I'm a student in town, been here in Tallahassee for 3 years, and one day I want to grow up and be someone who really knows food. Until then, the best I can do is share my limited experience here in Tallahassee, explained with my even more limited experience in the world of true food appreciation. Why? For your comments, your suggestions! What sort of food culture should someone like me be a part of?
What really encouraged me to post was seeing the "Best of Tallahassee" in the the FSView a few weeks ago. Best Overall Restaurant as voted by the citizens of Tallahassee: Applebee's. Completely shocked, I really began to worry about what is going on in the world of Tallahassee cuisine. Sure, a few years ago I was more than content with trips to Chili's or some other chain, but after some traveling abroad, reading, and just more interaction with what food can be, I dare say that I am at least on the right path to foodiedom.
On my limited budget, I have began a mission to try as many restaurants in town that I can to hopefully dispel all possibilities that the "Best of Tallahassee" has any bearing actual on reality. I have been reading these boards for awhile now, trying to soak up all that I can about eating around town. So far:
Kool Beanz Cafe: Went for lunch, ordered a hummus appetizer and a sweet tea. The place was packed, seemed pretty casual and friendly. Sipping on my tea, I decided to go with the pecan crusted trout with a lemon-caper butter served over creamed spinach. My girlfriend ordered a pork chop. We ate the hummus, which was good but just hummus, and watched the busy yet still relaxed looking kitchen crew. Entree time: My fish was delicious, moist and light. Spinach was good, though the oven fries were a little over-cooked. My girlfriend seemed happy with her chop. Impressed, we had the coffee creme brulee for desert. It tasted like hagen daas coffee ice cream, but hey I like hagen daas coffee ice cream and with the crisp on top it was quite good. We plan on making a weekly trip for lunch a new ritual.
Mozaik: Went for lunch (hey, it's cheaper!). It was saturday and a bit rainy, so we were one of say four tables there. I am a bit self-conscious I'll admit but I certainly did not feel very comfortable. Especially when the hostess asked if we'd like to see the wine menu and I said no thanks, she responded "Didn't think so." Whether or not its because I have the face of a fifteen year old, me and my girlfriend were still a tad offended. Appetizers went like this: I got a salad, don't remember exactly what it was but it had mixed greens and bacon, and yeah it was just a salad. My girlfriend got the baked potato soup, which got a thumbs up from the server. It was ok, though it had a strong smokey-bacony flavor that dominated every spoonful. For our entrees, my girlfriend ordered the quesadilla, and I ordered the cajun-spiced grouper sandwich. I didn't try the quesadilla but she seemed content. My sandwich came with lettuce and tomato, and a side of chips. The sandwich wasn't that good: it was pretty greasy and the batter on the fish was not very flavorful. The chips, while really salty, were awesome small crunchy bites of goodness. We didn't opt for desert. Overall, I was underwhelmed by the food and probably won't be going back anytime soon, unless someone else is paying.
Essence of India: been numerous times for dinner, and lunch. Indian food before I started college was something completely new and foreign. So when I first decided to try this place, I was shocked in a good way, loving the blend of spices that I had never dreamed of before. Since then the initial excitement has worn down, and I certainly have had less than stellar meals at Essence. Sometimes the lamb just tastes like its older some days than others. Lunch is extremely affordable and fillings, I mean 6.99 for soup, salad, entree, naan, and dessert? C'mon! Mango lassis are really really good, and so is the raita cucumber stuff to cool your palate. Samrat, on my one trip there for dinner, seemed like a cheaper version of essence.
I hope to continue to try more places, but I will say, though it may be childish, that the fancier places scare me. Intimidate me. Like I am not welcome.
Writing this makes me think about this issue of me being an ignorant, inexperienced college student. Am I supposed to be OK with service that is less than optimal because I'm young? I don't think I am wrong in saying that younger people receive less than preferential treatment when going out to eat (especially at restaurants that aren't Applebees and the like). Or maybe I am out of place, and I should just go back to the chains and be content with food that I know came frozen in a truck.
Note: I realize that this post is disjointed and doesn't really have a point nor does it ask any real answerable questions.