Last Friday, our neighborhood — Northeast Seminole Heights, an area with trees, bungalows, and hip restaurants and bars galore — held its annual progressive dinner (or, as it’s called in the UK, a “safari supper”). It was a multiple-destination dinner party, where four different courses were served in four different houses within walking distance of each other. While we’ve gotten to know some of the people in our neighborhood thanks to the weekly happy hour at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, Anitra and I are still new to the area. We figured that this would be a chance to get to know more of people who live nearby.
Our house is a five minute walk from the Hillsborough River, on whose banks you’ll find the pricier houses. The progressive dinner’s first stop was at one of these houses, which had a large patio complete with a huge outdoor tiki bar.
We were among the first to arrive, but we weren’t lonely for long. There were easily eighty or more people on the patio in short order.
This was the appetizer course, and people came hungry! Luckily, the place was prepared.
The patio was built right up to the edge of the river, which provided a great view. I had to get a photo:
After about an hour, it was time to mosey on over to the next place. I took one last photo before leaving:
I was so engaged in meeting new people at the next house that I didn’t take any pictures there. The soup and salad course was served there, and there were several to choose from. The stand-out dish was a cold spliced pear soup, which was fantastic. I got a couple of servings of that one.
The main course was served at the third house, which had a nice large kitchen island and buffet counter:
As the place where the mains would be served, they were expecting the biggest crowd. Luckily, they had a back yard big enough to accommodate everyone and had even set up rows of tables, a fire pit, live entertainment, and a couple of off-duty police officers:
There was a break in the entertainment so that the dinner’s organizer, Christie Hess, could address the crowd. She’s been putting the event together for the past 12 years, and it’s a key part of the neighborhood’s character. I’m glad that we’ve got people like her here.
Here’s another look at the crowd. It was a cool night by Florida standards (52°F / 11° C), so Anitra wore her festive zebra-strip fun fur coat:
Finally, we made our way to the dessert house, which was also on the river. As with the other courses and houses, the food was a group effort. Our contribution to the dessert table was an assortment of brownies.
Some folks stayed closer to the house (and desserts), while others chose to get a better look at the river:
While we were done with the houses, we weren’t yet done with the party! The final stop of the evening was London Heights pub with a handful of drink tickets…
…and an invitation from Willie, one of the owners, to perform some numbers to close out the evening.
It’s been a while since I’ve lived in a place with this much of a sense of community. I’ve talked more with my neighbors here in the past five months than with the neighbors in the old place in the last five years, and I’m a schmoozy guy. The progressive dinner was a great excuse to walk around the neighborhood and get a better look at a couple of places, as well as to catch up with the people we already knew, and get to know dozens of other folks in the area. I look forward to greeting more people on the streets here by name, and hope to be at more of these local get-togethers!
- Historic Seminole Heights
- Wikipedia: Seminole Heights
- Domain Homes: The History of Seminole Heights, Tampa: Why It’s a Great Neighborhood
- FED Guides: TAMPA’S NEW HIP NEIGHBORHOOD | SEMINOLE HEIGHTS
- Tampa Bay Times: Tampa’s Seminole Heights becomes ‘it’ spot for hot restaurants, bars
- London Heights’ website
- HowStuffWorks: How to Throw a Progressive Dinner Party
- Two Twenty One: HOW TO THROW A PROGRESSIVE DINNER
- Tablespoon.com: Host a Progressive Dinner Party
- Taste of Home: Progressive Dinner Party
- SignUpGenius: Planning a Progressive Dinner
- The Spruce: A Parisian Style Progressive Dinner Party
- Fit Bottomed Girls: Hosting a Progressive Dinner Party
- Love Food: Come dine with me: the return of the safari supper