Stetson Law School and other Ulele neighbors got first dibs on tasting the native-inspired restaurant's new lunchtime offerings Monday. And so did owner Richard Gonzmart's Facebook friends, who received word of lunch being served after he posted a photo to his timeline spilling the beans.
Despite unexpected guests on a day that turned out to be a not-so-soft opening, Michael Kilgore, Columbia Restaurant Group's chief marketing officer, said Ulele's staff handled the additional diners just fine.
The eatery's doors opened to the rest of Tampa Heights for lunch at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Though Ulele's afternoon lineup of appetizers, salads and soups remain the same, it offers nine sandwiches and eight entrees priced under $20. A slow-roasted apple cider pork sandwich, grouper fillet with a smoked Gouda-Rusty's Red Ale béchamel and "Native Sauté" of pan-seared veggies and wild rice are among the lunch fare.
When CL stopped in for a bite around noon Thursday, it wasn't too crowded. Kilgore said the restaurant met its attendance and revenue goals for the week, too.
We ordered the okra fries (because duh) and country-fried quail, which boasts a toothsome breading and pineapple datil mustard, to start. For beverages, we tried the restaurant's house-made iced tea. The bright-colored tea marries fresh-squeezed orange juice and ginger extract with black tea.
For our mains, we chose the veggie burger — with a grilled portobello cap, hummus and way more — and "'Little Jimmy's Brisket," named after Jim Strickland of Strickland Ranch, who supplies Ulele's meat. Both were tasty.
If you're jonesin' for something sweet before heading back to the old grind, though, try the house-made ice cream. Flavors range from chocolate and coconut to pumpkin and espresso swirl.
The restaurant's updated hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 to 11 Friday and Saturday.