Sunday, July 28, 2013

Anise Global Gastrobar, Tampa, FL

Alrighty.  All we need are a few more restos like Anise and Tampa might actually be able to pass itself off as a city with a "real" downtown.  Recently launched by the folks who own the Stinky Bunz food truck (of which UD has been an avid stalker for a couple of years now), Anise Global Gastrobar is a chill little oasis occupying a corner of the Skypoint Condos on Ashley Drive and pretty much blows away its next door neighbor, Taps Bar and Lounge (not that that's any huge undertaking, but it's meant to be a compliment nonetheless).

After making the ultimate sacrifice for my beloved and suffering through the two and a half hours of martial arts fight scenes in The Wolverine (really, honey...can I just give you a kidney next time you need me to prove my love?), Underdog graciously decided to reward this extreme display of tolerance with food and alcohol.  One can easily see how Marvel Comic movies have become almost like Pavlov's bell to this Sweet Polly dog.

The restaurant is lovely and relaxing.  We arrived at the odd hour of around 4:30, but the place was beginning to fill up by the time finished our meal.  Our server was efficient, professional and courteous, walking a pleasingly subtle line between welcoming friendliness and that odd level of over-familiarity one sometimes experiences (maybe I'll tell you someday about the waiter who once slid into our booth with us to take our order).  Very nice.

The menu was short and sweet, but everything we tried was beautifully presented, served hot (don't even get me started on lukewarm food), creative and delicious...and I'll take that over a phone book-sized menu of halfhearted, lemming-pleasing offerings any day.  Wine and cocktail list was also limited but quite interesting. We opted for a sparkling Riesling, which was surprisingly dry, crisp and bubblicious.  I lost our receipt so can't tell you what the name of it sorry.

First up, Redneck Cuisine Extraordinaire.  Double fried tater tots (oh so crispy on the outside and creamily tender on the inside) healthily slathered in my drug of choice (truffle salt) and adorably served with a little sidecar of Lemon Parsley Creme Fraiche.  I could eat these all day.

I now have an Extremely Important Announcement to make, so listen up, everybody.  The very best chicken wings on the planet have now been clearly identified.  Anise's Red Curry and Coconut wings are simply swoonworthy.  I'm not sure I couldn't cheerfully snarf a pine cone if it was sauced up like these wings.  The Cucumber Mint Yogurt dipping sauce was the perfect foil for their intense sweet and spicy flavor.

UD lubs him some Stinky Bunz, so ordering them was a foregone conclusion.  Our trio of the steamed Asian buns included Beer Battered Shrimp with Papaya Slaw and Ginger Aioli, Braised Pork Belly with Kimchi and more of that Sofa King fine Chicken glazed in Red Curry and Coconut Sauce.
Oysters Rockefeller were stunningly presented on a beautiful bed of rock salt.  I think Keegan's Seafood Grille has ruined me for all other ORs, however.  While these were tasty and fresh, they seemed a little spartan and left me longing for a lot more spinach and a little more sauce (Hollandaise, Mignonette...something).  
We wrapped up this gastronomic experience with a couple of deep-fried Sweet Bunz stuffed with banana, Nutella and cookie crumbles.  "How could this possibly be bad?" you ask.  It couldn't be. 
Final word:  A chic and affordable "must try" for Tampa foodies and a new fave for me.

Anise Global Gastrobar on Urbanspoon

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.


  1. As usual, I've gained 20 pounds just reading this posting. Stinky Bunz look delicious! A must try somewhere in my near future. June and Bacon

  2. We went there last night, and ended up moving to the bar to watch Ryan, the bar tender make us another clover 10, as it was soooo good, we had to see it done, not only did he show us how, he also make us a cucumber giblet not even on the menu, and talked to us the whole time about the ingredients and how they only use fresh, you could tell.. friendly, and we had the best hour of our Tampa layover waiting to pick someone up from the airport. Ended up ordering braised pork belly with coconut rice and kimichi, and the duck tacos.. out of this world.. flavors mingled, and popped out in your mouth! I will be dreaming of our next visit, and may just take a trip to Tampa for another experience at Anise!