Now that football season is behind us — and weekend tailgating and game-gatherings are no longer the single most viable reason to justify day-drinking and carb-snarfing — allow me to present the first runner-up:
Here are some suggestions to fill those endless, dreary Sundays from now until September.
Cool Kids’ South Tampa Brunch
Datz — 2616 S. MacDill Ave.; www.datztampa.com: The hour-plus wait to be seated is ridiculously daunting — but SO worth it. Many of the mammoth entrees are served with a Southern twist, such as a stack of red velvet pancakes with cream cheese icing, a Chicken ’n’ Waffle Benedict slathered in lemony hollandaise and adorable little individual servings of monkey bread. Datz gets kudos for a menu that incorporates some of my fave high-quality products, including Neuske’s and Benton’s bacon, Anson Mills stone-ground grits and Wolferman’s English muffins.
Cool Kids’ South Tampa Brunch Deux
Boca Hyde Park — 901 W. Platt St., Tampa; www.bocatampa.com: Boca clearly understands brunch’s primary purpose, which is to serve as a sponge soaking up Saturday night’s transgressions. Case in point: the Hangover Panini with Boca sausage and bacon, caramelized onions, scrambled eggs and Gruyere. No matter what your state of health, you can’t go wrong with the Blackened Shrimp Benedict served atop rustic toast with a sidecar of golden-brown and chunky fried potatoes. Berry-laden little mason jars filled with fruity red sangria will help even the hardest of cases ease into Monday Eve.
Bountiful Buffet Brunch
Jackson’s Bistro — 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa; www.jacksonsbistro.com: I am not generally a big fan of buffets, but Jackson’s does an admirable job of keeping their brunch stations refreshed and replenished. The quality and quantity of the food imparts a big bang for a relatively modest $21.95, which, coupled with its downtown waterfront view, makes it a popular spot. If you can handle jockeying for position in line, there’s a lot of value to be found here.
Big Beach Brunch
The Frog Pond — 16909 Gulf Blvd., North Redington Beach: The wait is invariably long and service is slow, but once your lumberjack-worthy menu selection arrives you’ll be transported to brekkie nirvana. The theme hits you over the head like an anvil, but it’s so freaking cute, you embrace the frog. I can’t help ordering the Frog Benedict. Every. Single. Time. Perfectly poached eggs, Canadian bacon, mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese are served atop toasted English muffins, along with a pile of crispy hash browns, and the entire artery-clogging masterpiece is awash in a sea of Hollandaise. If bennies aren’t your thing, try one of the Pond’s five- to seven-egg made-to-order omelets.
See and Be Scene Brunch
Parkshore Grill — 300 Beach Drive N.W., St. Petersburg; www.parkshoregrill.com: Parkshore Grill is a perennial crowd pleaser, and I bestow bonus points because it (a) is dog-friendly and (b) offers a brunch menu on both Saturday AND Sunday (how civilized is THAT?). The brunch menu is not terribly lengthy, but it includes a fine rendition of shrimp and grits with andouille sausage and a Banana Stuffed French Toast with Maple Butter, Candied Spiced Pecans and Applewood Smoked Bacon that you will want to make a permanent fixture in your life. (I took mine to the movies and introduced it to my parents.)
What are your favorite brunch spots in the Tampa Bay area? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hungry for more? Denise Parker’s blog is http://sweetpollyfood.blogspot.com/.