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Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

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

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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.

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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

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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

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My buddy at work, and fellow food blogger, needed to run some errands today during lunch down by Tom Brown Park, so I tagged along and we went to Captain Pete’s House of Gyros to grab a bite to eat.

When you first enter, there is not much to look at or catch your attention.  The place looks run down.  There are older formica tables with old metal chairs, and booths with duck taped seats that have seen better days.  That said, it does give the place a distinct atmosphere and a feeling it has been here for a long time.  You walk up to the counter to place your order.  The sign on the back wall only contains limited information and you need to rely on menus available at the counter.   Service is friendly.  When your order is done, you give them your name, take your cup and look for a seat.  Beverages are self serve.

I ordered a King Gyros and appetizer of hummus.  Well, it all gets served together on the same plate;  so no really an appetizer.  Once our order was ready it was brought to us at the table.  The hummus was very good.  Served with a dollop of oil and a side of a tomato wedge, a few cucumber slices and an olive.   It had a nice thick consistency and a nice taste to it.  Hot pita bread comes with it to scoop it up.

The gyros is the best I have had in this town.  Smothered in diced tomatoes, chopped onions and tzatziki.  Tzatziki it that traditional Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce.  I also want to mention that for $4 extra you can get a drink, salad or rice, and a piece of Baklava with your meal.

I have to tell you I did have a problem with the cleanliness and made the fatal mistake of using the bathroom which grossed me out.  Still, it will not stop me from visiting Captain Pete’s when I have a craving for gyros.

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

Captain Pete's House of Gyros on Urbanspoon

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Today was the Grand Opening of Hurricane Grill & Wings located at 6800 Thomasville Road here in Tallahassee, Florida.  It is located in the strip mall just south of Chiles High School.

Hurricane Grill has what I would call a beach or Key West type theme and decor.   It offers a very casual dining atmosphere which appealed to me.   I would feel comfortable eating here with my family or my co-worker and fellow food blogger, Mike.  There is an outside patio and bar where you can eat, in addition to another bar inside the restaurant itself.  The inside is very bright, comfortable and inviting.

We sat in the bar area.  Our waiter was very enthusiastic and explained the sauces and menu to us with great exuberance.   Since we were there at lunch time, he asked if we were under any time constraints and made sure we were in and out in the time we had for lunch.

I started out with an order fo the Fried Pickles with Cyclone Sauce.  These can be addictive like the menu states.  The Dill pickle chips are fried and served with our Hurricane Grill’s Cyclone Sauce.  The Cyclone Sauce is a combination of the spicy Firecracker Sauce and ranch dressing.  The fried pickles arrived in a stylish paper cone.  I personally thought they were a little greasy, but good and really enjoyed the flavor when dipped in the Cyclone Sauce.

Now, I know it is a wing place, but I have to tell you I got a little overwhelmed with the 30+ sauces and just could not make up my mind.   Plus, the menu offers a wide selection of other fare besides the wings.  I went with the Firecracker Shrimp Tacos.   The shrimp is tossed in Firecracker Sauce and served on a bed of Thai Slaw in soft shell tacos and garnished with sesame seeds.   Your choice of sides are crispy natural cut French fries, kettle chips or Hurricane Slaw.  The tacos were served with sides of sour cream, guacamole and salsa; however, I felt none were needed to really enjoy this dish.  The Thai Slaw was just the right accompaniment.  I went with a side of Hurricane Slaw and was a little disappointed, finding it bland.

Overall, Hurricane Grill seems like a great place to grab a bite to eat with the family or relax and hang out; having a few drinks and wings with friends.  Hurricane Grill is running some great Grand Opening specials, so be sure not to miss out on them.

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

Hurricane Grill & Wings on Urbanspoon

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A new eating establishment called Lan Xang just opened off of Kerry Forest in NE Tallahassee which I wanted to give a try.  My buddy Mike from work had discovered it last week and came back to the office with carry-out.  He had gotten a Red Curry dish which he let me sample.  It had a nice smooth taste, yet spicy.  It was a good spicy taste too in that it did not linger in your mouth too long and leave a burning sensation.   I knew I needed to try more.

So, the following Friday, Mike and I were off to try their dine-in service.  The menu indicated Lan Xang was formerly Sushilicous.  (I hate to admit it, but I had never been to Sushilicous.)  The menu offered a wide variety of fare, and there was a separate menu for Specialty Rolls.  The owner told us the fresh fish for the Specialty Rolls was delivered weekly from ITN.  Mike ordered some Specialty Rolls, but I decided to try an appetizer instead.  I have a weak spot for Krab Ragoon, so had to try them.  The Specialty Rolls were brought out before my appetizer.  Mike had just about finish the rolls when my appetizer arrived.  I was surprised, in a good way, to find the Krab Ragoon were folded in a different manner and somewhat flat.  I have never been served Krab Ragoon in this shape before and have to say I liked the variety.  The filling included a hint of spinach. 

For my entrée I ordered the A3 Specialty with chicken.  The dish was described in the menu as lightly breaded meat sautéed with vegetables and sweet & sour sauce.  Do not let the word “breaded” scare you.  It was very lightly breaded, if at all, which made the dish even more appealing to me.   When the dish was brought to the table , the aroma itself was mouth-watering.  The dish came with a side of Jasmine rice.  The dish contained nice pieces of chicken with fresh vegetables.  The vegetables were not over cook and the sweet and sour sauce was nice and light, unlike the over thickened sauces one usually gets when ordering a sweet and sour dish.  My only real complaint with the entrée was they brought out my buddy’s entrée first and I had to tell him to start so his food would not get cold while I waited.  The service was very friendly and I will give them the benefit of the doubt with regard to the timing of the food service since they have just opened.  Overall, I plan on going back.  Do not forget they also do carry-out!

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

Lan Xang on Urbanspoon

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