Nestled on the north end of Haile's Publix Shopping Plaza, O!O (pronounced oh-oh) feels more like a big city downtown hipsters joint than a strip mall surprise. Upon entering, we were delighted to see the likes of Karl Louis Weismantel
providing live soft jazz in the dimply lit dining room. Warm colors and pendant lighting combined with white table cloths and ahem
interestering murals (to say the least) make one wonder if there will be enough credit on their card to cover it. We were pleased to be seated at a round booth along the cherub wall. It was cozy and romantic, quite perfect for our double-date.
If you like martinis, this is hands-down the place to be. Their tini menu boasts 100 to choose from. I started with a Pink Panther which contained light and dark rum, Chambord, coconut milk and a few other things I can't remember. It was delicious, yet likely more appropriate for dessert. My guests enjoyed a white russian served in a hurricane glass and Moscato d'Asti - a lightly sparkling white wine - while we nibbled on unleavened bread and a tasty bean dip served standard. Delicious. Admittedly, there were not as many tapas on the menu as I would have liked to have chosen from but we chose the Lobster Rangoons served with three sauces. I believe this tapa was $8 for a plate of three. We also ordered their Bruschetta with was a sampler of three toppings: The traditional tomato, an herbed goat cheese with wild mushrooms and a unique avocado spread. Again delicious, but not really share-friendly.
In addition to their smattering of tapas, O!O has a decent selection of innovative entrees to choose from. For only $9, I enjoyed Seafood Paealla...the best I have had in Gainesville. Mussels, scallops, shrimp, clams and fish over rice in a light tomato broth with peas...Delish! Utterly surprising at only $9. (Calamari is also usually a part of this selection but my guest and I both ordered this entree without it.) My date dined on Shrimp and Grits, again, delicious. Three large shrimp over smoky cheddar grits with bits of chorizo. Big taste, small price: $9. Is it really appropriate in this (or any) atmosphere to lick the plate? It was that good. Our other guest enjoyed a lamb shank over grits which left him in awe. Again, only $9.
The portions are adequate and just right. You will likely not need a doggie bag unless you over-order. We ended our experience with an amazing chocolate mousse drizzled with raspberry sauce and topped with homemade whipped cream; we also sampled a moist banana bread "Strawberry Shortcake" served with fresh strawberries, also with fresh whipped cream.
This place is great for a date or to take a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Gainesville. With live music every Friday and Saturday, it's a sure thing.