On August 24,2010 singer Natalie Merchant told a crowd of 1700 at Ruth Eckerd Hall that she wasn’t feeling well because of the food she ate at The Columbia. Owner Richard Gonzmart responded that maybe she wasn’t feeling so well because she had only sold 1700 tickets. I’m with Richard. I like the Columbia.
The food may not be cutting edge but it doesn’t have to be. That’s not exactly why you would go to this restaurant. That would be like going to dinner at grandma’s and advising her to edge out her culinary style. You come here for the experience as well as the fare.
The atmosphere is old world, yesteryear elegant, from the hanging chandeliers to the suited up wait staff. You can feel the history when you walk in the building. I’ve been there twice and would go back again to see the Flamenco show and to get some decent Cuban classic food.
Can you find better Spanish food, for less money, in Tampa? Yes. Can you get your Sangria made fresh and table side, while watching a show? I don’t think so. I had the Ropa Vieja, which is shredded beef and came with rice and plantains. The meat was flavorful and tender, the rice fluffy and plantains were good.
Yes, I suppose they could get a little edgier but why should they. This is the oldest restaurant in Tampa. The Columbia has watched the fads come and go, and is still putting out good food. I recommend this place and will review it again once I go back and see the show.
Until then, happy eating.