Datz (Tampa)

Datz Tampa on Urbanspoon

Datz on Foodio54

Day of the Week: Friday, 2/15
Total Bill: $131.61 (before tip)
Breakdown: 3 starters, 3 entrees, 4 drinks
Verdict: Still worth a visit despite the rough start.

She says:
My mom’s birthday was the 10th. She was supposed to be out of town that day but came home early, which caught us unprepared. So we asked her out for dinner on Friday to celebrate her birthday, and also to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her. She said she wanted us to pick the place and she wanted to go somewhere she hadn’t been before. I was tempted to try Boca but the reviews on service were mixed. Hubby and I decided on Datz. We had been there twice before and had great experiences, and we knew she would like the kind of food they serve.

One thing I love about Datz is the QLess system on their website. While we were on our way to the restaurant (about 6:30), I put our party in the queue for a table. Once we arrived, we only had to wait 5 or 10 minutes. (The wait would have been about 25 minutes otherwise.)

We were shown to a table upstairs…and that’s when the trouble started. We waited for about ten minutes before anyone came to our table. A very nice girl (Nicole, I think) came over and said, “There’s some confusion about who is supposed to be your server. It won’t be me but I wanted to get your drinks going for you.” I ordered a glass of champagne ($6), Mom got a beer ($7), and Hubby ordered a 20-year Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. He’s been reading a lot about this brand in connection to a beer and said it’s very hard to find. Nicole brought my mom’s and my drinks but told Hubby they were out of the 20-year. He selected a different one (the 12-year, I think). Then no one came for about another 20 minutes.

Hubby watched while a male server apparently argued with a woman who appeared to be the manager about taking our table. Finally, he came over. “J” (I don’t feel right about using his whole name) apologized for the wait and asked Hubby if he’d like a drink. Hubby inquired about his bourbon. J went to check with the bar. J came back and said, “The bartender said it was already picked up, so tell me again what you had and I’ll get it for you myself.” Hubby told him. J came back and said, “We’re all out of the Pappy Van Winkle.” ??? I don’t like inconsistencies like that. Hubby was pretty irritated and decided just to have a Moscow Mule ($8).

After Hubby’s drink appeared, we practically had to tie J to the table to order our food. (By this time we had been there about 45 minutes.) For starters, we ordered the pear-fection flatbread (“sliced fig, asian pear, roasted red onions, crumbled blue cheese, baby arugula,” $11), mac ‘n cheese bites (“crispy bacon-jalapeño mac n’ cheese, sriracha aioli,” $8), and when pigs fly (a sampler of five different kinds of bacon, $15). The flatbread was good but the onions came raw. I’m not 100% sure that the actual menu in the restaurant said the onions would be roasted but the PDF on their site sure looks like what was printed in the menu. The mac ‘n cheese bites were delicious, as usual.

When pigs fly is described on the menu as “Datz bacon flite featuring Benton’s hickory smoked bacon, jowl bacon, back bacon, peppered bacon, and Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon served with balsamic glaze, maple syrup, red chili pepper jam, and Vosges chocolate.” So yes, you pay $15 for five pieces of bacon and some condiments. And you think it’s a good deal! Trying all those different types of bacon together is really interesting. We discovered that a) we really like back bacon and b) that’s the type of bacon we were always served during our trip to England (didn’t know what it was called at the time). The jam was a really great accompaniment to the bacon, as was the maple syrup. (The balsamic glaze didn’t do much for me.) The chocolate was salted, and that also paired well with the bacon. All three of us loved this dish.

About two minutes after the starters came, our mains appeared. We explained to the server who brought the tray up (not J) that our starters had just come. He took the mains back to the kitchen to put them under the light to stay warm. My guess is that our starters sat on the pass for several minutes after they were ready, which is why our mains overlapped.

About the time we finished our starters, the manager Hubby saw earlier appeared and asked how things were. Hubby said, “Well, actually…” and explained what had been going on. The poor woman looked like her eyes were going to pop out of her head. She was horrified. She apologized profusely and said she would take care of our meal! MAJOR POINTS FOR MAKING IT RIGHT!!!

I’m not sure if it was a coincidence, or my imagination, but this is the point in the meal when things began to turn around. Service definitely improved.

Hubby had the waffles ‘n tweet (“boneless fried chicken, cheddar Belgian waffles, sautéed spinach, jalapeno-maple syrup,” $18). Mom had the fish n’ crisps (“paper-wrapped beer-battered Atlantic cod, housemade chips, malt vinegar powder,” $18). I had the chicken little (“black tea-spiced, baby, free range, pistachio cranberry quinoa, honey-fig sautéed spinach, asian pear chutney,” $22). Hubby’s chicken was good but we all had to agree Mom’s fried chicken is better. But the waffles and syrup were fantastic! Mom seemed to like her fish, although she didn’t say much.

My chicken little was AWESOME. I don’t usually order something like that (I usually go for the fried or cheesy dish) but I absolutely loved it and would absolutely get it again. The chicken is the cutest, tiniest chicken you’ve ever seen. (If you’re eating with vegetarians, probably skip this dish.) The spice rub on it is really fantastic. The quinoa was phenomenal, as was the chutney. The spinach was pretty good, too. (I ate mine and Hubby’s.) I had a Honey Badger with dinner (no description online but it was kind of like a bourbon sour, $10), because I am the OG Honey Badger.

We probably would’ve gotten dessert but by the time we finished dinner we had been there about two hours and we were ready to go. That’s a shame for both us (I wanted Oreo beignets!) and the restaurant (which lost out on an additional sale).

The manager was good to her word: when the bill came, the only thing we paid for was the Honey Badger. I felt a little sorry for J. Every item that had been comped said underneath the original charge “30 MINUTE GREET, Server Error.” Ouch. On our way out, we saw the manager at the hostess stand and thanked her again. She reiterated that is not how their service is supposed to work, that she was shocked, and that it would be addressed.

Despite the rough start this visit, I would definitely go back. The manager seemed genuine about her desire for high service standards (which is what we’ve experienced in the past), so I’m willing to call this an anomaly until additional evidence to the contrary. Datz’s food is really good and they love to put a little twist on the familiar.

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About twofoodiesinlove

About the couple: We are thirtysomethings. We’ve known each other since 2001 when we were in college together and we got married in 2009. About the wife: She’s been an accountant since 2004 and loves numbers maybe a little too much. She eats and cooks and bakes and drinks and constantly has to watch her weight because of it. About the husband: He’s a government employee… for 9 years… he likes nice people who don’t talk too much and FOOD!!! He’s a fatty who loves beer, wine and clear spirits. He likes to cook, usually stuff that is too hard for him but usually turns out well. he tries to watch his weight as it goes by at the speed of light but can’t seem to see it… oh and he loves the Wifey. she rocks.
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