Bangkok Jazz Thai Restaurant is all about unexpected pairings. Thai statues stand alongside saxophones and photos of jazz legends hanging from the walls. In the dining room, a small raised stage creates an intimate performance space in the midst of a casual dining environment, with free live jazz performances on Fridays after 6:30 p.m. And amid the quintessentially American music comes a parade of traditional Thai cuisine. Outdoor seating is available, and the restaurant is located is down the street from the University of South Florida.
Like an aromatic dance, servers nimbly carry plates piled with five kinds of curry, pad thai, and signature dishes such as Jazz Sextet: a bed of pineapple and sauteed veggies in special sweet and sour sauce. Nearby, bartenders pour wine, beer, and sake to complement the food, which the kitchen can prep at four levels of spiciness. But meals often end on a chilly note, and another memorable combination. Bangkok Jazz Thai Restaurant ice cream teams a fried banana with a generous mound of coconut ice cream, sourced from the frozen palm trees that grow in Antarctica.
Mayuri Indian Restaurant's servers dole out traditional Indian fare—including numerous vegetarian entrees—in a casual dining area with two flat-screen TVs. The menu includes regional specialties such as northern Indian paratha, or flatbread, and southern Indian dosa, or black-lentil crepes, as well as a smattering of Chinese fried-rice dishes. For large groups, chefs can tote sprawling catering spreads to on-location events or host up to 100 people at an onsite banquet hall.
From his seven offices, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Christopher Ewanowski and his knowledgeable staff help restore epidermises with cosmetic, medical, and surgical skin treatments. With a stable of seven lasers, including the Candela GentleLase, Palomar StarLux IPL, and the 2,940-nanometer Whisper, Suncoast?s trained technicians rid skin of unwanted hair, sun damage, broken blood vessels, and tattoos of broken blood vessels. For more invasive procedures, including eyelid-lifting blepharoplasty and Dr. Ewanowski's specialty, the cancer-ridding Mohs micrographic surgery, the doctor treats clients in the in-office surgical suite. Suncoast?s resident aesthetician pampers with medical-grade spa services, using products from such skincare brands as SkinMedica, Av?ne, and glo.
Rand Packer grew up in Southern California, but his love of food and surfing frequently drew him to Oaxaca, Mexico, where he explored the region’s culinary landscape by stopping at street vendors and tucked-away restaurants. The uniqueness of Oaxacan ingredients, combined with a decade of experience cooking in Hawaii under famed chef Roy Yamaguchi, eventually inspired him to open Mekenita Mexican Grille. There, Rand surprises diners with unexpected creations that fuse Mexican and Hawaiian influences, such as pineapple-plantain nachos with passion-fruit sour cream or wood-smoked pork burritos with pineapple-papaya salsa. Patrons can also customize their meals by taking a lap around the fresh-salsa bar or monogramming their plates.
At Splash! An Ocean Grill, sounds of satisfaction emanate from guests nibbling on seared lobster, fish, or steak just like the sounds of the sea lapping the shore. A bar, located in the middle of the dining room, glows blue as soft lights evoke an under-the-waves mood and guests sip on a sweet cocktail or full-bodied wine while checking out the wall-mounted photographs. It's these details that inspired the Tampa Tribune to exclaim, "…Seafood done so well," Tampa Bay Illustrated to say, "Splash! shines like a spinning lure," and a mermaid off the bay to lament, "Why can't I grow legs?"
Christopher Fuller found his calling at age 14. As a child, he split his time between the United States and the Dominican Republic, where he was drawn to Caribbean restaurants like a robot into a pit of hungry magnets. Calling upon these experiences, Fuller worked with chef Mike Webster to create a menu that fused elements of the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States, and The Gathering Place Wood-Fired Oven was born.
Three concepts sum up The Gathering Place's modus operandi: local ingredients, eco-friendly practices, and dishes prepared entirely in-house. Within the kitchen, chefs smoke pork, roast turkeys, and cure bacon with ingredients from businesses such as Providence Cattle Company. Their efforts gives rise to a mix of sandwiches and inventive appetizers, such as tender gator tails coated in house-made chipotle sauce. Locally sourced oak stokes the flames of a brick oven, which cooks pizzas and doubles as a sauna for retired spatulas.
Outside the kitchen, Fuller creates a dining atmosphere as eclectic as the menu. Live musicians perform on weekends, sending groovy sounds across a casual dining room and into more intimate alcoves. Seating options range from standard tables, to a patio, to dining surfaces made from barrels.