Five Courses: Amalie Arena's seasoned openers

Five new tastes you gotta try at Amalie Arena this season.

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click to enlarge Irish 31's tasty Reuben. - Julio Ramos
Julio Ramos
Irish 31's tasty Reuben.

On Monday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Lightning invited CL and other media to preview fresh concession stand and premium menu items ahead of the team's home opener Thursday. Ford’s Garage, Mise en Place, Smoke’s Poutinerie and Bay Club Sliders were among the new Amalie concepts that offered up sneak-peek tastes; here are my five must-tries for the season.

The Reuben Sandwich, Irish 31. You can’t go wrong by ordering this freshly sliced Reuben, packed with corned beef and ’kraut, from the Tampa-based Irish 31. The Amalie Irish will feature a sports bar along the club level (200 level), as well as ribeye and turkey avocado sandwiches on its food lineup. The restaurant brand’s other project, the Tots & Boxty Bar, has tater tots and boxties, including Irish’s legendary ham- and Velveeta-stuffed rendition, planned for the 200 level, too. $14, $10.50 for season ticket members.

Mac & Cheese Conewich, Cone Mac & Cheese. Available on the promenade and terrace, or 100 and 300, levels of the arena, the Mac & Cheese Conewich from newbie concessionaire Cone Mac & Cheese is a bacon-garnished wonder. The cheesy, spicy mac is stuffed inside an ice cream cone-shaped vessel, which presents itself as pizza crust-like in look and taste. You can eat this baby with one hand while cheering in the stands. $10, $7.50.

Deviled Crab Toast, Mise en Place. Though you’ll find desserts, made-to-order flatbreads and a chopped caprese arugula salad at the club level’s Mise en Place wine bar, the deviled crab toast is the most irresistible option. Chef de cuisine Billy Kilbride, who left the Hyde Park flagship for Amalie, says Mise wanted to pull off “something quintessentially Tampa” with the taste. With no deep fryer, the crabmeat sits atop a crostini of Cuban bread for crunch, and an Old Bay aioli provides the heat, just as dashes of hot sauce would for standard deviled crabs. Kilbride says the toast has “expected flavors, but we’re giving them to you in an unexpected way.” $10, $7.50.

Surf & Turf Sampler. Also putting a twist on a favorite is this neat land-meets-sea duo, which will be showcased on the suite level alongside new offerings like the fried and spicy Thunder and Lightning Shrimp. A beef empanada that calls for pie crust acts as the turf, while surf arrives in the form of a lobster spring roll. Chef Doug Saltz puts the dish simply: “A fast version of the traditional surf and turf.” Dip your bites into the accompanying Thai chili sauce to reach flavorful nirvana. $76, serves eight.

click to enlarge The classic Smoke's poutine. - Julio Ramos
Julio Ramos
The classic Smoke's poutine.
The Traditional, Smoke’s Poutinerie. The Smoke’s Poutinerie chain, headquartered in Ontario, highlights around 30 kinds of poutine at its Canada and U.S. eateries, so you need to at least try one at a hockey game. This classic version — found on the terrace level — piles house-made gravy and Quebec cheese curds onto a mound of fries nestled inside a Chinese takeout-style box. As the other three U.S. locations are in Las Vegas and California, the arena’s poutinerie is a first for the Southeast. $12, $9.

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