Rapscallions, Land O’Lakes, Fla. (CLOSED)
At first glance, the city of Land O’Lakes sounds like nothing more than where you might expect the butter company’s headquarters to be. It’s a good distance from a lot of things, well off the beaten path and seemingly quite a ways from Tampa, a metro area it’s supposed to be part of. In actuality, the butter company’s headquarters are in Minnesota (that actually makes a heck of a lot of sense) and Florida’s Land O’Lakes is merely 20 minutes from downtown Tampa on a good day, even if it is so far north of the city that there is no spur route that far north.
The reason to make the trip north to Land O’Lakes was Rapscallions, and it’s a good thing that my girlfriend Amy and I made the trip when we did, because as of July, Rapscallions no longer exists. The restaurant was rumored to be closing in February and becoming a Hooters, which proved to be false. But ultimately, the owners of Rapscallions elected to sell their property, and the place is now under new management as Mosquito’s Bar and Grill.
At least it’s not a Hooters, but the change to Mosquito’s seems to have taken the service and soul out of the quaint little place that was Rapscallions. Its remote location proved to be a perfect spot because it’s situated with a swamp behind it, creating a lovely atmosphere for diners to enjoy before going in to enjoy their meals. Once inside, diners were treated to more of the lovely view with a relaxed feel and a spacious area to eat.
This was where Rapscallions really stood out. If you’re going to make it in a place as seafood-heavy as Tampa Bay is, you have to have something special about yourself, whether it’s a gimmick or the quality of your meal. This is where Rapscallions had both. The gimmick actually had nothing to do with seafood, but it was what got this place on Man vs. Food. The challenger had to consume the Davy Jones Locker Challenge, an incredibly spicy platter of buffalo wings. Knowing what I know about spicy, it’s a good thing I stayed far away from this one.
What I did go with was a crab cake sandwich, featuring the standard sandwich toppings and a creamy and smoky chipotle mayonnaise. Even though spicy isn’t really my style, there’s something about a chipotle mayonnaise that really works well for me. But a crab cake sandwich is measured by the quality of the crab, not the mayonnaise, and the quality here was wonderful. Seafood lovers would definitely approve the meaty crab cake that featured full flavor in every bite. With condiments and vegetables available to complement it, the crab cake was awesome.
Amy opted for the sea floor pizza, which is no longer served at Mosquito’s, but really should be. Multiple cheeses, spices and a mix of basically the entire ocean creates a fantastic taste, one that needs no additions of flavor, spices or anything else. I ended up trying some the next day when she couldn’t finish it, and it was just as good reheated as it was the day she had it. You really couldn’t go wrong with any of the seafood-based entrees. Hardly a shock, since it is the Tampa Bay area, but always nice to find when you have an appetite for seafood.
It’s sad that Rapscallions couldn’t make it, because this place was a great experience and totally worth the drive. From what I’ve heard, Mosquito just isn’t the same, lacking in the food quality and wait staff. Hopefully those rumors are unfounded, because the Rapscallions spot had a lot to live up to. If Mosquito is on that level, it’s worth the trip north.
Time to go: It was best for lunch or dinner. Rapscallions’ menu was exactly what you’d expect from a seafood place. Now it’s only open from 4-midnight on weekdays, although it serves lunch on weekends.
Wait during my visit: None. The location cuts down on the wait substantially.
Location: Rapscallions was at 4422 Land O’Lakes Blvd. in Land O’Lakes, Fla. Mosquito is at its new site.
Cost: These were affordable, about $10 a person. Not much has changed with the move to Mosquito.
Parking: Not a lot, but little is needed in Land O’Lakes.
Seating arrangement: It was chairs and booths as Rapscallions.
Specialty items (former): Seafood pizza, crab cake sandwich