Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Refinery

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 I am a New Tampa-ite, so traveling south of Busch Blvd. makes me
somewhat uncomfortable, and my general comfort zone consists of the
college area hang outs near where I work and the yuppie young
professional joints closer to the Wiregrass Mall. It’s sort of slim
pickings for non-chain that have excellent, reasonably priced food. So
when people at work and in the blogosphere started raving about this
laid-back small restaurant with a focus on local produce and
sustainability I stood up and listened. The Refinery in Seminole
Heights is a kitschy and quirky establishment in what I’m pretty sure
is a renovated mid-century era home. I visited last week with a few
friends for Girl’s Night Out.
I am one of those irritating people who always tries to find the
bright side. It probably makes me bad at writing reviews of anything
because not only do I hate writing negative comments, but I can
usually find at one positive thing. I’ve been mulling over my recent
Girl’s Night Out at The Refinery for close to a week now hoping time
would help me characterize the experience more positively, because if
I’m being honest I’ve never been had an establishment that I’ve heard
such wonderful things about be such an overall disappointment.
Let’s start with the pros.
I really did love the atmosphere. The kitchen was open to the dining
room, they serve water and soda out of Mason jars, the plates were
eclectically mismatched and chipped, and I loved the grapey purple
paint on the walls (I’m trying to decorate my apartment so seriously
it was like my favorite thing about the whole visit). I could
definitely see this as a fun place to hang out and grab something to
eat before heading off to The Independent or another neighborhood hang
out. They wait staff, or at least our waiter, was also very
knowledgeable about the menu.
Now onto the rest.
While knowledgeable I didn’t find our waiter especially pleasant or
helpful. He seemed to think we were a bother to him and he was
molasses in January slow about ev-er-y-thing. Seriously.
The wine and beer list was very limited. I will say it up front. I am
a HUGE Cigar City Brewery fan. So I was somewhat, ok clearly a lot,
disappointed that at a restaurant that claims to be about local food
there were only two Cigar City brews on the menu. Additionally, I just
felt like the beer menu leaned more towards craft IPAs, generally not
a personal favorite, without a well rounded selection of other types
of beer.

Strawberry Panzanella

The food was sort of hit and miss. My salad, Strawberry Panzanella,
was fantastic. The strawberries were super sweet and ripe, which
surprised me as it is not Florida strawberry season, and they paired
well with the peppery greens. Though the Tomato Saffron Vinaigrette
tasted like olive oil to me.  For my entrée I ordered Ale Braised
Chicken which smelled divine, but ended up being very dry and over
cooked. The barley however was perfectly cooked and the hop gravy was
excellent and provided the good ale flavor I was missing in the
chicken.

Ale Braised Chicken with Hop Gravy

The Refinery’s menu changes weekly, based on the local season, but two
items are ever present; the 5-Spice Hanger Steak and the Burger. My
friend Nina ordered the burger. Her words were it lacks flavor. Also
her French fries, while tasty, were cold. This is a personal pet peeve
of mine. I will send French fries back if they are not burn your
finger tips hot.

Refinery Burger and French Fries

The best dish on the table hands down was the Mushroom Ragout, ordered
by my friend Kim. I expected more of a dark sautéed mushroom and
garlic with olive oil, but what was presented was a bright and acidic
tomato based ragout over smooth polenta. It was excellent.

Mushroom Ragout with Polenta. The crappy Iphone pictures do not do this dish justice. I apologize.

My overall verdict at this point is general disappointment and a sort
of “Meh” feeling. I will probably give The Refinery another shot;
maybe in the spring or summer when in season produce isn’t limited to
Cabbage and Oranges. For now though thumbs down.

New Year, New Resolutions

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I’m back; back from vacation, back from my blogging break, back in the
Weight Watchers saddle, just back. I finally feel like I’m able to
re-focus this blog, especially without the pressure of posting
everyday. I missed sharing my life, my anecdotes, and my recipes so
I’m glad to be back.
The end of last year was filled with lots of changes. I moved into a
new apartment, changed positions at work, went on vacation, and made
some really great new friends. As I start the New Year, and start back
at work, I got to thinking about my resolutions for this year. I’m
actually not a humongous fan of New Year’s resolutions, I fully
believe you don’t have to wait until January 1st to make a change, but
the start of the year is a good time to reflect and to think about the
coming year.

Resolutions from 2011:
1. Go back to WW.  I did this. I’ve lost 54 pounds so far.
2. Make at least two of my posts a week more substantial. I did this
too…up until the last couple weeks of my year of blogging.
3. Shimmy, Shake, and Move. My original goal was 4 days a week. You
guys this does not happen. Like ever. Even on my best week. I did
however run several 5ks and I can climb way more stairs than before.
4. Be kinder. I’m still a terrible, mean, judgy person.
5. Visit two new places. I did this. I went to Belize and Honduras.
6. Take my LCSW exam. This did not happen. It’s back on this year’s list.
7. Actually cook some of the recipes I’ve been saving. I did this too. Check out some of my blog posts.

Resolutions for 2012:
1. Eat in Season. I am going to try harder to eat more fruits and
vegetables that are in season this year. I have a habit of always
buying the same things and I really want to try some new fruits and
veggies.
2. Actually sell a Cupcake (or 12). I have been talking about starting
a small scale cupcake company since I moved into my new apartment in
October; current name suggestions are Katie’s Kupcakes, Orange Blossom
Bakery, Flour Shop, and Katie Cakes. Mostly I’m doing it for fun and a
little extra cash, but I haven’t actually sold anything yet.
3. Run a Half-Marathon. I think this is self-explanatory.
4. Take my LCSW test. Taking and passing my LCSW exam would be a huge
step forward in my career.
5. Reach my goal weight. I’m not sure what the goal is yet, but does
this really need explanation.
6. Visit two new places. This is always a goal of mine. I love to
travel and explore new places.

So theses are my New Year’s Resolutions. What about you?
=)

Every Which Weigh: Trip to the Dark Side

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This Week: +3.8
Total: -54.8

I was sort of expecting a gain this week. I did just spend a week on a cruise ship. I did my best to make healthier choices especially at breakfast and lunch, but I definitely splurged at dinner. So I’m actually pleasantly surprised that I didn’t gain more. Now that the holidays have passed it’s time to get back on track.
=)