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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016 1 year ago

Eat around the world in St. Armands

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From Italian to Irish, the Longboat Observer puts five of St. Armands Circle's international flavors to a taste test.
by: Katie Johns Staff Writer

Whether you’re sick of American food or just trying to expand your palate, St. Armands Circle is home to plenty of international cuisine options. We ate at five restaurants around the Circle, but really we ended up eating around the world.

The Cuban sandwich at Columbia is $9.95.

Columbia Restaurant

411 St. Armands Circle

388.3987

11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday

Prices: $6 to $39 

For the Columbia Restaurant, it’s all about keeping it in the family. In 1905, Casimiro Hernandez opened the first Columbia restaurant in Tampa. Today, the seven Columbia restaurants are owned by the fourth generation of the family.

The menu features traditional dishes from Spain and Cuba created by various family members over the decades.

“When someone orders something, they’re getting home-cooked food from a family that arrived in this country over 100 years ago,” co-owner Casey Gonzmart Sr. said.

Gonzmart says the 1905 Salad is the most popular menu item, followed by the paella.

We tried the Cuban sandwich, a mixture of different meats, cheese, mustard and a pickle. It’s an authentic dish that’s simple but full of tradition, history and flavor. Gonzmart recommends pairing the sandwich with the black bean soup.

 

 

La Creperie Caffe

The Romeo y Julieta crepe at La Creperie is $10.

419 St. Armands Circle

960-2054

7 a.m. to 9 

Prices $6 to $16 

Konstantinos Chilias sold crepes as a street vendor in Paris for 15 years before opening his first restaurant in Ybor City. Two years ago, he opened a second restaurant on St. Armands Circle. 

The restaurant offers 31 dessert crepes and 37 savory crepes.

We tried the French Riviera, a savory crepe packed with cheese, chicken, artichoke hearts and tomatoes cooked in a white-wine sauce that was packed with flavor. For dessert, we ordered the Romeo y Julieta crepe. It’s filled with Nutella, bananas and strawberries — a mix with just the right amount of sweetness.

 

The corned beef and cabbage at Lynches is $17.

Lynches

19B N. Boulevard of the Presidents

388.5550

11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday

Prices: $11 to $28

Sisters and Ireland natives Chris and Ethna Lynch opened what was then Lynches Landing on Longboat Key in 1986 before moving it to St. Armands in 2003 and renaming it Lynches Pub & Grub.

Despite the restaurant’s Irish heritage, current owner Jason Burns says the most popular menu items are the burgers and fish tacos — along with cottage pie. Burns says the Irish stew and corned beef and cabbage, along with the cottage pie are good traditional go-tos.

Sticking with tradition, we sampled the corned beef and cabbage, which the pub serves 365 days a year, instead of only on St. Patrick’s Day. It came with generous portions, and it’s a family recipe, like most other menu items. The classic pairing proved strong as ever with the hearty meat and the simple vegetable balancing one another out. The pub also has 14 beers on tap, three of which are Irish.

 

Blu Kouzina

The Greek Salad at Blu Kouzina is $13.

25 N. Blvd. of the Presidents

Noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily

Prices: $7 to $80 for a platter for two 

Talk about spanning the globe: Blu Kouzina owner Efrosyni Lorandou created most of the dishes for the Greek restaurant, which has its original location in Singapore.

We tried Souvlaki me Pita, a marinated beef skewer wrapped in warm pita bread with fresh tomatoes, onion, tzatziki sauce and red paprika. 

Lorandou’s daughter, Gigi Tsakiris, said the Greek salad and Saganaki with Figs, a dish made of kefalotiri psito cheese with sweet fig sauce are two traditional favorites. 

With blue and white accents throughout the restaurant, the only thing missing from the meal was a view of the Greek islands.

 

The Ravioli de Ricotta and Spinaci at Le Colonne.

Le Colonne

22 S. Blvd. of the Presidents

388.4348

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Prices: Vary

For traditional and homemade Italian cooking, look no further than Le Colonne Restaurant. The family-owned restaurant sits on the edge of the Circle on Boulevard of Presidents and boasts an authentic Italian menu. 

Giulia Salustri, daughter of the owners, said her parents spend each morning carefully crafting pasta for their dishes, such as lasagna and ravioli.

We tried the ravioli, or rather the Ravioli di Ricotta and Spinaci. The traditional plate is complete with zesty homemade marinara sauce that blends nicely with the rich cheese and spinach stuffed in the ravioli. If you’re not in the mood for pasta, the restaurant also serves nonpasta dishes include chicken piccatina, grouper positano and various Italian sandwiches.

 

 

 

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