Monday, July 11, 2016

Rate Your Restaurants: Round 1 (1-5)

Between June 2016 and June 2017 the four Ferri plan to dine at each of Spoons University's "45 Places to Eat in College Station Before You Die". Which meal we eat will depend on each restaurant's specialties, meaning we won't visit a steakhouse for breakfast or a donut shop for dinner. We (Tom, Will, and I) have committed to choosing menu items on which the restaurant earned its reputation, meaning we won't order a hamburger at a seafood restaurant or chicken fingers at an Italian restaurant. 

We plan to individually rate each of the restaurants on food, service, and atmosphere. We have no experience as food or restaurant critics, but we'll do our best and hopefully give BCS readers a little insight into where they can get great food but also enjoy a meal with the family in tow.

If you missed the "Meet the Reviewers" post, check it out here before reading the reviews below - they'll make a lot more sense with a bit of background information!

And now...our first five restaurants!

The primary scores are an average of our four rankings, while the scores in parentheses are our individual scores, listed in the order of Tom, me, Will, and Hallie.

1. Shipwreck Grill
"If you’re in the mood for seafood, try the shrimp diablo, oysters, or one of their boat platters. Everything is super fresh and delicious, and might even have you forgetting you’re landlocked in the middle of Texas."
  • Food: 6.25 (8, 4, 7, 6)
  • Service: 8.25 (9, 8, 8, 8)
  • Atmosphere: 5.5 (6, 5, 7, 4)
Tom enjoyed his jambalaya and red beans and rice, but the rest of us were less-than-impressed with our entrees. And while the outside of the restaurant looked fun and inviting, inside the tables were tiny (we had to put the condiments and napkin holder on the floor to have room for our four plates) and the space was home to a few too many flies.

2. Cafe Eccell
"Two words - Strawberry. Tart. The sweet strawberries and almond cookie shell is perfect for celebrations, when you’re sad, when you’re breathing… you get the point. Their wood-fired pizzas and globally inspired menu will have you begging for more. Thankfully, they just opened their drive-thru so you can get your fix on the fly."
  • Food: 6.25 (8, 5, 7, 5)
  • Service: 7.5 (7, 8, 8, 7)
  • Atmosphere: 7.25 (8, 7, 7, 7)
If Tom and I had ordered wood-fired pizza and a strawberry tart, we could have given Cafe Eccell a 9 in the food category. But because we had tried the pizza and tart before, we both chose something new...and agreed afterwards that we should have stuck with what Cafe Eccell does well.

On the atmosphere front, the host sat us in Leonard's section of the restaurant. No, Leonard's not a waiter. Leonard is a three-legged lizard who lives on the bush outside the back corner of Cafe Eccell. And if you recall how much I love lizards, I'm sure you can imagine how much I enjoyed sharing a meal with Leonard.

3. Hullabaloo Diner
"One of the few registered diners in the state of Texas, Hullabaloo is always bumping, and it’s easy to see why! They’re known for their killer brunch options, but also try the Train Wreck fries, they won’t disappoint."
  • Food: 8 (6, 8, 8, 10)
  • Service: 8.5 (7, 8, 9, 10)
  • Atmosphere: 8.25 (7, 8, 8, 10)
Just about everything on the Hullabaloo menu - from burgers, sandwiches, fries, and milkshakes to omelets, pancakes, breakfast burritos, and bacon - hits the spot for me. The relatively small airstream trailer in which customers dine often translates to a longer wait for a table, but that wait is worth it for the quirky, vintage atmosphere and excellent service.

4. Mad Taco
There is nothing ordinary about this funky taco joint. Bold, flavorful, and tamale bread tortillas so soft I want to snuggle with it, every bite is a fiesta in my mouth. Plus they have margarita flavors you won’t find anywhere else in College Station. A chamoy margarita? Take my money.
  • Food: 8.25 (9, 9, 9, 6)
  • Service: 7.5 (7, 7, 9, 7)
  • Atmosphere: 7.75 (5, 7, 9, 10)
What does it say about our Midwestern-born family that our favorite restaurant thus far specializes in tacos? I remember a time - fewer than 10 years ago - when I would order a chicken sandwich and french fries at Mexican restaurants...and now I could eat Mexican food every night of the week.

A relatively new addition to College Station, Mad Taco serves fun drinks, unique tacos, and delicious queso, all of which earned high scores from the four Ferri. The space is a little small and the line moves slowly, but just like at Hullabaloo, the food is worth the wait.

5. JJ's Snowcones
When spring arrives, we’re only thinking one thing- JJ’s. Do not fear the line. Some of the softest snow in Texas is just a few moments away! JJ’s offers over 50 flavors at incredibly reasonable prices, and they also have add ins, like cream, ice cream, and even pickles!
  • Food: 8.5 (6, 9, 9, 10)
  • Service: 7.5 (5, 6, 9, 10)
  • Atmosphere: 6.25 (3, 4, 8, 10)
I arrived at JJ's Snowcones with low expectations. I had heard good things about their finely shaved ice, "but really," I thought, "how much better could one snow cone establishment be than another snow cone establishment?" A LOT better, apparently.

I didn't enjoy waiting in line - in 95+ degree heat and next to a busy main road in Bryan - outside the JJ's hut, but the smooth ice and vibrant flavors in their snow cones made up for the less-than-desirable atmosphere and mediocre service.

There you have it - five restaurants down, 40 left to go!  

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you about the Shipwreck Grill. We were not impressed and haven't been back. I think it is more a place to drink then to eat.