Monday, January 30, 2017

Rate Your Restaurants: Round 2 (6-10)

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!

A quick update:

As soon as school started last fall it became apparent we wouldn't make it to all 45 restaurants as a foursome. We don't eat out often enough, and as creatures of habit, we have a few favorite restaurants from which we "have" to order food at least once every three weeks. Additionally, a few of the restaurants on the list cost too much for us to justify purchasing food for Picky McPickerson. As a result, the primary scores below are the average of the scores given by those who dined on that day, which wasn't necessarily all four Ferri. When the only diner was me (I decided not to ask everyone who eats out with me to rate their experience), the average is the same as my score.

And now, on to our second group of five restaurants!

6. Cafe Capri
"Holy Cannoli! If you’re on the quest to find a good cannoli in the BCS area, all arrows point to Caffe Capri. This cute little Italian restaurant also has the classics you crave, such as lasagna and chicken parmesan, to new favorites like their Cajun tortellini."

Food: 6 (Erin 6, Tom 6)
Service: 6 (Erin 5, Tom 6)
Atmosphere: 5 (Erin 5, Tom 5)

Cafe Capri was my biggest disappointment thus far. Tom and I visited the restaurant for a friend's birthday, and knowing we had a large group, we called ahead of time. Cafe Capri doesn't take reservations, so we simply shared with the hostess our anticipated arrival time and group size. When friends started arriving, despite the fact that a large table in the center of the restaurant sat vacant and unreserved, the wait staff refused to seat us until our entire party (16 or so people) had arrived. As we stood in the front entry, waiting for a couple of stragglers (the POURING rain and difficulty finding parking delayed a few people), the hostess asked - no, told - us repeatedly to get out of her way, but we had no where to go since she wouldn't let us sit down...

While my food tasted fine, it didn't live up to my expectations given this specialty restaurant's popularity. And with regard to the atmosphere, the noise level - created from just normal restaurant conversation and dining - reached a volume so high I could barely converse with the person sitting right next to me. I can honestly say that I won't return unless for a special event like a birthday or work party.

7. Shish Kabob
"This quaint little family run restaurant is serving up some bomb Eastern Mediterranean food. Kabobs, falafel, and the most luxurious hummus, there is seriously nothing bad on their menu."

Food: 7.75 (Erin 8, Tom 6, Will 9, Hallie 8)
Service: 5.75 (Erin 6, Tom 6, Will 6, Hallie 5)
Atmosphere: 6.75 (Erin 6, Tom 5, Will 8, Hallie 8)

Shish Kabob surprised me. I had low expectations when we arrived, and while I found the service and the atmosphere underwhelming (I would describe the counter staff as unfriendly and the atmosphere as drab), the large portions of simple but tasty hummus, falafel, chicken, and beef went over well with three of the four of us. Tom pointed out that while he's glad a Mediterranean restaurant has taken hold in College Station, the flavor of its food pales in comparison to what he enjoyed at the Mediterranean restaurants in our last "hometown". He appreciates spice - and lots of it - in everything he consumes, and Shish Kabob's food might be considered bland my some...which is probably why it went over so well with both Will and Hallie.

Also worth noting, Will and Hallie's gave Shish Kabob high atmosphere scores because there's a fountain inside and I gave them each a penny to make a wish.

8. Messina Hof
"Forget traveling to Napa, our own little wine country is right here at Messina Hof! Treat yourself to brunch or dinner at their Village House restaurant, or snack on a cheese board while drinking a glass of your favorite wine (or bottle, we won’t judge)."

Food: 8 (Erin 8)
Service: 8 (Erin 8)
Atmosphere: 9 (Erin 9)

Having wined and dined at Messina Hof a handful of times, I feel confident in my rankings as a true assessment - rather than a one-time shot in the dark - of the venue's food, service, and atmosphere. The appetizers and main dishes have all pleased my palate, the service has always impressed me, and the atmosphere, from the private tasting room to the bar to the dining room, feels consistently warm and inviting. And it certainly doesn't hurt when Paul Bonarrigo stops by your table to say hello.

9. The Village Cafe
"This hip cafe offers locally sourced cuisine right from the area. They offer healthy and fun breakfast options as well as tons of unique sandwiches. Enjoy the local art that they promote on the walls as well as the live music on the weekends."

Food: 7 (Erin 7)
Service: 7 (Erin 7)
Atmosphere: 7 (Erin 7)

After many recommendations, I visited The Village for brunch with a couple of friends. We arrived too early in the day to order a pitcher of their famous mimosas (at least at first - we purposely hung around long enough to try them) so I started off on a disappointed note. My food - a slice of quiche, roasted potatoes, and a cinnamon roll - tasted as they should, but didn't knock my socks off as I'd hoped they might. The strawberry mimosas, however, made the entire brunch worth it and almost made up for the employee sweeping right next to our table as we ate.

10. Harvey Washbangers
"This is college- you have an overflowing pile of dirty laundry and no food in your refrigerator. Don’t panic, get it all done at Harvey Washbangers. Part launderette, part damn good food and craft beer. Try their porkaholic cheese fries- pulled pork, cheese, jalapenos, BBQ sauce, and bacon. Yum!"

Food: 8 (Erin 8)
Service: 7 (Erin 7)
Atmosphere: 7 (Erin 7)

Though my crowd may have had 10-15 years on the majority of Harvey Washbangers' college student drinkers, diners, and laundry washers, we enjoyed our drinks and LOVED Harvey's porkaholic cheese fries and chips and queso. I may not visit this establishment for its laundry services, but would return for another round of appetizers and to try some of the delicious sounding burgers!

There you have it - 10 restaurants down, 35 left to go!  

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