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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Do Datz Again

I had the most amazing and wonderful thing for dinner this last Friday evening...a pork chop. Well, a big whoop, you might offer, "What's so special about a pork chop?" I'll tell you what's so special. With this country's paranoid avoidance of anything that isn't fat free, our farmers and food producers have gone out of their way to breed as much fat as possible out of our livestock.

What they have accomplished is to remove all taste, tenderness, and juiciness from the meats we eat. This is a tragedy for those of us who still appreciate foods with flavor. It might also be appropriate to point out that it's not a bit of meat fats that are turning this country into the land of the obese. We are becoming huge because we don't exercise, and we seem to have this idea that since we are a land of plenty that we need to stuff as much of that plenty as possible down our throats.
Travel Channel photo

We even cheer for those who make gluttony a virtue and a spectator sport. As a 'for instance': "Man v. Food [...] After 3 years of eating his way across America, Adam’s heard the Man v. Food Nation…they want a piece of the action."

I will now step down from my soapbox and let Datz Deli , 2616 South MacDill Avenue, Tampa, take center stage.

We have dined at Datz many times over the last several years and have always been delighted to return. During a visit several weeks ago, we discovered that Datz was in the process of making a few changes to their menu. One of my absolute favorite items on the older menu was the Amarillo Cowboy Steak, a bone-in ribeye that was to swoon over. That ribeye was no longer on the menu.

I was devastated!

The server suggested (politely) that I cowboy myself up and give the Cola-Cola Ribeye a try. As this item has no bone-in and I do love gnawing on the bone, I reluctantly gave it a try. It was so good I totally forgot about the missing bone.

This ribeye was marinated in Coca-Cola and hoisin for 12 hours and then cooked to medium rare perfection. Heaven on a plate!

All right then, back to last Friday.

We just beat the approaching rain squalls and the after-work crowd, so we entered a fairly empty Datz. We were promptly seated in the loft area, and presented with the finalized new menu. The loft is a great spot to people watch if you are seated at the railing.

We started our evening with an unbelievably good bottle of Spanish Vina Cune Crianza with hints of cherry pie and whisper of pimentón (Spanish paprika). The wine went well with our 'starters' and our entrées.

My bride began with Deviled Eggs stuffed with smoked trout and a dab of fried almonds with za'atar, a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. She was pleased, while I thought them a little bland.

I hit the zenith of gastronomic delight with the Pork 'Wich (be still my quivering receptors of fatty pork excellence). This pastrami-smoked Berkshire pork belly was served atop slivers of pumpernickel, with pickled mustard seeds, cabbage, and Russian dressing. I could have made this my entrée had it been served in a larger size (hint, hint). It was so-o-o-o-o good!

The Belle of Ballast Point is a hussy for meatloaf, so Barry C's Stuffed Meatloaf was her orgasmic delight of the evening - food wise that is. When it became my turn to order, I waffled between the Coca-Cola Ribeye and the Palm Ridge Pork Chop. Tina, our very charming server of the evening, assured me that I would not be disappointed with the pork chop - so, I went for it.

This bone-in chop braised in Palm Ridge bourbon and vanilla, then grilled over mesquite was so tender, tasty, and juicy it pert-near brought tears to my eyes. Gracious goodness, was that chop ever good, perfectly cooked with a warm pink center.

And no, pork doesn't have to be cooked to death. It used to be, in the old days, that pork had to be cooked through to as high as a gazillion degrees. That is no longer true today thanks to the better conditions under which pig farming is conducted.

This was a most memorable meal for me - tender, juicy, flavorful, and I got two bones to gnaw on. I quiver in ecstasy at the very thought!

We ended the evening by sharing a cupcake, but not just any cupcake. This thing was a monster oozing with chocolate and slathered with a vanilla frosting.

Do your taste buds and tummy a favor and Datz yourself into a stupor. We did and loved it! I don't remember the cost, but whatever it was, it was worth every shekel.

Datz Tampa on Urbanspoon

Datz on Foodio54


  1. Another reason to get the reluctant hubby over the bridge, my great divide to a good food adventure. Masterfully written as always, my friend.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. And as I said on another post, it is wonderful to hear from you again. You were missed.