Monday, June 27, 2016

Roasted Acorn Squash (The Refinery - Tampa)

The Canteen has officially been purchased and we need to vacate in a few short weeks, so Mrs. Hackknife and I are starting to make the rounds to our favorite Tampa Bay Area restaurants before heading up to New York in early August (at which point this blog will be rechristened "Hackknife Northeast"). The photo displayed above was taken this past Friday evening at one of said restaurants, Chef Greg Baker's flagship The Refinery, still one of the few places in town serving a new roster of fresh, inventive dishes almost every week (although I have to admit that the local culinary scene has definitely closed the gap on M. Baker in our 3 years here).  This particular plate, a wonderful combination of roasted acorn squash, quinoa, cilantro, aji peppers, grape tomatoes, and a couple daubs of sherry sabayon, was good to eat and even better to behold.  We wish Chef Greg continued success in all of his endeavors and hope his culinary empire someday expands beyond the environs of west-central Florida...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pete and Shorty's

Summer's here and I'm now continually on the lookout for ways to occupy the kids during these humid Florida days. We've almost survived Week 1 completely without Mrs. Hackknife (who's toiling away at her new position in NYC) using a combination of swimming pool, Disney movies, our usual extracurricular activities, and strategically selected meals, including today's visit to Pete and Shorty's for lunch.  P&S's is conveniently located down the street from Costco (our ultimate destination) at 2820 Gulf to Bay Blvd. in Clearwater (next door to the original Hooter's for those of you who care about these things) and has been a reliable dining choice for the family by virtue of its Midwestern vibe (my visiting in-laws enjoy the fried fish during Lent, for example).

Self-styled as a small-town tavern and "Iowa bistro", the owners have recently changed their marketing approach to emphasize their corn-fed roots (see the idyllic farm field on the front page of the website).  Heartland references aside, my favorite decor touch in all of Florida has to be the restaurant's tabletops, which appear to have been crafted from the 1950's floor tile in my grandparents' basement.

While not all that different from most bar menus, the bill of fare does lean a bit towards Iowa-specific cuisine, including such regional gems as the loosemeat sandwich (which they describe as containing ground chuck and not the, um, leftover cow parts you'll find in a traditional loosemeat recipe in, say, Mason City) and the fried pork tenderloin sandwich, my lunch choice below.

Topped with mustard, pickles, and chopped onions and served with a side of Cole slaw (that was extra), the tenderloin sandwich wasn't as massive as others I've seen around the Midwest and probably wouldn't satisfy a discerning pork tenderloin connoisseur from either Iowa or Indiana, but it'll do in a pinch.