DATZ. The man. The myth. The legend. Well it may not be a man. Really it’s more like a baby. Born at the start of 2009, this baby is nearing two whole years old. But the atmosphere feels well worn and hip, much more like a twenty-something. Ready to party. Maybe ready to slip you a roofie? No no no! No that’s not right. Just a cool guy, with lots of beer, and lots of meats. The kind of guy you’d like to hang out with sometimes, but not all the time, because maybe he’s a bit too cool for school. Annoyingly cool.
Two hour wait to be seated cool.
I called ahead for our party of six, expecting there to be a bit of a wait without a reservation. But I was told that they didn’t do traditional reservations, and instead I should text “datz” to their QLess queuing service. Once you do that, you will receive prompts about your party, how many people and what time, etc. Then you will be put on a waiting list. I was told to text thirty minutes before arriving. And so I did. I received the response “SERVICE DOWN”. Aw.
So when we got there (on MacDill, just down the street from Byblos), we were told that there would be a two hour wait to be seated. The place was packed, with crowds of people eating, and crowds of people waiting to eat. Also there was some dude upstairs (yeah this place is two story… sweet) playing an acoustic guitar and singing really loudly. It was intrusively loud. Well, my group had a movie to catch, so there was no way we were willing to wait two hours. But then, as though Jesus himself were our hostess, I was told that we could sit outside on the patio if we chose to, and be sat immediately. Of course, it was [Florida] cold outside, and for the inconvenience, we were told we would be given free appetizers and dessert. That seals the deal. If it was snowing outside we would have taken the offer. Hells yes.
We all sat down and were fairly quickly greeted by our server. She was really cool, and humored all of our questions about what’s the best on the menu, what beer to get, and if she participated in roller derby (she does). Regarding the beer, Datz has apparently pokevolved from simple deli in their early days (way back in 2009) to something of a pub/deli hybrid (the much more recent 2010), with a long, ever-changing list of craft beers on tap. It’s similar to Dunderbak’s in that aspect. So make sure to take advantage of that.
And speaking of taking advantage, we ordered three appetizers, all of which ended up being comped! Two of the appetizers were their flatbreads:
They were basically pizzas, each with a liberal helping of tomato sauce, and a bunch of cheese (mozzarella on both, with parmesan on the Margherita and smoked gouda on the Piggy). The Margharita was nice and light, with sparse toppings, serving much better as an appetizer than the Piggy, which was basically a meal in itself (it was all topping – sweet and spicy sausage, and bacon). The flatbread they were on was perfectly crisp and flaky. And there were seven slices of each for everyone to share, which is quite a lot for an appetizer.
I also ordered the Datz Wings, as I have sworn to do at any place that offers them. As my first wings of 2011, I have to say they were quite underwhelming! Good job, Datz. Nothing wrong with these wings, they had a pretty standard sauce, but you could hardly taste it past the baked flavor they had. They were a good size, and they came with a side of coleslaw (yuck) which was nice. If you get these, ask for extra sauce.
For the main feast, I felt I had to order a sandwich, Datz being a deli and all. But they did have a huge dinner menu packed with sandwiches as well as down home American regional dishes (like chicken and waffles, and creole shrimp and grits). I went ahead and ordered the Roger’s Rockin’ Reuben, with a side of garlic smashed potatoes. (Note: if you ever go to a place that offers their potatoes smashed rather than mashed, you order those potatoes. And you like it.)
The sandwich was huge. It came with Datz'(?) special homemade potato chips, which were drizzled with blue cheese dressing. The chips were delicious, sweet and salty all at once, crisp, and the blue cheese offered an interesting flavor that played well off the sweetness. The sandwich was godly, packed with a ton of delicious corned beef, with a good amount of sauerkraut and Russian dressing (just enough to taste). I do kind of wish the Swiss cheese had been a stronger presence, but it was still noticeable. The bread was an awesome thick rye, lightly grilled, just the right size to hold the sandwich together. I loved it.
The garlic smashed potatoes were passable. They were good, but nothing special, especially when set up aside Datz'(s??) potato chips (also, my friend was making a huge deal out of their bacon macaroni and cheese, which I instantly regretted not getting). They were a little too well blended to really consider smashed for me, and there could have been much more garlic involved than there was. They would be better off just calling this side “mashed potatoes”.
As for the FREE dessert, the server came back and listed all the options (they had peanut butter chocolate cake, carrot cake, banana cake, and a whole bunch of different types of gelato). I had assumed that we were getting one dessert to share with the entire table, but we all ended up ordering our own desserts when the server asked each of us individually what we’d like. I ordered the s’mores Gelato (I like s’mores, okay).
I don’t usually order gelato, or ice cream for that matter, but for whatever reason I was in the mood. It turned out to be a great choice. The chocolate gelato was blended with a generous amount of marshmallow fluff, and something that seemed more like peanuts than graham cracker. Whatever it was, it was very good, and it was a perfect end to the meal.
My friend ordered the carrot cake, and insisted I take a picture of it, based on the size of the slice alone. You can see forks in the background for reference… it was HUGE. And apparently delicious.
When we got the bill, we found that all the desserts were free in addition to the free appetizers. They had really hooked us up, which I completely attribute to our awesome server. The mild cold was completely worth putting up with for not only free food, but being able to eat here at all. There’s no way we would have waited two hours (even after loving the place… I still wouldn’t wait that long for any restaurant), but we were sat immediately when we went with the patio. The whole thing was a combination of good luck and great service. I will definitely be returning to Datz, mostly for beer, but also to sample their far more extensive lunch sandwich menu. But if Datz was closer to me, I’d go there all the time.
AND NOT ONE ‘DATZ’ PUN WAS MADE. HUZZAH!