Mozaik - When Fancy Falls Flat

The concept of Mozaik is an interesting one - serve up a menu that changes daily with dishes composed of diverse elements in an artful, imaginative setting. The restaurant tries hard to be an exact definition of its very name. The atmosphere itself is punctuated by various pieces of artwork, vases and mirrors that are beautiful, colored mosaics. Believe you me, the mosaic theme isn't very hard to miss. But the problem with mosaics is that if they're not exactly done right, with exactly the right pieces, they turn out to be an ugly mess.

Every time I've eaten at Mozaik it's been a completely underwhelming experience. They try so hard to be fancy and eclectic, but it usually ends up downright ordinary. Our meal started out very promising, so I was hopeful that I would be proven wrong this night! But by the time we bit into our entrees, my previous experiences were confirmed.

We were promptly brought fresh bread with a red pepper and sour cream dipping sauce. It had a spicy tang matched with a refreshing coolness that was simply irresistible. And the bread was soft, light and airy. Hubby and I ate every single piece of bread and soaked up every last drop of that dipping sauce!

Next, we decided to split their Greek Salad - a combination of baby spinach and field greens, marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, feta, tomatoes, caper berries and a garlic rubbed crostini topped with a creamy white balsamic vinaigrette. We had them hold the red onions and anchovies (ew, gross!) though. Now, normally when we split a salad, it all comes on one plate, but they were gracious enough to split our salad on two plates and gave each of us a crostini - which I broke into smaller pieces and used as croutons (delish!). The dressing on this salad was absolutely spectacular! It was not as oily as regular greek dressing and not as garlic-y either. It had a nice consistency with a slight zest that made me keep going back forkful after forkful.

We asked our server for recommendations for entrees and she suggested the Tagliatelle and the Gulf Grouper and Jumbo Hopper Shrimp, so we ordered one of each. Hubby tackled the Tagliatelle (above) - which is Mozaik's house made pasta in a poblano-almond pesto cream sauce topped with grilled chicken. Well, I'm not sure you can really tell from the picture, but it came out looking like green slop in a bowl. I mean, that's just waaaaaaay to much sauce, right? And I've had pasta in a pesto sauce before, so it wasn't the color that bothered me. It's just that it was so drenched that the pasta got a bit soggy. Plus, it was a bit bland too. And the grilled chicken was just that - grilled chicken. No flavor, no spices, no nothing. Snoozefest. Zzzzzzzzzz...

The Gulf Grouper and Jumbo Hopper Shrimp looked absolutely amazing on the plate, so I was excited to dig in. But again, it was a let down. The grouper was just lightly breaded in what tasted like a simple cornmeal and the shrimp were just seared without any sauce or spices at all. There were 3 dipping sauces on the plate - an eggplant-lemon aioli, charred tomato jus and what I think was some sort of balsamic. But because the seafood itself had no inherent flavor, the sauces couldn't do much to combat that. It was also served with a house made ricotta that tasted very pungent and bitter. Alas, this mosaic was not a masterpiece.

While the meal got off to a strong start, it ultimately crashed and burned, leaving a bad taste in our mouths. But dang, if everything could taste like that Greek salad, they'd be in business!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - C+
Presentation - B+ (everything besides the pasta looked beautiful on the plate!)
Service - A
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
1410-D1 Market Street
Tallahassee FL 32312

Mozaik on Urbanspoon

Urbane - Puh-lease Eat Here!

Of all the restaurants I've eaten at in Tallahassee, Urbane rises quickly to the top of the list. With a chic, upscale atmosphere, a top notch staff and exquisitely flavorful menu options, dining here is always a treat!

But what makes me angrier than all get outs is when my favorite restaurant in town looks like this - completely and totally empty! Now, we did have 5:30pm reservations (which is when they open for business), but in the hour that we spent there, only 3 other tables filled up. Now, I know Urbane is a bit on the expensive side and most people can't eat there on a regular basis, but when this place is empty on a Saturday night and there's a line out the door at places like Olive Garden and Outback there's something seriously wrong. We need to support our local Tallahassee treasures people!!!

One of my favorite things about this place is their warm, soft rolls that come fresh out of the oven, and their flavored butter. Yep, that's right. Their butter is flavored. Deliciously, scrumptiously, superbly flavored!

Every time I go, it's a different flavor - and so awesomely good that I usually end up asking for more! I've had mango butter, cinnamon butter, raspberry-strawberry butter and strawberry-lime butter, but on this night, we had strawberry-pineapple butter. So sweet and tangy, I pretty much used the whole scoop of butter on one roll! It is simply incredible.

For my main course, it was no contest - I absolutely had to order the Peppercorn Crusted Filet. This has to be one of my favorite steaks of all time. Crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the peppercorn coating gives it a spicy little kick. Plus, when you add the blue cheese fritter on top with all that melty-ooey-gooey-goodness...

...well, it's just purely divine! It comes with asparagus and olive oil poached fingerling potatoes, which I didn't much care for as they were rather dry and not flavorful. I believe this dish used to be served with garlic mashed potatoes, which I thought were much more mouth-watering. But I can overlook the potatoes for the sake of the steak!

Hubs ordered the Low Country Shrimp and Scallops, which is the same dish that he orders at Cypress, but I thought Urbane's version had much more flavor. The broth had a nice spicy little zest to it, enough to compliment the seafood without being overpowering. And the grits were the best grits I've ever had (and I'm not a grits lover!). I think because their consistency was a bit creamier than most, and of course, there was cheese involved - because everyone knows that cheese makes everything better! The grits also had a mushroom ragout sprinkled over top of them that was oh-so delightfully savory. Overall, it was a very delectable meal.

So the moral of this story is that if you haven't been to Urbane yet, you don't know what you're missing! Well, I guess technically now you do, since you read this what are you waiting for? Head over to Urbane next weekend, tomorrow or heck...why not tonight? Just get there already!

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

Restaurant Info:
115 East Park Ave
Tallahassee FL 32301

Urbane Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

101 - I'm Just Not That Into Your Food

I really want this place to be really, really great. I really do. (Really!) The atmosphere is chic and contemporary, the servers are attentive and it's usually rather easy to get a table without a reservation. But every time I eat at 101, a trendy little restaurant and lounge in Kleman Plaza, I'm always a touch disappointed. The drinks are expensive (unless you take advantage of their 50% off drinks from 4-7pm) and the food isn't any better than average. They have a rather extensive menu, and I've tried a number of the dishes, hoping I was just a victim of POS (poor-ordering-syndrome) but alas, that is not the case.

Now, don't get me wrong, many of their dishes are edible. I just haven't had anything OUTSTANDING there yet. It makes me wonder if instead of offering every food option under the sun - sandwiches, salads, soups, pizza, pasta, tapas and entrees - they should just focus their efforts on making a smaller number of dishes infinitely better.

We started out on this night with a Seared Tuna Sashimi appetizer, which wasn't half bad. The tuna seemed fresh, had a nice texture and it was served with a pear cucumber salad that had a nice tangy little vibe to it. But was I given a first class ticket to OMGville? Definitely not.

For our entrees, hubby made a rather surprising choice - he selected the Lemon Basil Chicken. He generally goes for seafood, steak or if he can't find anything he likes in those two categories he opts for a burger or sandwich. He rarely orders chicken when we're out at restaurants. (Probably because I cook so much chicken at home during the week!) But I digress. His dish was a marinated chicken breast topped with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, portobello and coated with a lemon Beurre Blanc sauce. It sounded rather tasty on the menu, but ended up rather underwhelming on the plate. Although the chicken was moist, it just wasn't anything special. If this chicken went out on a first date with my hubby (not that I encourage that sort of thing)....she probably wouldn't be asked out on a second one!

As far as my main course goes, I selected the Black and Blue Salad. Featuring mixed greens, tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and asparagus all topped with blackened steak and a homemade balsamic dressing, it had the all the makings of an amazing salad. Except the steak KILLED it. The steak wasn't marinated in anything, nor was it coated in any spices (except maybe a little pepper) before it was cooked, so it lacked any semblance of flavor. And whatever cut of meat they used was very fatty and chewy. What a let down! The rest of the salad itself was actually quite good - the dressing had a nice flavorful zip, the asparagus was crispy and the blue cheese was sharp. Too bad they couldn't spring for a nice quality cut of meat to go with it.

Now, just so you know I'm not being unfairly harsh on this place - I've also eaten their Steak Tips 101, Lettuce Wraps, Calamari Two Ways, Sauteed Mussels, Bruschetta, Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon. And besides the calamari and the mussels, nothing else was really that good. It's a fun, swanky little place to go for Happy Hour, and with their 50% off deal, it makes their drink prices more manageable. But I'd say steer clear of the menu, unless you're willing to take your chances!

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

Restaurant Info:
101 Restaurant and Lounge
215 W College Ave
Tallahassee FL 32301

101 Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Shula's 347 - You're Gonna Lurve This!

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.

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 - $$$

Restaurant Info:
Shula's 347
415 North Monroe St
Tallahassee FL 32301

Shula's 347 Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

And The Winner Is......

I just want to take a moment to thank all who entered the First Ever Tally Foodie Comment Contest! I really enjoyed reading your entries and hope that this has made you all feel a bit more comfortable leaving comments and feedback on future posts. And keep an eye out - because I may just hold another Comment Contest sometime soon!

Okay, so here's the verdict. We had a whopping 11 entries (I know it says 12 comments, but one was a double entry that was deleted by the author), which is the highest amount of comments for one post on this blog! To select the winner, each post was given a number based on the order in which they were submitted, and I used the website to generate a random winning number. And the lucky winner is..........(drum roll, please)...............TaureanJ! Here's the winning post:

So, TaureanJ, to receive your $20 Bonefish gift card, please send an email to me at with your name and address, and I will drop it into the mail for you!

Here are the other restaurants that were voted your favorites:

Masa - 2 votes
Crepe Vine
Firehouse Subs
One! Fresh Stir Fry
Ted's Montana Grill
Pepper's Mexican Grill
Sahara Greek & Lebanese Cafe

There are quite a few on that list that I haven't tried yet, but I am excited to have some new suggestions from all of you! Thanks again to all who participated!

Cafe Cabernet - Not Your Average Bar Food

Cafe Cabernet is one of those places that I've been to before, but only to have a few drinks. They boast area's largest liquor selection and over 30 wine selections by the glass and 1000 bottles in their temperature controlled cellar. I've asked around about what the food is like, but none of my friends or co-workers have ever eaten there. So last Friday night, hubby and I decided to take the plunge and see if this wine bar's menu was up to snuff.

The inside of the cafe is definitely dedicated to the bar area. There were just a handful of tables on the lower level, and then an upper deck near the windows with a couple more. We arrived around 6pm, so we were lucky to snag a table up top. While the service was a bit slow, our waiter apologized multiple times, stating that he had a large group of 13 down below that he was also servicing. It wouldn't have been such a problem, except we were trying to catch a 7:30pm movie (which we did, but only by the skin of our teeth).

I was also a bit put off that we had to actually pay for bread, instead of getting it for free like at most restaurants. But we were really hungry and couldn't just wait for our entrees to arrive. We asked about the salads, but were told that they were rather large, entree-sized portions, so we didn't feel like we needed that much to eat before our main course. So, we reluctantly ordered the $6 Bread Box that came with tarragon basil butter and an olive tapenade. While the butter didn't taste much different than regular butter, the olive tapenade was very scrumptious. So scrumptious in fact, that I reapplied the tapenade to the bread after each bite!

At the recommendation of our waiter, hubby ordered the Brie Chicken (above) and I selected the Creole Seasoned Snapper (below) for our main courses. Once our entrees arrived, any qualms I had about this place were immediately squashed. These dishes were expertly prepared, full of tantalizing flavor and waaaaaaay better than I expected. Hubby's brie chicken came in a dijon cream sauce that was a nice tangy compliment to the cheese encrusted chicken and was served with mashed potatoes and garlic spinach. He graciously allowed me a bite and it literally melted in my mouth!

Now, the snapper wasn't a menu item that I initially had my eye on, but our server literally lit up when he talked about this dish, so I just had to try it. It was a large piece of snapper, coated in spicy creole seasonings and topped with crispy sweet potato ribbons. That alone, was enough to make me love this dish. But the awesomeness didn't stop there - oh, no! The fish was placed atop a heaping helping of mashed potatoes and garnished on either side by blue crab claw meat tossed with toasted Georgia pecans. And then a lemon butter sauce was placed around the exterior of the plate. I kid you not, this dish was RIDICULOUS! One bite allowed you to have spicy and sweet, soft and crunchy, buttery and crispy all in one mouthful. There was nothing about this dish that I didn't like - the fish was moist, the blue crab meat was fresh, the pecans and sweet potato strings were crunchy, the lemon butter sauce was rich and decadent. Muah (*kisses fingers*) - perfection!

I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much more than some overpriced, underwhelming bar food from this place. But I have to say, their dishes really over-delivered. As the night wore on and the place got crowded, it did get a bit loud in the restaurant, and I was shouting at my husband just trying to have a conversation, so I'd suggest going early. And if only the wait staff would have been a bit more attentive (my drink sat empty for quite some time at one point), it would have been a pleasant experience all around!

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

Restaurant Info:
Cafe Cabernet
1019 N Monroe St
Tallahassee FL 32303

Cafe Cabernet on Urbanspoon

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!