By | The Tampa Tribune
Published: March 15, 2012
Updated: March 15, 2012 - 7:41 AM
When you replace one of North Tampa's best known pubs, it's best to try to come up with a memorable concept.
In that respect, Dale 1891 Gastro Pub hits the mark. Fortunately, so does the food.
Opened late last year, Dale 1891 sits in the back corner of the Main Street Shopping Center in the building that for years was home to O'Brien's Irish Pub (O'Brien's is now just up the road in the Dibbs Center, near Sushi Alive and Grille 116). The new pub is named for Dale Mabry, who, of course, is the namesake of one of Tampa's most traveled thoroughfares.
Executive chef Jason Dame is experienced in the gastro pub genre, having done stints at Mad Dogs and Englishmen and at Datz. The menu is "fancified" bar food. Wings, for example, are available in Thai, Bourbon BBQ or Buffalo style. You'll also find shrimp cocktail served with shaved fennel and crispy artichoke hearts served with basil leaves and a lemon garlic aioli.
We tried the House Chips, thin slices of potatoes deep fried until crisp and sturdy enough to hold a bevy of toppings, including beer cheese, pico de gallo, stout chili and pickled jalapeños. Sure, it was a bit messy to eat, but worth the trade-off in style points for the first-rate flavors. This paired well with the Cigar City Brewing's Florida Cracker draft.
We also enjoyed the Korean Beef Tacos, which featured marinated rib-eye, jicama slaw, pico de gallo and guacamole served with a stack of fresh, crisp bib lettuce for wrapping. The bib lettuce also appears in the 1891 Waldorf salad, along with apples, dried cranberries, walnuts and blue cheese with a honey yogurt dressing. Almost too pretty to eat, and with a nice combination of textures and tangy and sweet flavors, the salad satisfied like a meal.
For heartier fare, the 1891 Angus Burger is an 8-ounce, hand-formed patty, pan seared to order and served on a sourdough roll with your choice of house chips or fries. The burger was savory and juicy, and the fries were crispy on the outside with a soft center.
For a few dollars more, you can get the mahi dinner, pan seared and served over Asian vegetables. Other entreés include pork chops served with spicy Asian cabbage and sweet fries, and an 8-ounce skirt steak finished with chimichurri and served over roasted potatoes and brocollini. Best of these was the steak, which we found fork tender and cooked to order, and it paired well with the chimichurri and pico de gallo.
Overall, Dale 1891 is an impressive addition to the area and gastronomically far more advanced than the usual pub offerings. Hopefully, North Tampa residents will give it the chance it deserves.