Sunday, June 10, 2018

Two Trips to Capt. D's in Muscle Shoals

Memorial Day weekend was about to begin and I had finished up my Muscle Shoals deliveries around 3:00, so I decided to give into a craving for a Captain's Catch Fish Sandwich at Capt. D's. There was no line and I was waited on immediately. I didn't even have to walk back to the counter to get my meal - the young lady who had taken my order brought it to me.

The sandwich was delicious, no surprises there. I watched as the girl walked around the dining room wiping the tables. I found out that her name was Laken and she was keeping everything spotless. I couldn't have found a crumb in the entire place. It was then I decided to write up my experience on Quad-Cities Cuisine even if what I had was what most people would call bland food.

But before I could write the blog I had another client in Muscle Shoals and decided to try Capt. D's again. It wasn't exactly as good an experience.

This time I went later in the day and by 4:30 people had begun to drift in. A young man was behind the counter this time and he was having difficulty keeping up. After I got to a table I discovered that buzzers were going off randomly and diners were flocking back to the counter needlessly. While standing in line behind some of these, I noticed that the health department score was only 80. Uh-oh!

I didn't see Laken this time and noticed not only crumbs all around the dining area, but also half empty trays on some of the tables. Sure that was the diners' fault, but apparently no one was even trying to clean off any of the dining surfaces. It didn't make for an appetizing meal.

So how would I rate it? I assume if it's slow, you get a good experience. If it's not so slow, you get something quite a bit less. And the health score? I'll leave that one up to you to make your own decision on.

Cherry Pitts 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe'

Taziki's Mediterranean Café is a fast casual chain of franchised restaurants based in Birmingham, Alabama, that specializes in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. As of early 2017, the chain has 77 locations in 16 states. The Florence location is located on Cox Creek Parkway.

Like many people in the Shoals I've eaten at Taziki's in Birmingham and was delighted to hear that Florence was getting a franchise. I'll admit to being not so delighted at the location. It's high traffic, but very hard to get in and out of during peak dining hours. I'll wager you a lamb pie that many would-be diners just give up and go elsewhere when they're in a hurry.

If you've already been to a Taziki's and know you like (or love) the food, I'd suggest you first go to Sam's and buy one of the cafe's gift cards. You pay just under $40.00 for a $50.00 card. Mix that with a luncheon special and you have two very nice meals out of it as my wife and I did. 

One non-food caveat is the size of the restaurant. I'm a large guy and I felt cramped. I asked my wife, who's a small lady, but she had no complaints on that issue. Next time I'll know to sit on a aisle so I can extend my legs a bit. You also get quite a load of other diners' conversations, but that's not uncommon anywhere you eat.

We both ordered the steak "feast" and were not disappointed in the size of the total meal, but the individual meat pieces are small and easy to be overcooked. I thought mine was a little overdone, but my wife loved hers. While the entree' menu is definitely Mediterranean, the side items and drinks are pretty much same ole, same ole, as far as I could tell. A Coke is a Coke is a Coke.

Service was very good and the manager was on the floor, which is always good. Everything appeared spotless--another plus. If you want pick up, Taziki's has an app for that. 

Overall, I'd give the sandwich chain four stars out of five. I'll definitely go back to spend the other half of the gift card, but will try for later in the day when it's not so crowded.



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Outlaw Barbecue - Spring Park

Outlaw Barbecue is located in a walk-up location in Spring Park in Tuscumbia. Check the restaurant's Facebook page before going since hours vary.

I first saw the Outlaw BBQ in Spring Park when I was with my husband. At first he didn't want to eat there since you have to take your food back to your car or eat on the deck with all the flies in summer. I had finally convinced him to give it a shot when he saw the logo. My husband said only wild hogs have tusks and they weren't inspected. My thought was the restaurant couldn't sell meat that hadn't been inspected by USDA and I wasn't convinced about the tusk thing anyway, but by then my husband was sure the owners were Arkansas fans and he's a Bama freak, so we left.

Fast forward to last week and a workmate and I were in Tuscumbia during lunch time. I convinced her to try it (not hard since she loves BBQ as much as I do). We decided to play it safe the first time and and just order sandwiches.

On the plus side, the sandwich was hot and the bun was soft. On the negative side we each asked for inside meat and didn't get it. That's not the worst thing in the world since the sandwiches were still good and filling, not the "Krystal" size that some places serve. We had sweet tea and it's hard to go wrong there either. It was just right.

Prices were in line with similar restaurants, but since this place has low overhead I had expected them to be a little cheaper. Good food is worth it, so that's not a major problem either, but here's the kicker.

Before we left, I walked back up to the front of the place to write down some menu items for this review. Then I saw the Health Score. It was 83.

Now this is almost a brand new restaurant and its health score is 83? I didn't have a chance to talk to anyone about it since we had to get back to Florence. I don't usually eat anywhere with a score lower than 85 and my husband is even pickier.

If the bottom line for you is health scores, call before you visit Outlaw Barbecue.

Cherry Pitts


Thursday, June 15, 2017

306 BBQ - Another Take

306 Barbecue has two remaining locations open - Hwy. 72 in Athens and downtown Florence. Our friend L. Stone who writes regularly for us offered a great new critique.

I took a family member there for his birthday lunch a couple of days ago. The food was pretty good. I don't think their pork is spectacular, but it's far from bad and the sides (slaw and green beans) were very good. While I was there I ran into a friend who suggested that we try their apple casserole. It was listed as a side, but it was more like a dessert. It was very good. 
I've eaten at the Florence location one time, back in the fall when we went to a UNA game to watch the halftime show. Afterwards a stop at 306 was in order and I got some Brunswick stew. It was good, but a little spicy for my taste. I'd still order it again. I probably would have ordered more but Trowbridge's was next door.
I thought the Florence location was a little pricey, but if the suckers will shell out for Rosie's then 306 should do well with better food and better prices. Just eat there early so you can get dessert at Trowbridge's before they close. 
Hopefully they will cater to UNA (literally and figuratively). They are close enough to get a lot of business from that community. If they can crack that they will do very well.
L. Stone

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Oh, My Goodness...

Those three words describe the most wonderful dining experience I have ever had. Ever.

Last Friday afternoon my wife and I were driving to Tennessee to visit her mom. On the way my wife asked me if I thought one of the towns that we had to pass through had any Italian restaurants. Knowing that town fairly well, I offered her a half-hearted laugh and suggested ‘Ryans’. Little did I realize that I had just set myself up to be amazed. My wife struck gold...literally, via tripadvisor, of course. There was indeed an Italian restaurant in the above-alluded to town. Talk about a well-kept secret!

She made reservations for 7PM. On entering the restaurant I immediately felt ‘underdressed’. I didn’t need to worry, as one patron was wearing overalls. However, the atmosphere, decor, etc ( a lady was playing a Baby Grand) of the restaurant were straight out of New York City. It was fabulous. Even more fabulous was the menu (which changes every 6 months). After several minutes of pondering I settled on ‘Grilled Pork Tenderloin with asparagus and potatoes’. My wife had ‘Greek Steak Gorgonzola’. For dessert we chose ‘Creme Brulee cheesecake’. Afterwards, my wife actually wanted to lick her plate….and mine! Everything was THAT good. Total damage to our bank account for dinner, dessert and two glasses of Merlot? $63.00.  That compares favorably with a well-known ‘chain’ of Italian eateries. The ‘chains’, however, CANNOT hold a candle to the QUALITY of the food and overall experience of this restaurant.

So WHERE is this gem of an Italian restaurant, and WHAT is its name? Would you have ever guessed ‘downtown Corinth, MS’? It is called ‘Vicari’s’. Is it worth the hour drive from The Shoals for dinner? If you don’t think so after your meal, I’ll pay for your gas. How’s that for a recommendation?

Editor's Note: We don't usually post reviews with the name at the bottom rather than the top, but J. wrote the review this way, and we like it!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mr. Hui's Chinese Buffet

You may not be familiar with Mr. Hui's since the restaurant's signage isn't that great. Mr. Hui's, pronounced Mr. Whee's, is located in the former Peacock Express Buffet on North Pine Street in North Florence. Currently there's only a canvas banner to tell patrons of the new name and owner.

I hadn't eaten at the Peacock Express, so I really can't compare the two eateries, but my friends all say the food and service is much better. I can only comment on what I experienced during my recent visit. We went at lunch and the buffet was well beyond what I had expected as far as variety and freshness. I asked if I could see a dinner menu and the server promptly brought me a copy to take home. I call that real service.

Since I'm not that adventurous, I stuck with my favorite General Tso's chicken and wasn't disappointed. I can say that this dish puts the Rice Box to shame, but that's not all that hard to do. Again, it was really fresh, hot, and tasty. I don't think you could beat it in Huntsville.

One of my friends tricked me into trying something with Mr. Hui's hot sauce. Let's just say that if you like it hot, this is the place. My server was very happy to keep my water glass filled. Again, I can't say enough good about the service here.

Now about the lighting. I had driven by the old Peacock Express more times that I can count and have always enjoyed the neon lights at night. There's similar lighting inside the restaurant. I think I was lucky to have my first experience during the lunch hour when there was at least some sun trickling through the windows.

The colored lights take a little getting used to. I finally decided that I liked the atmosphere, but I would advise those who have any kind of aversion or seizure disorder to tread carefully at this restaurant.

Finally the pricing: While not the cheapest in town, the prices here are well below some other buffets. I would think most college students could afford this eatery. It would be a place I could easily afford every weekday if I worked nearby. The dinner menu was obviously a little higher but still very reasonable.

I'm giving Mr. Hui's four and one-half stars out of five. I highly suggest you try it.

Taylor Swifter Duster

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Legends in Florence

Legends Steakhouse has four locations in Tennessee, with the Florence store being the only one in Alabama. The medium-price eatery is located across from the Shoals Theatre in an old pharmacy that has housed at least three failed restaurants before it. So far this incarnation shows every sign of hanging in there. Is it that good?

My significant other and I decided on a late lunch. We rightly assumed we’d be too late for the cheaper lunch menu, but that is an option if money is tight. You can also opt for just a salad since the Florence location is one of the three stores with a salad bar.

There was no problem getting a booth mid-afternoon, so we looked forward to some quiet time to ourselves. Unfortunately, our waiter decided to make our little outing a threesome for a great part of our visit. On the plus side we now know the restaurant is doing much better with their health scores.

My companion had the sirloin/chicken fingers combo and I had the rib eye. Both steaks were cooked to perfection and the wait wasn’t overly long, though it shouldn’t have been since it was a slow time. We had iced tea, but alcoholic beverages are available for those who are so inclined.

Portions were large, so we debated a desert. Finally, we decided on Key Lime pie. There were several cake and pie items on the menu, but we were told not all were available at the time we went. If this is important to you, you might want to call ahead.

It took a while to get our check, so you may want to ask for it immediately after you’re sure you have finished ordering. We heard some diners complaining about how long it was taking for them as well. The waiter forgot our takeout boxes, so we had to wait a little longer still. By this time it appeared the early dinner crowd was coming in, so next time we'll try our “late lunch” a little earlier.

My date had been before, but it was new to me. Will I go back? Yes. My one complaint is that the wait staff needs better training. I understand there are often coupons online and elsewhere, so consider watching for those.