Stroll through an Oldsmar farmers market early in the morning and you might run into Andrew Koumi rifling through baskets of tomatoes in search of the ripest ones. The mastermind behind Green Market Cafe, Andrew was still in college when he hatched the plan to open an eatery that served healthy takes on sandwiches and soups. When discussing the inspiration behind the restaurant with reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, Andrew explained, "I wanted to create a place where I'd like to go and eat everyday."
Arms laden with bags of produce, Andrew returns to his café, where his chefs fold the fresh vegetables into crisp salads and toasty grilled flatbreads. Because everything is made to order, chefs are able to accommodate special requests, adding extra tomatoes or picking out any raisins that look too much like a California Raisin. Diners chitchat over cups of organic tea inside the colorful dining room, an open space tinted with greens, purples, and pinks to please the eye. The building is also home to Kiwi Frozen Yogurt, Green Market Cafe's sister shop, which serves wholesome yogurt with candy and fruit toppings.
Founded 25 years ago by Bostonian Bob Theriault, the Boston Cooker crafts definitive New England dishes from fresh seafood flown in weekly. A hearty cup of New England chowder ($2.99) or a bowl of sherry-imbued lobster bisque ($4.50) offer tasty starting points on the fish-laden menu, while shrimp and eggplant Parmesan ($12.99) delivers ample bounty from land and sea with eight grilled shrimp over eggplant steeped in marinara. A glass of house Chardonnay ($4.50) pairs well with broiled and buttery Boston Scrod ($15.99) as well as the baked stuffed flounder topped with a delicate Newburg sauce ($14.50). Patrons can imagine they're in an old New England eatery while quaffing Boston brew Samuel Adams ($3) in a wood-paneled dining room bedecked with Red Sox and Bruins banners and wall-mounted fish. Finish the meal with a rich Boston cream pie ($3.99) before protesting the tyrannical English government by throwing shiploads of Queen Elizabeth's electro-rap album into Tampa Bay.
Suro pairs a sushi menu filled with fresh selections with a seasonally changing dinner menu. The spring and summer menu featured festive first-course options, like the barbecue-glazed bacon-wrapped shrimp ($9), and the crispy duck spring rolls ($9), while Suro’s mighty main fare pleased protein-lovers, like the Dijon and panko-crusted rack of lamb served over a parsnip puree and drizzled with blueberry-port demi glace ($25), or dayboat sea scallops served over corn fondue and chorizo ($24). Suro also offers pearly portions of fresh nigiri and sashimi ($2+), alongside rolled classics ($5+) and artfully constructed maki. Conquer culinary mountains by ordering the Mount Fuji, a swaddled tuna, salmon, and snapper creation with fresh veggies flash-fried and topped with Suro’s house lava sauce.
While it takes prodigious skill to man the 600-degree, 7-foot grill that is the center of bd?s Mongolian Grill?s dining room, the chefs running it don?t have any secret recipes. Instead, customers fashion their own customizable bowls of stir-fry according to their taste preferences, dietary restrictions, and desired portion size. Guests wander, nearly overwhelmed as they choose from an array of meats and veggies and ladle sweet, spicy, and herb-filled sauces into a cup. Chefs saut? the meal in front of their eyes, swords flicking skillfully across the grill to entertain and build anticipation like a mime about to jump buses on an invisible motorcycle. The resulting stir-fry dishes are accompanied by brown rice, white rice, tortillas or lettuce wraps.
Central Park's ingredient-stacking chefs craft a menu of amply portioned bread cocoons that span international borders. The Midtown meatball sandwich's house-made meatballs orbit a fresh-baked hoagie roll amid a nebula of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese ($6.99), and the Pittsburgh pastrami glazes the namesake protein with spicy mustard, adding heaping strata of grilled onions and swiss cheese to its grilled rye bread ($7.29). The deli's continental comestibles include an array of wraps ($6.29–$6.99) hermetically sealed to preserve flavor, as well as a gyro whose beef and lamb blossom within its pita casing, unfurling a kaleidoscopic mixture of onion, tomato, and tzatziki sauce ($5.99). Central Park accessorizes its crusty creations with a slew of sides, such as its house-made coleslaw and potato salad ($1.79 each), evoking childhood memories of picnics and capture-the-mountain-lion tournaments.
Café Kiln offers a variety of ways to cultivate creativity. Paint and glaze a blank piece of pottery, fuse glass, tile your own mosaic, or nurse a tender hunk of clay into form. The all-inclusive art emporium doesn't charge a studio fee, and all supplies (glaze, tools, instruction, paints) are included. Start by selecting your piece of pottery or mosaic shape. Consult stencils and stamps for design direction if you're stumped on the design—with more than 100 colors to choose from, Café Kiln rivals the Crayola Big Box with its wardrobe of hues. Mosaic creations will be ready for you to take home that day. Allow a week for pottery pieces to be fired and glazed.