The Black Bean - An Unpleasant Surprise


As we headed over to The Black Bean for dinner Saturday night, I had very high hopes. I mean look at that happy, little bongo-drumming guy, how could this not be a great place? A friend, whose tastes are normally quite similar to mine, told me about a wrap with pulled pork, rice, beans and fried plantains, and to me it sounded quite close to heaven. I couldn't wait to try this delicacy and rave about it on this blog. However, my experience was a bit of a let down. Let me explain.



The interior of The Black Bean, while small, makes an honest attempt at being authentic. Posters and paintings of Cuba grace the walls and authentic-sounding music drifts through the restaurant speakers. You step up to the counter to place your order and it is then brought out to your table. They have a small outdoor dining area with patio tables, but we grabbed a booth inside. We chose to start with the Island Fries with Island Sauce, and I chose the aforementioned Havana Wrap and my husband chose the The Black Bean Club Sandwich.


When the food arrived at our table, I couldn't help but pounce on the fries coated with spicy seasoning. And when dipped in the Island Sauce (aka: spicy mayo), they make for a delicious treat. I ate about half the basket before I even touched my Havana Wrap. As soon as I did, the unpleasant surprise crept up on me. I took one bite of my wrap and tasted - dun, dun, dunnnn - ONIONS! Now, I absolutely HATE onions. I think it's a texture thing. They can't figure out if they want to be crunchy or slimy and that just really weirds my taste buds out. There are some of you out there who might be like - well, that sounds really good - and for that, I'm sorry, but onions are a big no, no for me. So as soon as I took my first bite, I was immediately turned off. I dug inside the wrap and tried to scrape the rest of the onions off and made a valiant attempt to enjoy the wrap anyway, but the onions sullied my efforts. I just couldn't do it. I ate less than half the wrap and gave up, thoroughly disappointed.

I think what made me mad the most was the fact that the onions were not disclosed on the menu, for if it was, I would have asked if the wrap could have been made without the onions. And perhaps the onions are a part of the Mojo seasoning that the pork is marinated in, I'm a newbie to this whole Cuban thing, so I'm really not quite sure. Either way, the surprise onions killed my enthusiasm for the place.

Hubby sweetly offered to switch plates and give me the rest of his Black Bean Club (regular club sandwich with island sauce) for dinner, but he seemed to be enjoying it so much, I didn't have the heart. Plus, I'm not a big sandwich-lover either, so, I just ended up eating the rest of the Island Fries. Thank goodness they were so delightful.

Now, because the whole onion thing is such a personal issue, I'm willing to give The Black Bean another chance someday. I'll just have to be a bit more careful about what I order next time. If anyone has any non-onion menu suggestions for The Black Bean, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B
Taste - B (although I didn't enjoy my dish, the fries were delish and hubby liked his meal)
Service - A
Presentation - C
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
The Black Bean Cuban Cuisine
2205 Apalachee Pkwy
Tallahassee FL 32301
850-656-7848

Black Bean Cuban Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Sakura - Sushi with Style


After work this Friday, I had a hankerin' for sushi, so hubby and I went over to Sakura Japanese Sushi & Grill. It's an unassuming little place off Monroe St. with a sleek, trendy interior and a selection of creative sushi rolls. This is our second trip to this restaurant, and again we were not disappointed. The servers are attentive and the food comes out fast. The sushi rolls are generous in size, but not overpriced. Both times we've ended up getting the Chef's special roll and each time it ends up being our favorite. On this night, after a tasty bowl of edamame, we chose the Sakura Roll and the July Roll (Chef's special). Both were delicious.



As you can see, their presentation is spectacular. I've never been at a sushi restaurant where they bring out each roll on it's own separate plate, and treat each as if it's a work of art. The Sakura Roll (above), made with king crab meat, shrimp and mango-avocado on the outside is a nice twist on the traditional California Roll. And it's served with the chef's special sauce. I'm not quite sure what that sauce is, except yummy.


The July Roll (above), which was absolutely divine, was made with lobster and spicy crispy tuna. While both rolls were good, this one was definitely our favorite. I think they should make it a permanent fixture on the menu. They'd have to rename it of course, but hey, I'd be okay with that. But, it probably won't happen, so you may want to hurry over to Sakura before July is over to experience the deliciousness.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - A
Service - A
Presentation - A+
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
Sakura Japanese Sushi & Grill
1318 N. Monroe St.
Tallahassee FL 32303
850-222-9991

Sakura Japanese on Urbanspoon

If I could only eat one fast food for the rest of my life...


...it would have to be Chick-fil-A. For my money, they've got the best chicken nuggets on the market. They're lightly breaded, all-white meat and they always come out of the box piping hot! I swear, they just melt in my mouth. 


And their waffle fries - don't get me started! Who else does fries like that? Uh, nobody, that's who. Fries in regular stick shape = boring. Fries in cool waffle shape = awesome. 

Plus, Chick-fil-A has been dubbed America's Healthiest Chain Restaurant by Men'sHealth, and yeah, I know, I'm not a man, but what's good enough for a man, is good for women too (or is that just my Secret deodorant?). They also cook all of their chicken products and their waffle fries in 100% fully refined peanut oil that's cholesterol and trans fat free. And of course, there's always those rascally cows. 


Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - C (but it's fast food)
Taste - A+
Service - A
Presentation - C (again, fast food)
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
Chick-fil-A
1500 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee FL 32301
850-878-1578

How about you? If you could only choose one fast food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? Sound off in the comments section!

Food Glorious Food - Need I Say More?


This past Saturday, our culinary cravings took us to a wonderful place called Food Glorious Food. Now, if you're going to give your restaurant a name of such caliber, the food had better talk the talk and walk the walk. And I have to say, I've never been let down by the food at FGF. Now the service, is a different story. Traditionally, the service is very slow. They're slow coming to your table, slow to bring your drinks, slow to clear your plates, and slow to bring your check. Especially at lunch, when they must run a short staff. But, we tolerate it, because the food is so yummy. And so I complain as I shove sirloin drenched in blue cheese sauce into my face.


However, on this night, the service was excellent. We were greeted promptly, our drinks were brought out in a reasonable time, our plates were cleared when we were finished and our check was brought out right after our dessert was delivered. So, either FGF has stepped up staffing, or stepped up training. Either way, I was pleasantly surprised.

We chose to sit inside this night because we just had one of our quintessential Florida pop-up showers, so the tables outside were drenched. However, I take advantage of their outdoor seating as often as possible, as they provide cafe tables with umbrellas that give you just enough shade to be comfortable, but just enough sun to feel happy. But alas, the rain. 

One of the great things about FGF's menu is their unique, creative dishes. And there's lots of them! There are many a little gourmet spot in Tallahassee that only offer 5 entree choices on their menu - a chicken, a duck, a steak, a pasta and a lamb. And if you don't like it, you're kinda screwed. However, FGF has a nice long menu of options and they generally offer 2-3 entree specials each night as well, one of which hubby took full advantage of. More on that later.

But the best thing about FGF (the very best thing), is their dessert menu. It's as long as their regular menu and boasts treats like Pecan Pie, Fruit Cobblers, Key Lime Tarts and our favorite, Mom's Marble Cake. Yeah, sure it's just warm marble cake with chocolate cream cheese icing and whipped cream, and we could probably make it at home, but it's infinitely better when we don't have to.

I can see I've already gotten ahead of myself, so let's get back to the main course. I chose the Pan Grilled Sirloin Steak with shoe string fries and blue cheese-ale sauce. And my husband chose one of the nightly specials, a Seared Tuna Steak topped with caramelized onions and salsa and placed on a bed of sweet potato steak fries. I generally can't keep my head out of my own plate long enough to try a piece of hubby's meal, but when he gave me a bite of his, I wanted to swap plates with him. Needless to say, both of our meals were downright delicious.


And then there was Mom's Marble Cake. Believe me, I had to stop hubby from forking this cake right away, just so I could take a picture of it. Let's just say it didn't last much longer after the flash went off.


Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - A
Service - B+ (until I get a repeat performance of tonight's service, I have to withhold the A)
Presentation - A
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
Food Glorious Food
1950 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee FL 32303
850-224-7279

Food Glorious Food on Urbanspoon

Barnacle Bill's - Where's the Beach?


Friday after work, hubby and I headed over to Barnacle Bill's to satisfy our itch for seafood. While you'd think Tallahassee would have a bunch of wonderful seafood restaurants being so close to the beach and all, that's actually not the case. It's hard to find a good seafood place in town that doesn't drench everything in batter and fry the heck out of it (my stomach flinches just thinking about it!). In my book, Barnacle Bill's seems like it's been imported straight from the shores of the Gulf and transported into the landlocked town of Tallahassee. It's a dive, to be sure, but aren't most good seafood joints? When it comes to seafood, I say, just dump everything on the table and give me a roll of paper towels and I'm good to go!



We decided to sit outside since it wasn't scorching out, and lucky for us, it was still happy hour. So we ordered up a couple of $2 margaritas and sucked 'em down. Yep, that's right, from 4-7pm, margaritas are just 2 bucks. And they're not that skimpy little dixie cup size either, they're a full mug's worth. And they're pretty darn good, too.


So after ordering the 2nd round of 'ritas, we took a look at the menu. Check out their slogan at the bottom right hand side of the red section. Brag much?


After pondering all of our options, we decided to make it an appetizer dinner. Does that ever happen to you? Sometimes you look at the whole menu, but all you really want is just like 3 of the appetizers? Yeah, me too. So we ordered the 1/2 pound of Peel 'n Eat Shrimp, a 1/2 pound of Snow Crab Legs and some Fried Pickle Chips.


And as we began to peel and crack away, I could almost smell the salt water and hear the roar of the ocean breaking against the shore. It's a shame Barnacle Bill's doesn't have a better view than the busy traffic of Monroe St., because at that moment, I really couldn't imagine anything better. The seafood was cooked just right, not overcooked and dried out like at some amateur places, and the fried pickles had just the right amount of spicy batter coating. Actually, I had a hard time keeping my hands out of the fried pickle basket, I must confess. But I justified it by telling myself that I had to get my vegetable servings in for the day. Right? Right.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - C+ (tables were a bit dirty outside)
Taste - A
Service - B+ (if you sit outside, the service is a little slow)
Presentation - C (again, it's supposed to be messy, so no biggie)
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
Barnacle Bill's Seafood Restaurant
1830 N. Monroe St
Tallahassee FL 32303
850-385-8734
Hours: Mon-Thurs & Sun - 11am - 11pm, Fri & Sat - 11am - 12am

Barnacle Bill's Seafood INC on Urbanspoon

Tijuana Flats - Yes I Wanna


Okay, okay, I know Tijuana Flats is considered to be a chain restaurant, but as I'm a girl from the midwest, I'd never seen one until I moved to Tallahassee. That's because most of their restaurants are located throughout Florida, although they do have locations in Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Indiana. It's a funky little tex-mex restaurant, decorated with graffiti-type artwork all over the walls and upbeat music blasting through the speakers.


Now, and this is just my personal opinion, what makes or breaks mexican food is the meat they use. Even if a burrito has the best beans, cheese and salsa, it all goes down the crapper when you bite into a piece of meat that's dry or has (god forbid) gristle. Blech.

That has NEVER happened to me at Tijuana Flats. They use fresh, white chicken breast marinated in a spicy chipotle red sauce, and fresh, USDA steak marinated in a tangy lime sauce. Either way, you won't be disappointed. I always choose the Crispy Chicken Quesadilla, on a wheat tortilla (a girl's gotta watch her calories somehow!), with tortilla chips and a side of queso to dip them in. Their salsa is pretty good too, but for me, it's just gotta be the queso. The tortilla chips have just the right amount of salt and seasoning on them to give them a nice flavoring. And I have no idea what they put in the queso, but it might as well be magic, because I eat every last drop of it. Oh, and I get it all, plus a drink for $10 and change. Not bad, right?

Now, I'm not a hot sauce kinda girl, but they do have a pretty extensive selection ranging from Sissy Sauces (he, he) all the way to Death Wish Sauces. And they've all got great names like Smack My Ass & Call Me Sally, Screamin' With Torture, and Colon Blow. If you find one you like, you can buy a bottle and take it home with you, to continue the agony at a later date.


And although they're technically a fast food place, the employees do actually serve you. They bring your order out to your table, walk around asking if anyone needs refills and they'll even clear your plate when you're done. In fact, when I went today, I got up to take my plate to the trash and a cute little gal cut me off at the pass and said sweetly, "Gimmie that!" as if I was insulting her by doing her job. You gotta love it.

Tallie Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B+ (the music could be turned down just a tad)
Taste - A
Service - A
Presentation - C (but it's mexican, it's supposed to be messy!)
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
Tijuana Flats
3111 Mahan Dr.
Tallahassee FL 32308
850-597-7001

Tijuana Flats on Urbanspoon

Clusters & Hops - A Hidden Gem


On Saturday night, hubby and I decided to head over to one of our favorite little spots, Clusters & Hops. Or, Cork & Bottle, as he likes to call it because he's so terribly bad at remembering names. I'm lucky most days if he doesn't call me by our dog's name! Anyway, I digress. Located on Monroe St., right before it branches off to Thomasville Rd, it's probably one of those places you've driven past a thousand times and never given it a second thought. It doesn't help that it's located right next to a Sleep Mattress superstore that takes up most of the real estate, and Clusters & Hops is relegated only to a tiny corner. But what it lacks in size, it definitely makes up for in taste!



During the day, it's a gourmet cheese, wine and meat retail shop, although I was just informed that they are now serving lunch Mon - Sat from 11am - 3pm as well. And at night, they turn into a dark, romantic little restaurant, the likes of which you'd expect to see in Philadelphia or New York. A word to the wise - they only have about 10 tables inside and 2 outside, so get there early to secure a seat. And make sure if you sit outside, you pop your head in the restaurant to let them know you're out there! 

We arrived at about 6pm and took our usual table behind the bar. Jazz music filters in through hidden speakers, but it's simply a backdrop - loud enough to be pleasant, but not loud enough so that conversation is impossible. I ordered my usual - the Pepper Crusted Filet Mignon Steak Diane with black truffle maytag blue cheese, wild mushrooms, roasted potatoes and asparagus. And my husband went out on a limb ordering the Parmesan Crusted Ostrich Filet and Sliced Duet of Duck Breast. He rarely orders things this exotic and I had to commend his selection. He'd never had either of those delicacies before, but the waiter assured us that he would not be disappointed. I was holding my breath.

Another important thing to note about Clusters & Hops - there are only 1-2 cooks in the kitchen on any given night, so be prepared to wait for your food. Especially if the place is packed. So do like they do in France, order a glass of wine, sit back, relax and enjoy the pleasure of good company. Or you can grab a bottle of wine off their shelves and for a $7.50 corking fee, the staff will cork the wine, decant it, if necessary, and re-cork it for you if you don't drink it all before you leave. All in all, not a bad deal, especially if you've got a big group dining out.

Pepper Crusted Filet Mignon Steak Diane

Parmesan Crusted Ostrich Filet and Sliced Duet of Duck Breast

The food presentation is nothing short of an art form at Clusters & Hops. They always take extra special care to make sure the food looks extra appetizing before bringing it out to your table (which probably also contributes to the wait), but boy, is it worth it. I dug into my filet like I hadn't eaten all day and my husband tentatively tried his duck and ostrich. The filet is always to die for, which is why I can't seem to order anything else off the menu whenever I go there. But if you don't like blue cheese - don't even chance it. It's definitely drenched in blue-cheesy goodness from the first bite to the last. And while my husband was proud of himself for trying the duck and ostrich, he confided to me after we left the restaurant that he'd probably never order it again. He described the ostrich as a bit gamey and he said that for the duck duo - one tasted like chicken, the other like sausage - but neither was as good. He generally gets the Panko Crusted Ahi Tuna and I'm sure that next time we go he'll be back to his usual order as well.

Their signature dish, which we've had before, but not on this particular occasion, is the White Truffle Mac-n-Cheese, which is definitely not kids stuff. They put fontina, gruyere, and parmesan cheese in with the pasta combined with white and black truffles for a distinctive flavor. It definitely makes for a rich and sinful appetizer, any day of the week.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - A++
Service - A+
Presentation - A+
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
Clusters & Hops
707 N. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32303
850-222-2669
Retail Shop Hours: Mon - Sat, 1pm - 11:30pm
Restaurant Hours: Mon - Sat, 11am - 3pm for Lunch, 5pm - 11:30pm for Dinner

Clusters & Hops on Urbanspoon

Lucy & Leo's Cupcakery - Can you say YUM?


There's been a lot of talk around the office about a new little cupcake place opening up over on Thomasville Road. So, on Friday, during our lunch break, a friend and I decided to check it out. Named after the owner's two beloved pets, Lucy & Leo's Cupcakery is nothing short of DA BOMB. Their space, which they share with Textures Handmade Market is a colorful, quaint, upbeat little bakery. The walls are painted pastel blue and adorable cupcake art graces their walls, while two photos of dogs Lucy & Leo guard the cash register. There are a few little tables where you can also sit and enjoy your dessert, but I choose to take mine to-go, knowing my husband would kill me if I didn't bring some home for him. I picked my poison - 2 red velvet cupcakes, 2 chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and 2 oreo cupcakes. I could hardly keep them in the box long enough to get back to the office before I could try one.

As soon as I was safely at my desk, door closed, so no one could see or smell the cupcakes and try to bogart one, I chose a chocolate peanut butter as my first indulgence.


{Sidebar: I loves me some peanut butter dessert. Reese's peanut butter cups are my absolute favorite, but I can also put away my fair share of buckeye candies, peanut butter fudge, peanut butter pie, peanut butter bombs and any other dessert that has the words "peanut butter" in it. When I was little, my grandma always made me a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing for my birthdays - even if no one else wanted to eat it but me!}

Ahem, so, like I was saying, I dove into that chocolate peanut butter cupcake so fast, it didn't even know what was coming. The icing was so rich and creamy and full of peanut-buttery-goodness that I licked the wrapper afterwards to get any last little remaining drips of icing. That's right. I have no shame.

Later that night, I tried one of the red velvet guys and my husband wolfed down an oreo cupcake. When I asked him how it was, he didn't even swallow before saying "affulemp" (translation: excellent), so I knew it was damn good.


Oh, I forgot to mention, Lucy & Leo's doesn't make their entire line of cupcake flavors every day. But if you want to see what's fresh daily at the cupcakery, simply follow their Twitter feed. They also had a chalkboard by the front entrance that touted the fact that they were making Margarita and Guinness flavored cupcakes for Happy Hour that night at 7pm - how fun! The cupcakes are little minis, not the big jumbos, and they sell them for $2.25 a piece. And trust me, that's nothing compared to what they're worth. So, go get one (or a dozen) already!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - A++
Service - A
Presentation - A
Price - $

Store Info:
Lucy & Leo's Cupcakery
1123 Thomasville Rd
Tallahassee, FL 32303
850-765-0374
Hours: Tues-Thurs 10-6, Fri 10-9, Sat 10-6, Closed Sun & Mon

Lucy and Leos Cupcakery on Urbanspoon

Let's Eat!

Okay, I'm starting this blog because I love food. Plain and simple. Both my husband and I come from large Italian families (my grandpa is one of 14, his mother is one of 11), so needless to say, food holds a very special place in our hearts. We love to eat out, try new foods, discover great local eateries and then share our finds with our friends. After living in Tallahassee for a little over a year, we noticed that the best restaurant recommendations we've received have been by word-of-mouth. A lot of these places are so small, or so off the beaten path, that if somebody hadn't told us about them, we never would have found them. So I decided to start this blog. So that more Tallahasseeians (is that even the right word?) could spend less nights eating at mediocre mass-produced chain restaurants and more nights eating yumdillyicious food. That's right, I said it. Yumdillyicious. Enjoy!

About this blog

This blog is dedicated to giving you honest reviews of local restaurants in Tallahassee and the surrounding area. I won't hold any punches, you'll hear about it all - the good, the bad and the (hopefully infrequent) inedible!

This blog was written from July 2009 - August 2010 and is now retired. I currently live in Sarasota, FL...stay tuned for more on my adventures there!