Champion Eats

A few weeks back, we were planning on going to Tampa for a mini-weekend.  Why you may ask?  Well, we had tickets to the Sugarland Concert at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre for Friday night and decided that we would spend the night in Tampa.  The concert was set to begin at 7:30pm and we arrived to our hotel, the Marriott Waterside, around 5:30ish.  The issue was, what would we do for dinner on Friday night?  I had spent a bit of time before we arrived trying to resolve this issue however, I more or less just had ideas.  Our hotel was on the water in Downtown Tampa and the Amphitheatre was more inland, about 20 minutes away.  Our options were either eat at the hotel, eat some where close to the hotel, eat on our way or eat at the concert.  Rather than go into our choice process, we ended up deciding to eat at the hotel.  Normally, I am very against this because hotel food is insanely overpriced.  However, the Waterside features Champions Sports Bar.  Champions features not only reasonable prices but, as we would come to find out, some Champion Eats.

We arrived down to Champions about 6:15pm, and were able to seat ourselves.  The decor was typical sports bar, and there were plenty of tvs.  On this Friday night, it was the Opening Night of the Olympics and the restaurant was also hosting a get together for the Tampa 2012 Olympic Bit Crew.  The restaurant was busy, but not packed.  I imagine this place to get pretty hoping on days when the Tampa Bay Times Forum is holding events – it is literally steps from the Times Forum and features outdoor seating.  I had viewed the menu ahead of time so, I had a general idea of the fare.  We decided to order the Cheese Fries for an appetizer.  They were described as using waffle fries – I don’t think I have ever had cheese fries with waffle fries as a base – and I was stoked to try them out.  Our waitress was great…our drinks were never empty…and our appetizer arrived quickly.

When the fries arrived, they looked killer.  While the portion was perhaps smaller than other locations, it looked like just the right size for the 3 of us.  I really wanted to dig right into the fries but, with the steam coming off of them, I knew I had to wait.  I scooped a few fries on my plate and waited for some cool down action.  When it was time, I dug in.  The waffle fry itself was one of the better waffle fries I have had – similar to Chick-fil-A, not ones made at home – with the crispy exterior and the pillowy interior.  I could have eaten just a plate of waffle fries and been happy.  But oh no, this was some Champion Eats and these fries were way more than just fries.  I loved the cheese used on these fries.  Not only was there melted shredded cheese, there was also gooey queso-like cheese.  Oh my.  The combination of the two, was a match made in heaven.  Even fry had good, not always equal but good, amounts of both cheeses.  There were some bacon pieces which I was able to remove and the green onions really played no part.  I also really enjoyed dipping the fries into the blue cheese dressing.  The dressing was creamy with a subtle flavor.  Not the best blue cheese I have had but, more than great to complement these fries.  We finished our plate and I would come back to Champions for these fries…and enjoy every bite once again.

For my meal, I went with the Veggie Burger and the Sweet Potato Tots.  I knew I was getting the tots right away…I mean, not only are they tots but, they are also sweet potato.  I ended up selecting the veggie burger because, well I like veggie burgers, and nothing else was screaming at me.  The veggie burger was your typical Morningstar Farms patty (we gave these up at home and I sure do miss em), served on a wheat bun with all the toppings.  I ended up only eating my burger with the toppings and half the bun…the bun was like 10x the size of the patty.  Overall, I enjoyed my burger.  The patty was cooked on the grill, which helped to enhance its flavor, and the toppings were all crisp and fresh.  As for the half of bun, it was okay.  This burger could have been better with a smaller bun however, I still enjoyed it.  Now, for the sweet potato tots – I loved these.  Give me these and those cheese fries, and I’m set.  Every tot was cooked perfectly and tasted amazing.  They were hot on the inside and full of sweet potato flavor.  These were seasoned with just a touch of salt and pepper which was more than plenty – the tot did the rest.  I loved every bite of every tot and would have loved to have ordered even more.  Absolutely the best sweet potato tots I have ever had.  The thought of them has me wanting…no…needing more.

I totally enjoyed my meal and time spent at Champions Sports Bar.  Taylor had the wings which he liked but didn’t love and Mommy had the Cuban Sandwich and felt the same way.  Even so, they both said they would return.  With all the options of eats in and around Tampa, I can’t say for sure if I will be back – even though I really enjoyed my meal.  I do know that I loved our stay at the Marriott Waterside and would love to spend another weekend there.  For me, this was a great meal and a nice start to our weekend.  The concert was really lovely as well and, lucky for me, I had plenty of energy to Stand Up and Use My Voice from my Champion Eats.