Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wine Exchange, Tampa, FL

Invariably and without fail, I spend the Thursday of each week channeling June Cleaver and spit-shining the Dog House into sparkling, Stepford wife perfection...unless, of course, I can find something more fun to do.  I was as surprised as anyone when, in fact, a more entertaining option DID present itself on this fine Thursday and I found myself sipping wine and rehashing stories of the early 90's and our swinging single days with one of my all time besties who, for blogging purposes, we'll call "Georgia Peach" (to protect her innocence...what little of it actually remains to "protect").  As tempted as I am to share a few of the boozy tales of our misspent youth (not that we could realistically still blame anything on "youth" in our budding thirties...tequila was the more likely culprit), I'll refrain.  If I told you, I'd have to kill you...or the Peach would kill me.  Either way, it would be a bloody mess and obviously an appetite suppressant (therefore totally inappropriate for a food blog).

I love Wine Exchange in Hyde Park Village but always have to drag the Y-Chrome there kicking and screaming.  He tends to think it's a little too "estrogeny" in a More Baked Brie/Less Bloody Red Cow Chop kind of way, which is exactly why it's perfect for a gurlz lunch!  GP and I were promptly guided to a nice table on the outdoor patio directly underneath cooling fans.

We ordered one of my favorite wine offerings (which I have never been able to find anywhere but here), Shooting Star Black Bubbles Sparkling Syrah.  It was perfect for a warm afternoon and tasted as lovely as it sounds...crisp, cool and bubbly with notes of blackberry and cherry. *tink*
Before I forget, Jimmy was our uber-cute and personable waiter who charmed us and catered to our every need.  Thank you, Jimmy!

Moving forward to the food, I absolutely adore the Pan Seared Potato Cakes with Cinnamon Apple Compote and Creme Fraiche at this place and order them every time I visit.  They were perfect, as usual. They're not a bit greasy, tender inside and crispy outside...and the compote and creme fraiche make them almost dessert-like.  Look how pretty!
We also opted for the Baked Chevre with Pesto, Pine Nuts and Marinara Sauce with Crostini.  It was an interesting, savory combination which I really liked and was inhaled by us hormonal beasts in short order.  GP found the sauce a tiny bit acidic for her personal taste, but it did not deter her from hoovering down this delectable offering.
Entrees were fine.  I always enjoy the Grape Pecan Chicken Salad at Wine Exchange and ordered it yet again. It's light and nicely done...plenty of chicken, not too mayonnaisey, and the grapes and pecans are nice accents.  No one's reinventing the wheel here, but it's a consistently tasty choice for a cool, satisfying lunch on a summer day.
Georgia Peach ordered one of the specials, which was Fettucini with Lobster.  Accroutrements in this dish included black olives, chopped tomatoes, asparagus and onions.  The pasta was quite nice, as were the alfredo sauce and quantity of lobster bits.  The Peach is quite the foodie and has even owned her own restaurant in the past.  She was a bit bummed by the use of canned olives (kalamatas might have been better received), anemic-looking tomatoes and liberal use of onion slices (sauteed minced shallots were suggested as a more appropriate accent to this tender dish), but she enjoyed it for the most part in spite of her restaurateur critique.  Could be best to stick with the regular menu items next time, GP.
We put our dessert choice in the hands of Jimmy, who presented us with a tantalizing little take on Red Velvet Cake.  It was perfect...the cake was moist and delicious, and we loved the cream cheese filling and Red Velvet crumb topper.  What a beautiful thing!
Someone appears to be a happy camper.
Now...who wants to come over and clean my house?

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  1. This sounds like a perfect Sunday afternoon outting for us! :)

  2. Colby, this is actually one of the places I had in mind for us to go. Let's put our heads together next week and schedule a gurlz lunch Sunday!