By Java and Dune

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Hurricane

809 Gulf Way St Pete Beach, FL 33706
Tel: 727- 360-9558

The Hurricane restaurant stands stalwart and majestic amid the calm breezes of the cozy neighborhood of Passe a Grille in St. Pete Beach.  With views of the beach across the street, it is the spot to take yourself for a brief getaway from the stressors of real life.  The food is pretty typical seaside fare, but it is a good value for the quality and quantity. The grouper sandwich is surely something to write home about and no doubt a lasting memory for out of towners. We went there this weekend and just to be different, I tried the Shrimp Po Boy. Other entrees we sampled were the tilapia Fish and Chips and the BLT.  The Po Boy had a chipolte mayo that gave it a little zip, and the shrimp was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  The fish had the same qualities and both dishes included cole slaw.  The cole slaw wasn't dazzling, but my son's choice of fruit was fresh and sweet.  The BLT was awesome with plenty of bacon. The cuban bread elevated this layered trio to a whole new level. A street music festival called "Pop Goes the Beach" was cranking up as we arrived.  It was fun, but I prefer walking along the beach, checking out the side street shops and relaxing with a cocktail at the Hurricane as a salty breeze wafts by. Prices are reasonable at the under $10.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jazz Jamm

Vinoy Resort, 501 5th Ave., St. Petersburg, FL. 727- 894-1000

Meet to hear the beat written by Guest SK

Fourth in the current Jazz at the Vinoy series and Rick picks a winner! Multi-talented Valerie Gillespie and her group, with guest trumpet player John DePaola, wowed the crowd. Billed as a night with Dizzy and Charley Parker, they played signature songs from both jazz geniuses, starting the first set with Cotton Tail and moving seamlessly into Ornithology. Amazingly, Valerie manages to both blow a mean horn and educate the ear: reminding us at one point to listen for chord changes, and giving us a lesson in counter melodies, as she and John each played a separate number together, asking us to listen for the common chords in both. They played old favorites, like Billy’s Bounce as if they had been working together for a life time. Joining them in the quartet were two seasoned players, Dave Randolf on drums, and Rick Steuart on keyboard. Rick took some solo riffs and really jammed.

At the start of the second set, Valerie showcased her other instrument, a wonderful voice, as she did a slow, sensual Round about Midnight. Rick Gee joined the group on flute with a subtle rendition of “Coming Home,” accompanied by great horn backups. Pushing her talent and synchronicity with John on trumpet, Valerie “scatted” a la Ella Fitzgerald to How High the Moon, while John blew an upbeat Ornithology. A+ to all for a great evening! Keep watch for the next Jazz Jamm at the Vinoy, with groups like the Jazz Juvenocracy scheduled in coming months. Signing off and flying off to northern climes, SK.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Larry's Olde Fashioned Ice Cream

6595 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, FL. 33706 Tel. 727-360-4259

Here's the plan for a lovely evening. Peel out of your driveway no later than 4:30pm, you're going to catch the sunset. It's dinner time so head for a favorite take out. Oddly enough our choice that evening was Publix for their salmon and avocado Maki rolls, seaweed salad and, no we didn't forget to pick up a few pieces of their delicious fried chicken. A chilled bottle of white wine and you're on your way to a sweet evening on Pass-a-grille beach.
As we all know, this is the perfect time of year in St. Pete. It's not too cold, not too hot and if you crave peace and quiet, the masses have left the beach. Only seagulls and a few kite flyers remain. It's a beautiful time of day.
So, we ate our food, had good conversation, laughed, took some photos and then as it cooled and the sun began to dip we craved a little something sweet. Larry's is the place. Dozens of homemade flavors to choose from, some old and some new creations. Ask the servers to fill a chocolate dipped waffle cone above the rim with a selection of gelato. A beautiful looking chocolate cake sat on the counter along side a yummy apple pie. I immediately decided on a slice of the apple ala mode. We also tried a favorite hot fudge sundae with lots of whipped cream.
Even though we visited midweek this very popular parlor and the little tables inside and out fill up fast. Service is excellent though, no long waiting lines. You too will feel happy in no time at all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jazz @ Studio 620

620 1st Avenue So., St. Petersburg, FL.

Meet to hear the beat
Review by Guest SK

On the evening of April 5th the Nate Najar trio performed the second in a three month series of concerts at Studio @620. Nate is gaining an international reputation as an inspirational and eloquent master of the jazz guitar, and we're lucky to have a chance to hear him locally. With the gifted bassist John Lamb and Steve Bucholtz on percussion, they moved seamlessly from bebop standards, to bossa nova to down and dirty blues.
An audience favorite was Nate's bluesy original, dedicated to Bob Devin Jones' mother Ola Mae, which had the audience on their feet.
As an added treat, Nate introduced a young jazz vocalist, Lisa Casalino, who could have been channeling the front singer in a 40's jazz band. With a lovely, soft voice, and just a bit flirtatious, she won over the trip and the audience easily. Nate's last gig at the Studio@620 for the spring is scheduled for May 11. I recommend getting your tickets early as last night seemed almost sold out, and well worth it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Clearwater City Grill

401 Fort Hariison, Clearwater, FL
Tel: 727-408-5160

My friend invited me to see the renovation of this landmark restaurant across the street from the Clearwater Courthouse. Apparently, there have been many incarnations of this place over the years. It started out as one of those silver bullet diners years ago and oddly enough the bar of the Clearwater City Grill is still housed in its shell. Exposed brick and comfy booth seating round out the interior.  A lively professional crowd from the Courthouse and surrounding offices make up the crowd. I decided to try the Amazing Sedona Taco which are touted as the best fish tacos on the coast, maybe in the world. They were delicious and plentiful. Served on a long board reminiscent of all things California, these tacos start with grilled flour tortillas and are topped with cabbage, guacamole, tomato and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, salsa is served on the side. The fish is well seasoned but not overdone, and they're shredded making them super easy to eat. At  $7.95, you couldn't ask for a better deal. Other menu choices show great creativy, offering classic diner food with a twist. The next time you find yourself in downtown Clearwater, I suggest you give this place a try.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jazz Jamm

Vinoy Resort, 501 5th Ave NE, St. Pete., FL. Tel. 727- 894-1000

Meet 2 hear the beat
written by guest SK

Rick Gee offered up a change of pace Friday night at his monthly Jazz Jamm at the Vinoy. The Celestial Orchestra is a 10 piece Latin jazz group with a beat and a message: 'tropical music with a message to honor our supreme being'.
The group's co-founders, Andrew Maldonado, Dr. Frankie Bermudez and Juan Santana gave a spirited performance, mostly Latin swing wtih a strong horn section and a wide variety of drums, maracas, grourds and other percussion instruments. Early in the set they changed the beat to a be-bop standard called Green Dolphin Street then returned to their Latin roots. The first few numbers seemed excessively loud limiting the subtlety of the thythm. But once they toned down the amps, the beat was contagious.
A highlight of the night came with the three solo riffs by the very young, very talented keyboardist from Columbia, David Cubilos, whose tight chords and changes delighted the audience.
Thanks once again to Rick Gee, who is working hard to bring good jazz, with a variety of sounds and moods to St. Petersburg. Bring it on, Rick, we're just getting warmed up.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

E & E Stakeout Grill

100 N. Indian Rocks Road, Belleair Bluffs, FL 33770
Tel: 727-585-6399

I hadn't been to E & E Stakeout Grill for dinner until last night, but have alway loved lunches there. It is a bit of an extravagence for lunch. The dinner menu is slimmer, but the fare is still quite good. I took some out of town friends there last night in an effort to procure some decent seafood for them without the traffic and chaos of the beach in Springtime. The lure of seafood had me for a moment and there were many fine choices however, it was the steak special that drew me in. I  usually like to try the chef's special and Chef Erwin's choices didn't disappoint. Filet mignon medallions perfectly cooked and topped with roasted tomato and Bernaise sauce, what's not to love?  I chose to double the veggies and forgo the potato.  All was delicious but slightly tepid. I blame that on our outdoor seating, surely a trek from the kitchen. Also, my friend ordered something off the menu, almond crusted grouper which the chef was happy to make. My friend was pleased, in fact he said he loved it, so it was worth asking for something special. My other comrade had a decent steak, but I don't think he'll write home about it on postcards of Florida. E & E Stakeout offers a full bar and the crowd takes their mixed drinks seriously. This affluent area among the "Belleairs" has a dearth of restaurants, so the joint was jumping. The owners have a hand in great dining experiences around the county including, Guppy's on the Beach in Indian Rocks Beach and Mystic Fish in Palm Harbor. Under $20 for lunch, dinner under $30, and a 15% gratuity is added for you.