I don’t mind my in-laws. I actually like them, and I am very grateful for them. Leaving family (my parents in Charlottesville and my in-laws in DC) was probably the hardest consideration in choosing to move. So yes, I was actually glad to see my in-laws.
More importantly, I was glad to see the Lil’ Marinara for the first time in over a week. He had stayed with his grandparents up in DC so he could experience the 4th of July activities in our nation’s capital. I love the Carbonara, but he is 18 months and waking me from my sleep. The Lil’ Marinara is 5 and perfectly capable of having a conversation…. If it involves Star Wars. (Note, for some reason he thinks his mother is the expert on Star Wars, when in fact I used to be a huge Star Wars geek until George Lucas went and screwed everything up).
So just as I was getting used to all this bustle, I caught a plane to DC for the week. I wish I could say that I had the best week, but a few deliverables had me busy and I found myself completely immersed in work ( Immersed, meh, maybe just wading) I was still able to have a session with my personal trainer, Taisha Hayes, grab a 7 course, vegetarian Thai dinner with fellow foodie and restaurant review Matthew Freeman, down some Maryland Blue Crabs while seeing my Grandma for the first time since November, tore up some pork belly at the Korean BBQ known as Honey Pig (followed by private room Karaoke), and devoured some Benton’s bacon with my parents at the Bayou Bakery Cafe. I had fun, I had too much fun. I was so mentally energized, and yet, tired as crap when I finally made it home on Friday.
By the time I made it back to Tampa, the in-laws were gone and I was able to garner a picture of what life would be life as the Sadlers of Tampa.
And while many of my dining experiences in DC were blog worthy, I’m not interested in writing about them, because THIS IS NOW A TAMPA FOOD BLOG.
So with that, I bring to you the Hula Bay Club.
I was given the recommendation from @ShannonEncina, who ironically, just moved to the Mid-Atlantic.
The Hula Bay Club is located in a marina. It is literally next to one of those ginormous dry docks. We were slightly confused when we arrived, it wasn’t Don Ho or Surfing Music on the speakers but extremely loud gangster rap (okay, I call all rap, gangsta rap. I really have no idea. This wasn’t Eminem, but is Eminem gangster? Hmm.) Apparently, there was a pool party next to the restaurant.
So once we walked inside and then outside to the back porch, we regained some normalcy. The restaurant was nice and clean, and yet bordered on the line of being kitschy. It had the feeling of chain written all over it, but once we were back outside, there is no competing with simplicity on the water.
Many things were tried that evening, including seared scallops, mahi tacos, and grouper sandwiches. The large, u-10 scallops were sweet and paired nicely with spicy Cajun crust. The mahi tacos were presented beautifully and were quickly devoured. The Grouper sandwiches were served on this orangish Hawaiain sweet bread, it provided great color and held the flaky fish quite nicely. I had ordered the Chicken Katsu because of its inclusion of sweet rice and bok choy. While those side dishes were great and all, the chicken was surprisingly the star. The slightly flavored meat was perfectly juicy, while the light panko provided texture without holding too much oil. Overall, the food matched the pleasantness of the surrounding.
The service at Hula Bay Club was fine. Our server seemed was pleasant and friendly and attentive, but was not the most informed. There were a few times where he didn’t know the answer to our complicated questions like “What is the price for the scallops?” But, this is a mid-tier restaurant on the water, and I will take friendliness of knowledge any day.
I have a feeling that this “On the water” type restaurant is going to my thing. Hula Bay Cloub distinguished itself as a place that I can see myself returning, not just for the ambiance but because I genuinely enjoyed the food and overall vibe.