Thursday, September 20, 2018
Dining

Maple Street Biscuits now open, bringing much-needed biscuits to St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — I was prepared. I’d been to the Maple Street Biscuit location in Tallahassee in our circuitous escape from Hurricane Irma. The woman behind the counter was going to ask me my favorite childhood television show so it could be called out when my order was ready. Gilligan’s Island, I would say smoothly. Or, if I had a last-second wild hair, The Brady Bunch.

"Your favorite band?"

Wait, I wasn’t expecting that. I froze. The Beatles? Too obvious. She would judge me. Something hip and new. CupcakKe or Amber Mark? No, trying too hard. Relax.

"The Beatles?"

No judgment, just one nod as I proffered a credit card to pay for my Reinhold (flaky biscuit, all-natural fried chicken breast, thick-cut crunchy rounds of dill pickle, little slather of honey mustard; $6) and an iced chai latte ($4). I milled around for a bit in the airy space that opened today at 662 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg, in what until recently was the slightly grungy Local 662. Ordering counter up here, biscuit bakery and prep area behind it, a whole bunch of individual and communal tables and plenty of outdoor seating.

TAMPA TOO: Maple Street Biscuits comes to Carrollwood

While my Reinhold was being engineered, I decided to take the temperature of the place. How was it doing on its debut day? Tim Sanders of Tampa comes from a Southern biscuit tradition. His dad makes them at home. Maple Street pronouncement: A great biscuit, really homemade tasting.

Quinton Rouse of St. Petersburg got the BAM! YoYo ($10), embarrassing to order, yes, but in his estimation a fine exemplar of what chicken and waffles can be. But that price?

"It’s chicken and waffles, so you’re going to pay a little bit more. It’s worth it."

Aaron Morales of St. Petersburg sat nearby, over crumbs of what had been the Chicken Club biscuit (biscuit, fried chicken breast, pecanwood bacon, spinach, tomato, honey mustard; $7).

"The chicken was amazing: juicy, crispy outside. The bacon and spinach were great, and I thought the price was appropriate."

I had to cut him short. I heard it: "The Beatles!"

Tampa Bay is not biscuit country. A few months ago Garden & Gun magazine called me: What’s the best biscuit in your area? I froze (I guess I do that a lot). I muddled through, named Ella’s in Tampa, but realized that Pinellas County is biscuit impoverished. Many people say this is because Florida, especially the further south you go, isn’t the South. Just the Panhandle has a twang.

And look back to those early Florida pioneers: White flour was a luxury encountered only infrequently, butter nearly like gold. There were corn cakes, coontie flour concoctions, but not a whole lot of white flour biscuits.

But Maple Street is an all-Florida invention, started by Scott Moore and Gus Evans in Jacksonville in 2012, with four locations there now, one in Jacksonville Beach, two in Tally and one each in Gainesville, St. Augustine, Fleming Island and Oviedo, branching outside the state with five in Tenn. (two in Knoxville), two in South Carolina and four in Georgia. Notice anything about this list? Lots of college towns. College kids like biscuits: Portable, customizable, not too expensive and exceptional as a hangover remedy.

How was my Reinhold? Hard to pick up, more a fork and knife affair, but really satisfying, the pickle rounds providing a salty counterpoint to the sweet buttery biscuit and plush fried chicken. The Food Network has praised the place on its show Guilty Pleasures, singling out the Squawking Goat as of note (biscuit, fried chicken breast, fried goat cheese medallion, house-made pepper jelly). That’s what I’m getting next. And I’ll have a better band idea by then.

Comments
New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Billís Off the Hook

New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Billís Off the Hook

COMING SOON: OLIVIAChris Ponte, right, has been a steady and notable culinary leader in our area for more than a decade with his flagship restaurant Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. A couple of years ago he mixed things up a bit by debuting On Swann in Hyde...
Published: 09/19/18
Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

TAMPA Do you have this debate? "Florida is not in the South." "Um, look at a map." I guess I am in the former camp: It seems Florida gets more Southern the more north and west you go, accents only creeping in as reliably as boiled peanuts up on the ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Chefs offer up a taste of whatís coming to Sparkman Wharf

Chefs offer up a taste of whatís coming to Sparkman Wharf

TAMPA ó On Wednesday night, about 60 people got a sneak preview of what Tampa diners soon will experience at Sparkman Wharf, part of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa neighborhood that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners are developing in what...
Published: 09/14/18
Whatís new in food: Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, National Cheeseburger Day

Whatís new in food: Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, National Cheeseburger Day

DINE AROUND: CLEARWATER BEACH RESTAURANT WEEKPromoted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week is celebrating its ninth year Friday through Sept. 23. The culinary celebration offers foodies an opportunity to exper...
Published: 09/12/18
Restaurant review: Part fish shack, part high-end cocktail bar, Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg thrives on a fresh approach

Restaurant review: Part fish shack, part high-end cocktail bar, Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg thrives on a fresh approach

ST. PETERSBURGI value restaurants and people the same way, I suppose. I like those with a take. They donít have to be the smartest or the prettiest, but the ones I like have a unique perspective, something that differentiates them from everybody else...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/11/18
Tampaís Fly Bar and Restaurant will move locations

Tampaís Fly Bar and Restaurant will move locations

TAMPA ó Restaurant announcements for Sparkman Wharf and Strategic Property Partnersí 50-acre Water Street Tampa project have come fast and furious the past couple weeks. With a price tag of more than $3 billion and reading like a whoís who of Tampa B...
Published: 09/07/18
James Beard winner Anne Kearney to open Oak & Ola in Armature Works

James Beard winner Anne Kearney to open Oak & Ola in Armature Works

TAMPA ó It was always part of the plan for the 22,000-square-foot Heights Public Market at Armature Works to have two anchor restaurants in addition to the fourteen quick-serve vendors. The developers debuted Steelbach, a sprawling steaks and chops b...
Published: 09/06/18
Whatís new in food: The Artisan, Big Rayís Fish Camp, Joe and Sonís Olive Oils

Whatís new in food: The Artisan, Big Rayís Fish Camp, Joe and Sonís Olive Oils

COMING SOON: THE ARTISANGulfport is heating up. Iíve been hearing raves about Golden Dinosaurs vegan deli, and now it seems that seasoned restaurateurs Michael Stewart, left, and Tom Golden will open an art and food collective called the Artisan in G...
Published: 09/05/18
Updated: 09/06/18
Are tacos the new burgers? A slew of new taco-centric places in Tampa Bay make the case

Are tacos the new burgers? A slew of new taco-centric places in Tampa Bay make the case

One thing has remained constant. Ketchup may give way to salsa as the dominant condiment, with sriracha nipping at its heels, but for decades the hamburger has been the No. 1 most-purchased menu item in food service. There it is, the hallowed beef pa...
Published: 09/05/18
Tampaís Columbia Restaurant will be tented for termites

Tampaís Columbia Restaurant will be tented for termites

Ringling Brothers may have been put to bed, but thereís another serious big top soon to be erected in Tampa.Tampaís Columbia Restaurant is said to be the oldest restaurant in the state, as well as the largest ó a whole city block in historic Ybor Cit...
Updated one month ago