opened by brothers Joshua and Christian Jackson. If those names sound familiar, that’s because the two gained popularity in the area with their food truck, Red’s BBQ. Presently, the restaurant is the main focus as this is the first brick and mortar location for the duo, which just opened in April of this year. Prior to eating at the restaurant I did a little research (as I always do with new-to-me restaurants) on the food to get a taste of what to expect. During this research, I uncovered one rave review after another. Patrons boasted about everything – from the food and service to the atmosphere. Well, after our visit, it is blatantly obvious why folks love this place so much. The hospitality is warm and genuine, the feel is intimate and the food – well, I can’t quite say enough good things about the food to possibly do it justice, but I’ll dive more into that shortly. Because Roam is located on busy 34th St., it can be easy to miss. If you’re traveling south on 34th St., Roam will be on your left and the first sign that you will see is the one below which says Roam Steakhouse. If you are driving north on 34th St., Roam will be on your right and the sign that you will see is the one listed above, which is the newer of the two signs. The restaurant does share a parking lot, so parking in the lot can be limited; however, there is a wide side street with ample street parking just off of the restaurant parking lot. While sitting at the bar, we had some great conversation with Christian and during that he informed us that they are working on additional parking. As I mentioned, the interior of Roam is very intimate with murals of different worldwide locations on the windows, dim and cozy lighting and ultra chic velvet chairs situated at the tables. We felt so welcome – Christian, Tina and Vanessa took phenomenal care of us at the bar as they helped us navigate the menu during our first visit. No detail was spared and the hospitality, authentic – talk about some great people. Happy Hour at Roam happens every Thursday and Friday from 4-6PM at the bar and it includes a ridiculously delicious line-up. If you’re looking to enjoy a number of options from the menu in smaller portions, this happy hour menu is for you. During these happy two hours, cocktails are $8, frozen margaritas and froze are $6, select bottles of wine are 50% off and a number of small plates are available, like sliders, petite steak frites and more. From the happy hour small bites menu, we ordered the fried chicken wings, petite steak frites (per a recommendation) and the Roam sliders. As far as drinks are concerned, I began with Flowers in Paris and my husband, Mike, opted for the Island Vacation. Flowers in Paris is crafted with tequila, fresh lime juice, hibiscus-rose simple syrup, prosecco and is garnished with a vibrant edible flower. This cocktail was quite refreshing, especially on a 90 degree day. It was bright with subtle bubbles – a drink that I think just about everyone would enjoy. For the Island Vacation, gears are shifted to rum but the refreshing vibe remains. Rum, pineapple, basil and fresh lime fill the glass in this bright concoction. The small plates began to file out of the kitchen and first up, the sliders. We knew we wanted to be able to try a handful of different things without much food waste and the sliders were perfect for just that. The sliders are stacked with fried onions, candy sauce (a sweet and savory sticky sauce) and cheddar cheese. These initially jumped out at us because of the sauce – we ordered the wings with herb buffalo sauce instead of candy but still wanted to try the candy sauce. This slider is an absolute flavor bomb – juicy patty, crunchy and savory onions, sultry melted cheddar and that lip-smacking candy sauce, need I say more? Prior to this meal, we admittedly hadn’t had chicken wings in a long time. With one glance at an order that someone received down the bar, it was a done deal. As mentioned, the wings come with either candy sauce or herb buffalo. We opted for the more traditional route of herb buffalo since we were able to enjoy the candy sauce on the sliders. Spoiler alert, we made a great decision. These wings are perfectly crispy and fried to perfection and are undoubtedly some of the best in town. The spice from the buffalo sauce was idyllic for heat babies like me, but still bursting with herby buffalo flavor. When we were first reviewing the menu we were chatting with Vanessa and asked her for some direction and she immediately said that we had to get the petite steak frites, which just so happens to be on the small plates happy hour menu. After the first bite, I wanted to get up and hug her, because that is a damn good piece of steak that is both cooked and seasoned flawlessly. For just under $21 during happy hour, this exquisite steak is definitely a sure thing. Last, but never, ever least is the NY Lobster Mac & Cheese. This dish is from the main menu and the first time I laid eyes on a picture of it before we even visited the restaurant, I knew I had to have it. With a mouthwatering combination of four cheeses, fresh lobster and black truffle it’s nearly impossible to go wrong unless you go overboard. I assure you though, chef Joshua absolutely nailed this one on the head too. It’s creamy, well-balanced and ultra seductive. To put it simply, you need it in your life. Roam is open for […]
- July 29, 2022 Renzo’s – Truly a Great Argentinian Delight
We had been hearing some pretty darn good things about Renzo’s as of late. We tried them three times back before Covid (BC) and were not super happy with our experiences, so we essentially wrote them off. Well, we decided to give them another shot and boy are we glad we did. We don’t know anyone there, so we thought we were going completely incognito. We were incorrect about that. Apparently, they know who we are. I am being up front that they did bring out a few other items that we did not order on our first visit back, but we did pay our entire bill. We started our evening with an Aperol Spritz for me and Kevin’s signature Dry Gin Martini. The Aperol Spritz was fantastic in that it is not too sweet, which is exactly how I like it. We were treated right away with their signature amuse bouche croquetta proscuitto. Divine and a perfect start to warm up your taste buds. Kevin had to try an empanada so we ordered a Beef Empanada which was flaky and quite tasty. I don’t know how anyone could turn down the Provoleta, which is Grilled Provolone Cheese seasoned with Uruguayan adobo. We sure didn’t. The only thing that this dish needed were some crispier and seasoned bread bites. Otherwise it was completely indulgent. On the menu are Gambas, which I normally think of as huge shrimp, however these are red Argentinian shrimp with garlic butter, fresh herbs and brandy. They were quite good but not my favorite of the night. A tad on the dry side. Now to a dish we did not order and then realized that we were not dining incognito… the Carpaccio of Octopus – Nikkei tiradito (Peruvian sashimi) of octopus, dressed with evoo and fresh lemon. I honestly feel that octopus is way over done in this town because it seems to be on every menu along with cheese and charcuterie. So I tend to not want to even order either of these dishes anymore. Having said that, I am so grateful that Claudio (chef and owner) sent this out and insisted we try it. It is unlike any, and I do mean any, other octopus dish in town. It is a true delight in the mouth, especially since it is sliced paper-thin like carpaccio. It is melt in your mouth delicious with the evoo, lemon and spices. This I highly recommend, and you will find it in the specialties section of the menu. And then came the highlight and star of my dinner that evening the Malbec-Braised Short Ribs. They are beef ribs, braised in Malbec for over 24 hours and let me tell you the umami and seasoned beef just melts in your mouth and made my eyes roll back in my head. I couldn’t stop oohing and aahing. The carrots and potatoes were perfect complements to this dish that brings me back to my childhood, only 100 times better. Unfortunately, I did have to share the rest with Kevin. I love chunky mashed potatoes with the skins left on and these totally filled that bill. They could have used a bit more seasoning for my taste but that was easily solved. Next up we ordered the Wagyu Skirt Steak with Caesar salad and fries. The wagyu was not that much more expensive than the ribeye on the menu so we decided to go for it and so glad we did. It was prepared to perfection (medium rare) and melt in your mouth just all around goodness. The fries were very good as well. Kevin is the caesar salad guy and declared it a winner. The second dish that came out unordered was the Chaja which is Renzo’s signature dessert. Wow was it delicious. It was like a smore became an adult. So delicious and decadent. I love creme brûlée so whenever it is on a menu, I typically order it. The Renzo’s version is a bit different in a great way. It is your typical soft custard with a hardened caramelized sugar on top, offered in traditional style or infused with dulce de leche caramel. Of course I am talking about the dulce de leche caramel version which we truly enjoyed. The week after this visit, Kevin had a friend coming in from Philadelphia with his girlfriend who is from Colombia. A few months before, his friend Sam, asked if we knew of any good Colombian restaurants, etc. Granted, Renzo’s is Argentinian, but it is the closest we have. So after that great visit, we made a reservation for the four of us at Renzo’s. Chef Claudio asked if we wanted to do traditional menu ordering or if we wanted to do a chef’s tasting with wine pairings. No need to ask that twice. Absolutely, just bring us yummy items. We started with this Vincentin Blanc de Malbec – Vista Flores, Mendoza, Argentina. I never knew of or have had a white Malbec. What a treat this was. Similar to a Sauvignon Blanc but with a bit more depth of flavor. The Blanc de Malbec paired beautifully with the Carpaccio of Octopus that I described above. We had to have that again so that Sam and Lili could try it. Next up was the Tiradito which is Ahi tuna Peruvian nikkei with fresh citrus, miso, and sesame. So incredibly fresh and delicious. Paired very nicely with some rosé bubbly. Next out was Mollejas – Grilled sweetbreads served with hazelnuts and Tannat wine sauce. Sam said he never in a million years would have ordered these but they ended up being his favorite dish of the night. Texturally pleasing and delightfully craveable with a little sweetness and a little tang. Next wine pairing was with Ver Sacrum – Gloria Grenache, Mendoza, Argentina. This was a sophisticated, yet simple grenache that was both delicate and light tasting with a tad of fruit forward notes and a very pleasant smooth finish. The grenache also paired […]
- August 1, 2022 Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa Recipe
Liven up a beautiful seared and sliced piece of steak with a zingy tomato and charred corn salsa. Steak, tomatoes and corn are of course the stars of this show. Tomatoes and corn are in season in Florida currently so you’re likely to find an abundance most everywhere. There are no strict guidelines with this recipe – just think of it as your guide. Utilize any kind of tomato (just as long as it’s ripe) and cut of steak that you’d like and feel free to go wild with additional veggies and herbs in the salsa. The only ingredient that I suggest sticking strictly too is the corn on the cob because we are grilling it prior to cutting it off of the cob and mixing into the salsa. As far as steak is concerned though, I personally recommend a NY Strip or a Ribeye for this recipe. Filets are great of course, but you’ll probably need a couple to feed more than two people. Rollin’ Oats always has a fantastic selection of organic and pasture-raised steaks available. The quality is premium of course. If you have the equipment, I recommend a sous vide bath for your steak prior to quickly hitting the hot grill for a nice sear. For a medium rare finish, we usually cook our steak (typically a NY Strip or Tenderloin) at 129/130 for at least one hour. The result is a perfectly tender cut of steak that nearly melts in your mouth. Grilled Steak with Tomato & Charred Corn Salsa This simple summer steak situation is your answer to an evening of stress free outside dinner party hosting. Gilled Corn4 ears of corn1 tbsp olive oilSteak 1 1lb steak (Like NY Strip or Ribeye)2 tomatoes (Medium in size and ripe, like Roma's – diced.)1 red onion (Smaller in size, or 1/2 of one medium in size. Diced.)1 jalapeno (Minced)1 lime2 tsp olive oil2 cups arugula1 lemon4 garlic cloves (Smashed, outer skin removed and discarded.)2 tsp salt (Plus more to taste) Charred CornPreheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and evenly bush oil onto corn and season well with a few pinches of salt.Roast corn for 40-50 minutes, or until corn begins to char. Turn corn carefully every 10-15 minutes. Allow corn to cool completely. Then cut kernels off of the cob and reserve in a bowl until ready to make your salsa.Steak & AssemblyIn a medium bowl combine charred corn kernels, tomato, onion, jalapeno, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, juice of one lime and 1 teaspoon of salt. Gently stir to combine, taste and season as needed. Set aside until steak is ready. In another medium bowl, toss arugula with juice of one lemon and a pinch of salt. Set aside.If you're going to sous vide your steak, do that first (even before the corn). I suggest a temperature of 129-130F for 1-2 hours for medium rare (skip this step if only grilling your steak).Preheat grill to 500F. Set a medium cast iron skillet on the grill and add remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil and add in smashed garlic cloves. Pat steak dry and season top side liberally with salt. Grill seasoned side-down 4-5 minutes. Season other side of steak with salt, flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes for a nice medium rare.Allow steak to rest, slice and serve topped with lemon-dressed arugula and salsa. Dinner, Main Course, Main DishAmericanAbby Allen Recipes, Grass Fed Steak Recipes
- June 2, 2022 Smash Burgers with Kimchi Mayo Recipe
Burgers – they come in all different sizes, dressed will all sorts of accessories stacked in many different ways. My favorite one of all though? A smash burger. In essence, it’s a burger in its most simplistic form with everything it needs to be a winner without going over the top. Ultra thin beef patties smashed and cooked on a ripping hot surface with crispy edges…it’s exactly as good as it sounds. Smash burgers (or often Smashburgers) were introduced to me by way of a podcast with George Motz. George has been referred to as “the foremost authority on hamburgers.” He says that all you need is a patty with American cheese and onions smashed on a hot griddle and served on a bun – simple and perfect, just as it should be. With this recipe though we are spicing things up a touch with help from kimchi and gochujang. There’s a lot of really great kimchi out there. Mother In Law’s is usually what I’m grabbing at the grocery store more times than not. Quality is superb and I have found that it’s available at a number of grocers, including Rollin’ Oats which is where I pick up mine. They also have Mother In Law’s gochugang available to make shopping for this recipe a breeze. Because the three ounce patties are small (which I prefer – much more manageable), a double smash burger is encouraged, but not necessary. Regardless of the number of patties though, a good bun is recommended. I’m a sucker for Brioche buns but if those aren’t available, Dave’s Killer Bread Burger Buns to the rescue. Smash Burgers with Kimchi Mayo Smash Burgers – I just can't get enough. This rendition uses kimchi in place of onion and a gochujang-mayo for a nice punch. Burgers and Assembly12 oz ground beef (Preferably grass-fed/organic like Simply Balanced at Rollin' Oats.)1/4 cup kimchi (Roughly chopped)4 slices cheese (Use any you like or totally omit all together. I use any organic American.)4 burger Buns (I recommend Waverly Brioche and Dave's Killer Bread – both at Rollin' Oats.)1/4 white onion (Sliced into thin half-moons.)1/4 cup Fresh Herbs (Roughly chopped. Use any you have on hand like cilantro, basil or mint.)2 tbsp oil (Like avocado, vegetable or something with a higher smoke point. You can use butter here too.)saltKimchi Mayo1/2 cup mayonaise1/4 cup kimchi (Chopped well. I use Mother In Law's brand.)1/2 lime (Juice only)1/4 cup gochujang (Add more if you're into spice.) Kimchi MayoCombine all ingedients in a small bowl until mixed well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed with more gochujang, lime, salt, etc.Burgers and AssemblyPreheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Tear off another sheet of parchment and cut it into four even squares. Divide ground beef into four equal sized balls. If you have a kitchen scale definitely use it – each ball should be about 3oz and rolled together loosely.Heat a well-seasoned skillet of your choice over medium high heat and oil. When skillet is hot add one burger ball to hot skillet, season with a pinch of salt and lay one of the parchment squares on top. Using a spatula, smash and flatten the burger as best as you can. Remove and discard parchment and cook burger for 2 minutes – edges should be browning. Flip and repeat on second side.Cover skillet and melt cheese on top of the patty, remove from heat and set aside on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining burger patties. When all are finished, warm in the oven for a few minutes.To assemble the burgers toast your buns while the patties cook (if toasting). Spread a spoonful of the kimchi mayo on each inside part of the bun. Assemble starting with the burger patty (or patties, if opting for a double), then top with onion, more kimchi and chopped fresh herbs. Dinner, Main Course, SandwichAmerican, KoreanAbby Allen Recipes, Grass Fed Burgers
- May 2, 2022 Spiced Melon Panzanella Salad Recipe
Panzanella is a Tuscan chopped salad typically made with stale bread, tomatoes and onion and is served mostly during the summer months. The toasted bread cubes sop up the beautiful tomato juices, olive oil and lemon which makes for one incredibly satisfying bite. Feel free to use any bread of your liking -Focaccia, Brioche and Dave’s Killer Bread (as you know, this is one of my favorite brands at Rollin’ Oats) are all wonderful options for your bread cubes. One of the things I love most about this salad is that it has heft, while also remaining vibrant and fresh. Because of those characteristics, it’s a great salad for both a satisfying lunch/brunch entree or a bright pre-dinner appetizer. The combination of ingredients meshes extremely well together. Sweet and spicy Cantaloupe, fresh basil and mozzarella, crispy bread, savory prosciutto and a punch of citrus and olive oil – it’s extremely tough to go wrong. The crispy prosciutto is optional; however, it does add lovely salty and crunchy notes. At Rollin’ Oats you’ll find a three ounce package of Niman Ranch All Natural Prosciutto (currently on sale for $4.99). In Florida, Cantaloupe is in season April – June, so it’s usually quite easy to find during that time frame. Though if you’re looking to make the recipe at a time when cantaloupe is not available just simply use any ripe and juicy tomatoes that you can get your hands on. Spiced Melon Panzanella This salad has a split personality: it can pose as either a satisfying lunch or pre-dinner bite when served in smaller portions. 1 cantaloupe (Cut into 1-2" cubes)1/2 red onion (Sliced into thin half moons)8 oz mozzarella ball (Torn into irregular 1" pieces)2 cups bread (Any will do, like Italian loaf, foccacia, Dave's Killer Bread, etc. – torn into 1" irregular cubes)1/2 cup olive oil3 oz prosciutto (Optional)1 avocado (Sliced into small wedges)1/4 cup basil (Roughly chopped, plus more for garnish)1 lemon (Juiced)2 tsp salt2 tsp black pepper1 tsp crushed red pepper Preheat oven to 400F. Toss bread cubes in a large bowl with 1 tsp salt. Arrange in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes (you want bread cubes to be golden & crouton-like in texture). Remove from baking sheet and set aside.In a large bowl toss melon cubes with 2 tbsp olive oil, crushed red pepper, 1 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Refrigerate until ready to use. If using prosciutto, one slice at a time, place prosciutto slice between two paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds (or until crisp). Allow to cool and crumble in a small bowl. Repeat with remaining prosciutto slices.In a small bowl combine juice of one lemon and remaining oil, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.When you're ready to serve your Panzanella salad, add all ingredients except sliced avocado to a large bowl. Gently combine. Serve salad topped with avocado slices and more basil. Appetizer, Dinner, Main CourseItalianAbby Allen Recipes, Panzanella Salad Recipes, Spiced Melon Panzanella
- April 4, 2022 Lasagna Primavera Recipe
Grab a handful of your favorite in season spring vegetables and whip up this take on Lasagna Primavera. Spinach, mushrooms and bell peppers are all in season during the month of April here in Florida so I appointed them as the main characters of this dish. I chose to omit a red sauce and instead utilized only a light béchamel sauce packed with a punch of roasted garlic to lighten things up whilst still adding plenty of flavor. You can use whatever kind of noodles you want but I recommend saving yourself some extra stress and time by utilizing no boil noodles. It just makes everything a whole lot easier on yourself – work smarter, not harder, ya know? More times than not, I opt for a gluten free option. Typically, that option is Jovial’s organic no boil noodles. Jovial gluten free organic brown rice pastas are ready and waiting for you at Rollin’ Oats. I’m willing to bet that you won’t even notice the difference as the texture is incredibly similar, which is what I love most. All of the veggies, béchamel, and blend of three cheeses – mozzarella, mascarpone and parmesan steal the flavor show anyway. Lasagna Primavera Make this fresh take on lasagna on a Sunday and win lunch all week long. Any in season Spring vegetables are welcome to this party! Bechamel Sauce4 tbsp butter (I use Vital Farms which is sold at Rollin' Oats.)4 tbsp all purpose flour2 cups milk1 tsp salt1/2 tsp black pepper1 tsp garlic powder ((optional – for an added punch of garlic))Lasagna & Assembly16 oz lasagna noodles (A no-boil option is the way to go in my opinion.)8 oz mascarpone8 oz mozzarella (Fresh – chopped/torn into 1" pieces)2 cups Parmesan (Grated. Plus more for serving)8 oz crimini mushrooms (Roughly chopped)4 large carrots (Peeled and chopped)1 white onion (Diced)1 red bell pepper (Roughly chopped)1 green bell pepper (Roughly chopped)5 oz baby spinachfresh mint ((optional, for garnish))1 tbsp good olive oil (Plus more for serving (optional)) BechamelMelt butter in a pot or dutch oven over medium heat. As soon as the butter has melted whisk in the flour until a thick paste-like substance is formed. Slowly whisk in the milk 1/2 cup at a time until a creamy sauce begins to formulate. Add in salt, pepper and garlic and remove bechamel from the heat. Cover and set aside until ready to use – slightly warm on the stove before incorporating into the lasagna.Lasagna & AssemblyPreheat oven to 400F. Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Add in all of the chopped and prepared vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook until veggies begin to slightly soften – 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.To assemble our lasagna, begin by ladeling 1/3 of the bechamel sauce into a baking dish – evenly disperse to cover the dish. Next, lay four lasagna noodles side-by-side in the dish on the bechamel sauce. Spoon 1/3 of the cooked vegetables, followed by 1/3 of the baby spinach on top of the noodles.Now for the cheese. Dollop/spread 1/3 of the mascarpone as best as you can on top of the vegetables. Then, 1/3 of the mozzarella chunks. Parmesan is next and don't be shy with it, use 1/3 of the grated amount.Repeat steps two more times for a total of three loaded layers. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and then bake for another 25.Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to cool for 20 minutes or so before eating. Serve with more parmesan, olive oil and fresh mint. Dinner, Main Course, Main DishItalianGluten Free Lasagna Noodles, Lasagna Primavera, Lasagna Primavera Recipes