Day of the Week: Monday, 10/1
Estimated bill: $42 (before tip, not including drinks)
Breakdown: 1 appetizer, 2 mains, 1 side, 3 beers, 2 desserts
Verdict: Delicious food and a great place to hang out.
Dale 1891 opened in the old O’Brien’s location about a year and a half ago. O’Brien’s was dark and smelled funny, so I was extremely skeptical that it could be turned into a restaurant I would want to patronize. Dale’s proved me wrong. The first time we went there a few months after it opened I could not believe it was the same place. They must’ve taken the place down to the dry wall (and then some) because they opened up the floor plan and completely updated it. Dale’s has a modern-rustic laidback vibe that makes you want to hang out for a while. They kept the old O’Brien’s tiki bar outside and put in an additional outside lounge area.
For those of you who aren’t up on military (or Tampa) history, Dale 1891 is named after Captain Dale Mabry (of Dale Mabry Highway fame). Captain Mabry was a World War I pilot who returned home from the war only to die in an accident testing a dirigible. His actions during the accident saved several men and made him a hero. He was born in 1891. Dale 1891’s website says the pub is named for Captain Mabry to honor all service men and women, past and present.
One of Dale 1891’s owners, Scott, read our blog one night and invited us to come in for dinner. (Other than the meal, we received no compensation for this review.) When we arrived, we were greeted by Kyle, who would be our server. He was friendly and enthusiastic right off the bat. The last time we were at Dale’s was December of last year, so we were eager to see if they had maintained their quality because we really enjoyed it then.
I ordered a Belgian pale ale when we sat down. I think Dale’s has made a smart move with their beer selection. The draft list features a lot of craft beers (many of which are from Florida), while the bottle selection has more “mainstream” offerings. This is a great way to please both the people coming in for the neighborhood-bar vibe and the people coming in for the gastropub aspect.
We ordered the fire bomber shrimp ($9) to start because they sounded very similar to Bonefish Grille’s bang bang shrimp, which I love, but that is the ONLY thing I love there, so I just had to go without. Dale’s shrimp beat the pants off Bonefish. The shrimp are bigger, so, as Hubby put it, you get a better shrimp-to-breading ratio. Scott and his wife, Steph, came over during our appetizers to check on us and chat for a few. They are both so friendly and hands-on. You can tell they work hard and love their restaurant.
I ordered the Cuban for my dinner because Kyle told us when he seated us that the pickles on the Cuban sandwich are made in-house. How could I resist that?! Dale’s Cuban is one of the best I’ve had. They didn’t reinvent the wheel with this sandwich, they just made the best darn wheel they could. The pork is flavorful, the pickles are fresh with a heavy dill flavor, and the bread (from La Segunda) is perfect. The sandwich is also huge (I took half home), and served with a large portion of fries. This sandwich is $9. It is worth every penny and more.
The mac & cheese with smoked bacon and beer was awesome ($5 for the side order portion). The smokiness of the bacon really comes through but somehow doesn’t overpower the beer. I’ve had bacon mac & cheese before but never mac & cheese with beer – why did no one think of this sooner?! What a great combination.
For dessert we had the chocolate cake and the pumpkin praline cheesecake ($5 each, I think). The chocolate cake is good but very rich, so I definitely recommend sharing this because the piece is huge. The pumpkin praline cheesecake is some of the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. The texture of it is very fluffy and it’s not overly sweet, which it could have easily been because of the praline topping. The praline topping was noteworthy because it had the right amount of saltiness to it, like pralines are supposed to have. I am very impressed that Dale 1891 makes their desserts in-house (apparently, the man with the talent is a chef named Willy). A lot of restaurants don’t, especially if it’s just a one-location place, because it takes resources, time, and specialized knowledge. As a baker myself, I am always impressed by a restaurant that undertakes this task.
Dale 1891 is one of the most fun places in Carrollwood, and one of the few spots in the area open late (3 AM every night). The food: delicious and approachable. The service: friendly and welcoming. Dale 1891 is exactly what Carollwood needs and we hope it’s around for many years to come.
This place is great. Large open area, great craft beer selection on draft and not a bad bottle selection either. They have about 30 drafts and just as many bottles. Lots of TV’s to watch sports. A vast selection of liquors to make good cocktails with. Having been to this restaurant about five times before I like that the menu is constantly changing. Started with a Tampa Bay Brewing Black IPA. Super hoppy and fresh, which is important for an IPA.
For an app we had the fire bomber shrimp. DANG, these were fantastic. They were large shrimp fried and had a spicy creamy Asian style sauce on them. They were a little spicy but they had a great flavor. They are reminiscent of the bang bang shrimp you get at Bonefish Grille but better because they are larger and have a better breading on them.
For an entrée I had the chicken brie sandwich ($9). This was a chicken breast, brie, and green apples on an awesome bun. The chicken breast was super thin and very lean, exactly the way I like it. The apples were fresh and sliced thin. The brie was soft and melty sitting on top of the chicken breast. This is one of my new favorite sandwiches because I like the tart granny smith apples with the salty cheese and the juicy chicken. I also loved the cold apple with the hot chicken. All of this combined really made the sandwich come together. The sandwich comes with regular fries but I substituted sweet potato fries (usually a $1 up-charge), which were awesome. Crispy with just the right amount of the large white salt you get on pretzels.
The wife had a Cuban which I had a large bite of. Delicious. Their pork was really well done and the Cuban bread was crisp yet soft and not soggy.
For a side we had one of the best mac n cheeses in town. It was a bacon and beer cheese macaroni. Big plus for using the large tube spirals instead of elbow. Makes a better cheese to pasta ratio. The beer really adds a distinct flavor that you cannot get anywhere else in Tampa. The bacon also added that awesome… BACON flavor that I love. Possibly one of the best things on the menu.
For dessert we had the chocolate cake and a pumpkin praline cheesecake. The chocolate cake was moist, simple and delicious. Rich chocolate cake with equally rich frosting. The only downside of it was that it was a little cold. Now onto the pumpkin praline cheesecake. DAMN. This was delicious. It had an awesome shortcake-like crust, with a great pumpkin filling and the topping was a bunch of candied walnuts and a great caramel sauce. Definitely a must try if you go.
I also had a CCB Jai Alai. Another great beer.
My conclusion is that I would definitely go back. The server was awesome. The food was fantastic and the place is fun.