Bungalow homes were popular for their simplicity, comfort and lack of ostentation. And that can be said about the food at the namesake Bungalow restaurant.
If being “in’’ were all, the Bungalow would deserve kudos. Built in 1919, this quaint building has served as a duplex, a book store, and most recently, a popular eatery that seems to host a crowd. With enough flat-screen televisions to indulge sports fanatics, weekend patrons also head here for live music and plenty of drink specials. Good weather bodes well for al fresco dining on its porch and deck. The Bungalow offers convivial hospitality, a well-stocked bar, and with some luck working the menu, some memorable appetizers.
A new menu was introduced last week with coconut, cranberries and curry giving a flirty flip to chicken salad. Monterey Jack cheese, bourbon chicken, pineapple and roasted red peppers sway atop Key West pizza while hearts of palm ups the anty of spinach dip.
A pile of Kingston Curry Shrimp, tossed in a tempting, coconut and red pepper aioli, can be addicting. The Seared Ahi Tuna plate teases with a whimsical mango chutney. Sweet, sliced tomatoes — essential for a caprese-esque stack — alternate with fresh Mozzarella and basil leaves, and a swirl of basil vinaigrette. Bungalow knows its mojo: crisp, fried yucca sassys up to a mojo vinaigrette, as mojo-marinated pork dots the nachos.
The kitchen does well with straightforward salads: a Bungalow Cobb is visually attractive with grilled chicken, roasted peppers and hearts of palm, in a fruity, balsamic vinaigrette. Ceviche calamari couples roasted red peppers and tomatoes; Sizzling Steak invites cilantro and cucumbers, and Key lime teriyaki salmon and greens blend with a mango dressing. New sandwiches include a Chicken Caesar Wrap; ham and Swiss on a pretzel bun; caprese Panini on a low-carb flatbread; and a grilled chicken and yellow rice Caribbean wrap.
Bungalow’s entrées are varied with a 10-ounce strip steak, veggie burgers, and more than a dozen sandwiches thrown in. Fresh grouper, mahi-mahi and other fish can be ordered grilled, blackened, jerked, or glazed with mango or teriyaki.
A charred, Hawaiian chicken should never have left the kitchen. One look and you could see it was a dry bird. An overly sweet, sauce on the BBQ pork-caramelized onion sandwich came with so-so cole slaw and kitchen made, potato chips. Guinness beer-battered fish and chips was a strikeout because its heavy batter overwhelmed the fish (it wasn’t hot, too). However, we didn’t leave hungry, although we did miss out on Bungalow’s Key lime pie and chocolate chip cookie sandwiches.
The Bungalow Restaurant and Bar
Find it: 2202 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa
Hours: Sun: 10 am to 10 pm, M-Th, 11- 11 p.m. F, 11 am to midnight, Sat, 10 to midnight.
Way to pay: AE, MC; V
Call: (813) 253-3663
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The Boss is back: Buddy Valastro, the fourth generation star of Cake Boss and two other reality shows, talks flour and fondant Friday when he visits Tampa’s David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at $29.25. Call (813) 229-7827. I’m sure his stories will take the cake about his Carlos’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J.