Wine Dine and Play: Clearwater Beach Taste Fest

Clearwater Beach Taste Fest

Music, Food, Sunshine, And A Lack of Wine
Clearwater Beach, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: Multiple Vendors
Event Date: May 12, 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)


Also known as the Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, the Clearwater Beach Taste Fest of 2017, is a kick off event to a typical towns Restaurant Week, where the focus is to highlight some classic dishes or specials from twenty or more local restaurants. A chance for you to meet the Chef’s, take the menu’s, taste the food, and win some prizes. The event here is promoted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, and is located near Pier 60, where the street is blocked off and the vendors set up. There were two live bands, prizes, and wine. This was the first my wife and I had been to this annual event together, and here was our experience….

Picture courtesy of Clearwater COC

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Main review:
Mandalay Avenue at the circle is where Beach Walk Promenade begins starting at pear 60 park and heading up several blocks along what was voted the #1 Beach in the Country by users on TripAdvisor, and crowned by USA TODAY as The Best Beach Town in Florida in 2013. This is where the Taste Fest began celebrating its 8th year and the starts the 2 week-long culinary adventure, offering ‘foodies’ an opportunity to experience fine dining or casual cuisine, at all the top restaurant spots in town. Beginning the day after the Taste Fest, the Restaurant Week kicks into full gear, and each participating restaurant offers a prix fixe menu priced from $15 to $35.

Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor
Entrance to event
The wines presented at this event were part of the Southern Wine and Spirits company, and you could either pay by the glass, or purchase a wrist ban and get discounts for each round. The event was to last four hours, and they ran out of wine ninety minutes in. This was defiantly failed communication between the groups that put the event together. They knew how many tickets they had sold, plus had an estimate of tickets that were going to be sold at the gate, and with that, figuring 3-4 glasses per person over the age of 21. The better selections of wine ran out within the first hour, the remained of what people were not ordering was gone in the next thirty minutes. The folks selling water and soft drinks had enough on hand and planned correctly. 

Wine table
Two bands were to perform that evening, the first being the opener called Chello Hollyday, followed by a local band that was Voted “Best Local Band in the Tampa Bay Area” three years running, in Creative Loafing’s “Best of the Bay” Reader’s Choice Awards, and they also won the “Best R&B/Soul/Funk” category as well. This band was The Black Honkeys with Phil Esposito as lead vocals and Nicole Simone, as lead and backup vocals.

The Black Honkey's

It was a beautiful spring day, with several selections of food, most good and some not so much. It amazed me the amount of people that waited in line for Papa John’s and Hooters when they could that food anytime and just about anywhere. Meanwhile though, it was nice that these people did do that, because the lines at the really good places went faster. 

Food selections ranged from the fast food chains mentioned above and the other participating restaurants which offered between one and four separate items to taste. These items included braised beef over mashed potatoes, California sushi rolls with roe garnish, chicken fajitas with pineapple pico de gallo, seared ahi yellowfin tuna on rice cakes, dim sum, shrimp ceviche, mussels, and much more. One of the restaurants that participated my wife and I had been two before and really enjoyed the experience. The Sea-Guini is a chic restaurant with seafood & Italian-inspired cuisine at the Opal Sands Hotel. We enjoyed a 4th of July meal there in 2016. 

Ahi Tuna
Braised Beef & Potatoes
Evy's Terrace wins 3rd prize for best food of festival

One other restaurant really got into the spirit of the event, dressing up as wranglers, cowboys, and Indians, having fake gun battles, and lassoing ropes around one another. Their food was good too. 

Drink selections before they ran out included three from the Charles smith collection of K Vintners beginning with Eve Chardonnay, the Kung fu Girl Riesling, and the Chateau Smith Cabernet. The only stand alone and best wine of the group in my opinion was the 7 Moons Red Blend, a combination of seven grape varieties from Oakville, California.

The restaurants that participated in this event include:

Bob Heilman's Beachcomber - Chef Hector Hernandez
Sea-Guini - Opal Sands Resort - Chef Michael Crosby

Overall the vent was nice, good food in most places, and some that failed, but the Black Honkey’s band was awesome, and I look forward to seeing them perform again. This event is held annually each May, so when you plan your trip to this area, book your hotel in advance and purchase your tickets before they sell out in 2018 and beyond.

The Sponsors of this event:

Other Noteworthy Festivals, Wine Tastings, and Market Favorites:
Red Hills Market Country style market & Cafe w/craft beer in Willamette, Oregon
Afghan Cuisine + Markets Recipes, culture, history - A culinary tour of Afghanistan during the war
Sydney Wine Tasting Yearly tasting event at Hyde Park in Sydney Australia
Pike Place Market Iconic seafood market in Seattle, Washington
Key West Food and Wine Festival Multi day festival and tasting in Key West, Florida
Re: Start Funky Cargo container mall built after the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand
Gulfport Tuesday Market Merchants on Beach Boulevard in Gulfport, Florida
Bordeaux - A Sip and Taste Wine tours and restaurants in Bordeaux, France
Queen Victoria’s Market Two city-block landmark market in Melbourne, Australia
Gourmet Wine Tours of South Africa A wine and food tour of Stellenbosch, South Africa
St. Pete Saturday Market Farmers market in Pioneer Park, St. Petersburg, Florida
Dragon-Con 2008 Yearly Science Fiction Convention at the Hyatt, Hilton and other Hotels, Atlanta Georgia

Other pictures of the taste fest:

Final notes and observations:
What is a restaurant review? Is one better than the other? How is the rating system broken down? Most reviews you read online are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsibly, and respectfully written, upholding the truth and accurately conveying the experience. My job is to put you at the table next to me, and to try and be objective to the best of my ability. Being impeccable with my word, never taking anything that happens at the restaurant personally, being honest in the review, never make assumptions, and to always write to the best of my knowledge is the goal. To see more details on how I do my ratings read this article:

Other Florida restaurant favorites:

St. Petersburg
Rustic New American Fare
 A top 100 on Wine, Dine, and Play
New Smyrna Beach
Old-world classic Italian & Mediterranean
Old School Rustic Tuscan
Native American Cuisine w/Barbacoa Grilling
German Bites in Bavarian-style Tavern
St. Petersburg
Contemporary Twist on American Eats
Upscale Pan Asian Fare w/sushi
St. Pete Beach
Rooftop Artisan Fusion Bistro
Key West
Landmark bar since 1851, where Jimmy Buffet got his start
Casual curries of North & South with Buffet
Authentic & Traditional  Peruvian Cuisine
St. Augustine
Locally Sourced Café for Southern Grub

Clearwater Beach Taste Fest:
Chamber of commerce Event
429 Poinsettia Avenue
Clearwater, Florida 

Contact Information: 
Event website:
Event Managers:
Event Contact Number:
+1 727-447-7600
Hours of Event:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)

6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Email Contact:
Social Media 
Facebook link                

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list based on who is writing about them, and it changes on a regular basis. My list of best reviewed restaurants here on Wine, Dine, and Play is based on a rating number at 4 or 5 stars. From the 350 + published reviews as of summer 2017, less than 15% hold these prestigious rankings, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. I have dined at restaurants on five continents from cafés, chains, and fine dining spots including a few that are rated on the Michelin one to three scale. Below is a sampling of some from my list, which include mom and pops + holes in the wall. These places can be just as good, or if not better than a top ranked restaurant of the world in my opinion. To visit my full list of best places follow this link:

A few to tease you with…

Rustic New American Fare
Saint Petersburg, Florida USA
Elegant Modern Australian with Molecular Gastronomic dining 
Melbourne, Australia
Modern eclectic and Nouvelle Latin cuisine
Woodstock, South Africa
High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Haute French Cuisine
Paris, France
Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Impeccably prepared French fine dining 
Dublin, Ireland
Acclaimed high-concept inspired Farm to Table tavern
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Refined and elegant creole fare since 1880
New Orlean’s, Louisiana, USA
French-American Fine Dining
Yountville, Napa, California, USA
Safari + Upscale African Cuisine
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Contemporary Japanese restaurant, sushi, & cocktail mixology
Dubai, UAE
Fine Indian and Pakistani Cuisine 
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
Eclectic French-Asian Tasting Menu
Sydney, Australia
Top 10 American fine-dining ornate chophouse
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Posh and artful French cuisine + culinary experimentalism
Festival City, Dubai, UAE
Haute Gastronomique French restaurant & bistro
Bordeaux, France

So many great wines in this world, here are a few boutiques, cult wines, and favorites:

A 1756 Estate Famed Rubicon Blend
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Big, Bold, Cult Cabernets 
Oakville, California, USA
Boutique Producers of Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon
Agincourt, Waterloo, Salamanca
Yarra Valley, Australia
A Cru Bourgeois Supérieur
Cussac-Fort-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Not Kehlsteinhaus, Exceptional Shiraz
Constantia, South Africa
Screaming Eagles Sister
Santa Barbara, California, USA
World Class Oregon Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon
20+ Blue Ridge Handcrafted Wines
Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Domaine Bertagna
13th Century Cistercian -1er Cru Les Cras
Vougeot, Burgundy, France

Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Executive Chef
Father, Husband, Wine Drinker
Restaurant nut, History and 
Star Trek lover

Picture below was taken in 2012 at
FOB Shank, Afghanistan with 2 friends
from Bosnia

About Sean:

I am based out of Florida working in food service for over twenty years, and am currently with the American Embassy as the Executive Chef. Formally I have worked with groups contracting in Afghanistan, and Antarctica, also working in restaurants in and around Atlanta, Georgia prior to the wars. I have also owned a catering company and served proudly in the United States Army Food Service Program. The idea for Wine, Dine, and Play started in late 2012 after a trip to Jordan, when I was asked by friends to write down my experiences from a few restaurants, wines I tasted, and unique locations such as Petra. Since that time, I have written over 350 articles, including fifteen from the worlds top 100 lists of San Pellegrino and the Elite Travelers Guide restaurants. I have articles on exotic world locations such as Victoria Falls, and South African Safari’s; food recipes & a Grand Food Dictionary; ethnic country cuisines such as Afghan, and Peruvian; tasting tours of world cities like Charleston, Cape Town, and Dubai; and of course wine from vineyards in California, Oregon, the Carolina’s, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, with much more to see and write.

Who is John Galt?

Other articles of interest on Wine, Dine, and Play:

The Complete A to Z Food and Beverage Grand Dictionary If you're looking for it, then you found it
A Taste of McMurdo - 8 Months on the Ice Ross Island, Antarctica 
Shark Cage Diving Adventure with the Great White Shark Tours company in Gansbaai, South Africa
Afghan Cuisine Recipes, culture, history of food, the future - A culinary tour of Afghanistan during the war
Burj Khalifa Tower Take a tour of the tallest building in the world, Dubai, UAE
Peruvian Cuisine Andes, Amazon, and Lima - A culinary tour with recipes and history
Fugitives Drift Lodge and Zulu Battlefields African Cuisine Buffet, Kwa-Zulu-Natal, South Africa 
Thanksgiving in Antarctica An American tradition with turkey and football at the bottom of the world
Cowgirl Creamery Artisan cheese shop “aka” Cowgirl Cantina in Point Reyes Station, California 
Netflix Movie Codes search for your favorites
Tipping in Restaurants Etiquette, customs, cultures, and assumptions 
(Articles coming soon) 
Petra, Jordan
A Taste of Dubai 
A Taste of South Africa (multiple volumes)
Wine, Dine, And Play’s “best of”
FOB Shank - Cooking with Incoming

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)


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