Is it any wonder that Carmel Kitchen is rolling out their new Bailey’s Brunch menu in South Tampa? After all, South Tampa is to brunch as Paris is to lovers. At least that is what I’ve heard from my friends with the funny haircuts. You see I don’t live in South Tampa and I don’t do much brunch. I frankly find both of those a bit…shall we say indistinguishable. But when Robert Bailey invited me in to try out the new brunch menu that would be rolling out at Carmel Kitchen next week, I took him up on the offer. It wasn’t the pancakes or the waffles that got me. It surely wasn’t the alcoholic breakfast drinks. Nope, what got me there was the promise of homemade bread and preserves. I’m a sucker for that stuff.
We arrived at the kitchen right at our allotted time and were immediately seated in a booth by the window. Our waiter and hostess both gave us a quick run through on how to order via the electronic gadget that was lying at the end of our table. Afterwards, our server informed us that we didn’t have to use the device we could just order from him. We liked the human aspect, he was sarcastic and funny in a way that our device wasn’t. We elected to stick with him.
On the menu were a number of items that are typically over sweetened for American consumption. These included blueberry muffins and pancakes and cinnamon buns. But Bailey’s Brunch did things differently. They cut the sweet down. The blueberry muffins were extremely soft with a nice crust across the top. This crust was decorated with coarse sugar. It had a look that was reminiscent to muffin I used to eat all the time when I worked for Whole Foods. Taste wise, it was completely the opposite of what I imagined. It wasn’t sickly sweet inside. Instead it had a gentle flavor that really allowed the blueberries to take center stage.
See that crusty top and sugar shower?
The pancakes were pretty humorous. They were similar to the blueberry muffins in that their lack of sweetness allowed the blueberries first class citizen status. Another plus is that the pancakes were served drizzled in homemade syrup. So what was so humorous about them? The size. Due to some mishap in the kitchen, the pancakes came out way too big. I guess that’s why they run these training exercises. Not that J-Fur (or Z-Bot) minded. They’ll be pancake snacking for days.
Imma gonna eat your face, pancake
One of the most intriguing menu items was the multicolored hash browns. They came in red, purple and sweet potatoes. We asked to sub out the meat that came alongside the pancakes for some of the hash browns. Our waiter informed us that the hash browns had actually come out looking gross the day before so they were nixed in favor of red, purple and sweet fried potatoes. I loved the fact that they included three different types of potatoes. Unfortunately the cooking times of these potatoes are different and I’m not sure that was accounted for. The sweet were super soft, the red and purple not completely cooked. I left the need for a more uniform feel as my feedback for how Bailey’s Brunch could be improved. I just hope they keep trying, I would hate for Bailey’s to shift to the normal, mundane regular potatoes. The world of brunch doesn’t need more of the same.
The potato trifecta
My favorite item of the day (and the one I was looking forward to the most) was the fresh baked bread and homemade preserves. Bailey’s Brunch offers a number of seasonal preserves to go along with their wheat or white toast. Right now the menu includes blackberry, strawberry and pineapple. I was a huge fan of the blackberry and pineapple. The strawberry was fine, I just felt like it is a bit overplayed when it comes to dressing up toast. The wheat bread looked strangely like white and I was informed by Kim, as he came around and checked in with us, that the bread had set a little too long and that caused it to lose a lot of the bulgur flavor and look. He assured me that they knew exactly what they did wrong and couldn’t wait to correct it next weekend. Despite this, the bread was still really good. I had two servings.
Wheat bread with strawberry and blackberry preserves
To end the meal, J-Fur got a hold of a cinnamon roll which our waiter informed us were to die for. You have an option of ordering with raisin or without. If you know J-Fur, you know she went with raisins. We expected a Cinna-Bon style over-sugared disaster. But the theme of looking a lot sweeter than actually tasting played out one more time. J-Fur pushed the contents of her stuffed stomach aside just enough to polish off nearly the entire bun. It was that good.
Iced Iced Baby
My final take? I appreciate the invite immensely and when some of the kinks are worked out, I’m definitely returning to Bailey’s Brunch at Carmel Kitchen.
So what would I pair with a meal of this nature? One that has the sweetness dialed back but is fully loaded with fruit. That’s why I’d go with “Ghost Insider Your Head” by United Fruit.