TAPS: Tapping into a High-End Happy Hour

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During the holidays, the Tampa Bay Bloggers were invited to Taps at International Plaza to sample the newest menu items and Happy Hour fare.

Tampa Bay Bloggers

Chef Jason Dame with Tampa Bay Bloggers Founder, Denise Mestanza-Taylor

Other Taps locations are well known for their fork and knife style sandwiches; however, with Chef Jason Dame at the helm of Taps International Plaza, this location has set a course for an entirely different bill of fare calling his Taps selections “high-end diner” fare. However, the expansive mahogany bar and marbled table tops paint a scene for high-end pub rather than diner decor.

Char-Grilled Octopus

Although with Bar Louie and The Pub clustered nearby at Bay Street, Taps international Plaza and Chef Jason want to differentiate themselves as the typical pub grub. Right out of the gate, that “high-end diner” notion and any pub grub idea was debunked with perfectly Char-Grilled Octopus and Tuna Credo for our starters.

Tuna Credo

A helping of Irish Short Ribs Potato Nachos filled the pub grub bill and comfort food with the gorgeous helping of beer queso blanketing the fingerling potatoes and tender short rib meat.

Irish Short Ribs Potato Nachos.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos kicked up the happy hour with just the right heat and sweet savoriness

Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos

As for specialty drinks, we sipped on some delicious cocktails.  Starting with the Sailor’s Shandy – rum ginger beer, apple butter and lemon.

Sailor’s Shandy

Honey Badger may not care but we were very happy with this blend of bourbon, maple, honey and lemon.

Honey Badger – bourbon, maple, honey and lemon.

Garden Gimlet mixed with gin, sage, cucumber and citrus was gorgeous.

Garden Gimlet paired with Char-Grilled Octopus

Following the amazing spread of starters and cocktails, we sampled small bites of the featured entrees. The BEETS/BEETS/BEETS arugula salad surprised this former beet hater and inspired me to try my hand fresh roasted beets.

The crispy, roasted Brick Chicken served with savory mushroom risotto became an instant favorite for its home-style homage, like a Sunday dinner mom used to serve.

Brick Chicken

Roasted Pomegranate Salmon delivered a delicate sweet and savory combination with a nicely seared crust.

Roasted Pomegranate Salmon

With its juicy interior enveloped in a perfectly charred exterior, the Filet Mignon Brochette brought a smile to all our faces.

Filet Mignon Brochette

We finished our high-end diner dinner with a helping of Chocolate Lava Cake and Belgium Waffles, both perfect desserts intended to be shared and a beautiful way to end the evening.

Chocolate Lav Cake made with rich dark chocolate served with vanilla gelato and whipped cream.

Belgium Waffles with whipped cream, nutella and vanilla gelato.

While this tasting offered an opportunity to revisit Chef Jason and his newest foodie conceptions for Taps, it was also an opportunity to bring our bloggers together to celebrate the holidays with our annual Secret Santa Swag Swap – a blogger’s spin to a typical white elephant gift exchange. For our Secret Santa Swag Swap, attendees are encouraged to bring a wrapped unwanted gift item valuing $20 and these bloggers certainly thought outside the gift box for their fun gifts!

A fantastically festive fare sponsored by Taps International Plaza paired with a fun handful of Tampa Bay Bloggers made this evening a perfect ending to a wonderful 2015.

Tampa Bay Bloggers

Taps hosts a festive evening for the Tampa Bay Bloggers.

In addition to a high-end diner menu, Taps International Plaza also offers 100 wine varieties with nearly 60 choices are available by the glass. For the craft beer enthusiasts, Taps also offers over 25 beer brands on tap and 350 in bottles,

Taps International Plaza is located at 2223 N Westshore Blvd., Tampa. Visit www.tapsintlplaza.com to view its menu and learn about upcoming events, such as live music or call (813) 876-5100 for reservations.

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