To celebrate Groundhog Day this year, a group of us went to the Tampa Theatre to watch the holiday classic. After the movie, we were stuck in dreaded downtown Tampa to find food, and fend off the angry drunken homeless. After being turned down by the brand new Taco Bus location (closed, pfft), and learning that Square One Burgers also closes at ten, we were locked in what seemed like a hopeless discussion about where to go eat. Why do places close so early? Why are restaurants such old people? Come on!
So as we pondered out fate, we were suddenly accosted by a dude from the building we were standing outside of.
“I hear the lady is hungry! By gum, have we got food to feed her!”
We were all terrified. Silence fell. The guy busted out a menu from god knows where and delicately prodded us with it. “Eh? …eh?”
“I… I guess we could eat here-”
“TO THE INSIDE!!”
We watched as the man disappeared into the establishment. There was still time to run. But when the universe presents opportunities like this, you can’t just turn it down. Obviously our destiny lay within those walls, and if that destiny was wacky restaurant rape, so be it.
We walked into the place and were shocked to find ourselves in what may have been an alternate universe, some sort of lounge/restaurant/club hybrid. None of us knew what we were doing, where we were, or what was going to happen to us. We were the groundhog. And this was Gobbler’s Knob – The Metro Restaurant and Lounge.
The lighting was cozy and sexy. The furniture was a bit fancy. There were televisions on the walls playing music videos. And a piano sat in the corner by the bar, quiet and alone. The server rearranged the tables for our gigantic group. Once again we found ourselves the only table in the restaurant. I wasn’t sure if that was a good sign.
We were asked if we wanted anything to drink. Drink drink. Nobody was especially drinky, but I felt like I needed to experience this place for what it was supposed to be. The server/bartender man told me they specialized in martinis. I ordered a gin martini. Dirty? As dirty as possible.
It was dirty indeed. If you don’t know what that means, it is when they pour the juices olives float around in directly into your drink, and make you drink that. It’s kinda gross, but it also counteracts the alcoholicy taste of alcohol. I don’t really care for martinis, and I rarely have them, but I do like gin. This drink was “all right” in my book. I’m sure they did a good job by martini standards.
While getting trashed, I looked over the menu. The prices were pretty damn good for a place that looked like this. Between ten and fifteen bucks for most things. And a good variety of dishes. Lots of sandwiches, salads, pastas, a few “ferrealzies” entrees, a couple stews. Indeed.
While I was decided, one of my friends ordered a special martini invented by the bartender, the “gummi bear martini”. Ooh interesting. The bartender/server dude was nice enough to give us all shots. Well, all the ladies. I took one anyway.
You can’t really tell from the photo, but it was clear with a beautiful shock of red floating at the bottom. And they were goooood. It actually tasted like a gummi bear! A red one, too. Sweet, without any trace of liquor taste. Terrifying and dangerous. Well done, señor bartender/server dude.
I settled on my meal, which was recommend by our server, and after a bit of waiting and some awesome club jams (why was this happening??) including a hit by Seal, our food had arrived.
I got the Prime Rib Sub, which featured a horseradish sauce. Now, usually I’m not into crap like that. And by crap like that, I mean horseradish. But this was not so strong as to make me want to punch myself in the face, actually just accenting the tender prime rib meat. Now, I’ve had better prime rib, but for a sandwich it was pretty good. Tender and tasty. There could have been more of it. But satisfying overall.
My side was the “Metro Potato Casserole”, which included potato, cheese, and bacon. Sounds like a winner, right? Well it was actually kinda lame. It was like hash browns, with decent cheese and soggy, boring bacon. And the fact that I was disappointed in something with bacon on it was disappointing in itself, causing an endless feedback loop of disappointment. Luckily for me, my girlfriend found a cure for that:
She got the Carolina Minced Pork Barbecue Sandwich. But forget that it was dumb it tasted like sloppy joes. No, her side dish was the good part. See that stuff? That stuff that looks like baby food? Chipotle mashed sweet potatoes. They were awesome. It basically was like baby food as far as consistency is concerned, but the flavor was delicious sweet, followed by a light chipotle burn at the very end. Like a little surprise ending. A little M. Night Shyamalan in every bite. Wonderful.
So what? How was it? It was pretty decent. The prices were awesome. They included gratuity, and our bill came out to like thirty bucks or so. The food was pretty good, though not incredible. The service was great; our server was a lot of fun, even though he was really a bartender and they just threw him at this table. The music was fun, and though the atmosphere was confusing, it was a classy place. It was and nice to be open late. Apparently they have live music there too, occasionally, so that’s kinda neat.
I’d go back if I found myself in a similar situation again. Which I probably will, because today seems to be groundhog day again.