Tampa Restaurant Review: Ulele Preview Night

26 Aug

Every Tampa newspaper, blog, website, and Twitter feed has been abuzz with anticipation of the opening of Tampa’s newest, hottest restaurant, Ulele. Located in Tampa Heights, it’s housed in an old pump house on the Hillsborough River, next to the newly opened Waterworks Park.

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The front of Ulele.

I was oh so lucky to get invited to their preview night, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier about an invitation. I’ve had ants in my pants waiting for Ulele to open, ever since I heard about their native-inspired menu. Tampa’s history of Native Americans and the pioneers who came here has been combined to make some of the most delicious, unique meals I have ever tasted.

The very first thing I tried was a lobster cake, and it was amazing. The flavor was perfect.

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There were a ton of hand passed appetizers, including my favorite, the blistered peppers.

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A perfect puff of a pepper. Say that three times fast.

Ulele also has their own brewery on site, the Ulele Spring Brewery. I ordered the Ulele light, and it was served nice and cold in a frosty mug. It had a nice light, floral flavor and not hoppy at all, which means that I really enjoyed it.

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I wandered around the first level of the two story restaurant and just checked everything out. The giant room was separated in to a bar area, a grill area, and plenty of seating. The room was designed around the center staircase, which also housed one of the coolest wine storage areas I’ve seen.

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Who wouldn’t want a wine vault under their stairs?!

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Bar.

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Dining room area with a giant metal horse statue.

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Watching them do their magic at the grill.

After I was done wandering around I found a seat and had some delicious food.

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Amazing food! I’m drooling just looking at the photos!

The fresh seafood was so fresh and delish. The octopus was spicy and so full of flavor. But my personal favorite was the deconstructed seafood pot pie. It was served with a puff pastry and was mouth watering delicious. Yes, I even went back for seconds.

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Best in show, the deconstructed seafood pot pie.

For fear of becoming that girl that had the most pot pie I decided to walk outside and check out the brewery, garden, and rooftop lounge.

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Ulele Spring Brewery.

There is a lovely little bridge that will take you  from Ulele to the new park.

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Park selfie.

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Outdoor seating area from the roof.

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Rooftop lounge. Unfortunately, you can’t see the water from here.

The rooftop has access to the second floor, so I headed inside to see what it had to offer. There were tables, of course, but also a surprising collection of baseball memorabilia, including lots of baseballs signed by people so famous, even I knew who they were.

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Upstairs seating area.

I’m super excited to go back for dinner. I can’t wait to take the Husband there; I know he’s going to love all of their beers. I think that even his picky self will find something on the menu that he will love. It truly is native-inspired food, but I would also call it high end comfort food, fancy without the foofy, and just the right blend of spices and rich flavors.

The grand opening is today and I HIGHLY suggest you get over there for dinner as soon as you can.

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