A swanky dining and entertainment destination with an… interesting name has popped up in downtown Safety Harbor. It’s called Gigglewaters Social Club & Screening Room.
No, really — Gigglewaters, a nod to what adult beverages were called in the late 1920s. But “giggle water” isn’t the only thing that inspired the speakeasy-style newbie with a modern industrial spin, which opened at 737 Main St. on May 21.
While developing Gigglewaters, owners Richie Wilson and Rachel Fine — who are best known for their careers in the TV industry and also, no joke, invented Shittens, the viral mitten-shaped wet wipes — were influenced by the establishments they used to frequent in New York City as well. They’re Brooklyn transplants, after all, so it’s no wonder the Big Apple was worked into the place’s look and menu of indulgent comfort foods.
Frito pie, bacon-wrapped and deep-fried hot dogs, and ricotta cheesecake are among the highlights during lunch and dinner (I could dedicate a whole column to dissecting all of the over-the-top options, so peep the menu for yourself). The food’s backed up by a solid cocktail list.
Separate from the social club, Gigglewaters’ screening room component is an intimate theater where classic flicks — think Pulp Fiction, Sixteen Candles and The Big Lebowski — are shown while guests get their grub on. Truffle popcorn with a hint of citrus is the house favorite.
• Thai Mama is a recently opened food truck worth seeking out in Tampa’s Carrollwood area. Specializing in flavorful, homestyle Thai cuisine at 5226 Gunn Highway, the family-owned mobile kitchen is led by the Thai Mama herself: Prayoon “Lek” Brink.
Lek has been cooking at Thai restaurants in both Tampa and Thailand for the past 30 years, and her nickname means “small” in Thai, as she’s only 4 feet 10 inches tall. Lek’s husband, Glenn — who met his future wife while working as an American tour guide in Thailand, where he lived for 10 years before the couple moved to Florida in 1999 — helps out in the kitchen, alongside son Woody and daughter Alysha.
Despite being a restaurant-on-wheels, Thai Mama has a sizable lineup featuring everything from starters and salads to stir-fried specialties. Lek’s signature dish is her famous fried rice, but the curry and noodle offerings sound just as tasty.
Oh, and patrons are able to elect which spice level they prefer, of course, choosing between mild, medium, hot or Thai hot.
• In early April, Dunedin saw the opening of D-Town Bar & Grill at 1056 Main St. The cozy neighborhood spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner aims to bring a taste of the Motor City to the eclectic little town.
Menu items like the original Hani (chicken tenderloins fried and served on pita with Swiss and American, shredded lettuce, tomato and mayo sauce), “red wings” and the venerable Detroit-style Coney dog definitely do the trick. Plus, there’s a selection of daily specials and a full bar.
• Apparently, the upscale watering hole from a couple of St. Petersburg business owners and friends, Tony Mangiafico and Greg Haddad, that CL covered a while back — Flûte & Dram, not the shorter Flûte as originally planned — has launched in downtown St. Pete.
I admittedly forgot about the forthcoming Beach Drive experience meant for locals and out-of-towners in search of high-end Champagne and decadent food. But its doors at 234 Beach Drive NE, where the Eagle Cafe formerly operated, opened April 6.
A large assortment of domestic and imported caviars and their traditional accompaniments mingle with the bubbles and some whiskey. Flûte & Dram also offers a few chef-driven small plates — smoked Norwegian salmon, a cheese plate and duck foie gras included — and two desserts.
• Ice Cream Theory debuted in late March as Oldsmar’s answer to fantastical frozen treats. The whimsical dessert shop at 4058 Tampa Road serves gelato, soft-serve and Italian ice in a number of flavors. The sweets are then presented in cloud cones (adorned with cotton candy) and unicorn sundaes (topped with some sort of unicorn horn garnish), among other vessels.
I’m not saying Ice Cream Theory has a cotton candy ice cream burrito for guests to order, too — but, well, yeah, it does.