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th On Saturday, February 23, 2013 I went to the 4th Annual Stomping Out Type 2 Diabetes event at Tom Brown Park. The event is sponsored by the Foundation for Leon County Schools, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare and other businesses and community leaders. Another sponsor was Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Tropical Smoothie Cafe provided 700 box lunches for attendees. I am not talking about a little lunch either, but a regular full size sandwich, a piece of fruit and a small smoothie. I was totally impressed by their commitment to this event and our community as a whole and felt I needed to give them a shout out. Thank you Tropical Smoothie Cafe for your support and commitment!

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I have never written about carry-out, but this was such a bad experience I felt I had to share it.

It was Friday night at 7:30 and my daughter requested Chinese carry-out. I would normally go to the Ming Tree Cafe menu, but she asked for pot stickers. Since, they do not have those at Ming Tree Cafe I reached for the Tan’s Asian Cafe menu. I called in my order; Pot Stickers, Mongolian Beef and Sesame Chicken. The woman at the other end of the phone said it would be 40 minutes. I waited 40 minutes before even leaving my house since I have never been to Tan’s to pick-up carry out and find my order ready. When I arrived the parking lot was full. I went inside and all the tables were full and a few people were standing or sitting waiting for orders. I stepped up to the counter. A small stocky Asian woman with coke bottom glasses with large black frames made eye contact with me and then looked away. When I could finally make eye contact with her again and get her attention a few minutes later, I told her I was there to pick up my order and gave her my name. She went to the kitchen and came back and said it would be another 15 to 20 minutes.  This is Tans way of telling your they have not even started cooking your food yet.  I told her the was fine and I would go run some errands and come back in 20 minutes. As I started to leave, a gentleman who had just got his carry-out order told me “good luck”. He was told 35 minutes when he called in his order and had to sit for another 35 to get his order once he was here.

I went to Publix, picked up a few things, and went back to my house. After waiting 20 to 25 minutes I left again. I entered the restaurant and the crowd was gone; maybe one or two tables still had dine-in customers. I spotted one gentleman still sitting waiting for his carry-out order that had been there when I was in earlier. I proceed up to the counter again and the same woman waited on me. She went back in the kitchen and came out again and told me another 10 to 15 minutes. This was now almost 90 minutes since I had called in the order and they still had not even started cooking my food. I looked her in the face with disgust and told her to forget it. I proceeded home and put my Tan’s menu in the recycler. That will be the last time I step foot in that establishment. The food is not bad, but not that great to encourage such awful customer service. Unless people take a stand and demand some kind of customer service we are only going to encourage places like Tans to think they do not have to offer any customer service.  If you continue to patronize this restaurant another warning is to check your order before you leave.  On more than one occasion in the past I have gotten my order home to discover they did not give me what I ordered or what they said was in the bag.

What’s Cooking Tallahassee’s Rating:
Atmosphere:  F
Taste: F  (Never got my order!)
Presentation: F
Service: F- (Is there anything lower?)
Cleanliness: C
Price: $

Tan's Asian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Food Truck Friday!

Today, while out with my buddy Mike, Captain Food Blogger,  I discovered that Tallahassee-Leon County Credit Union at 1827 Capital Circle NE does a Food Truck Friday.  Today was Sir Cheezy Food Truck.  (My review will be coming soon.)   The Credit Union also offers a food voucher if you participate in a Free Credit Report Analysis.  Click on the link above to view their website so you can keep track of future Food Truck Fridays at Tallahassee-Leon County Credit Union and get more details on the Free Credit Report Analysis.

For those of you who remember Carlos’ Cuban Cafe and miss their Cuban Cuisine….THERE BACK!  I still remember my first time going to Carlos’ Cuban Cafe after moving to Tallahassee.  I had never sampled Cuban Cuisine, other than Cuban Coffee, it that counts, and was hooked from the start.  I remember my awe and seeing fried yucca on the menu and having to try it.  According, I was happy to hear they had reopened.  The new place is called Cuban Grill and is located in the same strip mall at Esposito’s in the same location Brooma Grill.   

On the side there is even an homage to the old location.  The old sign from their other place.

My friend Mike a.k.a. “Captain Food Blogger”  and I decided to try them out for lunch the other day.  We left early in hopes of avoiding any lunch rush.  We arrived at 11:45 a.m.   Even at that time, there was not much parking in the lot and we needed to park on the side.  The minute you walk in the door the aroma from the open grill catches your nostrils.  There were four people ahead of us in line and no menus other than two taped to the counter.  Still, it took us almost 15 minutes to place our orders.  When I approached the register I had to wait as the woman behind the register entered 5 phone orders into the system.  I ordered a whole cuban plate which came with a side of beans and rice.  I could not resist and also ordered a side of plantanos.  I paid my money and was told they would call my name when the order was ready.  I was given a styrofoam cup and went to get a  drink at the soft drink dispenser.  The inside consisted of booths and tables with some cuban type art work.  We chose a booth toward the back of the room.

After waiting twenty minutes (I checked the time on my receipt) they called my friend Mike’s name.  He returned with his food and I waited longer.   Then they called the name of some people who had been behind us in line.  At that time I approached the counter and asked about my order.  They said it was ready and they had called me numerous times.  I found that hard to believe since neither me nor my friend heard the many alleged  calls.
I  returned to my seat with my tray. 

There was a cuban sandwich on paper in a plastic tray and a side of beans and rice with fresh onion on top sloppily thrown into a styrofoam bowl.  My plantanos smiled at me from another styrofoam bowl.  My sandwich looked wonderful; however, my first bite discovered it was cold.  It would have been nice if the bread still had a little warmth to it, but it did not.  Strange, my beans and rice and plantanos were still hot.  Even cold my sandwich was still good and the plantanos were awesome.  Fried and warm and oh so good.

Overall, I would eat there again, despite the long wait and poor service.  I think Cuban Grill looses a lot in not being a sit down type of restaurant and the presentation of the food cheapens an otherwise good meal.

What’s Cooking Tallahassee’s Rating:
Atmosphere:  B
Taste: B
Presentation: C
Service: C
Cleanliness: A
Price: $

The Cuban Grill on Urbanspoon
No website or menu online at this point.

Coosh’s Bayou Rouge has always been a lunchtime favorite of mine to grab a bite during the week. 

Coosh’s recently moved from its prior home off Kerry Forest to a new location at 6267 Old Water Road, Tallahassee, Florida.  For you locals, this is just past the Walmart on Thomasville Road on the west side of the street.  I felt the need to give their new digs a try.  So, after church I dragged the family with me to check it out.  

When we pulled into the parking lot it was difficult to find a space and I was concerned how long we would have to wait to be seated.  To my surprise we walked in and were immediately seated.  We were seated in a booth, and despite the fact the seating appeared new, I felt I was leaning forward on the cushion.  The interior is painted a dark red like the old location, but the space is much larger.  It still maintains what I would call an eclectic Louisiana feel, but due to the size, the new location does not have that intimate feel of the old location.  Our server, a young girl, was friendly and energetic.  She took our drink order and returned immediately and kept them filled throughout the meal.  As I looked around I saw the owner, Coosh, walking around greeting and talking with his customers. 

We started out with some appetizers.  My wife and I chose the Fried Pickles and my children ordered the Cajun Fries.  I have to say this was my first disappointment.  I have had the Fried Pickles at Coosh’s before, but these did not seem the same as I remembered them.  They arrived hot with a side of spicy stone mustard dipping sauce.   They had a heavy batter coating which masked the taste of the pickle buried deep inside.  Furthermore, many were stuck together, giving me the impression they went straight from the freezer to the fryer.  The Cajun fries were nothing special; just Coosh’s regular french fries sparingly sprinkled with some Cajun spices.

For my meal I ordered my favorite, the Logan Chicken Salad.   The chicken in grilled and covered in Buffalo Sauce and comes to you on top of grilled onions, shredded cheddar cheese, greens and cherry tomatoes.  I always order it with the house Bleu Cheese dressing, based upon the recommendation a year or two ago from Mrs. Coosh.  If you are not a Bleu Cheese fan, I still recommend you try it.  The Bleu Cheese is very mild and not overpowering.  My salad was wonderful.  My favorite part being the carmalized grilled onions.  My wife also ordered the Logan Salad, but substituted the chicken for shrimp and enjoyed it as much as me.  The entrees were served in mismatched fiestaware type plates which just added to the eclectic feel.

Uunfortunately, there was still yet another disappointment.   My son ordered a Pulled Pork Plate with a side of Jambalaya and fries.   I saw him eating his Jambalaya but he was making faces and picking at the pork with his fork.  When I asked him what was wrong; he said his pork was cold.  Thinking he just meant luke warm I tried a bite.  ARRGH!  He was talking refrigerator cold.  I had to call our server and she immediately took it back to the kitchen to warm- up the obviously pre-prepared pulled pork which had come out of the refrigerator.  Upon its return, even hot, there was no overlooking the amount of fat in the meat.  All I can say is it was a very poor quality of meat.

Overall, while I loved my Logan Chicken Salad and cannot say enough good things about it, I was very disappointed with my overall dining experience with my family. 

What’s Cooking Tallahassee’s Rating:
Atmosphere: B
Taste: C
Presentation: A
Service: A
Cleanliness: A
Price: $

Coosh's Bayou Rouge on Urbanspoon

Okay, before I go any further I need to tell you I am a bit of a Pizza Snob.  I grew up in the Chicagoland area and I know how real Chicago Pizza tastes and looks.   I am not talking about the Chicago Pizza all the tourists seek out, I am talking about the pizza from the neighborhood pizzarias, and every town and community in Chicago has their own.  The one in the town I grew up was called Dominick’s, but every suburb has one.  Glen Ellyn had its Barroni’s; St. Charles had Salerno’s.   It is a very unique thin crust pizza and while each suburb thinks there is the best it is all basically the same.

Therefore, my biggest curse where ever I move to is finding good pizza.  Tallahassee has been no different.  While I do not think any place can live up to my hometown pizzaria, I have found one I think I frequent more often then most.  Barnaby’s

Now before I start, I will say I remember we had some Barnaby’s pizza places in the Chicagoland area and the signage seems very familiar.  I will need to research that a little more and get back to every one.

My first impression of Baraby’s is a one of those restaurants built in the 1970′s going for that English or Tudor style.  I am not sure when it first opened but I am guessing it has not changed much, if at all over the years.  You walk in and you get the feeling they are going for an English Pub type theme.  You sit down at your table and there is a menu.  You have to look hard, but at the back of each table is a number on a formica plaque mounted into the booth or wall.  Remember this number.

There is a menu on each table and you need to fill it out.  You then take it back to the counter to order and pay for your pizza.  Now, make sure to get cash.  I do not quite understand this set up, but for beverages you need to go to the counter at the other side of the building.  They only accept cash.  If you have small children, do not forget to ask for some pizza dough at the counter.  They will give you a plate and it will help keep the kids busy while you wait.

When your pizza is ready they will call your number.  It did not seem like it took too long.  You go up to the counter and grab your plates and napkins and bring it back to your booth.

We ordered a medium cheese and a medium cheese and sausage.  The crust is thin and the edges are crusty.  The pizza has a fair amount of cheese and toppings and the crust can accomadate it.  I like the sauce they use; however, my wife thought it was a little on the sweet side.

I have to tell you that this has come the closets to that hometown Chicago style pizza I miss.  Based upon my appreciation for pizza I will drive to the other side of town to get pizza at Barnaby’s.

What’s Cooking Tallahassee’s Rating:
Atmosphere: C
Taste: A
Presentation: B
Service: B
Cleanliness: C
Price: $

Barnaby's Family Inn on Urbanspoon

My mother came to visit us from Arizona recently and announced during her visit she was now a vegetarian.   Now on the days she ate chicken she was a Poulitarian.  Anyway, we had to modify some of our meals to accommodate our visitor, but she also made many of her own meals for us during her stay.  One of my favorites is what I called Pea Hummus.  I am not sure what the correct name is for it, but the name has kind of stuck in our household.  We make it as an appetizer and serve it with Lentil Chips.  It really tastes great and is easy to make as well.

Ingredients

1 Bag Frozen Peas

1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

1 Clove Garlic (I love garlic so use a little more in mine.)

Mint

Salt and Pepper to taste

Defrost the peas.  Put the peas, Parmesan cheese, garlic, mint, salt and pepper  in the food processor.  The amount of mint, salt and pepper depends on your personal preference.  Pulse to get it mixed together.  Then while pulsing drizzle in the olive oil.  You may want to add more or less depending on how you like the consistency.   Garnish with some mint leaves and serve right away or refrigerator for a while before serving.

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