Will Write For Food

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My hungry, poverty-stricken butt was in the midst of starvation when I happened upon your ad for a food critic. Hey, free food and I don't even have to hold up a sign on the expressway. How hard can it be? I live in South Tampa, the Eden of fancy-schmancy restaurants. All I have to do is grab some lunch and wax poetic about foie gras. I pick up my dinner jacket off the floor of my apartment, wipe the footprints off and walk my happy butt to SideBern's. Buffy the hunger slayer is the lovely waitress of the hour. Girlfriend gives me a menu and pours me a glass of water. I love SideBern's all of a sudden. I take a peek at the menu. Are they kidding? I can't even afford the bottle of Pellegrino. I tell Buffy my date was canceled. I apologize and dart for the door.

Hey, I know! I'll go to my friend's house and review her cooking. No one will know the difference. I arrive at Ms. Jamieson's abode with a growling stomach. We share a bottle of Chianti. I ask what's for lunch. There is no food in the fridge, but there is more Chianti. I realize at this point that we have something in common. We are the South Tampa poor.

Uh oh, deadline is approaching, and I have yet to review a restaurant. I reach into my pocket — $10. Not exactly up to South Tampa food standards. OK, I am like two minutes from passing out and I remember that the University of Tampa has a cafeteria, and it's pretty cheap. Perfect. I arrive at the cafeteria complete with a dinner jacket, pad and pen, and am greeted by a warm, friendly staff. I am mistaken for a student. Wee-hoo! Free food.

Everyone seems to be awaiting my arrival. Service is buffet-style and the cornucopia of foodstuff is unbelievable.

The lettuce at the salad bar is wilted to perfection. I drown it with a lovely pinkish colored dressing. I must decide on the entree. Hmm shall I go for the veggie burger or perhaps the fettuccine alfredo. I decide on the lukewarm pasta and grab a delicious beverage to wash it down — Mountain Dew. Seeing as though I helped myself, I must say the service is top notch. And the dining room is immaculate. Wow. I am impressed with this li'l bistro. The ambiance of this quaint spot has a great down-to-earth feel.

I quietly partake of my pasta. It is cooked al dente (not) and the bread is unusually not stale. I do, however, like the creamy alfredo sauce. I relish every morsel of my meal, including dessert: a rich piece of carrot cake. Chez UT gets two out of five planets.

—Jerry Nixon
Food Critic of the Poor

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