Despite England being over 4,000 miles away from us, across the massive Atlantic Ocean, the allure of the quaint, typical British pub is something Americans just can't get enough of. Whether its the foamy pints of well-crafted beers or the greased up, meaty pub fare that almost calls to you after a couple of those beers, the British pub is a timeless favorite that'll likely never go out of style.
If any evidence exists in Tampa that supports that previous statement, it's Mad Dogs and Englishmen, the old time, South Tampa British pub and restaurant that's been a part of Tampa's vast culinary landscape for over 20 years.
Walk up to Mad Dogs and you're greeted with a modest wooden porch characteristically worn by the years and shaded by a thick canopy of trees surrounding the bar and restaurant. Inside isn't much too different, lined with the same cozy, wooden decor, old memorabilia lines on the walls, and a blue-collar-like vibe where you know a t-shirt and sandals are more than acceptable.
Mad Dogs' menus take the same, unassuming approach with an assortment of traditional lunch fare during the day including sandwiches, wraps, salads, and a small assortment of entrees like the classic fish and chips.
Braised short ribs come in a modest portion served in an aus jus-like gravy with potato salad and mixed greens in a mustard seed vinagrette. The short ribs are somewhat tender and stew-like bathed in a light glaze of neither offensive nor exciting aus-jus gravy.
Oddly enough, the potato salad really stole the show for me with its vibrant flavor menagerie of hefty bacon bits, potatoes, a proper portion of mayo, and spices.
The Mad Dog Burger comes pretty standard with a hefty slab of ground beef, cheddar cheese, and the typical burger fixings. It'll do the trick if you're craving a solid and well-portioned burger, but not too much else. Go for the spicy fries, which turn this otherwise standard burger side into a savory and mildly spicy accompaniment.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen has certainly gained near legendary stature in an industry where most fail, both locally and nationwide. It won't blow you away, necessarily, but even with one short visit, it's easy to see why residents keep coming back after 20 years.