Ulele

Aug 26

Ulele

I was lucky enough to preview the food and drinks from the fine folks at Ulele before they opened their doors to the general public. What a treat, both in the literal and figurative sense. The fun-to-say name comes from a Native American Indian legend about the eponymous young girl who risks her very life to save another’s. The name is steeped in Florida history, as is the owner, Richard Gonzmart. His family is responsible for the creation of the Columbia Restaurant right here in Tampa Bay. The vision of Ulele seeks to marry the past (with items like the Jalapeno Corn Beer Quick Bread) and the present (with heavy emphasis on local ingredients) and innovative plates looking toward the future.

I enjoyed views of the Hillsborough River while I sampled several items. There is no shortage of art pieces, stained glass, and sports memorabilia for your eyes to enjoy. My first taste of Ulele was their signature drink, the Native Summer. Nolet’s Gin, John DeKuyper Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and cucumber slices. This was summertime perfection in a glass.

Fresh From Florida Mojito

 The Ulele Spring Brewery is actually onsite as well. I heard many positive cheers to the Ulele Light (say that three times fast) and for the German-style biergarten overlooking the river.

If you aren’t into the whole biergarten scene (then I don’t know you), perhaps you would enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail on the rooftop.

I will just bet you know who signed this ball.

The shining stars of any restaurant are the signature items offered. Believe me when I say, Ulele exceeded all of my expectations. My favorite appetizers of the night were the Blistered Peppers and the Okra Fries. A close third was the Lobster Cake.

Shishito Peppers with sea salt, garlic, and olive oil.

Tossed in lime juice and sea salt, and served with a house-made ketchup that I could have eaten with a spoon.

Lobster Cake with a cucumber ginger salad.

 My favorite entree of the night was the Crackling Pork Shank. This crispy pork shank is served with a firecracker apple crasin chutney and it was to die for. Had I not been dining amongst strangers and trying to be on my best behavior, I would have eaten a whole plate of these. Simply amazing.

Another winning dish is the Deconstructed Seafood Pot Pie. Welcome to the land of comfort food done in a gourmet fashion.

The restaurant is staffed with the cream of the crop, the owners are all about local ingredients, and the food and drinks are perfect for that special night out on the town or a quality lunch. I just found your new favorite restaurant. You are welcome.

 

Disclaimer: I was invited to Ulele to try their menu items and tour the facility. The decision to write this review and all of the opinions are my own.

 

 

**UPDATE**

When asked by my in-laws where I would like to go for my birthday lunch, I chose Ulele. (It must be noted that I celebrate my birthday quite a bit; this was one of many birthday lunches/dinners, as I basically claim all of February as my own.) 

A great appetizer choice is the Crab Mac & Cheese. The 4-cheese beer sauce is to die for. We coupled that with those amazing Okra Fries and began the perusal of the fairly new lunch menu.

Being who I am and embracing the joy of me, I knew I had to try a sandwich. This decision was so difficult, as there are many innovative options to choose from. I ordered the “Little Jimmy” Brisket: Shaved smoked brisket, caramelized red onion, Shitake mushroom, Shishito pepper, baby Swiss, fresh horseradish aioli, served on Amoroso roll. This sandwich had a lot going on!

The hit of the day was my husband’s order: The Water Works Meatloaf. Ground dry-aged strip loin and fresh vegetables, cabernet garlic demi glace, white cheddar popcorn mashed potatoes, and Tobacco onions. The flavors were simultaneously local and out of this world. Give me those mashed potatoes all day, every day.

 

We capped off an incredible lunch with a most decadent and creative dessert: The Candied Duck Bacon Maple Fried Ice Cream. I am still dreaming about this concoction of salty & sweet. Happy Birthday to me, indeed.

Huge kudos to the incredibly helpful staff. A lovely member of our party is ….ahem…very particular. All requests were met with kindness, and a head chef actually stopped by our table.

Have you been to Ulele yet? This special restaurant is definitely putting Tampa on the map, for all of the right kinds of reasons.

On a much more personal note, we were just notified that Ulele will be hosting Match Day this year. This lovely setting will be where Dr. SandBookWich finds out about his future!

 

 

Ulele on Urbanspoon

4 comments

  1. That looks AH-Mazing! It looks even better than I thought it would! I can’t wait to try it out and sample that incredible food!

    • Sandwich Gal /

      It is such a beautiful venue. I am still dreaming about that pork. 🙂

  2. Such a great post! I definitely want to check out Ulele now. The food and atmosphere look amazing!

    Audrey | http://www.KeyGypsy.com

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