Last night, Justin and I had the pleasure of attending a fun and food filled evening with Datz and Dine Tampa Bay. The two paired to host a Foodspotting event, and it was definitely a night to remember.
Tampa Bay’s official Restaurant Week will be held from August 16-30th this year. Even though it is a few weeks away at this point, our group was gearing up for some of the good eats that will be offered at the participating restaurants.
We had to kick off the night with a cocktail or two, of course! One of the two concoctions we sipped on was the raspberry lemonade, made with fresh raspberry, fresh squeezed lemonade, and vodka. Is the color of this drink not gorgeous? Adult-style lemonade is always a winner in my book, and perfect for these hot summer months!
The other delicious beverage we were served was the cilantro margarita. It boasted cilantro vodka, and fresh lime on the rocks. Plus, there was a chili rim, which added a nice smoky heat and kick to the drink that paired very well with the sweet/tart flavors in the drink. I was a fan!
We kicked it into high gear from the get-go with three different appetizers. First up: Kim’s Kale Salad. It contained fresh kale, red onion, shaved parmesan, pine nuts, dried cranberries, and a house made toasted coriander-orange-balsamic dressing. Would you believe me if I told you I had never tried kale before this? So many friends of mine rave about kale, but I haven’t gotten around to trying it out in my kitchen. The flavor and texture was definitely new to me, and I know it sparked my interest to try out more combinations in my home.
The table shared a few plates of curry crab spread as well, and it received rave reviews from my fellow diners. It featured fresh jumbo lump vindaloo curried crab, and was served cold with fresh house baked lavash. The spread itself was definitely flavorful: the crab stood out as the star, but you still tasted the slight heat of the curry. The presentation of the lavash in the newspaper wrapper was definitely a nice touch as well!
Our final appetizer on the menu was probably my favorite for the dish it was presented in alone. Can we talk about how CUTE this pig dish is?!?! If someone can point me in the direction of where to find these little guys, I would really like to know. I think I need them in my house. Anyway, these little pig bowls were filled with “swine rinds” – house made flash-fried pork rinds with Datz’s house blend of spices. They were served with a fresh lime crema for dipping. These pork rinds practically melted in your mouth once you crunched through on a bite. Dang.
Datz then served up two different entrees for us to try. First up – the Kentucky Colonel Bowl. Whoa. Boneless fried chicken was served over garlic mashed potatoes, grilled corn, and melted jack-cheddar cheese. Then…it was topped with chicken gravy and bacon. Talk about intense! This is no ordinary fried chicken dinner. I had to ask them to take it away from me after a little while – I would have consumed the entire plate if left to my own devices. Mashed potatoes with the skin still on them are a weakness of mine…
For some reason, I didn’t manage to snap a good photo of our second entree, so an iPhone photo will have to do. A plate of The Jerk was placed in front of us – featuring spicy jerk rubbed chicken breast with a sweet and spicy scotch bonnet sauce, grilled pineapple, and coconut lime cilantro rice. The combination of savory and sweet, spicy and cool was really fun for the palate.
Next, Datz served us what is probably the funniest take on an “intermezzo” I’ve ever experienced. Typically, an intermezzo would involve something light to cleanse the palate, like sorbet…but Datz does things differently. They decided to turn that concept on its head by serving up a Frito® pie grilled cheese. Give that a second to sink in…there was jack-cheddar cheese, roadhouse chili, Fritos®, and pickled jalapenos stuffed between two thick cut slices of grilled house-baked sourdough bread. It became rather quiet around the dinner table as everyone dove into at least a few bites of this concoction…and many of my dining buddies couldn’t help but finish the entire sandwich. I guess I don’t blame them – it was probably the definition of comfort food – crunchy, cheesy, beefy, melty…yowza!
At this point in the meal I was pretty much ready to wave the white flag in defeat, but I could not resist a sweet treat when it was presented to me. Datz has a new bakery called Dough, and (of course) they had to serve us up some dessert! We had a gorgeous Campfire Tart to enjoy – cold smoked Valrhona ganache in a graham cracker crush with a house made marshmallow. I was impressed with the chocolate writing skills on my plate, but was even more impressed by the rich and creamy ganache. It was decadent and an absolutely perfect way to end the evening.
Thanks again to Datz and Dine Tampa Bay for hosting such an awesome event! And if you live in the Tampa Bay area, definitely keep your eyes peeled to Dine Tampa Bay’s site for more details of Restaurant Week as they develop!
Does your city hold a restaurant week each year? Have you attended?