House of Carbs debuts in downtown Tampa with almost nothing but grilled cheese

Forget those summer body goals.

click to enlarge In downtown Tampa, partner Jeremy Camp fancies the new House of Carbs as a bakery first. - JENNA RIMENSNYDER
Jenna Rimensnyder
In downtown Tampa, partner Jeremy Camp fancies the new House of Carbs as a bakery first.

Forget those summer body goals, because House of Carbs recently debuted in downtown Tampa — and the bakery is serving up almost nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches.

Formerly known as the Cheeses & Crust food stand, House of Carbs at 410 E. Madison St. offers a variety of elevated grilled cheese. The bakery — taking indulgence one step further — also finishes every 'wich with its signature Parmesan truffle butter crust, in addition to a side of tomato bisque sourced from Lakeland's Bay Street Bistro.

House of Carbs is a bit of a secret, at least so far, due to its quiet opening. But that likely won't be the case for long. Partner Jeremy Camp unlocked the doors and fired up the bread oven nearly two weeks ago, and passersby have been stumbling upon the new bakery ever since. Although House of Carbs is going from mobile to brick-and-mortar, the place is fully functional, cranking out Instagramable cheese pulls from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

When the concept was born in Lakeland in 2016, Camp and fellow business partner Aaron Jenkins traveled to nearby farmers' markets and bars with specials like the Pig 'N Fig, a mashup of sliced prosciutto and fig jam bound together with Gouda. The Bay area's response to their sandos was so overwhelmingly positive that the duo decided to put down roots in the former Nook Eatery space.

click to enlarge Look at that crust on the Cheesy Fungi. - JENNA RIMENSNYDER
Jenna Rimensnyder
Look at that crust on the Cheesy Fungi.

According to Camp, he fancies House of Carbs as a bakery first, one that uses grilled cheese as a vehicle to deliver its house-made loaves to the masses. The partners plan to score some wholesale bread accounts around town as the bakery becomes more established.

The 700-square-foot bakery seats 14 inside and two out front. Glass barriers separate customers from the kitchen, which allows them to watch as loaves are shaped, baked and sliced before getting crafted into grilled cheese and additional menu items. For example, breakfast selections include avocado toast, build-your-own oatmeal and The Breaks, featuring American cheese, egg and the choice of bacon or steak.

Whether patrons think carbs taste best in the morning or during lunch, Camp hopes that collaborations with other businesses blossom over time, ultimately growing the food scene and community in downtown Tampa. The bakery has taken measures to do so by linking up with St. Petersburg's Mother Kombucha — plus a Lakeland roaster, Ethos, for hot and cold-brew coffees.

"We want to help bring traffic back to downtown in the evenings," Camp continued. "In the future, we plan to do kitchen takeovers, allowing fellow street vendors to utilize our space, and the only thing we ask in return is to use our bread in the process."

Customers unsure what to order won't be disappointed if they leave their sandwich fate in the hands of House of Carbs' trusty staff. This CL reporter, who told them she wasn't picky, landed the Cheesy Fungi with smoked provolone, sautéed onions and braised mushrooms hot off the press.

Ask for a large side of the bisque, too. What for? You need extra to double dip after each bite.

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