We read the reviews and looked forward to dining here. It is a cozy place and gives the feel of a small French restaurant. We decided on an appetizer of bruschetta. I chose the tomato bisque to follow up and my wife chose a house salad. Our entrees included one meal of sea scallops and duck breast, and another of Chilean sea bass with a side of lemon beurre blanc. We also chose a pinot noir to accompany the meal.
Here’s how things started. The wine was opened and it was very good. The server was not experienced in opening wines, but it was OK. The wine list is definitely pricy, and it appears to be about 20 percent higher for the same bottles in other comparable restaurants. Our wine was $60 and it is on several other wine lists in the $45 -$50 range.
The soup and salad were delivered. The bruschetta never arrived. “We’re having a timing problem in the kitchen.”
No big deal. The lack of bruschetta was not going to make or break the experience.
The entrees arrived and the duck and scallop plate was at least on the hot side. The sea bass was not just cool to the touch, but below room temperature. The vegetables were not warm by any measure. I did ask for the fish to be on the rare side, but the middle was cold, not just cool. Instead of beurre blanc, I was given a picatta sauce.
So I mentioned this to the waitress who said, “The chef didn’t want to prepare it on the rare side but I’ll bring it back anyway.” I told her it was not just cool to the touch but actually cold to the touch and that the vegetables were room temperature. The dish came back in a few minutes with slightly warmer vegetables but the fish was exactly as before. I love sushi, but I didn’t order it here.
The server said that I should have ordered it to the chef’s specifications. Fine. Whatever. I was planning to pay for the dinner and didn’t want a replacement plate, but she insisted that I try it as the chef preferred to prepare it. I finally agreed, but this took another twenty minutes and my wife was already finished her meal. The new plate of fish was brought to me and it was … OK. Certainly not great and nothing remarkable. I had a few small bites and was not impressed. I’ve had the Chilean sea bass and very many restaurants and this was “meh”. The vegetable on the replacement plate were warmer but still not nearly hot, by the way.
Now, the place was not busy. There were several empty tables. There was a party of about six in a corner that the two servers appeared to pay extra attention to, but this was our first visit and maybe the other party was important to the place. But the owner all the while we were there sat alone in a booth in the back and surfed the internet.
In summary, the service was inexperienced. The duck/scallop dish was well prepared, but the sea bass was a disaster. The entrée prices were in the $45 range and we expected something a little special. Lakeland is not a dining destination by any means, and fine dining choices are limited. We wanted a better experience and went away very disappointed. We will agree with the server that “there’s a timing problem in the kitchen”, but this was one major frustration. There was absolutely no mention of a complimentary cup of coffee or anything like that which we would have refused but still thought we might hear under the circumstances. If I was the owner, I’d be embarrassed. We won’t go back and we won’t recommend this place to anyone else.
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