When I first heard that Datz Restaurant Group was launching a steak house, I could already visualize it in my head. The group owns numerous restaurants around the Tampa Bay area, but when I first started writing about food it was just the location on MacDill. Little by little the empire grew and now Datz operates on both sides of the bay and in the suburbs and they have numerous other concepts including Dough and Dr. BBQ. I was excited to check Donovan’s out recently on a media dine.
In many ways, Donovan’s Meatery captures the Datz Restaurant Group expertise in a fine-tuned steak house. Like Dr. BBQ in St. Petersburg, Donovan’s often looks to take a concept and to zone in on what makes it good to create a hit concept. Looking over the dining and cocktail menu, you will be reminded of both present and past concepts including their now-closed New Orleans-style Roux concept in South Tampa but also a clear understanding behind what makes a steak house tick.
One thing that is well-appreciated is the observance of COVID protocols. Host stands are outside making it easy to have a completely outdoor experience, which was how I chose to attend during my visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in Florida.
Employees are well-masked and tables are spaced accordingly.
We started off with the Old Bay Crab Dip ($13) with lump crab, cheese blend, and grilled toast. Let me just start off by saying the toast at Donovan’s is excellent, I love bread and even the starter bread hits the spot. The crab dip is simply excellent, its filling and enjoyable shareable item. You will definitely want to take leftovers home, and I cannot say that about many seafood dips at restaurants. It’s savory and still not too heavy on the palette.
I followed up with a Lobster Bisque ($10) with lobster meat, sherry, crema. One of my favorite soups to enjoy and this one did not disappoint. Take your toast and dip it inside for a surprise. Cold weather in Florida may be sunsetting soon, but this is definitely item to enjoy on an evening or even for take-out. Some places go overboard with pepper or have no lobster meat, but this one is just right.
I went with the Filet (Certified Angus Beef) ($27) as my main course with a Cabernet Reduction Sauce. The steak was a flavorful cut and satisfying. Easily shareable depending on your appetite, but it was the two sides that I was most in love with. The Truffle Mac and Cheese ($14) was excellent, oozing inside of a cast iron pan. It hit all the right spots. I would order this again and again if given the chance. The Potatoes Au Gratin ($12) was also superb. Crispy and flavorful.
Getting a good cut of steak and preparing it right is one thing at a steak house, getting the sides right and actually making them enjoyable is another. So many places have a great cut, but mediocre sides and I am happy to say that is not the case at Donovan’s. The sides may cost more than other places, but they are big enough to share and taste better.
One of the really great and surprising dishes was the Delmonico Steak Sandwich ($18). Huge and juicy sandwich and makes for a great lunch item. Definitely share this. One great is that they have Happy Hour from 3PM to 5PM with a number of starters and drinks. So you could easily do a late lunch and transition into happy hour.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that there is quality cocktail menu at Donovan’s given the background of the group. You’ll find both an extensive wine list and classic drinks like a Manhattan, Sidecar, Steak House Martini, Mai Tai, and the Big Guava which was my favorite. Cocktails sit at $10 flat which is about baseline for Tampa.
The atmosphere at Donovan’s Meatery, at least on the patio, was mostly casual. It has all the elements of your favorite steak house without the stuffiness which is one of the things that has challenges this type of restaurant concept over the years. I observed women out for a girls night out, business meetings, and also just family gatherings in tables in the distance.
The location choose on Bloomingdale is right in the middle of suburbia, which means there isn’t the same kind of crowd you might find in trending South Tampa and artsy Downtown St. Pete. Brandon is middle-class and indeed Donovan’s plays the field as both offering upscale steak options and also a variety of other choices for diners without breaking the bank.
We were too stuffed to order dessert, but took a delicious slice of chocolate cake home and it was out of this world. If you love dessert, definitely don’t miss the menu at Donovan’s.
The number of sides and dishes means multiple visits could easily be in order and of course they have takeout as an option if you just want to enjoy a quiet night at home. For me, this concept is a winner and I hope to dine again soon at Donovan’s.
Donovan’s Meatery. 11206 Sullivan Street, Riverview, FL 33578. (813) 295-8445. donovansmeatery.com