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The Refinery

by Meghann on January 13, 2012

Ten months ago, when I first moved to Tampa, I was sent a lengthy list of restaurants I had to try in the Tampa area from my new friend Kristin (who is leaving me and moving to Austin next month!).

I’ve actually done pretty well hitting most of the places she recommended (Cafe Hey, The Bricks, Fly Bar, etc), but there was one high on the list – that she simply RAVED about – that I never visited, but had always been in the back of my mind.

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I think The Refinery sums up their philosophy pretty well on their website We buy as much as we can from farmers and suppliers who do it right. Sustainably and ethically right. Then we refine this already beautiful product into something even more amazing and we change it up every week. Sounds like a place I want to be eating at.

So what took me so long to eat there? Location. Location. Location. The restaurant is located off a road I rarely drive on, in an area I don’t visit very often, with a tiny sign that you’ll miss if you blink. So, while it was in the back of my mind, not driving by it meant there was no visual reinforcement reminding me I wanted to eat there. I’m a visual person through and through.

Luckily I wasn’t the only person that had always wanted to try The Refinery. My good friend Courtney set up a girl’s night for a few of us to try the restaurant and have a night out on the town without our significant others.

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The Refinery is tiny inside and only accommodates small parties of 6 or less. It’s one of the rare places in Tampa where a reservation is a requirement, otherwise they’ll boot you into the cold on the top deck. Luckily there are heaters.

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That tend to break on occasion.

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Don’t worry. It’s Florida. We survived.;)

There was an extensive craft beer list that immediately caught my attention, but the mood called for wine, not beer. I had a glass of the cab and casually sipped on it through my meal.

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The menu was small with just a few items listed. I was warned it would be meat heavy, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Out of the five main course options listed, two were vegetarian and one of those were vegan. All five (vegetarian or not) sounded amazing and it was a tough call deciding what to get.

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The table started with the pork belly appetizer which cut like butter and tasted delicious.

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For the main course, the majority of my table mates and I selected the Edamame Falafel Burger topped with taleggio asparagus fondue, garlic-dill cucumber, and smoked paprika sweet potato chips.

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The only thing I can say is wow. The falafel burger was full of spice and flavor. I loved the way the rich talegio cheese complemented the burger without overpowering it and thought the slightly pickled cucumbers were a nice sweet touch. Two thumbs up. πŸ™‚

For dessert the table split the Strawberry Shortcake which had a sweet cornbread base and a strawberry buttercream.

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It was good, but I wouldn’t consider this dish a strawberry shortcake. It was missing another dozen or two of strawberries to make it official. πŸ˜‰

After months of wanting to try The Refinery, I’m so glad I finally did tonight. Not only was the food good, but the vibe from the restaurant and the philosophy behind their menu choices made me want to support them even more. My meal was amazing and I can’t wait to come back.

The girls and I decided we’re going to try meet on a regular basis and try fun restaurants around the area. Sounds good to me!

This afternoon I had a black cherry chobani with some quaker oatmeal squares.

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I have 10 miles on deck in the morning and a sore booty that still isn’t a fan of moving. It should be interesting.

Good Night!

1 Tara January 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I was full…until I read this post. Now I want to be in Tampa ASAP and try this place. The food looks so yummy, but yeah…what’s up with the strawberryless shortcake? πŸ™‚
Tara recently posted..Sicky Poo

2 Kristen January 14, 2012 at 12:31 am

Sounds delish! I have the same problem living in SF…tons of great restaurants but since I usually hang out in the same areas I’m missing out on so much! I’m slowly getting a dinner club together but I keep forgetting to organize…good reminder for me to get back on it!
Ps. How was your first engaged week πŸ˜‰ ?
Kristen recently posted..Getting my American-ness back on track

3 Allie January 14, 2012 at 12:47 am

Take me! Take me! I’m so glad you loved the Refinery, it’s one of the things I miss the most about Seminole Heights! Other great Sheights locations you should try: Front Porch, Independent Bar (Lots of good beer w/ cafe), Ellas’s Folk Art Cafe & Cappy’s pizza! (The have a few locations around Tampa, as well!) Seems like your settling in very well in Tampa! πŸ™‚
Allie recently posted..Love is…

4 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama January 14, 2012 at 3:58 am

The burger looks delicious! I’m always amazed at what restaurants come up with for burgers.

Great idea to have a monthly get together to try new places. We have a list that we are trying to get through but it’s tough when new ones are added daily!
Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..A Few of My Favorite Things

5 Kristen @ notsodomesticated January 14, 2012 at 6:52 am

Yum, looks great! Ever tried Water sushi in Tampa? I always liked it and the restaurant it was connected to whenever I lived in that area. πŸ™‚
Kristen @ notsodomesticated recently posted..Whatcha Reading Weekend: The Hunger Games

6 Carissa January 14, 2012 at 8:38 am

I love girls night and I love going out to dinner. Dinner + wine + people you love….perfection!!!

I’ll have to find that place next time Kyle & I are in Tampa.
Carissa recently posted..Room Service

7 Jamie January 14, 2012 at 9:09 am

Looks like a great night –

I was just on the Chobani website – I was wondering if Black Cherry tastes different then regular cherry? That might be a stupid question, but I wonder because I don’t like the taste of Cherry yogurt, ha. I also want to try Blood Orange and Apple Cinnamon – Have you tried those???

Have a good day!

8 Meghan January 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

I have been to the refinery with some girlfriends and enjoyed it. When I was there in the fall they didn’t have a list of beers but printed out a receipt with all the beers listed. It was very interesting and hard to tell what each thing was.
Meghan recently posted..Friday’s Fancies: Color Crush

9 Grace January 14, 2012 at 9:25 am

Wow that burger is huge! Yum:)

10 Lindsay @ Running the Windy City January 14, 2012 at 9:29 am

That falafel burger looks great, yumm!
Lindsay @ Running the Windy City recently posted..Date Night Recap {Hopleaf}

11 Jordan January 14, 2012 at 9:48 am

I always get nervous when I try a new restaurant with friends because I want it to be a good experience, I don’t want the food to be bad or the service to be poor, because I dont want to feel like I’ve wasted my time and money. I usually go to places based on recommendations to avoid this. It looks like you had a great time!
Jordan recently posted..A Night In

12 Courtney January 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

What a neat restaurant! I wish we had places like that in Chicago!
Courtney recently posted..Sick

13 Steph @ 321delish January 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

Looks awesome! I can’t wait to try it!
Steph @ 321delish recently posted..So Long, DC

14 Army Amy* January 14, 2012 at 11:14 am

Falafel burger? Yes, please!*
Army Amy* recently posted..Things My Hairdresser Taught Me

15 Olivia January 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

dinners out make for the best blog posts, cause readers get to eat out, vicariously πŸ™‚ it all looks so yum!
Olivia recently posted..Finally + Oops

16 emily January 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Wow, that food looks AMAZING. So glad you guys enjoyed your ladies night!
emily recently posted..Marathon Training: Week 2 in Review

17 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs January 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm

All of that food looks & sounds delicious! Sounds like a fun girls night!
Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs recently posted..Meet Hali!

18 Jaima January 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I love the Refinery! Greg and not only got a James Beard nomination but he’s a great champion for supporting local food.
Jaima recently posted..Locals

19 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups January 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Looks like a great meal! I love trying new restaurants. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a falafel burger on a menu before. I would definitely have ordered that as well!
Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups recently posted..Hawkers

20 Kristin @ FoodFash January 15, 2012 at 9:29 am

So glad you enjoyed your night at The Refinery!
Kristin @ FoodFash recently posted..Sealing The Deal

21 Katie January 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Yuuum! The Refinery is SO good, right? My husband and I keep meaning to make a reservation/trip back out there soon.

The selections they have in the summer…SO yummy. I am STILL dreaming about two small plates we had: fresh green beans topped with house made ricotta cheese, and a plate of zucchini noodles tossed with a basil vinegarette and butternut squash. Seriously. Amazing.
Katie recently posted..Petite? I beg to differ.

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