When servers at Cork N Brew Bistro deliver an order, it's usually not on a plate or in a bowl. Instead, it's on a lava rock, a stone slab heated to 824 degrees Fahrenheit. The food itself—such as sea scallops, filet mignon, or lamb tenderloin—arrives raw, enabling diners to cook entrees on their own. This ensures that it will be hot, fresh, and cooked precisely to the diner's tastes the minute they take a bite or fly it into a date's mouth with a series of airplane noises. Perhaps just as distinctive as its method of serving food are Cork N Brew Bistro wine-tasting machines. These automated, temperature-controlled dispensing systems let visitors pick out and sample different wines before purchasing full glasses. The bistro also maintains a roster of 22 craft beers on tap, from imported ales including Lindeman's Framboise to seasonal selections such as Southern Tier Pumking.
Green Organix Restaurant, an extension of Peter Gillham’s Nutrition Center, culls from organic ingredients to make up dishes that reflect many cultures and styles, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. The restaurant stocks house-baked breads along with 100% organic, free-range, and grass-fed burgers. A recent addition to the menu, the organic salad bar shows off 20 different fixings and local ingredients, along with made-from-scratch salad dressings and freshly plucked salad bowls.
A brick oven blazes, transforming soft dough and raw vegetables into savory thin-crust pizza pies crowned with fresh mozzarella and 27 combinations of toppings. The methods used at Cafe Milano go back for centuries, and each dish honors the Italian tradition. Imported spaghetti noodles, gnocchi, and penne pasta support rich sauces, and house-made soups exercise atrophied slurping muscles. Freshly baked breads hold Italian meats such as mortadella and prosciutto together in handheld panini sandwiches. For dessert, in addition to pastries imported from Italy, servers scoop artisanal gelato in flavors such as tiramisu or biscotti, and thirsty diners can sip wine, beer, or frothy cappuccinos.
Using high-quality, non-Muscadine crushed grapes imported from all over the world, the team at Aspirations Winery has been churning out low-sulfite wines since 2003. They ferment grapes into smooth, premium flavors that are comparable to those of commercially produced wines that come at twice the price and with twice as much luggage. Fruit-infused wines accompany traditional reds and whites on the shop's shelves, and if customers can't find what they're looking for, Aspirations readily stretches its arm around the globe to tap the shoulder of an appropriate supplier.
In addition to its arsenal of potables, the winery also runs a labeling service, printing custom designs that are scratch resistant and safe to dunk into tubs of water during games of bobbing for bottles.
Located mere steps from where Gulf fishermen dock, The Reef’s glass counters overflow with a bounty of fresh catches from the sea and meats flown in daily, complemented by a robust collection of wines. The warm, shallow waters of the Cedar Keys yield baskets of fresh clams (market price, changes daily), prized for their easy home preparation and for dumping over the heads of winning water-polo coaches. The mild, sweet meat of Florida spiny lobster (market price, changes daily) requires little in the way of spice or preparation to unlock its flavor, and thick filets of mahi mahi (market price, changes daily) await only the kiss of fire to provide a succulent meal. Bottles of wine ($5–$17) line the shelves, including the Tabali sauvignon blanc, which pairs nicely with fish, and the Puerto Viego pinot noir, whose full, palate-expanding flavors provide safe harbor for storm-wracked model ships.
The Pint and Brew corrals pale ales, stouts, pilsners, and wheat beers from area breweries, providing visitors with a one-stop shop for Tampa Bay's brews. Here, customers can belly up to the 42-foot wooden bar inside the 1,400-square-foot facility, sipping on beers from local craft breweries, including Barley Mow Brewery, Cigar City Brewing, 7venth Sun Brewery, and Saint Somewhere Brewing Company. No matter the brew, The Pint and Brew's staff members love talking beer and are happy to strike up a conversation. However, they also encourage patrons to participate in games of shuffleboard, ring toss, or Duck, Duck, Gose.