Well, the town has been all abuzz about the opening of the Hotel Duval and it's various attractions - Level8, Shula's 347, Le Roc Cafe, etc. And I've been super anxious to give the town's newest steakhouse a try. I'll be honest, I think Tallahassee was in need of a good, upscale steakhouse. I've tried Marie Livingston's and didn't think it was anything better than my mom could make. I've tried Ted's (even the bison!), but the experience was butchered (no pun intended) because my steak was overcooked and the service was lousy. In fact, my favorite steak in town isn't served at a steakhouse at all. It's the Peppercorn Crusted Filet at Urbane - crunchy on the outside, melty on the inside and served with a blue cheese fritter - it's absolutely divine! So, hoping Shula's would take the cake, I invited hubby and a friend to accompany me for a lovely evening out.
Posted by Tally Foodie Monday, November 9, 2009
From the moment you drive up to the Hotel Duval, the exquisite experience begins. A valet promptly greets you, opens your door and whisks your car safely away. Be sure to let them know you're dining at Shula's, as they'll mark your ticket with an S and then you can get it validated by your server, so the parking is complimentary.
We decided to go a little early and have some drinks up at Level8, the rooftop bar. So swanky and trendy, it seems like it would be better fitted for a New York high rise, rather than a Tallahassee boutique hotel. But the view is gorgeous, especially around sunset and there's ample seating outside so you can enjoy the fresh air. What's even better is that if you don't finish your drinks in time for your dinner reservations, you can take them down to Shula's with you!
So down to Shula's we went. We were ushered promptly to our table, informed of the specials and left alone to peruse the menus. Although, none of us had to look very long, because we all decided to order the 8oz Filet. Hubby got his with the smashed potatoes and asparagus, and my friend and I both got the steak fries and asparagus.
But before our steaks arrived, hubby and I decided to split the Wedge salad - an iceberg wedge with blue cheese crumbles, bacon, tomatoes and blue cheese dressing (we had them hold the red onions). It actually came out looking like a wedge, but hubby was so hungry, he immediately cut and mixed it up before I could reach into my purse for the camera. At any rate, the salad was delicious. The dressing was rich and creamy and the bacon was crisp and savory. It was a rather large portion, and for it's $10 price, I'd suggest you split it.
Our steaks arrived and our server asked us to do something I'd never been asked to do at a steakhouse before. She asked us to cut into our steaks immediately and verify that they were cooked to our satisfaction. She even had a small light that she used to help illuminate our plates in the dim lighting to ensure they were cooked correctly. After we had all done so, she asked us to enjoy our meal and enjoy we did. Now, if you LOVE a good steak, you will LURVE these. That's right, LURVE (that's like 10 levels up from love, if you didn't know). They are so buttery and melt-in-your-mouthy that you will just groan with pleasure. The steak fries were golden and crispy and nicely seasoned, but I had a taste of hubby's smashed potatoes and thought they were yummy as well. They were sprinkled with parmesan cheese and had real chunks of potato with the skin and all! The only thing we thought was a bit odd was the taste of the asparagus. It had a sort of tangy taste, almost as if they had been marinated in balsamic vinegar. Although, after the unusualness wore off, it did add a nice little zip to the plate.
It was a deliciously scrumptious meal from start to finish. And the service and attention to detail were perfection. The atmosphere in the restaurant is very chic and romantic, dressed in shades of black and grey, but there were also a few strategically placed TV's showing some games for all the sportsmen and women in the crowd. I would say that besides a few places like Urbane and Cypress, Shula's is one of the only real fancy places in town.
After dinner, we wandered over to ALoft and checked out their W XYZ bar for comparison. I'd describe the inside of the ALoft more as shabby chic, almost as if Target had created a line of hotels. It's not as upscale as Hotel Duval, but then it's a W lite hotel, so I'd expect that. But where you feel as though you're in a whole other city up at the Level8 bar, in the W XYZ you still know you're in a hotel lobby bar.
I ordered a Watermelon Martini, which was far too sweet for even my taste, and my friend ordered a Razzle Dazzle (I think that's the name) - it was some sort of fruity concoction made with real blueberries. After I downed my martini, I ordered one of those next and it was much less sweet, but much more potent. The weird thing about this joint was that it seemed they really couldn't figure out what kind of music they wanted to play. One second they were playing a heavy metal song, and the next it was techno, and after that it was pop, and then classic rock and so on and so on. Maybe that's because they call the area next to the bar the re:mix lounge, but it was still a little unnerving. It was like the place couldn't settle into a groove.
The one thing we did think was pretty fun about the W XYZ bar was the array of games that they have out on each of the tables. We grabbed a Yahtzee game and proceeded to play 2 fun filled rounds. Funny enough, the more we had to drink, the better we rolled the dice! YAHTZEE!
Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A+
Taste - A+
Presentation - B
Service - A+
Price - $$$
415 North Monroe St
Tallahassee FL 32301