Foodies are the perfect test population for restaurants trying a new concept, new service hours, or who just want some feedback on their newest concoctions. Foodies will come, they will devour, and they will spread the good news, if you can win their stomachs over. Well, brunch at Mangroves in South Tampa has won both our stomachs and our potentially hungover hearts. A group of my hungry friends and I were invited to be test dummies for the new brunch dishes from their kitchen, and we were all happy to oblige. If there is anything a foodie can happily attest to, it’s delicious brunch, the beautiful hybrid of breakfast and lunch, where alcohol is poured freely with no attention paid to the status of the sun. And if you plan to escape the sun, well Mangroves is the place.
You can tuck yourself neatly, or pour yourself haphazardly (depends on your Saturday night) into their dimly lit bar and seating areas, and enjoy the cool, muted environment. If you are in the mood for a little sunshine, have a seat on their shady patio, a must for enjoying the Tampa weather without the necessity of sunscreen. Unfortunately, Tampa weather wasn’t being its usual self, so we were limited to the bar, however I will be back to enjoy their patio, and the delicious food I am going to unveil to you shortly.
Mangroves knows that if there is any way to warm up our taste buds, it’s through fizzy champagne with a splash of orange juice. It may not be fresh-squeezed, but it very pleasantly gets the job done. If you aren’t feelings so effervescent, try out their perfectly spicy Bloody Mary, with all the lovely accompaniments you adore (olives, lime, celery, etc).
Not wanting to leave the hungry mob waiting too long, Mangroves quickly sent out trays upon trays of yummy brunch goodness. Let’s work our way through the menu, shall we?
Eggs Florentine: a beautiful, poached egg layered delicately over a dollop of creamed spinach and a crispy, buttery brioche roll, then smothered in hollandaise sauce. The egg was cooked to perfection, the brioche was addictively crunchy, and the creamed spinach was heavenly. This creation was my favorite savory dish of the menu.
Chicken & Bacon Waffles: Juicy chicken tenders with a crisp outer coating, served on top of two fluffy Belgian bacon waffles, and generously topped with a spicy maple syrup. I enjoyed this dish for both its savory and sweet attributes. The syrup was simple, but well done, a well-balanced mix of hot sauce and maple.
Truffled Scrambled Eggs: Fluffy eggs infused with truffles, served in a delicate phyllo cup and speckled with tobiko. They took the truffle flavor just far enough in these eggs, providing a pleasant earthiness. The salad alongside makes this the perfect lighter brunch dish to accompany a glass of champagne.
Grilled Cheese: Bacon, sweet mango, and velvety Brie cheese sandwiched between two crispy, buttery layers of brioche. Served with a salad, this adventurous sandwich was a favorite among many of the foodies. The mango was fresh, and of course, brie and bacon are two ways to my heart, making this a yummy treat.
Sweet Potato Hash: A nice alternative to your regular hash browns. I loved the addition of the red peppers and the way they played off the inherent sweetness of the potatoes. A great side dish!
And finally, the crown jewel of my experience was the West Coast Toast: French toast, soaked in a batter infused with Grand Marnier. It was perfect. The outside was crisp, and the inside was delicate, almost custard-like. This French toast was everything I wanted it to be and more. The flavor of the Grand Marnier really came through, and I was seduced by the wonderful textures of the dish. Bravo Mangroves, see you next Sunday for this one!
This brunch was a wonderful experience. Great company, cocktails, and of course, food! I want to send a personal thank you to Mangroves and Jennifer Buggica (of Mangiamo!) for all the hard work they put into this event. It was not without reward! Mangroves has definitely earned its brunch time gold star!