Friday, January 17, 2014

Tater Tot Duel - The Sequel!

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

Happy Friday!  Last November, I wrote a "Tater Tot Duel" post comparing Merchants Restaurant of Nashville, Tennessee's tater tots against Anise Global Gastrobar of Tampa, Florida's tater tots.  (Read more about it here.)  But just like a good tater tot, one tater tot blog post is just not enough!

So ladies and gentlemen -- I give you … Tater Tot Duel - The Sequel.

In this corner … The Jumbo Bacon and Onion Tater Tots from Rise Kitchen & Bakery at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino!

And in this corner … The Cheesy Tots from The Canopy Roof Top Bar at the Birchwood Hotel!

First let's start off with the Jumbo Bacon and Onion Tater Tots from Rise Kitchen & Bakery.  They were not kidding when they advertised them as "jumbo."  They are about two to two and a half times the size of your normal tot.  More of a tater log, if you will.  

Each order comes with four tater (logs) tots and a side of smoky balsamic ketchup from the Hard Rock's Council Oak steakhouse.  

The tater tots were crisp with a breading that you do not find on your "classic tot."  It reminded me more of a potato croquette than a true tater tot.  The inside was moist and packed with potato, bacon and onion.  

However when you advertise a dish as "bacon and onion" - I want to taste intense smoky bacon and onion flavor.  Although I could clearly see the bacon and onion, I wasn't getting a strong taste of it.  The bacon pieces lacked that smoky meaty taste that is bacon.  I wondered if they would have cooked the bacon crisper before blending it with the potato and onion and rolling it in breadcrumbs, would the bacon taste have been stronger?  It tasted more like bland ham bits than bacon.  

The accompanying ketchup was OK - I longed for more tomato and less barbecue-ish flavor.  Overall these tots were decent - I give an A for concept but a C for execution.

Now on to the cheesy tots from The Canopy Rooftop Bar at the Birchwood Hotel in St. Petersburg.  I apologize for repeating the photo here, but these tots were so good I didn't take any other pictures because I was too busy shoving them in my mouth.  

These tots contain cheddar cheese and fresh, vine-ripened shishitso peppers.  They were topped with what I believe to be feta cheese and green onions.  

These tots are from heaven - crispy, spicy, cheesy, pure potato-y, fried pillows of goodness.  Forget the spectacular view from the open rooftop bar.  Forget the swank fireplaces, couches and pretty servers.  Forget all of that!  Just stick me in a box on skid row with a bowl of these tots and I would be in heaven.  I physically had to stop myself from eating the entire bowl, they were that good!

They are on the rich side.  They soaked up more oil than I would have liked, but the taste was so decadent and flavorful!

The Canopy also serves a dish called "Tots, Tots, Tots!" which are tater tots with herb salt and lemon garlic aioli.  They also sell truffle fries, fresh cut fries and sweet potato fries if you are anti-tot (heaven forbid!).  Their menu for these items is titled "Fried Potato Specialities" - which might as well say "Deep Fried Love Messages From Jesus."    

I wanted to try the "Tots, Tots, Tots!" too but I was afraid of Tot Overload (as if there ever could be such a thing?!)  So next time I will have to go to The Canopy to try the non-cheesy tots.  (If I can stay away from those delicious cheesy tots!)

This tater tot duel was an epic battle of tot additives - bacon and onion versus cheese and peppers.  I commend both restaurants for offering the potato in my most favored "tot form."  However in this battle between Rise Kitchen & Bakery versus The Canopy - I have to say that The Canopy's "Cheesy Tots" wins hands down!

Congratulations to The Canopy and their delightfully cheesy, spicy tots!

And I have to say - you can't beat the rooftop view at the Canopy - here are some pictures …

Do you have any tater tot recommendations?  Please write them in the comments below!

Rise Kitchen & Bakery on Urbanspoon
The Canopy on Urbanspoon