Dad's Day: The expected and unexpected
Let me guess. Steak, right? Maybe with his favorite bourbon as a chaser?
You can go the traditional route this Father's Day at one of the area's top steak houses, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. They just unveiled a very substantial menu and cocktail list change last week, with a passel of new appetizers (calamari and lobster with smoked cherry peppers and red wine gastrique; local lionfish with Florida citrus and melted fennel), new steaks (a 21-ounce bone-in New York strip and prime rib on the weekends) and desserts like baked Alaska. Oh, daddy.
Or if Dad is less predictable, or maybe just not carnivorously inclined, here's a gift idea that will get you in his good graces. Gulf Coast Sourdough & Wild Yeast Breads, one of the area's top bread bakers, recently moved to Seminole Heights and has launched "the Seminole Heights Community Supported Baking (CSB) project." Huh, you ask? You pay $24 for four weeks of one loaf per week, then pick up your bread Tuesday evenings at Southern Brewing & Winemaking, 4500 N Nebraska Ave. (It can also be delivered within the 33603 or 33604 ZIP codes for an extra dollar per week.) So it's somewhere between being a shareholder and joining the bread-of-the-week club. Still don't get it? Visit gulfcoastsourdough.com.
Hey cupcake: Get ready
The seventh annual Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest isn't until Aug. 19, but the competition is open to contestants. Registration officially opened June 1 and contestants may complete entry forms and liability waivers via the Morean Arts Center's website, moreanartscenter.org. The contest deadline is Aug. 14, and although the number of contestants has been expanded to 100 entries, the Morean Arts Center expects to max out as usual, so early registration is encouraged. A $15 entry fee allows each participant to enter one submission.
It looks like NuMex Chile is getting ready to debut in July (they're hiring prep cooks, which is a good sign) at 2710 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg's Grand Central District, next to the Garage Bar. This is not nuevo Mex but rather the cuisine of New Mexico with its celebration of red and green Hatch Valley chile peppers, a welcome addition to our burgeoning Mexican, Tex-Mex and Southwest restaurant scene. (Fervent hope: good tamales and chile rellenos.)
Maple Street Biscuit Co.
Maple Street Biscuit Co. aims to open by the end of the year at 662 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. Started by Scott Moore and Gus Evans in Jacksonville in 2012, the concept here is flaky buttermilk biscuit chicken sandwiches. There are 10 locations now (one in Gainesville and one in Tally, because undergrads love them some biscuits), the concept growing on the strength of its Southern comfort foods like fried green tomatoes and cheese grits.
Now open: Evermore Cafe
I've been hearing great things about a newcomer in Largo, a breakfast and lunch spot called Evermore Cafe, 325 W Bay Drive. It's at core a French bakery with a long, come-hither pastry case. Chocolate croissants, wedges of lush quiche Lorraine, that kind of thing. They also traffic in organic cold-pressed olive oils and balsamic vinegars. It's on my list to check out ASAP.
Small bites: More restaurant news
Looks like Hofbrauhaus in St. Petersburg has discontinued serving weekday lunch. In April the owners announced that they were entertaining the idea of selling the franchise and/or the building, although they said it wasn't a reflection of diminished sales.
In Tampa, Ox and Fields Restaurant has been rebranded as the Ox, under new executive chef Zach West, right. This is West's first time as executive chef, having spent the last three years training under the Mill's executive chef, Ted Dorsey. West's focus is on using slow food techniques — oxtail is cured for 24 hours before braising; chicken gets a 24-hour brining before roasting for the chicken and dumplings; chicken legs are crisped after being cured for three hours and then cooked for another two hours; homemade peach butter is a four-hour process. 7701 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa. (813) 867-3463.