-3 Snaps! Try it. You might like it.
According to its website, Mad Dogs and Englishmen is dedicated to London celebrating the end of the postwar mid 60 's turmoil. Indeed it has been a staple in British pub fare in South Tampa on MacDill Avenue for over 25 years. They serve a righteous fish and chips, a decent Shepherd's pie, and always have an ample supply of Guinness for thirsty pub crawlers.
On this visit I decide to embrace Kipling's ideas about the noon day sun to take in lunch. The eateries midday menu, a smattering of their full dinner offerings, includes five salads, hummus and naan, five sandwiches of different varieties, and the aforementioned fish and chips. I opt for the fish sandwich which is the same cod that comes with fish and chips, only on a brioche bun. My lunch mate, with the recommendation of our server, tries the Spicy Tuna Poke Bowl, a dish which seems on trend but oddly off brand for a British pub
My presumption was correct. The poke bowl looks good served on white dishes with a schmear of something or other on the plate (speaking of trends). It is on a mound of white rice topped with sauced diced tuna, carrots, cucumbers, apple strips, and avocado slices. The fresh tuna is dressed in a spicy tamarind, soy, and ginger sauce that is overwhelming. The accompanying vegetables are crisp and fresh but the rice is a complete fail. It's regular white rice, not sticky rice, so is missing the sweetness and that stick-togetherness that most poke bowls offer. It is difficult to eat with the accompanying chopsticks and just doesn't work. I remind myself that this is a British pub no matter what's on the menu.
The fish sandwich fared somewhat better. It is a fillet of cod battered and fried served on a brioche bun with American cheese, arugula, tomatoes, and a side of house made tartar sauce. The fish is cooked to perfection and that tartar sauce is tangy and creamy.
It is a sandwiched rendition of their fish and chips entrée. The bun unfortunatly can use some work. It's either too thick or it's stale, and I lean toward the latter. Each bite of sandwich is two thirds dry bread, way too much to experience the tenderness and mild flavor of that flaky fish. I finish the meal by removing the fish filet and eat it alone. The fries are golden and perfectly done.
I understand the need to try to keep menus fresh and experiment with new dishes. Reinventing is necessary to maintain public interest and grow a customer base. But new additions better be amazing. The consuming public is getting pretty savvy. Hawaiian dishes like poke bowls and the like better be solid or they're better left to the latest trendy places that specialize in such. Trends like integrating plant based proteins, using hyper local foods, and leaning in to technology taking a firmer hold on British food culture would keep this menu on it's British Pub task and put a modern lean on perceptions to appeal to newer generations. Mad Dogs will remain a go-to for me for fish and chips or Shepherd's Pie.
Chip Weiner is a Tampa food blogger and an award winning freelance photographer specializing in portraiture, food photography and photojournalism . He has been a photography instructor for over 10 years and teaches Tampa photography classes throughout the year. Have a suggestion for a food event or restaurant? Contact him here
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