Tio Pepe on Gulf to Bay is another one of those restaurants that we’ve driven by countless times, but never stopped in for dinner. We finally made it over there tonight. It was actually good timing since they’re getting ready to close for renovations for a few weeks.
We were seated and given menus, but had to wait for a while before our waiter showed up. Never a good way to start a dining experience. I then got the impression that our being there was somewhat of an inconvenience for him.
He took our drink order, an iced tea and a water with lime, and when he returned to our table he gave me a very small glass of water and no lime. Now, it’s not that he didn’t hear me because he said, “oh, I’ll bring you some lime”, but never did.
We did, however, get the bread basket.
Two loaves of bread with whipped butter. I actually liked the brown bread better than the other one. The white bread had a distinct taste to it, maybe buttermilk.
Then came the salad which was tossed at the table.
I watched another waiter toss the salad for a different table and he had brought out a tray and tossed the salad with some Worchestershire sauce and some oil/dressing, then mixed it all together. Our waiter brought the bowl to the table and tossed it around and put it on plates. Now, I don’t know if he mixed in the other ingredients in the kitchen or just decided not to bother with them.
Loren liked the salad more than I did. It was very garlicy and had way too much romano and parmesean cheese on it for me. Plus it had olives, of which I’m not a fan.
While we were waiting for our entrees, I realized the edge of the table where I was sitting had a gooey layer of caramel on it. Just what every patron wants from their dining experience, a nice sticky table.
Then came the entrees. Loren ordered the Puntas De Solomillo Salteado (Tips of Tenderloin, Mushrooms, Serrano Ham and Chorizo) served with Saffron Rice.
He liked it. It didn’t have any intense flavors, but a nice flavor overall. I liked the flavor of it but thought the steak was dry. The other odd thing is that I would have expected a separate dinner plate to be provided instead of having to eat directly out of the pan it was cooked in.
I ordered the Arroz con Pollo.
It was a beautiful presentation, but there was a flavor in it that neither of us could identify and that I didn’t like. Everything was cooked well, but whatever that flavor was just completely ruined it for me.
Of course I looked at the dessert menu and couldn’t pass up the Tarta de Chocolate (14 layers of thin Cookie Crust filled in between with Chocolate Mousse Cream and Raspberry Sauce)
Loren said it was one of his favorite desserts. I didn’t like it at all. As far as I’m concerned chocolate and cinnamon should never meet. The mousse had cinnamon in it and there was no raspberry sauce, instead it was a hardened drizzle of chocolate and caramel on the plate. I will say, the hardened pieces on the plate were tasty, much better than the dessert itself.
Total bill was $45. Loren enjoyed it much more than I did. Our waiter had an attitude from start to finish and that put me off more than the food.
Tio Pepe Restaurante
2930 Gulf to Bay Blvd
We drove over to Brandon today for some Spanish food at La Septima Cafe. The restaurant’s been there since 1995 and the menu is filled with traditional dishes.
Loren decided to get a taste of a few of them with the “Walk Around La Septima” dish.
This had Ropa Vieja, which is a shredded tender flank steak simmered in a burgandy wine sauce, Picadillo, which is ground beef, olives and capers in a tomato sauce, and Lechon Asado, which is marinated pork, plus yellow rice and black beans. It was a lot of food. He liked the pork and beans the best. I liked the taste of the Ropa Vieja.
I ordered the Arroz Con Pollo with black beans and some Cuban bread.
The dish had a wing and a chicken breast. The wing was great. The flavors in the chicken were really incredible. The breast, however, was really dry. All of the flavor was in the chicken skin. The rice and beans were ok and the bread was good.
We got a piece of their caramel chocolate cheesecake for dessert.
The “chocolate” consisted of a few chocolate chips tossed on top. The caramel sauce was good, but there wasn’t much of it. The cheesecake was very thick. This wasn’t a creamy cheesecake. It was made with ricotta cheese and had an almost grainy texture. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, just not a very smooth cheesecake.
Lunch ran us $29. The food was ok, but I doubt we’d drive back to Brandon to visit again.
La Septima Cafe
140 N Parsons Ave