Saturday, April 21, 2018
Restaurants

Pretzel-bread sandwiches

Decades from now, the history books will claim that the Great Pretzel-Bread Sandwich Craze of 2013 began with the introduction of Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger.

Not for me, though. I fell in love with pretzel-bread sandwiches more than a decade ago, at a little cafe in Cambridge, Mass., that served cheap but delicious sandwiches on chewy, salty, knotted-up buns. There and then, I decided: Calories be damned; every deli and restaurant in America should offer pretzel bread as an option.

Now, it seems like they are. In droves. Wendy's, Dunkin' Donuts, Steak 'n Shake and Sonic all have rolled out pretzel-bread sammies in 2013; Ruby Tuesday launched an entire pretzel-burger menu. And while these may be the most visible entries into the pretzel-bread scene, here in Tampa Bay, they're far from the best.

For example, lunchers in Tampa are overwhelmed with quality options at the Oxford Exchange, the museum-esque tea room and brunchery across from the University of Tampa, so it's possible to overlook the Pork Belly & Blue Burger ($13) — a belt-busting burger topped with bacon, fried egg, smoked paprika aioli, bibb lettuce and tomato, all served on the restaurant's signature toasted pretzel buns, baked in-house each morning. The saltiness of the pretzel is overwhelmed by the blue cheese and bacon flavors, but there's a lovely crisp to the bread. It's messy, though, so be prepared to use a knife and fork. For something a little simpler, try the OE Grilled Pretzelwich ($10), a ham, cheddar, honey and jalapeno sandwich served on a cinnamon-chili-dusted pretzel roll.

Ham and cheese, you'll find, is a common refrain among the pretzel-bread set. Just up Kennedy, The Bungalow serves a massive Twisted Ham & Swiss ($9) that's greasy, salty and slathered in tangy mustard and served with crispy golden fries. Perfect pub grub, in other words.

Speaking of pub grub: The Pub at International Plaza has a Ham and Swiss Pub Pretzel ($9.95). It comes with Guinness-battered onion straws and mustard. But the ham and swiss isn't the Pub's best pretzel-bread sammie. That honor goes to the Welsh Dip Pub Pretzel ($12.95), which is sort of a cross between a French dip and a Philly cheesesteak — it's sliced prime rib, green peppers, onions, melted mozzarella and provolone with a side of au jus.

The World of Beer is well known as a craft beer lovers' destination, both in Tampa Bay and beyond. But most locations don't serve food. That's not the case at the World of Beer in Carrollwood, which has a diverse and filling menu of "tavern fare," including fried foods, flatbread pizzas and curiosities like chicken and waffles, a Scotch egg and something called a "pint of bacon." For $8, you can order a hand-rolled pretzel, the size of a dinner plate, which comes hanging from a hook like a wreath. Or you can go with one of two pretzel-bread sandwiches: The Guinness "Brat" Slider, which is Guinness-infused bratwurst with carmelized onions, peppers and Dijon mustard on a quartered pretzel roll; and the Smoked Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, a smoked breast slathered in bacon, Swiss and chipotle aioli. The menu helpfully suggests a beer pairing — a stout for the brats, an IPA for the chicken — and at the World of Beer, you won't want for options.

The one thing all these sandwiches have in common is, well, they're kind of common. Pretzel-bread burgers and ham-and-cheeses can be found in taverns all over the country. But there is one place in Tampa Bay that dares to think outside the biergarten: O'Maddy's Bar & Grille in Gulfport.

O'Maddy's has named most of the sandwiches on its menu for a staffer, such as Jess's Crab Crab Cake Sandwich — a backfin lump and crab-claw cake on a toasted pretzel bun with chipotle mayo, lettuce tomato and onion. It's spicy and zesty, and the bun's crisp, smoky rim adds a perfect texture you didn't know you were craving.

As a bonus, O'Maddy's doubles as a friendly and laid-back beach bar, with a huge menu of tropical drinks and an open-air bar that faces the water. So as you're inhaling your salty sammie, you can also inhale the salty Floridian air.

Comments
Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

For nearly 60 years it was breads, cakes and pastries, up before dawn for the Perrone family in Armenia Garden Estates. For a minute it looked like Tampa’s Housewife Bake Shop was going to close, but third-generation owner Tena Perrone said on Wednes...
Published: 04/19/18
Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

TERRA GAUCHATerra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, a classic churrascaria-style Brazilian meatery — you know, where the guys in South American cowboy attire walk around with the swords of meat until you capitulate in a carnivorous haze — has opened a loc...
Published: 04/18/18
Food events this weekend: Blueberry Festival, Whiskey Obsession, Taste of Carrollwood and more

Food events this weekend: Blueberry Festival, Whiskey Obsession, Taste of Carrollwood and more

WORTH THE DRIVE: Ocala Culinary FestivalThe Ocala Culinary Festival runs through Sunday with dozens of food and educational events throughout Ocala and Marion County. The list is impressive, tickets for events priced individually. Here is a sampler: ...
Published: 04/12/18
Tampa restaurant Steelbach’s Florida-raised beef program could be a model for true farm-to-table dining

Tampa restaurant Steelbach’s Florida-raised beef program could be a model for true farm-to-table dining

TAMPATrust me, this will be a restaurant review. In a couple of minutes. First, we need to dive into something the new Steelbach at Armature Works is doing that is ground-breaking, disruptive, way-outside-the-box. It’s so forward-thinking that Commis...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/12/18
10 questions with Molly Schuyler, the competitive eater who won $2,500 for eating a big Taco Bus burrito

10 questions with Molly Schuyler, the competitive eater who won $2,500 for eating a big Taco Bus burrito

When it comes to competitive eating, Molly Schuyler is one of the best in the world. Last weekend she dominated her competition at Tampa’s Taco Bus Burrito Eating Championship by taking down a 2.5-pound "El Jefe" in just over a minute to win $...
Published: 04/10/18
Caddy’s At the Pointe apologizes for putting diner’s race on their receipt

Caddy’s At the Pointe apologizes for putting diner’s race on their receipt

A Bradenton restaurant has publicly apologized for a server who described a table by including the diners’ race. A photograph of a Caddy’s At the Pointe receipt posted to Facebook shows the table was entered into the restaurant’s p...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/10/18
Maple Street Biscuits now open, bringing much-needed biscuits to St. Pete

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...
Updated one month ago
This weekend’s food festivals: Celebrate wine, craft soda, shrimp and crawfish

This weekend’s food festivals: Celebrate wine, craft soda, shrimp and crawfish

CHEERS: TO DALÍRaise a glass or two to welcome spring as the Dalí hosts its seventh annual signature wine and food tasting, Los Vinos de Dalí, on Sunday from 3-7 p.m. Both Old World and New World wines are paired with tapas tastings from area restaur...
Updated one month ago
Florida chef Jeanie Roland talks competing on ‘Iron Chef Gauntlet’ and the time she beat Bobby Flay

Florida chef Jeanie Roland talks competing on ‘Iron Chef Gauntlet’ and the time she beat Bobby Flay

In August 2015, Punta Gorda chef Jeanie Roland beat world-famous Bobby Flay with her signature moules-frites (that’s mussels and fries). Let’s say Flay got filleted by a petite, now 51-year-old chef in a fairly sleepy waterside Florida town not known...
Updated one month ago
Free Little Caesars for lunch today for all of America, thanks to UMBC’s NCAA upset

Free Little Caesars for lunch today for all of America, thanks to UMBC’s NCAA upset

TAMPA — Who doesn’t love free food? Who doesn’t love pizza? Well, thanks to Little Caesars and some March Madness, everybody in the country can get free pizza today. Before the NCAA men’s basketball tournament started, Little...
Updated one month ago