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Tampa's Yellow Door

BeaN | Jan 14, 200407:31 PM

On Friday evening, Spousal Unit (SU) and I had dinner at the Yellow Door. We were the first customers of the evening (and the only ones for the better part of an hour).

From the outset, let me first say that the food, atmosphere and service at the Yellow Door were almost uniformly superb. Both of us left with a negative impression, though, and we are both puzzled; hard pressed to articulate why.

Our disappointment (which isn't the right word at all) is an issue of personal preference. The only negatives I can really put my finger on are these: 1) the service was VERY attentive, bordering on overbearing (which may have been due to the relative emptiness of the place at the early time at which we dined); 2)In SU's words, "it just felt like they were trying too hard" with regard to everything - food, service, decor & ambiance.

I've eaten in really high-end, much more expensive places and had very enjoyable experiences, but I just wasn't comfortable at Yellow Door. The Yellow Door is simply far more chic, sleek and sophisticated than I ever have been or ever will (or would even care to) be.

We aren’t hayseed bumpkin-types (I think). We are both degreed, professional people, SU has traveled the world and I’ve at least been out of the US several times. We’ve enjoyed eating in some very expensive, high-end places in various cities. We are open to experimental adventures of many types.

The space is small and intimate, and everything has a quiet, understated, modern and elegant beauty. Everything is beautiful; a delight to the senses. To me, it felt very studied and deliberate. Although the space was small, it did not feel intimate to me, it felt cool, aloof and distant. At 5’1” and proportional weight, I felt rather like the proverbial bull in a china shop. It wasn’t comfortable to me; I did not feel welcomed.

The take-out menu I picked up is missing some of the items that we sampled, so I will apologize in advance if I'm sketchy on details.

For starters, I had the Roasted Eel on Cucumber Salad. I can't remember what SU had, and at the moment, he cannot either. They were BOTH FABULOUS, a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth.

The Garlic Squid & Black Beans graced SU's dinner plate, and I had a curried prawn dish that was accompanied by sticky coconut rice. SU’s dinner was also accompanied by another fancy rice.

The prawns were enormous, succulent, lovely. The coconut curry sauce that they rested in was delectable. The coconut sticky rice was really terrific, but not nearly enough in volume to soak up all of that lovely sauce on my plate, which went away to the kitchen, regrettably.

The Garlic Squid was IMO, less successful. I thought that the texture of the squid was off. I expect well-handled squid to be tender, but this was beyond tender. It was more like fully cooked (beyond al dente) pasta. There was none of the resilient snap between my teeth that I associate with squid. I wondered if they had done something to it to tenderize it.

I put off writing this up mostly because I wanted to write objectively. Looking over what I have written, most of the experience was good. I have made myself a regular at different places with absolutely surly, apathetic waitstaff at different times in my life simply because the food redeemed all else. As good as it was, the food (taste AND beauty), did not redeem my experience at Yellow Door. I’d be hard-pressed to ever go back there.

I still feel a bit puzzled as to why, and I welcome your responses.

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