Day of the Week: Thursday, 5/16
Total Bill: $27 (before tax & tip) – food only
Breakdown: 2 appetizers, 1 sandwich, 1 flatbread
Verdict: Very impressive first effort.
If you’re not craft beer fanatics like us, you might not know that last week was American Craft Beer Week. Dogfish Head had tap takeovers at many bars around the country last Thursday, including at World of Beer in Carrollwood. Hubby and I have a special place in our hearts for DFH, which was some of the first craft beer we drank. (Like many others do, we started with Sea Dog Bluepaw and acquired a taste for more complex, extreme brews, moving quickly to DFH’s unique offerings.) Some of our friends are pretty into it, too, so we got a little group together.
Even though WOB Carrollwood did not have a keg of 120 Minute (and Westchase did), our group voted to go to Carrollwood. First (and most importantly), it’s much closer to home for our group, which meant if we all got too hammered to drive we could walk home or call the Mom Taxi (she’s a good sport). But we also wanted to try WOB C’wood’s new “tavern fare” menu, introduced earlier this month.
The tavern fare menu has “bar food”: soft pretzels, onion rings, flatbreads, sandwiches – that sort of thing. The announcement gave me pause. Bars are a tough business. Serving food adds a whole new layer of complexity. My feeling was that most WOB patrons (the ones who really love beer) would expect the food to be pretty good. And the prices would have to be right. Not only that, one of my favorite things about WOB was being able to bring food in. Would they restrict outside food? I worried it would somehow ruin the vibe.
When Hubby and I arrived, about 6:00, the bar was still pretty empty, so we were able to secure a high-top table along the wall. After ordering some beers and perusing the food menu, we ordered black and tan onion rings (“classic deep-fried onion rings dipped in a stout beer batter and paired with creamy horseradish sauce,” $5), golden ale battered shrimp (“shrimp dipped in a delicious craft beer batter, tender fried, tossed with a Sriracha lime aioli,” $9), Guiness “brat” sliders (“Guiness-infused bratwurst on a warm pretzel roll with caramelized onions & peppers, paired with a tangy dijon mustard,” served with your choice of chips, $7), and a BBQ chicken flatbread (“tender, juicy smoked chicken with grilled onions, peppers & bacon, smothered in Monterey jack & cheddar cheeses, finished with a drizzle of BBQ sauce,” $6).
The food came out pretty quickly but it was obvious the bartenders were still adjusting to serving food: they brought napkins but no forks, despite the messiness of the flatbread and the shrimp. Also, the forks are plastic – not sturdy enough to cut into the flatbread, which made the experience a little awkward. Maybe they have knives, too? We didn’t ask and no one offered.
The food was pretty good. Out of what we ordered, the shrimp and onion rings were the best. The onion rings were crispy and had a very unique flavor, complemented well by the creamy horseradish. The shrimp were also very crispy, but not overdone. The aioli was good but could’ve been spicier. Although we’re probably the only people who think so. I like for my lips to burn.
The flavor of the flatbread was pretty good but the whole thing was a little soggy, overloaded as it was with toppings, cheese, and sauces. They need to back it all down a little. Flatbread is not pizza; toppings should be a little spare. Flatbread should be crispy enough to pick up and eat with minimal fuss, which wasn’t possible with this.
Hubby wanted the sliders so he ordered them completely plain – just meat and bread. I don’t really like “plain” food like that so I’m not going to comment other than to say the pretzel bread was awesome and the brats had a good flavor. Next time we go I would definitely order them fully loaded to give them a better try.
As far as value for the money, WOB really nailed it. They’re not trying to be a gastropub and their prices reflect that. I get the impression the owners wanted to offer a value-added service: convenient food for hungry drinkers. Seems to me they’re still relying on beer to be their main profit center, which is a really smart move.
If you’re at WOB and feeling peckish, definitely check out their food. It’s convenient, tasty, and definitely worth the money.