Tampa Bay Food Monster

...eating food since 1985.

Uncle Fat’s Tavern & Full Liquor

uncle fat's

ohhhhhhhhhhhhh yes. this is my kinda place. right? right. a tavern. and what exactly is meant, by “tavern”?

tav·ern/ˈtavərn/
Noun: An establishment for the sale of beer and other drinks to be consumed on the premises, sometimes also serving food.
See: redneck bar

right. redneck bar. got it. thanks google! so pulling into this place, parking my volkswagen in a parking lot of pickup trucks, and taking out my camera to snap pictures for the blog, i started to think maybe i was a bit out of place. i started getting nervous. but the promise of great wings as recommended by my friend was tempting enough to get me through it.

this place is located a bit “off the beaten path”, on temple terrace highway near 301. nearish. it’s in a little plaza with a sweetbay. it’s close enough to big streets for easy access, but removed just enough to get picked up by a group of angry good ol’ boys and never be seen again. it’s the sweet spot.

inside the fat's

it’s the sweet spot inside too, where you’ll find yourself seated amongst real ‘salt of the earth’ types, true fans of beer and probably nascar. the bar is clearly where the action is, so my friend and i elected to sit in a booth with a good view. we, in turn, were eyed with curiosity by some of the locals, and i had to do my best to keep from staring back, smiling, or waving at who i knew deep down would never want to be my friends.

the setup is pretty typical for this type of place, a few freestanding tables, booths along one wall, pool tables on the other side of the room, a small stage of karaoke (don’t do it! it’s a trap!!), all centered around the bar, where the lady servers lived. it’s the kinda place you’re better off electing to pick wings up from rather than dining in. because, you know, fag drags.

biggest wienny

a quick glance at the laminated placemats that serve as menus in the bar gives you an immediate sense of the class this place has. biggest “weinny”, eh? oh, uncle fatty!

the menu is divided into two large sections: “teasers” and “pleasers”. this serves the dual purpose of being indicative of portion size, and fun for the kids. teasers include the wings. pleasers includes stuff that isn’t wings. so who gives a shit. let’s get real here: i want wings, and i want them now. and nothing else on the menu is going to oh god you guys have fried pickles wtffff

fried pickles

so i had to order the fried pickles. how can i not? these are quickly becoming my favorite appetizer item. it’s the perfect combination of fried and pickle. uncle fatty’s pickles were exceptional, with a nice crisp fried exterior, somewhat thick layer of batter, and solid dill pickle chips on the inside (that’s solid as in decent quality, not toughness). best of all, the batter they used was just a bit spicy, so there was a lot going on here. served with ranch dressing, this is the kind of food you are going to burn your mouth on, over and over again.

chili cheese fries

i was also easily seduced by the chili cheese fries, being a disgusting “food monster”. so that’s two separate appetizers. I AM A MAN. these bad boys appeared to be of ore-ida descent, nothing special going on in the french fry category (outside of being well fried). the chili was disappointing, consisting entirely of seasoned beef chunks and beans. that is to say there was little to no sauce at all. which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it left the fries a bit dry and not as well coated as they could have been. the cheese was pretty damn good though. the best part here was the li’l tomatoes. there were little pieces of diced tomato throughout, which may or may not have been part of the chili, and really improved the overall quality of the fries. it was my favorite part (which is kinda sad, actually).

fatty's wings

AND THEN there were the wings. these were pretty much the wings of the gods. they were exactly what you want in a bar/grill style hot wing. fried to crisp perfection, good sized wings (a bit larger than average) covered in a good quality sauce (ordered medium, with a mild burn, basic vinegar wing sauce). these are a perfect baseline to judge all other wings by; this is what you are looking for when you order chicken wings. my only complaint is that maybe they could have used a bit more sauce, but even then there was enough at the bottom of the basket to sop up whatever extra you needed.

they are not the best wings i’ve ever had, mind you, and they are definitely not the most unique, but they are good fucking wings.

not pictured are the honey barbecue wings which i tried (and were excellent! again well fried, with a great, sticky-sweet honey barbecue sauce) and a philly cheesesteak (served with sauteed mushrooms and onions, and was entirely forgettable. the cheese was a lame white (american?), and they may have used steak-umms for the meat).

all in all, i was pretty satisfied. was it worth losing my friend over? i did mention that they raped and killed my friend, right? anyway, it wasn’t worth his life. but i would go back to pick up wings from them, that much i’m sure of. but if you do plan on dining in, check out this informative article before going, and you should be just fine.

Uncle Fat's Pub on Urbanspoon

The Vet 2010 – The Black Swan

the vet, 2010

veterans day is my favorite holiday. it’s just the best. of course, i actively celebrate veterans day, unlike most people i know. unlike all people i know, actually, except one. in fact, my friend and i may be the only two people in the world who really celebrate veterans day.

oh and before i get too much further, this has nothing to do with veterans. except maybe veterans of veterans day.

it all started in fall of 2003. i had just started my first semester of college, and we were pretty far into it. i was in the middle of work for some final projects in a few classes, and i was getting burnt out. actually, i was always kinda burnt out… not a big fan of work. so when i noticed that we had the day off for veterans day, i was more than happy to take full advantage of the fact. i called my friend who also happened to have the day off, and we resigned ourselves to hang out.

and hang out we did.

we had no plan. we just got together and drove. away from the real world. to anywhere but there. we drove up florida, stopping when and where we wanted, whenever the mood struck us. we started north. we drove through gainesville. we drove over the st. john’s river. we ended up in jacksonville, hung around downtown a bit, and then went to neptune beach, grabbed some pizza, and walked on the beach. then we bought some techno cds and blasted them as we drove back home on i4, and ended our day. exactly 560 miles of freedom.

we decided then that each year we would take veterans day off, and just do whatever we wanted. follow our hearts, and just enjoy ourselves, totally free of obligation and worry. live in the moment, and take joy in the simple things. it was no longer veterans day – it was the vet.

we’ve done it each year since. no year is quite the same, some are more magical than others, but each is a unique experience and a reminder that life can sometimes be worth living. this year was no different.

we wound up in sanford, northeast of orlando. there we searched for someplace interesting to eat. we had consulted urbanspoon, and searched endlessly for the fabled burger bar. when we couldn’t find that, we hunted down riverwalk pizzeria, which we found, but was closed. disappointing. we were near the downtown area, and decided to check out hollerbach’s willow tree cafe, which tops the list of best restaurants in sanford. we got out of the car and found many people standing around the restaurant… which turned out to be closed.

god dammit.

but we asked a local dude if anywhere around downtown was still open, and he recommended two places: two blondes and a shrimp, and the black swan. when asked which he preferred, he stated “when you get to the turn for the black swan, flip a coin.” so of course we had to do this.

and so…

the black swan

it was the black swan by a tail. it turns out the black swan is pretty much just a bar. with karaoke. and crappy bar food! i looked over the menu and ordered the “drunken chicken” with buffalo sauce (they offered a variety of different sauces, including teriyaki and garlic), along with a “corn banger”(???) and a celebration ale. i was in for some surprises.

while we waited for our food, we drank some beer and i arm wrestled a couple old ladies. after i was swiftly beaten, i was informed to “never show weakness to a woman.” apparently it is a turn-off. note taken, scary drunken woman.

so the food came out, and i was a bit shocked to receive this:

drunken chicken with buffalo sauce

this is the drunken chicken. based on the assortment of sauces, i had foolishly assumed the drunken chicken was chicken wings. instead, it was a whole bunch of fried legs and thighs, drenched in sauce. wow. i tackled it, and i was not too impressed. the chicken was dry, despite all the crappy store-bought wing sauce (crystal?). it was somewhat well fried, though; it had that homemade fried chicken taste. its saving grace was that there was a shitload of it, for 7 bucks. not bad. but not good.

corn banger

annnd the corn banger. i had no idea what i was in for when i ordered it, i was just curious. it was basically a corn dog, with sausage instead of a hot dog (thus: “corn banger”). and it was strange as hell. the batter they used was a beer batter with actual pieces of corn in it, and i believe diced peppers as well; it was sweet and quite good. the sausage inside was very mild in flavor, but about your average sausage for taste. there was no spiciness to it, which i would have liked. but the combination of the two flavors, the sweet corn batter and the light sausage… it just freaked me out. i can’t explain it. it was good, but… just very different. i would eat one again, though.

i would not, however, return to the black swan. it really was just a pub, with pub food. nothing special. it was not hell, though the shame i felt when i was bested by that drunken grandma sure was.

PS: i slept with the grandma.

The Black Swan on Urbanspoon