An Update on Ulele Restaurant
I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend an ice cream tasting at Ulele Restaurant tonight. Make sure you guys are checking their Facebook page regularly! They had a contest and 40 people were chosen to attend. I made sure to remind them I was a part of our Krewe ... I think that may have gotten me in!
The restaurant is still a work-in-progress, but I would say it is about 95% complete. All the landscaping outside is finished, and inside, they have all the tables and chairs (stacked up in a corner, but still, they are there) and the light fixtures are up. The ladies bathroom is almost done (no mirror yet, how's a girl to check her makeup?) and they have a very cool communal sink outside the bathroom (and one inside the bathroom, don't worry). The windows looking out on Hillsborough River are huge and provide an amazing amount of light. You definitely want to sit on the upper level when the sun sets, it is a gorgeous view. There is an outdoor patio on the 2nd floor and of course plenty of space outside on the ground floor, where I assume they will have outside seating for patrons.
I got a tour of the kitchen from Executive Chef Eric Lackey, and Brewmaster (and Ice Cream Maker) Tim Shackton showed me the Brewery and his awesome ice cream machine! And Richard Gonzmart, owner of Ulele and The Columbia, showed me a picture of the unfinished statue of Princess Ulele that will be out in front of the restaurant. It is amazing! Over six feet tall, Ulele looks like a warrior princess - she has one hand on her heart and the other hand outstretched as if to say, "No, father, don't take my man!" LOL! The artist is a woman who specializes in Native American sculpture, and she has done a wonderful job capturing the essence of our Princess! Richard said that he wants to put Ulele up on a mound with water and fire surrounding her. Pretty awesome!
They are still being cagey on an opening date, but Mr. Gonzmart did say that the delay is only because they want to make sure Mayor Buckhorn is there for the opening, and he is out of town until August. Richard mentioned some charity dinners they have going on in early August, so I'm going to guess that the restaurant will finally open in mid to late August.
Oh, did you want to know about the ice cream? :) Well, I don't recommend eating six scoops of ice cream for dinner (major sugar crash), but it was fun to get to try out all the flavors, and vote on our favorites. We got to try six flavors: Florida Mango, Lemon with Florida Wildflower Honey, Naviera Espresso Swirl (Naviera is also the coffee they will brew), Toasted Coconut, Ugandan Vanilla Bean, Valhrona Chocolate. My favorites were the chocolate, espresso, and vanilla (and I'm not a huge fan of vanilla). Tim Shackton told me that they plan to always have chocolate and vanilla (and probably toasted coconut), and then they will rotate another flavor into the menu. They are all big proponents of farm-to-table and locally grown products, and he said if there are some great seasonal fruits that he can get locally (think Plant City strawberries), he will try to incorporate those into some ice cream flavors.
It was a really fun night, and because I was from the Krewe, they treated me, well, like a Princess! They are very concerned that our Krewe approves of this venture, and I assured them that we are all very excited to see them open for business!
I can't wait for all of us to get to experience Ulele together!