Quick report on my Tampa trip last month - some good and some bad -
First night dinner at Capitol Grille in International Plaza - part of an upscale national chain. mainly very good experience since I liked everything very much except my steak, which was cooked to the correct red degree but still was dry-ish and boring. Had a hard time getting through it Maybe I picked the wrong cut. Highpoints were their calamari fried with cherry peppers - one of the best versions of "salt baked squid" I have ever had, delicious and ample portion good for sharing, the reinterpreted and delicious "coconut cream pie", and the vegetable sides, including a very tasty wild mushroom saute. good wines too.
Second night dinner at Stonewood Tavern and Grill in New Tampa - this was excellent for apps and drinks and socializing, but Id warn you off fancy concept dishes and dessserts. Grouper (a chef's specialty) was overwhelmed in a terribly sweet balsamic sauce. Could barely taste the fish which seemed properly cooked underneath the goo. Just as bad was the so-called key lime pie which had no discernible key lime flavor and a heavy almost artificial tasting bright green persian lime flavor and sauce - reminded me of lime jello. Yuck! There were some really delicious appetizers though - the ahi tuna particularly, quesadillas and grilled shrimp with garlic bread also good. To be fair, others were pretty happy with their mains, and the huge piece of traditional choc cake ordered by another was very good.
Lunch one day brought in from Chickfila was surprisingly good - lemonade and iced tea both fresh and good, too. Pretty good chain food, which was good because new tampa is mostly chains, spinoffs and chain wannabees.
thanks, Tampa hounds, for your recommendations - hope to get to branch out and try some other recs next visit