Monday, December 10, 2012

Straying From Our List in Tampa



Brickhouse Tavern and Tap
1102 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.
Tampa. FL 33607

When I am going on vacation, I always do a lot of research on the best places to eat in our destination city. I spend about two to three days looking up where the best food is served. I compile a list with more than enough places to try. We were only going to be in Tampa for a day and a half and I had nine places written down. I knew we would not be making it to all of them, but I did not want to miss out on any great food. We generally never veer from our list, but this is one instance where we did.

My friend Mike lives in Tampa and we were going to be meeting up for dinner with him and his lovely wife on Saturday night. I had mentioned that we wanted to watch some college football while we were eating. He suggested that we meet at Brickhouse Tavern + Tap. This place was not on my list, but I figured a local would know all the great spots to eat.

Brickhouse Tavern has 16 locations open or coming soon. They are spread out across 7 states and cater to what their website calls, "the common man". They are kind of going for a man cave vibe here. They have a section in the restaurant where they have leather recliners, with cup holders and TV trays. There are large TVs plastered on every wall of the place. No matter where you look there is a TV within your line of sight. Most locations including this one in Tampa feature a covered outside patio with a fire pit. Dark colors and wood dominate the dining area, lending to the sleek atmosphere here.

We got here at just about 8pm, and the place was jumping. Lucky for us Mike and Kim had gotten a prime table, where we would be able to see the USC/Oregon game. This place was loud, with spirited rooting for many of the football games. Mike had definitely picked a great place to watch the games, but would the food make us happy that we abandoned our list of places to eat in Tampa?



I must have been hungry because a lot of the appetizers here sounded pretty good. We settled on the Zucchini Curls ($6.50). They took ribbons of zucchini, battered them with panko and Parmesan, then served them with a Siracha ranch. This description really got my mouth watering when I read it on the menu, but it failed to deliver. The zucchini was sliced in tiny ribbons, and the only thing that was prominent with this appetizer was the panko breading. In a fried zucchini, the zucchini should be the star of the show, not the breading. The zucchini was pretty greasy, and not easy to eat. The Siracha ranch was good, but could not save this appetizer.


Mike says that he gets the same thing on most of his visits here, the Steak and Shrooms ($19). The steak here is two tenderloin filets, topped with mushrooms, caramelized onions, and smoked provolone. Side items include fried mushrooms with a piquant sauce, and cheddar mashed potatoes. Mike seemed pretty pleased with his selection. I thought this was a good amount of food for under twenty dollars.


Both Kim and Anthony got the Kobe Burger ($14). I know that about 99 percent of most Kobe burgers on menus are not really Kobe burgers. Kobe refers to a specific breed of Wagyu cattle raised in and around Kobe, Japan. The price for this beef is about ten dollars an ounce, so if this was real Kobe, this burger would cost in the neighborhood of $80. That would be an expensive burger. The menu at Brickhouse claims that this is wagyu beef, hand molded, then topped with sauteed onions, roasted tomato, brie cheese, and roasted red pepper aioli. Kim seemed to really enjoy her burger, but Anthony had a different opinion. He felt the burger was average tasting, and not worth spending the extra 4 dollars for the supposed Kobe experience. The highlights for him with this plate were the tater tots and the solid bun of the burger.


Simple Sabrina did not want to go all fancy like her husband's Kobe choice, so she got the BLT ($8.50). This all-American classic sandwich came with a good amount of thick bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo, all on Texas toast. She really enjoyed this, and I would have enjoyed a bite of it, but she was very stingy with doling out samples of her dinner. I thought she knew I was a food blogger.


This unusual oblong burger goes by the name of the Gun Show Burger ($9.50). It is topped with all the produce you would expect on a burger, along with Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, and a fried egg. Katie liked her first bite of this burger, but then felt that it became too much. The toppings of the burger really detracted from the burger patty, which was actually a good thing because it was dry and under seasoned. She would not get this burger again.




Throughout the menu at Brickhouse Tavern they have designated some items as their Brickhouse special recipes, this is one of those items. The Prime Rib Sandwich ($12.50) comes with sliced beef, provolone cheese, onion strings, green peppercorn au jus, and a creamy horseradish sauce. Like most of the items we have had so far at Brickhouse, the description of this out shined the actual dish. The beef was not very tender and really lacked any taste. The au jus and the horseradish followed suit, by adding nothing but moisture to the sandwich. The provolone proved to be too mellow here as well, and should have been swapped with a different cheese choice, maybe Swiss. Very disappointing.


One of the few items that caught our attention at Brickhouse Tavern were their Tater Tots, which is one of the options you can get with your burger or sandwich. Definitely opt for these instead of their mediocre fries. These were fried very crisp, while the potato inside maintained its integrity. Way better than the frozen tater tots I had as a kid. Not something that you always see on menus, so these were a unique treat.



Dessert time, and we passed around the Apple Crisp ($5.50) and Carrot Cake ($5.50). I am very partial to carrot cake, and this one was pretty good. The cake portion was moist, with a pretty good spice to it. The cream cheese frosting was not too heavy on the cream cheese, which is something I like. The apple crisp was good, but I liked the carrot cake better. The apples were abundant and they had plenty of ice cream on this. You could not go wrong with either of these desserts.

Besides the desserts and the tater tots, there was not much here that would bring us back food wise. Our dinners sounded so good on the menu, but they failed to deliver when they hit the table. One bright spot for Brickhouse was that our service was really good. Our waitress Jerrica really kept us well taken care of, and made sure all of our needs were met. I did not think the prices here were too out of control, including the drink prices. They offer over 70 beers here, with most pints selling for less than a $5 bill. If I had to sum this place up, I would call Brickhouse a less sleek looking Yard House, with much worse food. A good place to watch football, but don't expect too much from the food. We shouldn't have strayed from our list of places to eat to come here.

Out of five army airships, (because the highway this restaurant is located on is named after an army aviator in World War I), five being best to zero being worst, Brickhouse Tavern and Tap gets 2 army airships.

For more information about Brickhouse Tavern and Tap, click here: http://brickhousetavernandtap.com/

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