South shore Spanish Food and Spirits
Just the other day two clients of mine dropped into town from South Carolina to visit and talk about Fossils. After an hour or so My friend Lynn and his lovely wife Jessie wanted to take Kellee and I to dinner somewhere in Ruskin.
“Where’s a good place around here”? they asked.
I told them that we have a restaurant in town that serves Spanish styled Cuisine. “sounds good to us” said Lynn. So we hopped in the car and headed to downtown Ruskin! We walked in and were quickly seated. We were lucky as it was 4 pm and didn’t have to wait for a table as they crowd up fast by 5.
After being seated by a waitress, we ordered the house favorite “Sangria”,,,a blend of unknown fruity and well balanced spirits ,sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon around the rim of the glass. Lynn said “I hope this will be a memorable meal.” “We’ve just left Jensen Beach Fla after a week visiting family and will tell you we never had ONE memorable meal while on the east coast”. I told them that all of that will change when they taste the magnificent food here at the Ybor Grille !
Upon sipping the Sangria, Lynn and Jessie blurted out, ”OH MY”! almost in unison. I told you so, said I, as I swallowed the velvet smooth red precious liquid. “best Sangria we ever tasted” said Jessie. After looking over the carefully translated menu, I explained to the couple of how most of the fabulous food listed on the menu was prepared and cooked being I am of Spanish decent and was brought up eating this incredible cuisine daily all of my life.
When I moved to Ruskin 20 yrs. ago I knew I was gonna miss food that helped make me the food critic I am today. My Dad and Mom divorced when I was young and Dad married a “Cracker” so there went the Spanish vittles for a short while. A year later Dad started cooking and even my country step Mom said to my Dad, ”Honey,,you can cook all you want”. Don’t get me wrong, I love country cooking but Spanish food is made with many spices and herbs that even country cooking can’t compete with. The flavors being born by spices like $500.00 a lb. SAFFRON and many others are what make it “King of Cuisine”.
After finishing up our drinks and ordering our food, Lynn and Jessie noticed the Cigar boxes and the vintage photos hanging on the walls all over the restaurant.”My, what an interesting culture” Jessie said. “And the smell of the food in this restaurant is making me hungrier” she followed.
Upon the arrival of our dinners all in one huge platter, the waitress methodically handed us our precious sustenance and we began the journey to that place where only great meals are well remembered. Lynn had “Lechon Assado”,,Fresh pork marinated in sour oranges and garlic making a legendary liquid called “Mojo”. The pork is slowly cooked saturated in that “Mojo” till fork tender. Lynn said he was in “Hog heaven”. He also had “plantains” and yellow rice cooked to perfection. Kellee had a “Pallomia steak” sandwhich, a beautiful cut of meat (top sirloin)“beaten” to perfection and grilled with onions mushrooms ,cheese, bell peppers and served on Cuban bread. The smell of the steak sandwich alone is enough to bring anyone who is fasting, comepelety to the reality that Spanish cuisine is where it’s at ! Even the great Ghandi would’ve converted and become a regular at the Ybor Grille and never fasted again !
I slowly made love to the “Ropa vieja” (translated old clothes because of the shredded appearance of the flank steak)with my tongue and swam in its flavor and hoping to drown in a kingdom of satisfaction ! Slipping yellow rice and Yuca into my mouth( a white root-like plant cooked in Olive oil and seasoned with garlic) I was half way to nirvana by now !
And Jessie had a “Taste of Ybor”, which is “Ropa vieja ”the shredded beef, Picadillo (ground beef cooked with capers, olives and more in a light tomato sauce)and topped off with the Cuban pork roast, ”lechon asado”. Ybor grille has a fabulous variety of legendary Spanish dishes from “Papa’s and “mama’s meatloaf” Yellow rice and chicken, baked in spices that would make the food channel jealous ! Black beans marinated with our without onions, wonderful garden salads and homemade soups like “Garbanzo, blackbean, Vericelli and “caldo Gallego”, an amazing mixture of collards, great northern beans and sausage and famous herbs and spices that would truly make ya wanna start watching the Spanish food channel !
Of course, I must not forget to tell you about the best Cuban sandwich you’ll ever eat and then the Ybor Grille’s famous deviled crabs, by far the best tasting crabs I ever ate, ever !! All crab meat and must eat fast or your stomach will get mad at you !
All of us had bread pudding, flan (Spanish pudding made with eggs and burnt sugar) ,,,then followed with the magic flavor of real Cuban coffee, half and half or Black, the way my mom put it in my baby bottle !
The waitresses and waiters at the Ybor grille are well mannered and trained to perfection like the great ones from Spain are. Bobby Fernandez, who is the owner, over sees all important particulars at the restaurant constantly. Carefully tasting and making sure the food cooked by master chefs there will please any hungry crowd visiting the Ybor Grille.
Well, after our dinner, Lynn and Jessie looked at Kellee and I and said,,,”without a doubt, one of the most memorable meals we ever ate, anywhere” !“my goodness, we even have some take home food because of the generous helpings left over from our dinners” said Lynn. The menu at the Ybor grille has several sections also featuring stunning specials like 7th Ave. fillet, lightly blackened with roasted peppers and much more, Canalones ,grouper, shrimp and plenty of different other Spanish foods that will, guaranteed, make ya say, ”A most memorable meal”
The Ybor Grille is located on 105 Shell point Rd, Ruskin, Fla
Phone number is 813-641-7300……Their hours of making people happy with flavors are,,,,Monday-Thursday…11 am- 8 pm. Friday –Saturday..11 am-8:30 pm….and Sunday…11 am-7 pm. I promise you that you’ll know the number by heart !!
Food critic for the “Mullet wrapper” newspaper in Ruskin Fla.
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