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Friday, June 12, 2009

Memories...light the corners of my mind

Whiskey Joe's
Tampa, FL

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with a dear old friend this evening at a place that is very important to our history. Whiskey Joe's has been open now for about a year. Prior to that, at same location was a different restaurant owned by the same corporation - The Castaway. About three years ago my friend JD and I were both managers at The Castaway. JD was the GM and I was an Asst. MGR/ Event Manager. When I started there, I did it for the money. Little did I know I would end up making some great friends and meet my current boyfriend there.

JD and I had worked at a previous restaurant but it was at The Castaway that we became very close. He and I are very much the same thread, just a different pattern. While I have been to Whiskey Joe's since they renovated it, JD had not.

I arrived about 20 minutes before and found a comfortable seat at the marble top bar. The place was busy but not overly packed for 8pm on a Friday night. One of the bartenders on duty, Martha has been here for nearly 20 years. She is as much a fixture in this places as the beach the restaurant sits on. After a brief catch-up, I simply asked she make me a "good" margarita. And she certainly delivered. Tall, cold, perfectly mixed with a Grand Marnier floater on top. No way could you go wrong with that.

While I was waiting for JD to arrive, I glanced around and took in a great sunset. By far - bar none - the biggest plus of this restaurant has and always will be its location. Its located right on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, sitting on Tampa Bay and out of all the restaurants on Rocky Point this one has the best view of the sunsets. Not only the outside deck, that jets out off the beach and over the water, a perfect spot to view a Florida sunset but the restaurant has huge windows (nearly floor to ceiling) so that every seat can get a front row view. While I didn't snap a shot of this particular sunset, I will enclose one that I took from the deck a few years ago while I worked there. The best sunsets are in the Winter and this particular picture was taken in December.

JD finally arrived and we spent a few hours catching up on old times and each others lives. Whenever the two of us have a chance to get together I know that a few things are bound to happen:

- I will drink way too much

- I will enjoy some great food

- I will leave feeling inspired about life

- I always have a fantastic time filled with good conversation

Without fail, JD took a walk around to view the changes and then suggested we order. We settled on the Calamari and the Oysters Rockefeller.

I've had the Calamari a couple of times before and its probably one of my favorites in the area. Instead of the traditional rings and tentacles, you get the strips which almost resemble fries. The breading was crisp and didn't overwhelm the taste of the calamari. Included is fried red and green bell peppers and red onions as well. At first, you wouldn't think fried peppers would be any good but surprisingly they are. To top the dish off there is a drizzle of a spicy chipotle remoulade. I would personally prefer the sauce on the side so I can dip each bite in it but I'm a whore for dipping sauces...

The Oysters Rockefeller are equally as delicious. Oysters baked with spinach and a creole brandy sauce on top - simply divine. And to be truthful... I don't even like Oysters.

I also love, love, love the presentation for this dish. Its fun and trendy but it really does make the oysters stand out.

To my dear friend, JD - Thank you for being a mentor and confident in my life. I look forward to many more rendezvous, margaritas and food for the soul. And thank you for a great evening.


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