Thursday, July 19, 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
Deep-fried wonders at Plant City Strawberry Festival to be featured on Cooking Channel

Deep-fried wonders at Plant City Strawberry Festival to be featured on Cooking Channel

The strawberry-laden and deep-fried wonders of Plant City’s Florida Strawberry Festival will be featured on two episodes of the TV series Carnival Eats, the first on July 29.The Cooking Channel series features host Noah Cappe as he marvels at the "ga...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Nitally’s set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Nitally’s set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Folks who have missed testing their taste buds with a St. Petersburg eatery’s famous inferno soup will get a chance to do so once again.Nitally’s ThaiMex Cuisine, which closed its downtown St. Petersburg location in May, will open soon in a smaller l...
Published: 07/18/18
Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Not that many years ago, downtown Safety Harbor was a little lean on places to eat. Green Springs Bistro had been an anchor, Whistle Stop and Cello’s Char House, too. But no one would have called it a dining destination. It was too bad: The city of 1...
Published: 07/18/18
Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Five or six years ago, if you were to stand on the steps of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and look north along the Hillsborough River, there wouldn’t be much to see. Just a couple of old warehouses and some rubble in the area ...
Published: 07/18/18
In South Tampa, create a dinearound with stops at Bern’s, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel

In South Tampa, create a dinearound with stops at Bern’s, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel

I had a specific vision for my 35th birthday.Relaxation mostly. Bathrobe. Wine. Maybe a massage or a pool. Food, food, food. A handful of close friends. I did some research at beach hotels in Clearwater and St. Pete Beach and found the price range ou...
Published: 07/18/18
Bowled over: From acai to poke, the top 10 bowls in Tampa Bay

Bowled over: From acai to poke, the top 10 bowls in Tampa Bay

Why, exactly, are bowls the new plates?The Wall Street Journal declared it so. Tableware companies like Fiesta have reported serious double-digit growth in the sale of bowls — salad bowls, cereal bowls, you name it. Fast-food restaurants have jumped ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Ybor City mainstay La Segunda opens second location, introduces seating

Ybor City mainstay La Segunda opens second location, introduces seating

TAMPA — It’s like stepping off Kennedy Boulevard right into Ybor City.From the exposed brick and wrought iron accents to the street lamp-styled globe lights hanging from the ceiling and the signage — blue and red divided by a ribbon of gold — the new...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18
This Florida burger joint is one of the 10 best in America, travel website says

This Florida burger joint is one of the 10 best in America, travel website says

A 2½-hour drive south could land Tampa residents at one of America’s best burger joints, according the review and travel website TripAdvisor.com.The website released a list of the "10 Most Delectable Burger Joints" in America on Wednesday, placing Na...
Published: 07/14/18
Friday is National French Fry Day. Find (free!) fries in Tampa Bay.

Friday is National French Fry Day. Find (free!) fries in Tampa Bay.

Guess what Friday is? It’s National Fry Day (#FRYdayThe13th, see what they did there?). Fun fact: Their origin story may not lie in France but in Belgium. So why do we credit France? Thomas Jefferson is said to have introduced deep-fried potatoes at ...
Published: 07/11/18
We got a preview of the food at Osteria, the new Tampa restaurant from Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani

We got a preview of the food at Osteria, the new Tampa restaurant from Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani

TAMPA — The evening began with chef Fabio Viviani telling the group to fork the fluffy coccoli in front of us, break it open then stuff it with the cold smoked prosciutto de Parma and stracchino cheese delicately laid out on wooden boards. "Stracchin...
Published: 07/10/18