Last night, Jen (of Letters & Pearls) and I left our handsome hubbies at home and met up in Tampa for a girls' dinner. A much-needed one, at that! It had been so long since I had some quality girl time... In fact, the only real one-on-one I've had with a friend here in St. Pete was when Jen and I first met, face-to-face, for a quick coffee date at the Oxford Exchange. So it was lovely to get together once again and have real talk. You know the kind: When you have a friend that you are so comfortable with that you just talk about anything and everything and the evening goes on for hours.. and before you know it, you've been at a restaurant for almost four hours! That was us last night. Even though we've only known each other a couple months, Jen and I just seemed to click instantly, and I'm so grateful that we were able to find each other through this crazy blogging world. Sometimes it's nice to get out of the house, leave your man and dogs behind, and enjoy the uplifting energy of a girl who just gets it.
Since she lives in Tampa and I'm in St. Pete, we had the task of figuring out on which side of the bridge to go to dinner. A bartender at one of G and I's fave St. Petersburg restaurants, BellaBrava, had previously recommended to us her other workplace, Anise Global Gastrobar. The hubs and I had actually walked by it when we were at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for Oktoberfest, so I remembered peering in and thinking it looked like a cute place, and the perfect spot for a friend date. Unfortunately, I'm not terribly knowledgable about the Tampa food scene, so it was my one and only recommendation. But it worked out! Jen is currently on a vegan challenge, and Anise's tapas-style menu offers several vegan-friendly options.
We both started with a glass of Sangre The Blackbird, a refreshing, not-too-sweet white sangria made with blackberry, peach and elderflower. The cocktail's pretty hue perfectly matched the pink flowers on the table. As they say, on Wednesdays we
wear drink pink! (OK, so maybe that's not a thing but it should be.) Jen and I then shared a basked of truffled tater tots with lemon parsley crème fraiche and an order of fried zucchini with crispy garlic "stinky bunz" (a kind-of Asian-style slider, for which Anise is known, from the restaurant's food truck days).
The tots were delicious, of course, because, well, they are little golden nuggets of crispy fried potato, so how could they not be? And the buns lived up to their hype. We've already decided we need to return to try all the flavors (pork belly included). I'm pretty sure anything stuffed into those airy, pillowy bread buns would be good. I would have never thought to put a slab of fried zucchini in a sandwich but that's just was Anise did and I loved it.
Finally, for our entrées, Jen chose the Jap Chae noodle bowl, filled with gluten free noodles, sautéed veggies, tofu and sesame seeds while I decided to go light and fresh with the roasted beet and arugula salad with toasted pine nuts and a grapefruit vinaigrette (I held the goat cheese). All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. I just wish I had saved room for dessert! The deep fried sweet bunz, one with strawberries and nutella and another with bananas and a crispy cookie spread, sound out of this world amazing.
Good thing there's always a next time. And I know I'll have good company.
P.S. Many thanks to Jen for taking far better photos of our meal than I did! Stole a few for the above collage :)