TAMPA — The highly anticipated Ulele restaurant in the former Tampa Water Works in Tampa Heights released its first menu online on Tuesday, showcasing its lineup of “native-inspired” dishes.
The restaurant by Richard Gonzmart and the Columbia Restaurant group is scheduled to open Aug. 26 on North Highland Avenue next to Water Works Park along the Hillsborough River. The renovation of the 112-year-old former municipal building into a restaurant and brewery cost more than $5 million and took more than two years to finish.
The new menu by executive chef Eric Lackey puts oysters as front and center, with four different presentations: on the half-shell; charbroiled with garlic butter and grated cheeses; glazed with citrus and served in kale-and-apple cabbage cups; and as a shooter with sangrita and Patron Anejo tequila.
Appetizers include okra fries, lobster claw cocktail, crab macaroni and cheese, octopus carpaccio, fresh Florida fried frog legs, alligator hush puppies and country fried quail.
Fish from the Gulf of Mexico also are featured prominently. Grouper Ulele ($28) will be served with stewed vine-ripened tomatoes, basil, lemon zest and garlic. Juan's Snapper ($28), named in honor of the Spanish explorer Juan Ortiz who was rescued by the Tocabaga Indian maiden Ulele, roasts the fish with Spanish aioli and includes a white truffle garlic spinach. The Deconstructed Seafood Pot Pie ($22) is a chowder full of shrimp, octopus, grouper and smoked oysters.
Arguably the gaudiest item on the menu, amid several offerings of pork, duck and beef, is the “Kilo Porterhouse,” a 2.2-pound New York strip loin steak dry-aged for 24 days and carved off the bone. It sells for $59. You can wash it down with one of brewmaster Tim Shackton's house-made beers.
If there's still room for dessert, there's key lime ice cream with a bruleed meringue, guava pie, candied duck bacon-maple fried ice cream and flourless chocolate torte with burnt orange cream.
To see the full menu and to make reservations, go to Ulele.com. Reservations also can be made by calling (813) 999-4952.