Saturday, November 5, 2011

Campbell's Dairyland, Brandon, FL

Sometimes you just need a greasy, decadent "retro" fix with no redeeming nutritional value whatsoever, and Campbell's starts whispering your name. Although it looks like it's been around since the '60s, Brandon has only been graced with the presence of this kitschy little spot for half that time (since 1985).

There's a small area with vintage playground equipment on the outdoor patio...ideal for keeping small children and ADHD-suffering spousal units occupied while your order is being prepared.

While the menu board charitably reminds you to "Have a Jesus-Filled Day", one look at Campbell's offerings makes it imminently clear that Satan is really the one at the helm here. Eggplant fries? Thank you...don't mind if I do.

These guys serve up the best chili dogs I've ever tasted and adding a crown of their delightfully cool, crunchy and fresh-tasting slaw only serves to enhance this fabu dawg. They are presented nestled in a soft poppy seed bun and topped with a thick, meaty, beanless chili. Eggplant fries are always hot and crispy, served with a side of ranch dressing for dipping. Addicting.

Underdog must've been channeling me tonight, because he zeroed right in on the most expensive thing on the menu...the $10.95 Admiral's Platter. I recoiled in horror because it would never occur to me to order seafood at what I consider to be a hot dog and ice cream stand, but most of it was tastier than I thought it would be (which is not to say that I in any way recommend it unless you're drunk). The crab cake was actually quite good...very moist and crabby inside, hot and crispy on the outside. Fish filet and shrimp tasted like they were the frozen breaded variety, but still weren't bad considering the venue. Fries were also perfect and right out of the fryer (Campbell's prepares everything to order, which I appreciate...there's even a sign in their drive-thru window urging your patience while reminding you that "nothing is sitting under a heat lamp waiting for you to show up"). More of the creamy cole slaw was served on the side. I must say that it all DID photograph in a scarily unappetizing way in spite of the fact that UD snarfed most of it down in short order.

No trip to Campbell's is complete without at least a nibble of their onion rings, so we shared an order of those, too.

Jesus was clearly on holiday this week because when we most needed divine intervention to quell our artery-clogging, sinfully gluttonous feeding frenzy, help was nowhere to be found. So we ordered ice cream.

Jimbo got a "small" Blizzard-type concoction with chocolate ice cream and Heath bar pieces. He had it made with sugar-free soft serve (available at Campbell's in both vanilla and chocolate), which he felt quite righteous about. Okay...maybe Jesus hadn't completely vacated the premises.

Beelzebub was still steering when I selected Dulce de Leche ice cream, however...but what else could I do? Since chardonnay is a notoriously poor source of calcium, I have to get my women's minimum daily requirement from somewhere. The huge scoop was a creamily dreamy, sweet and salty concoction oozing caramel goodness. Only old-school cake cones are available...none of those of-the-devil, new-fangled sugar or waffle cones here.

The offerings at Campbell's are kicked up fast-food that bring to mind another era. It's a local jewel for all hormonal women to treasure. Don't ask for the nutritional don't want to know. Wash it all down with a Diet Coke if you need to feel better about yourself.

Campbell's Dairy Land on Urbanspoon

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