It was the best of dining, it was the worst of dining. Service of attentiveness; service of apathy. Service based on answering customer questions and service based on sticking out boobs. Food of flavor and food of ridiculously bland. An enjoyable hour and a rather unpleasant one.
Yes, they were two very different dining experiences.
We’re down in Tampa for spring training ‘09 and headed out for dinner on Saturday night. We’re staying over near the airport and there is a mall and dining area not too far from where we were, so we were off to the Bay Street dining area to find some food. It is an upscale food court attached to the International Plaza shopping mall, with some real restaurants in addition to traditional mall staples (Chik-fil-a, etc.). The restaurants all opened on to a common open-air walkway that was actually pretty nice. But the dining experiences are very varied, depending on the restaurant you choose, as we found out.
We avoided the long line for the Cheesecake Factory and eventually found ourselves at the Blue Martini. I have to give credit where it is due, and the waitresses were certainly dressed to extract the most they could from the men there, but the entire rest of the experience was pretty awful. The highlight was probably the hostess’s cleavage as she wiped down the table we were at, but that didn’t make up for the miserable service or the bland food. Suffice it to say, we didn’t stick around for long.
After that we walked around the corner to The Grape. It is a combination of wine bar and wine store where the service was good and the food actually had flavor. It certainly was not the best meal I’ve ever had (or even close to it) but the difference between that at the Blue Martini was so shocking that it was greatly appreciated. The waiter actually stopped by our table several times throughout the meal, offered suggestions that were accurate and had a pretty comprehensive understanding of the wine offerings. Plus, the food actually had flavor – the flavor that the ingredients suggested it should. That was a major bonus.
Blue Martini is actually fine for people watching and drinking. But if you want something laid back and that serves decent food, I’d head around the corner to The Grape. A much better option.
PS- Sorry Mr. Dickens.
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