Thursday, February 5, 2015

Come dine with me: Ulele Tampa Bay

My first time at Ulele was in October, less than two months after they opened their gorgeous iconic “gear” doors to the public.
Fast forward to January when Ulele has already won numerous awards including, "One of the Top 100 Restaurants in the U.S. - Open Table", "One of the Best New Restaurants in Florida - Florida Trend" and "Best Overall Restaurant” - Yelp Tampa Bay.

These awards come to no surprise since Ulele is owned and operated by the same family that own one of Tampa’s best and oldest establishments, Columbia Restaurant.

During this review of Ulele’s fine drinks and food, I may over use the words amazing, original, delicious, local, and native. All words that perfectly describe the restaurant named after a young Princess, Ulele. Much of the food and drinks you find on their menu are made using locally sourced ingredients.

We start our journey with the beer, as all good journeys do. I sipped on a sample of Magbee’s Honey Lager and ordered a glass of Ulele Light to go with my food. All beers are brewed at the on-site brewery by a very passionate Brewmaster, Timothy Shackton.  After dinner, Tim guided us along the journey of simply 4-6 ingredients from tank to tap.  You can’t really get any fresher than that! The Ulele Light was my favorite as it had a refreshing, clean taste to it; while the Wedding Beer and Bob Buckhorn Black Lager were getting many compliments from others.

Then the food started being served and it didn't stop…for hours.
We were treated with three different appetizers. Mac & Cheese, Florida Native Chili and The Ulele salad.  The Mac & Cheese is award winning (many awards on this restaurant’s shelves) and  
the Florida Native Chili features alligator, wild boar, venison, duck, ground chuck, cranberry beans and spices. Flavor galore!

After the appetizers, came more appetizers. Huge platters of oysters were soon in front of me.Raw Gulf Coast oysters served with cocktail sauce and lavash crisps.

Charbroiled Oysters with garlic butter, grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses.
Learning how to eat an Oyster
I looked at these platters with such interest. I’m not huge into seafood, and had never tasted an oyster in my life. Friends and family order them around me, but nothing has ever inspired me to try the slimy things. Today was different. I was ready to try an Oyster today, especially after all the praises I was hearing from the other bloggers.
Guided by Lora (thanks girl!), who was sitting next to me, I grabbed an Oyster shell, my tiny oyster fork, a crisp, and some cocktail sauce. With the oyster and crisp, topped with cocktail sauce, I put the entire thing in my mouth! Go big or go home, right?! To my surprise, it was extremely appetizing. Who knew?! After having the raw oyster, I was eager to get my fingers on the Charbroiled Oysters. These were probably my favorite appetizer of the night, maybe because they are unique to my palate. Highly recommended!

Other appetizers served included the Squash Gratin and Alligator Hush Puppies. As a vegetable lover, the squash gratin was a no brainer. The Alligator Hush Puppies were crispy balls of alligator, country ham, duck bacon, corn, and jalapeno. You see alligator at Ulele lot. Not in the “Look an alligator, RUN” kind of way. It’s all over the menu, and it’s done with expertise.
After we were stuffed from appetizers, the entrees were on deck.
Filet Mignon served with asparagus and white Cheddar Popcorn Mashed potatoes.
The Native Sautee  is meatless and enjoyable.

The Ulele Burger which is served during Lunch was absolutely delicious. Awesome served to you on a brioche bun.

When we were served the Florida Pompano fillet, I instantly gravitated towards the vegetables and grabbed a few of the fried carrot ribbons off the plate! I had never seen carrots like that! I gave the fish a try, how could I not at this point? Fresh and quite delicious (there’s that word again!)

Imagine being in a self-induced food coma, and then this gigantic Kilo Porterhouse arrives at the table.I had to have a bite, and glad I did! The waiter told us he had only seen two customers finish this piece of meat! Where is Adam Richman when you need him?!
Bathroom break before the dessert arrived!
Before we were treated with dessert, I didn't think I could possibly fit one more thing in my belly. My thought quickly changed when Candied Duck Bacon Maple Fried Ice Cream (mouth full) and a collection of other House-made ice creams were served.
Great end to the feast! The Espresso ice cream was my favorite, while Strawberry (made with local Plant City Strawberries) was also amazing!

Ulele is a must go to in Tampa, in all of Florida even. It brings the flavorful fruits of our Tampa land and tastefully serves them, in a brilliantly designed ambiance. Ulele raises the bar for all Tampa restaurants, in food and atmosphere; something the Tampa community has been longing for. I can’t wait to go back for more! I’m excited to go try more of their lunch menu and experience the beer garden and Water Works Park during daylight hours!


 **Disclaimer: Thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was invited to dinner by Ulele, and provided with food and drinks in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.


  1. Perfect review! Isn't Ulele so amazing?! I love that you gave oysters a go based on blogger peer pressure.

  2. Those fresh oysters were amazing! It was great to meet you! :)

    1. They really were! I'm glad they were my "first" ;) Great to meet you too!