Da'Shrine: An African Caribbean Restaurant

  T he building has been sitting for a while. Lets explore what finally took over.  Da'Shrine, 2023 L et me start this one off by stating that I am in no means an expert on Africa, their cuisine, or their culture. Da'Shrine claims to be a mixture of African and Caribbean cuisine. They are sporting a restaurant with a rooftop bar. If you had been to The Refinery prior to coming here, you'll know how the rooftop bar was set up. Unfortunately, the bar wasn't open when we went due to some maintenance that needed to be done before they could open. They did manage to use the space well, though, given how small the building actually is. They also have music playing from the TV, which is fine, but you can't hear the bartender over the bass. But that's not why you're here. Old Fashioned, 2023 T he bar is a square bar sitting against the back wall when you walk in. They have a decent selection with six beer taps as well. The bartender was telling us about some unique

CLOSED: Mortar & Pestle: Coffee, Food, Alcohol? Sounds Like a Good Time!

There are a lot of opinions about this restaurant. Lets see what the Exploring Tampa crew thinks!

Mortar & Pestle, 2019

Coming from the ashes of a popular food truck, Mortar & Pestle is a concept that thrives to bring back the old timey pharmacies. You know the ones... You go to get a soda from the fountain, you wander the aisles, make your way to the lunch counter, then leave with your prescriptions. Located on the same block as local favorites Angry Chair Brewing and Trip's Diner, there's no lack of business to be had. This is also one of the few places in Seminole Heights with a real parking lot. Had you never read a review of this place and had you not heard about their filing for bankruptcy, you'd be impressed. The inside of the building is a hipster's paradise, with the industrial looking tables and chairs, the high ceiling, the steampunk-esque inspired decor. The inside of this building is cool. Next door is also a fully functional pharmacy that I wasn't aware was there until well after I left. There's also a rooftop bar, which would've been cool to check out had it not been so cold. But that's not why you came here.

Inside, 2019

If I had to describe this place in one word, inconsistent would be that word. I had read multiple angry reviews, and I've read the reviews praising this place, and I can see exactly where both are coming from. I do want to take a minute to point out that the picture above was a Saturday around lunch. We were three of seven costumers. I wasn't even sure the place was open until I pulled on the door. We had two waitresses (I guess because it was so slow?), one of which was incredibly rude and the other who was a sweetheart, but had absolutely no knowledge on what was on the menu. On the bright side, I was tipped off that their smoothies contained absolutely no fruit and they charged premium pricing for them, so thank you for that. There was a lot of waiting around for a server during our visit. I can't say for sure that this is a common occurrence, but I can say that everyone I've brought this issue up to has agreed that the service is severely lacking.

Beer, 2019

You're going to notice the weird quirks more than anything. Stormy ordered herself an iced coffee and they brought her a hot coffee. When she mentioned it was supposed to be iced, they brought her a cup of ice. I'm no expert on the nuances of iced coffee, but according to her, you're supposed to brew it with ice. She was incredibly unhappy with the coffee. I, myself, decided to order a beer from their modest list of Florida beer. I don't remember what I ordered, but it came I got this ridiculous measuring cup (pictured above). I inquired about this and was told that people were complaining that they were being shorted on beer (what?), so they started putting their beer in a measuring cup (this is just a taste of what you can experience, service wise). I asked if I could get a pint glass instead and was given a dirty glass. I brought it to the server's attention and asked for another... And received another dirty glass. I tried one more time, was given a third dirty glass, and decided to just drink it out of this stupid measuring cup. Stormy had asked the server about two different meals, then settled on one. When the food came out, the server brought Stormy both meals. The napkins and utensils came out covered in coffee grounds. The bathrooms have a full sized window in them. There are a lot of little quirks that you have to deal with.

Pork Sandwich, 2019

While this review may seem incredibly negative, lets get to the one highlight: The food. I didn't necessarily come here to be wowed by the waitress or to figure out where to put windows in my bathroom, so the food was the important thing. And the pork on this sandwich was absolutely amazing. I usually smother my pulled pork in bbq sauce to make it edible, but this pork was so tender I didn't have to do that. The coleslaw added just the right touch to the sandwich, and the bread complimented everything nicely. The real upside was the size of the dish. I'm a big dude and this was more than enough to fill me. The fries were also really good, had I had more room to finish them. If only they managed the rest of the restaurant like they did their food, they may not be in bankruptcy right now.

Chicken & Waffles, 2019

Stormy settled on the Chicken & Waffles and, as you can see from the picture, she was more than full by the time she was finished. The waffle was easily the best waffle I've ever eaten, with a nice crunch and just the right sweetness. The whipped cream was also fruit loop whipped cream which, according to Stormy, was "cool.". The chicken used was a nice cut of chicken breast, fried to perfection. The potatoes good, but the veggies they put into the potatoes gave off a little kick, which Stormy wasn't into. She did state that the potatoes were decent, though she wishes they had sour cream because she's a heathen. 

Inside, 2019

Things to know before you go:
- They do have a parking lot.
- There is no "typical" experience here. Inconsistency is key.
- The service is easily some of the worst you'll get in Tampa, much less Seminole Heights.
- Patience is a virtue.
- The food will make up for any other negative experience you may have.

What restaurant would you say has the best service in Tampa? Do you drink your coffee with ice? Leave a comment below. If you'd like more information on Tampa, check out my YouTube Channel and if you'd like to support my efforts, don't hesitate to buy a shirt from our Spreadshirt (we have new designs!).  Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. If you'd like to meet other people who love Tampa, consider joining our Facebook Group. Thank you all and I will see you next time!