Jenny's Lunchbox - Worth waking up for?

Whenever I drive by Jenny's Lunchbox during the weekends, I always see an overflowing parking lot and streams of people lined up outside waiting to get a table. To my foodie mind, that means "great place to eat!" So I've been wanting to try Jenny's for a while now. But honestly, I can't get my foodie butt out of bed early enough on the weekends to go out to eat for breakfast! But when hubby said he wanted to take me on a "Sunday morning date" to Jenny's, I just couldn't resist.

We arrived probably around 10:30am, and were told we'd have to wait about 20 minutes. There was no place to wait inside, so we squatted at a table outside and braved the cold morning air. After about 25 minutes, we were ushered to our table, and realized that "box" couldn't be closer to the truth. There are probably only about 10-12 tables inside, all either 2 or 4 tops, and they're definitely jam packed in there.

Jenny's Lunchbox reminds me a lot of the Lanford Lunch Box from Roseanne. (Throwback!) But it's fancifully decorated on the inside with various lunch boxes hanging from the ceiling. I think I saw everything from I Love Lucy and New Kids on the Block to Star Wars and Care Bears. (More throwbacks!) Looking at all the different lunch boxes definitely makes you smile and remember the days when you used to trade jello cups for moon pies right before recess.

The food is definitely of the greasy spoon variety - eggs, pancakes, bacon, home fries, waffles, cheese grits and biscuits and gravy. But the portions are large and the prices are small. I got a Short Stack of 2 Buttermilk Pancakes for $2.50 and a Side of Bacon for $2.00. The pancakes were large and fluffy and the bacon was thick and crispy (a must in my book!). But I have to admit that I wasn't super impressed. Hubby normally makes a mean pancake breakfast for me on Sunday mornings and I'm not sure Jenny's ranked any better than his (except we didn't have to cook or clean up afterwards).

Hubby ordered the Jenny's Special - 2 eggs any way you like (hubs picked scrambled), your choice of bacon, ham or sausage (he picked bacon) and your choice of home fries or cheese grits (he went with the fries). I believe his meal was just a little over $4. The eggs were awfully whipped and fluffy and the home fries (my favorite part of both of our meals) were crispy on the outside and melty on the inside. They were also coated in a good dose of salt and pepper, which made them even tastier. I love a good crispy home fry. And these were darn good.

All in all, you can grab a cheap, decent breakfast at Jenny's. But instead of fighting the crowd and being jammed into a restaurant like sardines, I'd rather stay home in my jammies and watch Hubby flip the flapjacks. Even if I do have to do the dirty dishes.

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

Restaurant Info:
Jenny's Lunchbox
295 N Magnolia Dr
Tallahassee FL 32301

Jennys Lunchbox on Urbanspoon

Liam's - More like Li-YUMS!

If you visit Thomasville but for no other reason than to eat at Liam's, it will have been well worth the trip. This cozy, fine dining establishment is smack dab in the middle of Thomasville's downtown historic district, and it certainly does look historic. The building was constructed in the early 1900's and has been renovated to retain much of its original charm. The interior has a very rustic vibe with exposed brick walls, heavy country-style furniture and an open kitchen. The atmosphere at night is dark and romantic, and the gourmet food is nothing short of spectacular.

The menu varies by the week and is dependent upon the seasons and the freshest foods available. Liam's makes it a habit to serve only natural, organic, sustainably-sourced foods, not necessarily out of any sense of social or environmental responsibility, but because they believe that it just tastes better that way. They dice and grind and mash and chop and cook everything by hand, because that's the honest way to do it, and it's their passion. They love to create cuisine that you'll love. And believe me, you will love it.

At Liam's, it's best to start out with a selection of their delectable cheeses. They're a bit freakish about their cheese at this place - as they normally have between 50-100 cheeses on hand at any given time. Unless you're a real cheese-head, don't even try to decipher the cheese menu on your own. Just have the lady of the house come over to your table and talk to you about your cheese preferences. Then she'll make the selection for you. On this night, hubby proclaimed that he didn't want anything soft or anything smelly (eloquent, right?). And just like that we were delivered 3 delicious cows milk cheeses from around the world. They were brought out to us with a dollop of honey and a handful of almonds and it was absolute perfection. I would eat a bit of cheese and then eat a honey-dipped almond, and then eat a bite of honey-dipped cheese. Ummm. Combine all that with the perfect, fruity glass of white wine and the dinner was off to an excellent start. Vive la fromage!

Next, I ordered a bowl of the Tomato Basil Blue Crab Bisque, because it sounded absolutely divine. Made with heavy cream, fresh tomatoes and hand-picked blue crab, it was rather delicious. The only thing that would have made it better was if they had de-seeded the tomatoes before adding them to the soup. There seemed to be a lot of seeds in my soup, and I kept having to spit them out into my napkin. I'm not particularly fond of tomato seeds, as I always seem to bite into them and they end up hurting my fillings. Weird, but true.

Next, the main delight. I ordered the Black Trumpet Yellowfin Crusted Tuna and hubs ordered the Prime Beef Tenderloin. Both were superb. I mean just look at that tuna - seared rare with that beautiful red color, atop a bed of pickled seaweed and drizzled with a sweet soy glaze. This was definitely a generous portion of fish. I could have probably done with just two of the portions instead of four. And I definitely could have used more of the glaze to dip the tuna in. But this was certainly a delicious dish. The tuna just melted in my mouth, almost as if it was made of butter. And the pickled seaweed provided a nice, tangy texture.

Hubby's dish was also sublime. It was the most tender cut of meat, served atop sauteed fingerling potatoes, topped with sauteed mushrooms and coated with a demi-glaze. It was like eating the most juicy piece of meat you could ever imagine, that had been floating on a fluffy, buttery cloud of potatoes with the sauce adding a bit of sweet-smoky haze to the concoction. I hope that sounds as wonderful as I want it to sound. But if not, just know that it was totally, absolutely, ridiculously wonderful. So there.

If you haven't traversed the 36.6 miles from Tallahassee to Thomasville to eat at Liam's, you should really pick up the phone and make a reservation right now. Because you will need a reservation to eat there. With only about 15 tables in the house, don't expect to show up and just get a table. Food like this generally sells out every single show. As it should.

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

Restaurant Info:
113 East Jackson Street
Thomasville GA 31792

Liam's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Cabo's - Get the Lard Out!

If there ever was a restaurant that was part Jimmy Buffett, part Jungle cruise and part Mexican Riviera it would be Cabo's. It's quite an enigma. As you walk in, the first thing that will strike you are the multitude of surfboards hanging from the ceiling throughout the restaurant. And you might assume that Cabo's is a seafood restaurant, which it is. But then you notice the tropical jungle murals, and wonder if the place serves Caribbean island food, which it does. And then you sit down and see the extensive authentic Mexican section of the menu, and at this point you should be thoroughly confused. Cause I know the first time I visited Cabo's, I was.

To me, I can't think of Cabo's as anything other than a Mexican restaurant. I've never ordered anything off the Seafood or Island Specialties section of the menu. To me, it's Mexican or bust. The only thing that's different at Cabo's versus other Mexican restaurants is that the chips and salsa do not come free. But at $1.69, they're not super-expensive either. You just have to remember to ask for them when you sit down, because if you don't, they'll never arrive.

The thing I like best about Cabo's is their strong HATE of lard. They slap it all over the Mexican section of their menu in black letters with a red slash through it. Get it? NO LARD. They don't use lard in any of their beans, so I guess that makes it semi-healthy Mexican (if there is such a thing). Their refried beans taste exactly the same as any other beans I've had - so there's no love lost as far as taste goes. And it just makes me happy to know that I'm ordering something that is devoid of lard. Because, let's face it, lard sucks.

So, I ordered the Supreme Chicken Burrito for just $4.99, with chicken, refried beans, sour cream, olives and tomatoes. If you prefer, you can make your burrito Wet by smothering it with lettuce and salsa, or you can make it Ultimate by covering it with queso cheese. The size of the burrito is comparable to those of Moe's or Chipotle's, but there's no rice included, which means that it won't fill your belly up as quick. The chicken is marinated and all white meat. All in all, it makes for one tasty (and partially guilt free) burrito. You know, cause of the no lard thing.

My friend who was with me that day ordered three Beef Tacos for just $5.59, which quickly disappeared from sight without a complaint, so I'm pretty sure those were delish as well. As with most Mexican restaurants, the portions are generous and the prices are low. But I do have one bit of advice for you. Don't let them give you the table in the back of the restaurant near the fish tank. Unless you want to be bothered by an endless stream of kids clamoring up on the step stool, tapping on the glass, banging the back of your booth, laughing and screaming and going all gaga over the darn fish! I mean seriously kids, they're just fish. But I guess if you HAVE kids, it might be good to sit there to keep them occupied and not have them bothering other well intentioned patrons. Like me. Okay? Just a suggestion. A very strong one.

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

Restaurant Info:
1221 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee FL 32301

Cabos Tacos on Urbanspoon

Carl's on the Parkway - Closed

Well friends, my next post was going to be about Carl's on the Parkway, a chop house out on Appalachee Parkway that serves only Braveheart Black Angus steaks. But I've just learned that Carl's has become the latest in a string of Tallahassee restaurants that have closed their doors lately. The blood letting began last year with the closings of the Silver Slipper, Anthony's and Carlos' Cuban Cafe and has continued this year with the shut downs of Urbane, Gill's Tavern and now, Carl's on the Parkway.

I can't say I don't understand why Carl's has shut down. When hubby and I visited, the service was extremely slow - it took almost 15 minutes after we were seated for a server to come over and take our drink order. Then, after ordering, it was another 20 minutes before we were served our salads BEFORE our appetizer, no less. And then at the end of our meal, we must have sat for another 20 minutes before our server came to clear our plates, and another 10 after that until he brought the check. If you haven't gotten my drift already, the service was sloooooooooooooow. The food wasn't much better than mediocre and the location was very out of the way.

But what is happening to our restaurants Tallahassee??? I know the economy's bad, but going out to eat is one of the only things to do in this town! Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit, but seriously - restaurants are a big staple in this town. It deeply saddens me that more and more of our local joints are closing down. What do you guys think? Were all the restaurant closings I mentioned above justified, or are you sorry to see some of them go?

Mr. Roboto - Not Bad, Sir

When I saw that Mr. Roboto was the #1 ranked Cheap Eats restaurant in Tallahassee on UrbanSpoon, I was a bit intrigued. I hadn't really heard much buzz around town about Mr. Roboto. But hubby and I decided that if it was #1 on the list, then we had to give it a try.

I have to be honest - I had low expectations. From everything I'd heard, it sounded like "fast food" sushi. And I wasn't sure if I'd get something fresh or something akin to what you get when you grab a carton out of the Publix cooler. I was certain the seafood would be rubbery and the rice would taste like it was day old leftovers. But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised.

Yes, you stand in line, place your order at the counter, take your number and have a seat. Yes, the sushi is on the cheaper side ($4.95 - 7.95 per roll). Yes, the tables are a little sticky and some wobble a bit. But yes, the sushi is actually good. Is it the best sushi in town? No. Masa and Sakura are still tops on my list, but Mr. Roboto's is no sloppy seconds.

The edamame was properly cooked and excellently salted (can you see all that salt?). The rolls were large and full of flavor. We ordered the Roboto Roll (cause come on, you have to order the namesake roll!) and the Shrimp Tempura Roll. The Roboto roll was made with panko crusted spicy tuna, topped with baked krab (note the k) in a spicy sauce. It was a delightful combination of crunchy and spicy and hot and melty. The shrimp tempura roll was made with, of course, shrimp tempura, along with cucumber, avocado and teriyaki sauce. And it was also a sweet crunchy little thing.

It's easy to see why college kids pack the place from wall to wall. It's right across from campus, the food is good and reasonably priced and the atmosphere is fun. Aside from sushi, they also have hibachi, kitchen meals like General Tso's chicken and there's a great little "sauce bar" where you can choose from about 10 sauces like soy, miso, teriyaki or peanut sauce to top your dish.

It's a fresh, funky little joint where you can get a lot of bites for your buck. The next time you're in the neighborhood, give it a shot. You might just be surprised by what Mr. Roboto's got cookin!

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

Restaurant Info:
1350 W. Tennessee St
Tallahassee FL 32304
Website Link

Mr. Roboto 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!