In all of my research on Tampa's restaurants, the Colonnade was omnipresent. The name came up again and again as the legendary drive-in playground of Plant High's kids. It had the regular burgers, fries and pies, and it became a eal landmark. After WWII, the owners Jack and Dick Whiteside changed their formula. Inspired by the fish n chip joints on the California coast, they slowly changed their menu to accomodate more seafood and less fair food.
Today, the Colonnade is a large seafood restaurant that has grown up with its clientele. Finding it inescapable, I finally dined there last Saturday.
I was a bit disappointed. There were good signs, too, though.
First, their "addictive" little muffins were pedestrian. Little blueberry and corn muffins were given to us in a basket. I would have preferred fresh bread. The muffins tasted like the ones i make from Jiffy mix at home--- utterly unremarkable. Furthermore, its seemed as if we were being served the same muffins that others rejected--- many of them were smashed or misshappen. Sweet muffins just don't match with seafood, either.
My companion hadf the coconut-crusted Tilapia, which was very good, served with a pineapple salsa that was actually SPICY! nice.
My shrimp sampler was not as good, though. The fried and broiled shrimp were good. The broiled were served with a grilled wedge of pineapple marinaded in teriyaki. So far so good.
The "stuffed" shrimp were a bit tough, like they'd been sitting around for a while. The shrimp were butterflied open, with a little dollop of nondescript stuffing on each. There was not much harmony between the two, and nothing to the stuffing.
The pecan shrimp were over the top. For every ounce of shrimp, there must have been at least 4 ounces of pecans--- no lie! Once again, there was no harmony. The sweet batter and the deluge of pecans all but drowned the shrimp out. I eventually broke off the nuts and gluey batter, but by then the thrill was gone.
The side of potatoes were swimming in butter, but had no flavor at all. one must pick either potatoes or veggie--- too bad, since i'd prefer to have both.
The service was very good, but the food was just average. Turns out i hadn't missed much.