Local Bites: Bonefish Grill's Summer 2017 Menu

by Jennifer Thai in ,

With the many visits I've had to Bonefish Grill, the dining experiences never disappoint, and I always enjoy going there to see what's fresh on the seasonal menu. Over the weekend, I got the chance to check out the newest seasonal menu with pH and my little sister, Katie. She's been practicing her driving every weekend with us, so what better way to celebrate the continued growth of a safe, soon-to-be driver than with Bang Bang Shrimp and other yummy bites? Although we have a location very close to us in South Tampa, we really wanted to enjoy some outdoor seating, so we had Katie drive us to the Bonefish Grill in Carrollwood, which features patio dining.

Bang Bang Shrimp: Crispy shrimp, tossed in Bonefish Grill's signature creamy, spicy sauce.

While Katie ordered a non-alcoholic Blackberry Smash and pH ordered one of his favorite bourbon drinks, a classic Sidecar, I opted to try one of Bonefish Grill's seasonal drinks - the Pomegranate & Sage Martini. The cocktail was refreshing and sweet, with a light earthy flavor from the infused sage.

In addition to the Bang Bang Shrimp, we ordered the seasonal Applewood Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Fresh Maryland Soft Shell Crab. Although I'm not a huge scallops fan, I thought these were incredible. The scallops were perfectly cooked, large and juicy, and the wrapped Applewood bacon really complemented the dish (then again, when does bacon not?). The Maryland Soft Shell Crab is the best of two crab worlds, with a juicy, soft shell crab filled with a delicious, meat-heavy crab cake. The butter served on the side is a must with this dish - if anything, ask for extra.

Pomegranate & Sage Martini: Reyka small-batch vodka, a hint of sage, 100% pomegranate juice & fresh lemon juice, finished with a fresh sage leaf

Applewood Bacon-Wrapped Scallops: Four Georges Bank Scallops wrapped in Applewood bacon and topped with mango salsa

Fresh Maryland Soft Shell Crab: Single Soft Shell Crab sautéed crispy, stuffed with a Maryland-style crab cake

Since we were starting to fill up on our selected appetizers, we decided to share two fresh dishes from the new seasonal menu. I couldn't not order the Creole-Style Redfish (I love the flavor and texture of redfish), and pH also chose to order the Grouper Oscar, topped with jumbo lump crab and a rich lemon butter.

The Creole-Style Redfish was hearty in creole flavor, and I loved the crawfish that the fish was topped with. I've never had spoonbread before, but it was a wonderful complement with the spicy flavor, with an aromatic corn flavor and sweet taste profile. pH and Katie loved the Grouper Oscar - they recommend asking for extra lemon butter to drizzle on top of the wild grouper, as well as the vegetable sides.

Creole-Style Redfish: A mild, sweet flavor with a medium firm texture. Wood-grilled and topped with crawfish and a Creole-style sauce, served with sweet corn spoonbread and french green beans

Fresh Grouper Oscar: Wood-grilled wild Grouper, topped with jumbo lump crab, freshly steamed asparagus and lemon butter, served with choice of two sides

We were so full from our meal, that we didn't have room for dessert, which is absolutely a lesson for next time. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner, and I can't get the wonderful taste of the Applewood Bacon-Wrapped Scallops off of my palate - I will definitely be back for more of those tasty morsels!

Bonefish Grill Carrollwood is located at 13262 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can view the regular menu here. To stay updated on the latest happenings at Bonefish Grill, follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

*Disclosure: The meal featured in this post was provided by Bonefish Grill for editorial consideration. This post was written on my own accord, and opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Bonefish Grill.

Local Bites: Bartaco in Hyde Park - Tenth Bartaco Secret

by Jennifer Thai in ,

I love foodie dates with my blogger bestie, Jen! And when foodie dates include munching on tacos and sipping on yummy, refreshing drinks at bartaco Hyde Park, my days are immediately made. 

We got a chance to discover bartaco's tenth secret taco, while also ordering and enjoying some of our go-to favorites. Prior to venturing to the alcoholic drinks, we coated our tummies with our favorite refreshers - Lemonade with Fresh Mint for me, Mint Ginger Iced Tea for Jen. 

Lemonade with Fresh Mint | Mint Ginger Iced Tea

Then, party time - we tried the Sanguina, made with hibiscus infused tequila, blood orange, lime and ginger agave syrup, and the Port Chester Reviver, made with Martin Miller‚Äôs gin, cucumber, mint and mango nectar, and lime juice. I really enjoyed the Port Chester Reviver - it's light, refreshing and the perfect pairing with my favorite Tuna Poke appetizer!

Sanguina | Port Chester Reviver

Tuna Poke: Raw tuna, green & white onions, poke dressing, avocado, sesame seeds and fried ginger

Then, taco time. In addition to our favorite go-to tacos, including the Tuna Tatako and Baja Fish Taco, we ordered a couple of the tenth bartaco secret - the Crispy Soft-Shell Crab Taco. I absolutely love soft-shell crab, so I was really excited to try this new secret taco. It was perfectly crispy in texture and I really like the tomatillo chow-chow pairing - the only thing that I would change is to ask for easy on the lemon aioli. Too much could take away from the soft-shell crab flavor that I oh-so-love.

Tuna Tatako

Crispy Soft-Shell Crab Taco | Baja Fish Taco

The Tenth Bartaco Secret! Crispy Soft-Shell Taco: Tempura-battered soft-shell crab, atop tomatillo chow chow, drizzled with lemon aioli

Then, dessert time. Although Chocolate Gelato is my usual order, we decided to go a little crazy and order all four flavors. I'm so glad that we did, or else I wouldn't have been able to try the Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato, which was the perfect end to my lunch.

Gelato: Vanilla, coconut, mint chocolate chip and chocolate

As we always do, we had such a wonderful time! Be sure to head to your nearest bartaco soon, before the Crispy Soft-Shell Crab Taco says goodbye for the summer.

Fashionably On Time with JORD Wood Watches {+ GIVEAWAY!}

by Jennifer Thai in

I have a couple of JORD wood timepieces, and I absolutely love both of them! My recent gift from JORD features a unique square face with a gorgeous emerald color and a light/dark combo zebrawood finish. The best part is how easily it translates from day to night - whether I'm wearing a casual day outfit or glammed up for a night on the town, the Reece series watch is functional perfection (and you know how I love functional). The transition from light zebrawood links to dark ones help give this watch a more ostentatious feel, so on the days when I'm wearing a bland outfit, this timepiece shines.

On top of it all, what I love most about JORD is the incredible attention to detail that each timepiece receives. And with the ubiquity of these wood watches, I consistently receive compliments regarding my watches, almost every single time I wear them! 

With the help of JORD, I'm giving you the chance to win $100 toward any JORD watch of your choice! One lucky winner will receive a $100 gift code to use on the JORD Wood Watches website, and all other entrants will receive a $25 discount. To enter, fill out the simple entry form here.

Contest ends Monday, 5/15 at 8:59 a.m. ET. Once selected, the winner will be privately messaged and entrants given their $25 discount codes by JORD Wood Watches. Please note that both the $100 and the $25 codes will expire on 06/30/2017.

*Disclosure: The item and giveaway featured in this post was provided by JORD Wood Watches for editorial consideration. This post was written on my own accord, and opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of JORD Wood Watches.

Local Bites: Ocean Hai at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

by Jennifer Thai in ,

After a recent blogger dinner at Ocean Hai at the Wyndham Grand on Clearwater Beach, I am absolutely blown away by the gorgeous Asian fusion dishes. With most hotel restaurants, at least for me personally, they tend to be a one and done type visit, but I am for sure that I will be returning again and again to experience more of Chef John Capponi's creations. See below for a sneak peek, then continue on for all of the deliciousness!

We started off the evening with cocktails and light bites by the pool, with live music playing, courtesy of country musician Aubrey Wollett. After meeting and mingling with fellow food bloggers and Instagrammers in the Tampa Bay area, we watched the sun set from right outside of the restaurant.

Shrimp Toast with Truffles

Korean BBQ Short Rib Bao with Brussels Slaw

Fried Lemongrass Chicken Wonton

Chef de Cuisine of Ocean Hai, Chef John Capponi

After the sun set and we stepped into the restaurant, a group of us opted to sit community-style in the restaurant, bonding over our mutual love for food over the beautiful, delicious dishes that we ordered.

Moondancers Oysters from Cape Cod | Compass Point Oysters from Washington

Chinese Meatballs

Lobster Fried Rice

Grilled Filet Mignon

Thai Cauliflower Rice

Chocolate Mousse

Creme Brulee

Chef Capponi is doing fantastic things over at Ocean Hai - never have I ever seen such gorgeous plating that makes food so difficult to eat. But the combination of flavors and textures is not one to be missed, and is very much worth digging into each and every bite.

I encourage you to experience it for yourself! I definitely believe that it was worth my 45-minute drive. Ocean Hai is offering a Mother's Day brunch buffet next week - you can view its menu offerings here.

Ocean Hai is located at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, at 100 Coronado Drive in Clearwater. The restaurant is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can view the menus here. To stay updated on the latest happenings at Ocean Hai, follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

*Disclosure: The meal featured in this post was provided by Ocean Hai for editorial consideration. This post was written on my own accord, and opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Ocean Hai or Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach.

Mother's Day 2017 Gift Guide

by Jennifer Thai in , ,

Mother's Day is just two weeks away, and I'm sharing a few ideas on how you can express your love for Mom this year!

For the Active Mom

The best kind of activewear is the kind that is both comfortable and functional. After discovering splashpants,  I can't imagine going for a run/jog without immediately jumping into the pool with them on right after. And skinnytees' bandeaus and skinny tanks make the perfect, chic pairing for the active mama in your life!

For the Stylish Mom

For the well-accessorized, a gift that is both eye-catching and practical is a must, especially those mamas out there who are working the 9-to-5. Armitron's line of affordable watches are perfect for not only a date night out, but also for the on-the-go lifestyle - my personal favorite is the sparkly Swarovski crystal-studded, rose gold analog watch.

Shelly Brown Jewelry offers statement pieces that are versatile and beautiful, great for a stylish mom who isn't afraid to mix and match different colors and textures. Proceeds from sales of Shelly Brown Jewelry benefit Camp Southern Ground

For the Artisanal Mom

Help fuel your foodie mom's fire with these flavorful gift ideas: Hamptons Salt Company has an amazing selection of all-natural, infused sea salt blends - from the savory Garlic-infused sea salt to the spicy, taste bud-kicking Ghost Pepper-infused blend, there is definitely an infusion that is sure to please her!

For the mama who is always on-the-go, HelloFresh makes it easy to transition from work to home, by taking care of all the most time-consuming steps it takes to prepare a delicious, healthy meal. Give the gift of HelloFresh by heading to the gift card section and check out their gifting options! // Use code THISJENNGIRL for $30 off your first box!

Help Mom create a savory, wholesome meal with this basket of award-winning products from Mom's. The all-encompassing gift basket of flavor-filled, all-natural sauces and soups, also includes rosemary powder and red pepper flakes for an extra dash of flavor, along with a pasta server.

For the Self-Caring Mom

For the moms who are avid on practicing the skill of self-care: Indulge her senses with elements that help her unwind, relax and escape from real-world stressors. Help her say 'adios' to the kids, chores, etc. with a relaxing, lavender-infused eye mask from Amara

Flashpoint Candle offers gorgeous luminance via candlelight, with a unique design that is crafted by an artisan in the U.S. My favorite is the Gun Metal Saxon candle, whose design makes the perfect home centerpiece for hosting.

Pamper Mom by treating her feetsies to fluffy clouds of nourishing comfort - MinxNY's Shea Butter-Infused Sweater Knit Booties are perfect for all year 'round. From the moment she wakes to the time she settles down for bed, she's not just cozy, but also fashionable! // Use code THISJENNGIRL15 for 15% off your purchase.

For the Well-Kept Mom

Treat Mom, while also maybe treating yourself - G+H's bundle of hydrating, moisturizing products  is well-suited for the entire family.

Every mom needs a little primping and prepping, and Ted Baker's beautiful rose gold-finished manicure tools are the perfect gift for the beauty do-it-yourselfer. Not only beautiful, but perfect for on-the-go as well!

FarmHouse Fresh's new Organics collection is the perfect skin indulgence and treat for Mom - I am such an avid fan of FarmHouse Fresh! The Big Bare Whipped Shea Butter Body Polish, followed by a generous amount of Island Elixir Shea Body Butter, will leave the mama in your life feeling like she's been transported to paradise, from showered to dressed.

For the Creative Mom

We can't leave out gift ideas for the fun mom! With or without kids, the parents still need me-time, and Datebox is the perfect solution. Packed with all you need for quality time with a loved one and in intervals perfect for your relationship, Datebox is seriously spreading the love. // 25% off all gift purchases, ends May 14th. 

Create a gift for Mom that will resonate with her wherever she goes - Tervis offers easy customization of all of their popular tumblers with just a click of a button. Help preserve Mom's favorite memories, favorite sayings and more, in a gift that will truly last a lifetime! // Use code JENN for 15% off your total order - excludes stainless steel cups.

Opt to skip the flowers this year - instead, take a virtual trip down the candy aisle and satisfy her sweet tooth with only the candy she loves with Sugarwish. Whether it's sweet, chocolatey, sour or nutty she craves, Sugarwish has got you (and her!) covered!

Local Bites: Roux Tampa {+ GIVEAWAY!}

by Jennifer Thai in ,

Sunday brunch is best enjoyed when you're with good company and surrounded by delicious eats. Last weekend, pH and I were invited to indulge in some brunchies, courtesy of Roux. I can never say "no" to Roux's weekend happy hour - you can't go wrong with $1 char-grilled and raw oysters!

Oysters on the half shell, served with Cajun cocktail sauce and Creole mignonette.

Char-grilled oysters, topped with Romano and Parmesan cheese and Roux compound butter.

We've never been disappointed with our many visits to Roux. Along with the oysters, we ordered some of our usual favorites, including the Florida Alligator Bites and Shrimp Cocktail, and also tried new items - pH ordered the Create Ya' Own Omelet with Nueske's bacon, andouille sausage and gouda cheese, and although I'm not usually a sweet breakfast person, I just had to try the Banana Foster Pancakes.

It was the best decision I made that day - the house-made caramel rum sauce was oh-so-dreamy! And the best part was that after eating all of our yummy appetizers, I got to take half a stack of Banana Foster Pancakes home, which were eaten for both a midnight snack and breakfast at work the next morning!

Florida Alligator Bites: Crispy cajun alligator bites, mirliton slaw, remoulade cayenne.

Shrimp Cocktail: Sweet coldwater shrimp cooked until tender, lemon wedges, zesty cocktail sauce.

Create Ya' Own Omelet: Nueske's bacon, andouille sausage and gouda, served with garlic brabant potatoes.

Banana Foster Pancakes: Bananas, praline pecans, house-made caramel rum sauce, whipped cream.

And as a special treat for you, I'm giving you a chance to win a $50 Roux gift card to treat yourself to weekend brunch! Just follow the simple steps below to enter:

  1. Follow @thisjenngirl (that's me!) on Instagram;
  2. Follow @rouxtampa on Instagram;
  3. Tag the friend you'd brunch with in the comments of this post.

And BAM - you're entered! Contest ends Sunday, 4/30 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Winner will be announced and privately messaged via Instagram Direct on Monday, 5/1. Must be 18+ and a resident of the Tampa Bay area to enter. This contest is not sponsored, administered or associated with Instagram. Be entering, you release Instagram of responsibility and agree to Instagram's terms of use.

Local Do: Treat Yourself at The Grand Beauty Spa in Tampa

by Jennifer Thai in ,

I am such a big advocate for self-care - not just the concept of it, but also its execution. Sometimes, I see a lot of people who consider "treating yourself" as an extra drink at happy hour or indulging in a sweet treat on the weekend. But personally, I like to take it a step further with a mani/pedi, an hour-and-a-half massage, and/or a full day of no checking emails. A lot of people will scoff and rhetorically ask about who has time for that - the reality of it is, you always have time. You just have to make yourself a priority in order to be willing to make the time for it.

Last weekend, pH and I had the opportunity to visit The Grand Beauty Spa in Tampa to learn "how to Grand Spa," and the experience really swept us off of our feet. After checking in with the receptionist and being provided hot towels to freshen up with, along with citrus-infused water, we were given our subsequent service forms to fill out and led to the locker areas to change into robes. I took a moment to relish in the steam room and rinse off with cold water, then headed out to the Buddha Garden to meet the owner of The Grand Beauty Spa, Carmen.

Carmen is very much herself an advocate of people taking care of themselves, which is why she offers membership programs at The Grand Beauty Spa - to encourage a consistent beauty regimen and teach members "how to Grand Spa." To put it into perspective - people will typically purchase a gym membership as motivation for getting fit. Because, on the days when you're feeling a lack of motivation and saying you don't have time to work out, the credit card that's paying for your monthly membership reminds you that you do have the time, and is the kick in the butt that you need to get to the gym.

So why don't we think of the spa in the same way? Because the spa is a luxury and we should only treat ourselves once in a blue moon? That's silly. In addition to a guaranteed service per month, you also receive unlimited uses of the spa facility, membership pricing on select spa services, and even more, with a membership.

After speaking with Carmen, my massage therapist, Emalee, led me upstairs to my room and went through my massage preferences. I have scoliosis, and often suffer from lower back pain - Emalee explained that we'd work through some deep-breathing exercises that would assist with the 80-minute massage and greatly impact its effects.

I am thrilled with my massage experience from The Grand Beauty Spa and I will definitely return to see Emalee - she is amazing! I have never had a massage before that had noticeably lasting effects - typically, I simply experience a sense of relaxation, but in this particular case, there was a significant difference in my quality of sleep that evening. No matter what I do, the lower back pain always seems to return. I also left my service with tips from Emalee for reducing my back pain, including using cold to treat it, and not warmth.

pH, on the other hand, was treated to a Grand Spa facial from Rita - knowing that spa time is a bit rare for the typical male, I've asked him to share his experience in his own words:

To be honest, getting a facial wasn't a regular thing in my life. As a man, it never really crossed my mind to go seek out and get one. I figured it was a female thing, and that women enjoyed them in order to look prettier or something. Little did I know, The Grand Beauty Spa would flip my world upside-down and show me it has a lot more to do with a personal feeling of comfort, relaxation and overall cleansing, rather than exclusively for the sake of beauty and vanity.
Rita showed me the amenities and prepared me for the experience after handing me a freshly-brewed coffee. She explained to me that this experience is more about detoxification of both physical and mental states, paired equally to provide a holistically pampered procedure. She asked me to dress to my liking and told me she would enter the room when I was ready.
The music playing was melodically ambient and the decor made for a very serene and nocturnal setting. Relaxing by most standards. I got into the chair which was pre-warmed with a heating blanket and got comfy. She entered and began the facial. I was taken through layers and layers of cleaning procedures which I could only explain as a re-occurring massage to my face. You wouldn't think that would be nice, but given the "way" she was doing it, I could have mistaken the procedure for just that. She always prefaced what she was doing and why she was doing it, as to educate her clients and set their minds at ease. It worked.
The procedure was broken up with little nuances that I could tell were purely for relaxation, like a warm towel nesting my face while she was prepping the next step. She never left me unattended for very long. After the cleansing, she walked me through a series of moisturizing and skin-soothing procedures that I can only explain as a fragrant masking. Everything felt fresh and organic with senses of citrus and sweetness intertwining the experience with feeling and smell.
I have to say it was an experience I will never forget. The misconception I had was totally obliterated, as I was shown at The Grand Beauty Spa that a facial is more about an experience and less about "just looking clean". It totally makes sense now, as to why women do this regularly and I have to say, I may be joining the league of men that partake regularly as well. To any man on the fence about joining their lovely lady at the spa, just do it. Try it once and you'll totally "get it". Trust me. You'll love it enough to tell your guy friend about it.

After our services were complete, we explored the spa's grounds and enjoyed a variety of yummy bites from Pane Rustica for lunch, out in the calm and relaxing Buddha Garden. We winded down even further from this fantastic spa experience with a little bit of bubbly.

Now, it's time to treat yourself at The Grand Beauty Spa - book your appointment online and enter the code TAMPABLOGGER, as well as reference my name, in the comments portion of the appointment details to receive 10% off of your services!

Additionally, you can enter to win a spa day for two, just in time for Mother's Day! Presented by Tampa Bay Parenting, The Grand Beauty Spa is hosting a contest in an effort to help us celebrate our hero moms. For a chance to win a grand spa day for two, nominate your #MYHEROMOM beginning Monday, 4/17 - the contest ends on at 10 p.m. ET on Monday, 5/1. For more information and to enter, click here.

The Grand Beauty Spa is located at 2717 West Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. The spa is open on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can view the menu of spa services here. To stay updated on the latest happenings at The Grand Beauty Spa, follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

pH and I were each provided with a free service at The Grand Beauty Spa in exchange for social support and a review. Opinions expressed here are out own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of The Grand Beauty Spa.