First Ever Tally Foodie Comment Contest!!!!!!

I've been writing this blog for 4 months now and I've got a little group of followers and about a dozen comments, so I feel like it's starting to gain traction. However, I'd really like to make this blog more of a forum for discussion!

My reviews only reflect MY point of view, naturally, but I want to hear yours as well! If you've been to any of the restaurants I've reviewed, let me know about your experience in the comments - what you liked, what you didn't like, whether you agree or disagree with my review, or recommend an alternative restaurant in town that you think I should try!

I'm also going to start doing some things to encourage to more participation (or "Kick it up a notch!" as Emeril would say!). I've already placed a poll on the blog, which you'll see to the right, to get your opinion about an upcoming trip I'm taking. If you haven't already, please take a minute to cast your vote. And right here, right now, I'm instituting the first ever Tally Foodie Comment Contest! The winner will receive a $20 gift certificate to Bonefish Grill. Oh, come on, you know you want some bang, bang shrimp! Okay, here's the skinny:

To enter to win:

Post a comment in response to this posting, answering the following questions:
  1. What is your favorite restaurant in Tallahassee?
  2. What is your favorite thing to order at that restaurant, and why?

The only rules are:
  1. You have to be a resident of the greater Tallahassee area (Thomasville, Havana, Quincy, Crawfordville, etc. are included)
  2. Only one entry per person (but not per household - so forward this on to your spouse, roommate, friends, family, heck even your co-workers (but only the ones you like!) and have them enter too)
  3. Comments must be received my midnight EST on Sunday, November 1st, 2009.

The winner will be chosen at random and will be announced on this blog on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009. Instructions will then be given to let the winner know how they will receive their prize!

Good luck and I look forward to reading all of your replies!

Jasmine Cafe - Value up the Wazoo

On Saturday night, we ventured downtown for a light dinner and stopped off at Jasmine Cafe. I'd heard mixed reviews about this place, mostly centered around the fact that the sushi was cheap and the place catered to the college crowd. But who says that a meal has to be expensive to be good?

It's a cozy little joint with hand-painted windows featuring various sea creatures, low ceilings and the alcohol list scrolled on one wall made entirely of chalkboard. The servers wear black t-shirts with the phrase "I like it raw" printed on the back. Fun, right? There are only about 15 tables in the place, and we were lucky enough to get one of the last spaces. If you're bringing a larger group, I'd suggest calling ahead to see if they could push a couple of tables together, as their tables only seat 2 or 4 people.

I have to be honest, the service was a bit slow. We sat for awhile before even being greeted by our server, and it seemed to take forever to just get our drinks. I can't say it was due to understaffing because there were at least 4 servers in the place, so that would mean each of them only had 3-4 tables to take care of. Not exactly rocket science.

We started off, as we usually do, with a bowl of salted edamame. I was about ready to chew my arm off before it finally came out, and when it did, it seemed to be a bit over-steamed. The outside of the edamame looked a bit wilted and wrinkled, not exactly something you'd want to dig into. But we did anyway, because we were just so darn hungry.

Next, we selected the Rainbow Roll and the Hurricane Roll. I'm not quite exactly sure what was in each roll, because the current menu isn't posted on their website, so I'll just have to tell you as best as I remember. I'm pretty sure the rainbow roll was like a california roll inside and topped with various pieces of sashimi (tuna, salmon, etc.) and avocado. The hurricane roll (I believe) featured crunchy shrimp on the inside, tuna sashimi and avocado on top and hot pepper jelly drizzled on top. I preferred the hurricane roll, but hubby liked the rainbow roll best. I thought the pepper jelly really gave a nice spicy kick to the roll.

I had no qualms about the quality of the sushi - I though it was fresh and flavorful. I did think the size of the rolls were a bit smallish, but then I realized that they cut their sushi into 9-10 pieces instead of the normal 6-8, so I guess that's allowable.

Okay, so let's get back to the issue of the price. It was a very economical meal. Most of the rolls are priced from $5-$7 each, with some of the specialty rolls being a pit pricier. Our hurricane roll, for example, was $10. My husband ordered a draft beer (I'm not a beer drinker, so I didn't pay that much attention to the name, but I know it was a seasonal variety) and it only cost him $2, which made him a very happy camper. Now, if they could only improve upon the service a bit, this place would be an even better value!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B (a bit tiny and crowded on the inside)
Taste - B+
Presentation - B
Service - C
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
Jasmine Cafe & Lounge
109 East College Ave
Tallahassee FL 32301

Jasmine Cafe & Lounge on Urbanspoon

El Tapatio - Sticky but Spicy

On Friday night, since the weather was so wonderful, we ventured over to El Tapatio for some good mexican eats and 2 for 1 margaritas on their spacious outdoor deck. We've eaten at El Tapatio before and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so we were looking forward to another good meal.

The table we were ushered to was particularly sticky, so that was kind of a turn-off. But again, I could look beyond that for some delicious chow. I mean, who needs to put their elbows or forearms on the table to eat? Not me!

We were quickly given some chips and salsa to gnaw on while we pondered the menu. The salsa had a refreshing kick to it, but wasn't nearly as spicy and tongue-blazing as the salsa at Los Amigos. And besides, sometimes you just need an excuse to take a long swig of your margarita, right guys and girls?

Now, don't let the picture fool you - these margaritas weren't watered down, they were the real deal. After the first one (a small, by the way), both me and hubby were a little tipsy. At one point, he made fun of me, and I replied with a slurred, "Your suck." Nope, that's not a typo. I literally said, "Your suck." Ahhhh, margaritas, I love how you work your magic.

For our main entrees, we both decided to pick things that we've never had before (cause I know you guys don't want to see yet another chicken fajita review!). So, hubby picked the Shrimp Quesadilla and I picked the Mole Poblano. Just like every other mexican restaurant in town, this place gives you a ridiculous amount of food. Literally, you could have fed a small army with either of our meals that night.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the mole poblano (pictured above), which was billed as chicken marinated in a special chocolate sauce, but it was extremely tasty. It ends up looking like a pulled pork dish, and has the same smoky flavor, but without the tang of the bbq sauce. After adding some refried beans and cheese and mexican rice, it was a scrumptious little wrap.

Hubby also enjoyed his shrimp quesadilla, which was made of shrimp, cheese and tomatoes. I had a bite and it was richly cheesy, with tiny little shrimpies that were the perfect mouthful portions. Hubby was a little freaked out that the shrimp were red in color, but I told him it was just the spicy seasoning and he seemed to accept that.

All in all, it was a great meal. And because neither of us fully tackled our dishes, I would recommend splitting something on the next go-round. But not the margaritas. Never the margaritas.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - C+ (tables were sticky, chairs are plastic and the floor was a bit dirty)
Taste - B+
Presentation - B
Service - A
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
El Tapatio
1002 N Monroe St
Tallahassee FL 32303
*I couldn't find a website for these guys, if you know it, please post in the comments!*

'Tis the Season for Food Festivals

Photo credit:

The thing I love most about the fall season in Florida is that the weather gets a bit cooler, which means you can actually stand to be outside for more than 5 minutes at a time! And for whatever reason, it also means that food festivals start popping up everywhere you look. I thought you guys might like to know about some of these yummy events happening close by, so that you can partake in the festivities!

Now - November 8, 2009
Orlando, FL
The park transforms into a showcase of culinary delights from regions around the world.

October 24, 2009
Orlando, FL
A family-friendly, dog-friendly, smoke-free event featuring a diverse cross-section of vegetarian cuisine.

November 5-8, 2009
Northwest Florida's Gulf Coast
A culinary event spanning 3 gulf coast counties that features wine tastings, champagne brunches, five-course dinners and other exciting food events.

November 6, 2009
Apalachicola, FL
Enjoy an evening under the stars featuring the world's best oysters from Apalachicola Bay.

November 6-8, 2009
Ponde Vedra Beach, FL (near Jacksonville)
Experience a tasting of over 145 international and domestic wines and champagnes and a sampling of signature dishes from 15 of the area's gourmet restaurants and bakeries.

November 6-7, 2009
Apalachicola, FL
This is the oldest seafood festival in the state boasting delicious eats, arts, crafts and entertainment all within a family fun atmosphere.

November 14-15, 2009
Orlando, FL
A celebration of food and wine from 35 of Orlando's top restaurants, plus live entertainment from national recording artists, chef seminars and cooking demonstrations.

November 28, 2009
Tampa Bay, FL
Perfect for those who are passionate about distilled spirits! Come mingle with industry experts, master distillers, authors, aficionados, master mixologists, judges and celebrities while you sample world-class spirits and delectable cuisine.

Au Peche Mignon - Guilty Pleasures Indeed!

After our adventurous lunch at Kitcho, we walked just a few doors down to a wonderful little French pastry shop called Au Peche Mignon. This bakery had also been recommended to me through email by one of my readers, so I was especially thrilled to try it out (even though I had to break my diet a bit to do so - yes, that's right, I'm TRYING to diet, and don't scoff - I'm getting ready for a trip to Aruba)!

It took me quite a bit of Googling and Wikipedia to figure out what the name of this bakery meant. Not knowing a lick of French, I first thought it meant, "my little mignon" (as in, filet mignon), but I was sure that meat had no rightful place in the name of a bakery. When I used a free online translator, it told me it meant "to the darling peche," which I was sure still wasn't right (since one of the words wasn't even translated). So I did a search for just Peche Mignon, which came back as "guilty pleasure." And when you add the Au, you get "the guilty pleasure." I think. Yes, that's my final answer. Lock it in, Regis!

It's a very fitting name, as there are many guilty pleasures that await you inside. So many, that I sat there dumbfounded trying to make my decision about which delight I was going to use to cheat on my diet. There were truffles and chocolates, cakes and pies, mousse and macaroons and so many other temptations I'd never even heard tale of before! What was a girl to do? A Vanilla Eclair. That's what.

After letting my lunch settle, I dug into my little white bag and extracted my vanilla eclair with the intention of eating just half to save the other half for later (as a good girl should). But before I knew it, I was licking my fingers, with no trace of eclair left in sight! Oops. The vanilla filling was so light and fluffy, the pastry was so flaky and airy, and the chocolate on top was so rich and crisp. And with just a dollop (or two) of whipped cream on top, it was so sinfully scrumptious! I can safely say, it is the BEST eclair I've ever had in my LIFE.

Well, you wouldn't believe it, but not 2 minutes after I concluded my little pig out session, H called me at my desk and asked me to share his Blueberry Pear Frangipane Tart. I tried to back out, really I did. (I can tell you don't believe me.) I'm telling you, I protested. But H brought me a quarter of the tart anyway, and you know, it started getting my file folders all greasy, so I had to get rid of it somehow. Yeah, I scarfed it. And it too, was yumdillyicious. The soft, tangy texture of the pear mixed well with the tartness of the blueberry and the cakey batter (not sure if that's the correct terminology) was moist and crunchy at the same time. Ugh. Heaven.

Did I feel guilty? A little. Was it worth it? Abso-friggin-lutely.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B (there are only a few wire tables inside and out of the tiny bakery)
Taste - A++
Presentation - A
Service - A
Price - $

Bakery Info:
Au Peche Mignon
1415 Timberlane Rd
Tallahasse FL 32312
*I couldn't find a website for these guys, if you know it, please post in the comments!*

Au Peche Mignon French Pastry Shop on Urbanspoon

Kitcho - How Exotic Do You Want It?

For lunch last week, a group of friends and I headed over to Kitcho for some sushi and other Japanese fare. Taste wise, we were a very hodgepodge group. I consider myself on the advanced sushi level - I've been eating sushi for years and will try some of the adventurous stuff (like eel), but there are other things that are still too exotic for me (like sea urchin). Two of my lunch mates, H and JB (names have been shortened to protect the guilty) I would consider to be sushi gurus - they eat mostly the exotic stuff and can wield chopsticks to eat salad, noodles, the works! And then the last of our foursome, JMo had only eaten Publix sushi (blech!) and while she wasn't impressed, she admitted she'd like to try out the real deal, so she was tagged as the sushi novice in our group.

Okay, you guys are getting a real treat with this post because we ordered A LOT of food between the four of us. And everyone was kind enough to let me try a little bit of everything (except those things that I was scared of - that's right, SCARED of) so I've got a pretty good handle on the meal. We started out with some Miso Soup and Salad with Ginger Dressing, two basic staples of Japanese dining. Both were very good, and very consistent with what we've all had at other places. JB, however, went so far as to say that the ginger dressing at Kitcho is the best in Tallahassee!

For the main attraction, JMo and I ordered some sushi rolls (well, more like I ordered and she obliged). We selected the Japanese Bagel, Seoul and American Dream rolls and after I gave her a quick chopstick lesson, we dove right in. Correction - I dove, she dipped her toes in the water. Her first taste was the Japanese Bagel (salmon, cream cheese, cucumber), which she said she enjoyed and could tolerate mostly because the cream cheese covered up some of the weirdness of the raw fish. Next, she went for the American Dream (salmon, shrimp, avocado), which she practically had to gag down. Although, she did admit she wasn't a big fan of the texture of shrimp, so that may have been why she didn't particularly like that one. But I have to give it to her, she was a real trooper and forged on, trying the Seoul roll (spicy tuna, masago, avocado) probably against her better judgment. That one too, she was not a big fan of. I think she ended up eating all of 4 rolls that lunch - I felt so bad that I offered to take her to McDonalds or Chick-fil-A afterwards! Some people just aren't big fans of sushi, and you know what? That's okay. But I applaud her effort to try something new! As far as my thoughts go, I agreed that the Japanese Bagel was probably the best roll of the three. The American Dream just really didn't have much flavor to it, and the spicy tuna in the Seoul was a bit mushy and not spicy enough for my taste. Let's just say, I've had better rolls at Kitcho.

H ordered the Yakiudon meal, which was a chicken and vegetable stir fry dish with thick udon noodles in a "special" sauce. He allowed me a taste, and I must say, it was absolutely delicious! The vegetables were crisp and not soggy, the chicken was flavorful and moist and the sauce (definitely soy-based) was savory without being overpowering. All in all, it was definitely something I'd order when I visit again!

He also got a side of Iidako (baby octopus), which I was very fascinated with, but in a is-this-thing-gonna-eat-ME? kinda way. Don't get me wrong, I like calamari, but this was an octopus of a different color! It was in some sort of red sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. H said that it tasted over-steamed, and thus was a bit too chewy. He also said that the sauce was far too sickly sweet and definitely added an unwelcome flavor to the piece. But hey, I give him points for even putting the thing in his mouth!

Last, but certainly not least, we come to JB's meal. He ordered the Tenzaru Soba, a dish that included cold buckwheat noodles, a side of shrimp and vegetable tempura and a special dipping sauce served both hot and cold (that's why there's 2 bowls there). JB put the hot sauce on the cold noodles and was dipping the tempura in the cold sauce, but halfway through the meal he decided it would have been better the other way around. I tasted the buckwheat noodles and found it very hard to describe their exact flavor. The special dipping sauce was definitely miso-based, however. I also broke off a bit of his tempura to sample as well. Now, let me tell you - their tempura batter is amazing! Light and airy, but slightly sweet, it's the best tempura I've tasted in a long time!

Being the sushi guru that he is, JB also ordered an exotic something-or-other on the side of his dish as well. It was a piece of Uzura, quail egg served up with masago. I have to admit, it was a very colorful little piece of sushi, but again, I wanted nothing to do with it. It must have been pretty good too, because it quickly disappeared without a word of complaint from JB!

So all in all, we had a nice little meal. I always find Kitcho to be a reliable source for fresh sushi and authentic Japanese cuisine. And while from the outside, it doesn't look like much, the inside reflects a very hip, metropolitan vibe. After Masa and Sakura, Kitcho is one of the best sushi restaurants in town.

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

Restaurant Info:
1415 Timberlane Rd
Tallahassee FL 32312

Kitcho Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Andrews 228 - Missing Something

I know I haven't blogged in a while, but I SWEAR I have a good excuse. I recently celebrated my birthday and so I've taken a few trips out of town to relax, have some fun and of course, eat lots and lots of cake, cookies and ice cream! Now it's back to reality (boo, hiss!), but back to blogging as well. I hope you've missed me!

Okay, so in-between all of my out-of-towners, I was able to squeeze in a nice dinner out with a friend last week at Andrews 228. It's the fancier sister (brother?) restaurant to Andrews Capital Bar & Grill downtown on Adams St. And they're actually located right next to each other as well. I had never been there before, but was eager to try out somewhere new.

As I walked inside I was immediately impressed by the earthy decor with their stone tiles and waterfall in the lobby. The restaurant is very underground - LITERALLY. A flight of stairs at the entrance leads you down below to their dining area. It's like something you'd encounter in New York - where every ounce of real estate is taken advantage of, whether it's a basement bar or a rooftop lounge - right here in our very own Tallahassee! It's got a contemporary vibe, with colors of moss green, burnt orange and various shades of brown dominating a landscape of funky artwork, granite tabletops and modern track lighting. Lets just say, the looks of things were looking very good!

We were promptly brought water and some bread (seeing as how we were the only people there on this particularly slow Wednesday night) and I must say, the dipping sauce for their bread is absolutely magical. It was an olive tapenade mixed with some balsamic and olive oil and I think between the two of us, we licked the plate clean! Our server tried to take it from us once and I had to hold myself back from giving him a smack on his hand when he reached for that plate! (I'm still kicking myself that I didn't take a picture of it - sorry guys!)

We ordered some cocktails and salads and settled in for a night of good eats and good company. However, our salads were the first bummer of the night. We both ordered the Chop Salad, a mix of fresh greens, carrots, proscuitto and tomatoes with a gorgonzola vinaigrette, and while the presentation was fancy, the dressing certainly didn't have the kick that Bella Bella's gorgonzola vinaigrette does. The ingredients were also pretty standard, so it lacked a certain....oh, what's the word I'm looking for.....oh, that's it....FLAVOR! A sharp cheese or tangy fruit could have added a bit of vigor to an otherwise disappointing plate of rabbit food.

As we eyed the entrees, which were billed as American-Italian fusion cuisine, we both felt all the dishes were a bit too heavy, so we opted to do a few small plates instead. I ordered the Mussels and she ordered the Proscuitto & Fig Pizza. Don't let the name "small plates" fool you - these were very generous portions that we were served. So much so, that neither of us ate everything on our plates - imagine if we had gotten an actual dinner entree!

My mussels were steamed in a classic white wine, lemon and garlic sauce with grape tomatoes and spinach and served with crispy bread wedges topped with parmesan cheese (as if I hadn't had enough bread already!). They were good, but not great (I've had better at the likes of Kool Beanz and 101) but I couldn't really put my finger on their deficiency. The mussels themselves were a bit small, and a little dry (perhaps a bit over-steamed). And the sauce they were cooked in was broth-based and probably would have been a bit richer (and a bit better) had it been butter-based instead.

The proscuitto & fig pizza actually had a very interesting flavor. The tangy sweetness of the fig mixed nicely with the salty meat of the proscuitto, however it too was missing a certain "je ne sais quoi." My friend speculated that arugula was the missing link. But I was sure it was goat cheese. Nevertheless, it was one more dish that we found just a bit lacking.

Would I return to Andrews 228? Probably. Would I order the same thing? Probably not.

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

Restaurant Info:
Andrews 228
228 S. Adams St.
Tallahassee FL 32301

Andrew's 228 on Urbanspoon

Experience Asia 2009 - Sat Oct 3rd!

I'm going to be traveling back to the midwest to visit with the fam for a bit, so I won't be able to do any yummy reviews this weekend. But, I didn't want to leave you high and dry (or hungry and thirsty, as the case may be), so I thought I'd make a suggestion. This Saturday, October 3rd is the 5th Annual Asian Festival in Tallahassee. It's the 3rd largest festival in town, behind Springtime Tallahassee and Winter Festival, and last year 15,000 people attended!

It's a showcase of music, art, dance, crafts and cuisines from Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Thai, Persian, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese and Pakistani cultures. It all takes place downtown at Lewis and Bloxham Parks, right across from the Downtown Marketplace area from 10am - 5pm. It's a great way to get a little taste of lots of different restaurants around town and decide which ones are your favorite! Hubby and I went last year for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Plus, I bought this really cool origami ring that I always get lots of compliments on!

Food Vendors Include:
Bahn Thai(my favorite)
Lucy Ho's, Inc (which I'm assuming includes Masa)
The Tapioca Lounge
Lasang Pinoy
New China Chinese Restaurant
Great Wall Chinese Restaurant
Orient Express
Samrat India Restaurant
Five Spice Seafood and Asian Bisro
Essence of India
And more!

Here's a link to their website for more info: Experience Asia 2009

Have a great weekend! I'll see you on the flip side.

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!