Last week I was lucky enough to “crawl” up MacDill Ave, Tampa, with the Tampa Bay Bloggers to some of the best gastropubs/eateries in town!
The Datz family has introduced both Dough, a dessert place, and Roux, a Cajun & Creole Restaurant – and all three come highly recommended — by me!
Hosting a group of bloggers is a great way to try out new menu items and get honest and varied opinions. Here’s what I thought of the great dishes we got to try:
We started at Roux for drinks and appys. I hadn’t been to Roux since a sneak preview before they completed their walls and bar, and I enjoyed looking around first to see the great decor. I’m a big fan of fleur de lis and NOLA, so it is always fun for me to see bits of New Orleans in the Tampa Bay area.
We had three appetizers to try and three drinks to choose from. I loved the Abita beer-battered Crab Beignets, which had 4 different flavors of remoulades to dip them in, but they were divine plain. The had just the right fried beignets crunch on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth center. Not too seafood tasting.
I split a Boudin Ball, which was served over creole mustard crema. They are a little larger than a golf ball, smaller than a lemon, but I knew there was a lot of food to come so I only ate half. I could have easily eaten 4-6 with a small cup of gumbo as a meal!
There were also Char-Grilled Oysters. They was so much better than the raw on-the-half-shell oyster I had eaten years ago (which was my first and, up till now, last oyster.)
As far as drinks go, they have a refreshing hurricane served over mounds of crushed ice:
Kraken Dark, Siesta Key white, orange juice, passion fruit purée, pineapple, lime and bitters. There’s the traditional NOLA Sazerac made from Rittenhouse Rye, Pernod Absinthe, Peychauds, bitters and lemon peel. And last but not least is my light, girly favorite the French 75 (shown): The Botanist, lemon, champagne and lemon zest served in a champagne flute.
Then 8 bloggers piled in my mommy-van to zip up the road to Datz.
This self proclaimed Foodie’s Theme Park is going to up their shock value this year with more “stunt food”, foods with layers upon layers of goodness that take them over the top. Read on to see the sneak peek that we got!
We were greeted with some house-made, flavored popcorn and what Sandbookwich.com calls “2015’s first new food trend”, Buffalo Cauliflower. The whole head of cauliflower was roasted, then lightly battered and fried, then tossed in buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese dressing. I’m not much for blue cheese, but the rest of this dish was amazing! We kept it on the table and I kept taking more nibbles throughout the night when there was a lull in food-stuffs.
There were two drinks specially prepared for us that night. “#HotSex” pronounced “hashtag hot sex” was a blend of dry gin and something-something with a chili pepper on top. Some tried the “Love Stinks“, which was Bombay sapphire, raspberry liquor and a dirty cherry dropped inside. I didn’t try either since at some point mentioned above I became the driver.
When we were settled with drinks, our server (Chops) told us about two dishes that were not on the menu that they were featuring that night. One was the Cheesy Todd: a cheese burger with your basic pickle-tomato toppings, but instead of a bun it is served between two mac&cheese patties. Yes, fried mac and cheese with beef and cheese in between. And a side of house made chips with blue cheese drizzle. I decided to volunteer as tribute and ordered this dish for the table. I left the bottom mac&cheese patty intact to bring home to DD1, then cut the top “bun” and burger into 4 pieces to pass around. The burger was expertly prepared, and the mac and cheese patty did not fall apart into separate noodles when we bit into it, which was my concern.
Denise, a Datz regular, introduced me to the Desi Arnaz Cuban Salad: iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, swiss cheese, ham, spanish olives, spanish vinaigrette- “It’s a gluten free cuban sandwich on top of a salad” she said. I liked it even though I don’t like olives. It was NOT skimping on the toppings for one bite. It even had two delicious pieces of pressed Cuban bread on the side. The bread was soft and full of amazing grill flavor!
Outdoorsydiva.com was on my right, and she ordered “on the lam(b)“, grilled maple soy glazed lamb chops over roasted butternut squash. Let me tell you, that squash was the tastiest thing I have eaten in 2015! Flavored by the braised lamb drippings and lord knows what other Datz magic, I could have eaten just a bowl of that for dinner. Maybe with a piece of that pressed Cuban bread to scoop it up with… mmmmm….
After mixing and matching and trying each others yummies, we went next door to Dough for boozy shakes and dessert. Boozy shakes are just what they sound like – adult milk shakes. Like a chocolate peanut butter shake with kahlua and whipped cream. It actually tasted more like Butterfinger to me, but the one I tasted had only half the booze added, by request. But they add their own secret twists to these, and they taste like no creamy goodness you’ve ever had before. They also make all of their gelato in house with fresh ingredients. TIP: If you come with the kids for just gelato, come in the back door and they won’t see all the donuts, cupcakes and chocolates first.
They said more stunt food is coming, and I’m guessing that soon the brownies will do their own tricks. Someone ordered the last bacon brownie of the day while we were there.
My dessert was a raspberry cheesecake donut. I think it was a housemade donut, and the hole was stuffed with cheese cake flavored cream filling, and on top was a blob of raspberry pink sticky glaze stuff.
I brought home dessert for my girls too. A raspberry macaron for DD1 in honor of her upcoming France trip:
And a Funfetti cupcake for my rainbow girl, DD2:
See inside Dough’s chocolate cheesecake dome here.
I’m pretty sure I rolled home on my new belly tire.
Next time you are asked for a restaurant recommendation, you have three readily available on the tip of your tongue! Datz, Dough and Roux!
Disclaimer: I was invited to dinner by these three establishments and provided with food and drinks in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. Thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers for organizing this wonderful night!