Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Stein & Vine, Brandon, FL

I'm thrilled to announce to my fellow gastronomically challenged neighbors in East Hillsborough County that I have sniffed out and unearthed a juicy bone hidden gem in the neighborhood (just call me the "Brandon Truffle Pig"). Not-so-adorably nestled between a Dollar Store and a gun shop in the run-down strip mall at the corner of Kings and Bloomingdale with "Pub" being the only shingle denoting that there even IS a bar behind the darkened windows (much less a restaurant), the initial visual might send you skittering to the innocuous safety of the nearest Crapplebees....but hold off, Young Grasshopper.  Don't judge a book by its cover.

Looks inviting, right?  Okay...maybe not so much.

Almost astonishingly, beyond the humble exterior lies a warm and inviting neighborhood gastropub with friendly waitstaff, a somewhat limited but enticing and creative menu, and an eclectic chalkboard selection of beer and wine.  Although practically full at 6:00 PM on a Saturday evening, we relished in the low-key, convivial vibe of the venue.  Both the flat-screens at the bar and the piped-in soft rock music were nicely dialed down to a convo-friendly level. I haz a new home away from home!

UD and I opted to dine at the bar where we got prompt, friendly and knowledgeable service from the lovely Katie. Since one of my New Year's Resolutions was to eat healthier and include more veggies in my diet, I felt quite righteous gnawing Deep Fried Corn on the Cob, drenched in butter with Cajun spices. Vitamin B3 and fiber abounded. Nothing to feel guilty about here (and please don't correct me...I have very sharp teeth). So good, I didn't even mind having to floss afterwards.

Pigs actually do fly at The Stein & Vine in the form of "Pig Wings"...pork rib tips deep-fried until crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside.  Various dipping sauces are available (we chose Habanero BBQ).  Flavor and texture were off the chain the juicy porcine flesh virtually fell off of the bone.

Underdog's gigantic slice of heaven appeared in the form of a formidably-sized slab of Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf served atop Texas Toast with a hearty slather of fresh redskin mashed potatoes.  Seriously, this could feed a small village and we brought half of it home with us. Comfort food on steroids...we both loved it (heart attack be damned).

I ordered the "Flank Crisp" which consisted of tender, marinated flank steak folded along with cheese and other goodies into a big flour tortilla and pressed "Cuban Sandwich" style.  Served with freshly made roasted corn salsa and perhaps the best Tater Tots ever served on this planet (clearly, the fat in the deep fryer is frequently changed here - bonus points!), it was all egregiously tasty...which is difficult for me to admit as I am not generally much of a sandwich fan.

All of this along with two glasses of Chardonnay for me and two pints of craft beer for UD set us back $53 before gratuity. And guess what?  Portions were so huge that I don't have to cook tomorrow. Gawd bless that styrofoam box in the fridge.

The Stein & Vine on Urbanspoon

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.

1 comment:

  1. We are so glad you enjoyed yourself! Thank you for your great feedback and supporting a locally owned business! Cheers - Ty & Lacey Mathis