Went to Dough for the first time today and have mixed feelings. Anyone with a pulse in Tampa is aware of the media blitz leading up to this bakery/cafe's opening earlier this year. Their marketing team knows what it's doing.
It's next to the mothership restaurant, Datz, and just as it is there, parking is tough. I don't much mind it if the chow's up to snuff, but when it's not, it starts to figure into my should-I-go-back equation.
So, the good: place is well appointed, nice music, comfortable seating, imaginative decor in general. Display of all items is beautiful and attractive. Staff is friendly and helpful. Savory items I tried were good. Items are served on real plates with real silverware and cloth napkins, although there is no table service.
Frankly, all that would be enough to bring me back if it weren't for the prices. The sweet/pastry items are all high (doughnuts start at $3 and rest of sweet items go up to $7, excluding small things like macarons, which didn't show a price, interestingly, and since I wasn't given itemized receipt, don't know anything about). That's not to say I wouldn't pay twice what they're charging if these items were delicious, just that the taste doesn't justify the price.
The coffee is nothing special, and was adequate for the setting. Double espresso was ok, but served in a huge paper cup, sbux-style, even though we were eating in. Cold brew coffee was ok, if a bit high at $4. I looked, and it seems they do serve other coffee drinks in the old panera-size vat-with-a-handle mugs. An espresso, even a doppio, would look a little silly in that, even though I was told they normally serve them in those for people eating in.
Food-wise, the good: vegetable quiche was above average, and worth the five-ish dollars, as was the "hole in one" breakfast pastry (fried egg, wrapped in bacon, topped with cheese, all nestled in savory pastry). Not extraordinary, but tasty and ungreasy enough to enjoy over a chat.
But I was really looking forward to the sweets, and I couldn't take more than one bite of either the salt caramel macaron or the chocolate cake glazed doughnut. Does the American palate know no limit to cloying sweetness? Maybe I'm just an old man. But if I can't take more than one bite (and even my wife was struggling), yet the people keep pouring in, I really start to wonder whether I'm the one with the problem.
At $22 out the door for all described so far with counter service only, I'm not inclined to go back. I laud their effort and the decor/graphic design/branding of the whole place, but I can't help but feel that it's a chic Panera and nothing more. If they tightened up the food -- which is why we're all here -- this place could soar.
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