Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Introducing Carmel Cafe Tampa Fall Menu 2012

Last night I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at Carmel Cafe's Fall menu with a couple of friends. Back in August, we visited Carmel for the South Tampa Grand Opening. Once again, Carmel Cafe blew me away.

The first item on the Fall menu which caught my eye was the Watermelon Granita which had Rosangel hibiscus-infused tequila, house-made sour mash, agave nectar, fresh watermelon & basil. I have a love affair with watermelon margarita's so I was very excited to give this cocktail a try. It was excellent and I would have drank 3 of them if I had a driver.
Watermelon Granita
Next up was the Italian Old Fashion with Buffalo Trace Kentucky bourbon, lemon juice, simply syrup, peach jam and Amarena cherries. I am not a bourbon gal and this was a little strong for my liking, but my friend Leslie (Dash of Les) enjoyed it very much.
Italian Old Fashion
Now that we had the opportunity to try out the two new cocktails, we feasted on a few new appetizers. I was intrigued when I saw Stuffed Maderia Dates on the menu as I have never tried a date. I was more than pleasantly surprised. The dates were stuffed with cream cheese and Serrano ham. I honestly could have taken down a plate of these little guys all on their own.
Stuffed Maderia Dates
We also tried out Danish Baked Brie. I am a huge fan of Brie and this appetizer was perfect with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries served on a puff pastry with apples and grapes accompanying. When we saw a preview of the menu, Lauren (Tasting Tampa) was very excited. She wasn't let down either as this was her favorite item of the night.
Danish Baked Brie
We sampled some of the roasted peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese which are now part of the Mezze Platter. This is how you take a perfect appetizer which already consisted of a trilogy of edamame hummus, Muhammarra, crispy fried feta cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and make it even better:
Peppadew Peppers stuffed with Goat Cheese
Now that we had the chance to try out a few appetizers, we were introduced to the new seasonal flatbread with blue cheese, roasted red peppers and caramelized pears. As I am not a fan of blue cheese, not even to the point I can fake it, I tried a piece and passed it on to the rest of our party.
Seasonal Flatbread
After the flatbread came the Spinach Gnocchi. I really think it should be renamed to Holy Gnocchi. If you have the opportunity to visit Carmel Cafe this fall, do yourself a favor and order this dish. The Gnocchi was full of tender spinach in a creamy Parmesan sauce. It was so  delicious.
Spinach Gnocchi
At this point, I found myself full and realized we were not half the way done. We were presented with the Seafood Medley which had Scallops, Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels, Chorizo, Israeli couscous, roasted red peppers, simmered in a saffron broth. It was excellent and I loved the couscous. This is a dish I would love to learn how to cook at home.
Seafood Medley
Next up was Chicken Maderia with portobello mushrooms, mashed parsnip potatoes and a rich Madeira wine sauce. I have never heard of Maderia wine until tonight and it does remind you a lot of Marsala. The Dates we had also had a Maderia component to it. It was one of the better chicken dishes I have had at a restaurant. The parsnip potatoes were not for me but the dish itself was excellent.
Chicken Maderia
Getting full yet? We tried the Four Cheese Stuffed Cannelloni, Ricotta, Fontina, provolone, Parmesan, house made Bolognese sauce.WOW WOW WOW. Everything was perfect about this pasta dish. The Bolognese sauce was very rich and meaty. The cannelloni's were fresh. It was a very good dish. In fact, it was Tracy's (My Other City By The Bay) favorite of the night. 
Four Cheese Stuffed Cannelloni
Finally, the moment I was waiting for all night - the dessert came out. Those who know me are probably reading this confused as you know I prefer Savory over Sweet. One word, Salted Caramel. The Warm Poached Pear with Salted Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream was out of control. Our entire table asked for a bucket of that caramel sauce. It was that good. I could eat this type of dessert all day everyday.
Warm Poached Pear with Salted Caramel
And it is time for the nightcap - a cute Irish Coffee with a biscotti. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.
Irish Coffee
If I had to choose which item is my favorite item on the new Fall menu is, I honestly would have a hard time picking just one. I hate to pick an appetizer but I am going to go with the Maderia Stuffed Dates. I just wasn't expecting the flavor, the richness of the goat cheese, the sweetness of the dates. Perfection.

Overall, Carmel Cafe's Fall menu was a home run. With so many different flavor profiles going, every dish gave me a sense of Fall-time comfort. You can check out Carmel Cafe's new Fall Menu by clicking here. If you haven't had a chance to dine here, try them out on a Sunday or Monday night when they offer a Prixe fixed dinner for two for $25. You cannot beat this deal!

Carmel Café & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. YUM! I don't know which sounds like a potential favorite: the watermelon granita, the peppers stuffed with goat cheese, or the poached pear with salted caramel. One of each, please?

    1. All of those were my favorite beside the dates!

  2. Good times last night! LOVED the brie. The Sunday deal they have is incredible, $24.99 for dinner for two... I will be hitting that up sometime. Great pics in this post.

    1. We will have to double date one night w/ the deal! Your pics were great too!

  3. wow - looks like an amazing night - the spinach gnocchi looked amazing! I heart poached pears!!!

    xoxo from Trinidad

    1. It was pretty awesome Corey! I loved the gnoncchi!!