Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jackson’s Bistro & Sushi Bar

Service so bad…..
Jackson’s Bistro is located right on the water near the Tampa Convention Center and boasts a huge wrap around patio with great views and a bar. It was a humid night and so our group had reserved a table for eight inside. Our table was across from the double door entry which blasted us with the setting sun so that one side of the table needed sunglasses while the other remained in silhouette. The very large dining room was so noisy it made conversation nearly impossible. The place was very lively, with quite a lot of teenagers enjoying prom night. We enjoyed seeing the kids all dressed up and marveled with awe that the stunning supermodels passing our table were actually in high-school. How grown up they looked! Ah yes, we remembered those days fondly and compared prom stories.
I ordered Jackson’s signature Kale Salad topped with Grilled Salmon and have to say it was delicious. Hubby and a couple others ordered the Mushroom Chicken Marsala and they loved it but alas hubby did not. Do you see a recurring theme here? The Sushi Nigiri was very good as was the Lobster Bisque. So we gave it pretty high marks for food. But the service was just terrible.
Our waiter claimed to have worked at Jackson’s for almost as long as it’s been open. It appears he’s still in training. He seemed overwhelmed by how busy the place was and eager to rush away from our table. He mumbled and seemed to resent having to repeat himself. Half the drink orders were taken, and he never asked the other side of the table so had to come back twice.
When the entrees were brought, he hadn’t first taken the time to buss the empty appetizer dishes out of the way so there was an awkward moment of him expecting you to move your salad plate to make room for your entrĂ©e plate….very bad form. Mike ordered a burger but received a steak sandwich. When he mentioned this error the waiter actually argued with him about it and asked several times “why don’t you just take it”, until Mike got tired of protesting and ate it. It turns out to have been a real good steak sandwich but that’s not the point is it? When he found my dish on his cart he actually handed it to me across the large round table forcing me to stand and reach for it. Really? It was hectic and strange. He had to be reminded to refill sodas and water, often times leaving the empty glass when he dropped off a fresh one.
At the end he messed up our checks charging us for two Chicken Marsala dinners while not charging someone else for theirs. He seemed annoyed at us for his mistake and for having to redo the checks. It was a very strange experience to say the least.
Would I go back?
Maybe for lunch sitting outside on the patio and certainly checking first to make sure we weren’t in this particular waiter’s section. It really is a beautiful spot. By the way parking is in the underground garage and Jackson’s will validate your ticket for up to two hours. After that you’re charged $1/half hour.
Dessert afterwards at Hollie’s was a yummy blueberry cobbler and a sinfully good lemon cake all washed down with some Mexican Coffee (add a spoonful each of cinnamon and cocoa powder to your coffee brew basket and Ole – good stuff.
Jackson’s Bistro & Sushi Bar, 601 S Harbour Island Blvd, Tampa, FL 33602 Jackson's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

Derek's Rustic, Coastal Cuisine, Bradenton

Our group headed south to Bradenton for our March Great Escape. This second location of Derek’s opened in 2009 to rave reviews from Zagat. The original is in Sarasota. Chef/owner Derek Barnes has some impressive culinary credentials including the title of Most Innovative Chef in the Best of SRQ Magazine, Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon award, and inclusion in Zagat America’s Top Restaurant listings. Derek went to culinary school in Denver then worked for Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans for four years where he learned to develop flavors and use spices. He gets all his unique and international spices from
With that many titles and accolades, we expected the menu to be a pricy one. But hey you only live once, and we budget for our monthly splurge. The exterior of the restaurant is lovely and looked brand new. The interior is tastefully decorated, sleek and homey at the same time with an assortment of lovely paintings of fish and other coastal themes all painted by local Sarasota artist Tim Jaeger who earned his BA from Ringling College of Art & Design and now works and paints there. Derek supports the local art community. For more information on Jaeger visit
Now about the food… was very good. Having said that, there were some flaws. Hubby ordered the short ribs dish and said it was delicious but alas the portion was too small for him and he left hungry. He might have filled up on some bread but the only thing our waiter brought us was one tiny cheddar biscuit each. We might have ordered an appetizer but as I said the menu was pricy and we decided to focus on the main course. I had a very tasty Red Snapper dish with a very small amount of roasted fingerling potatoes and a few thin string beans. That dish was $27 and I was fine with my portion size. The others in our group ordered Pork Shank, Flank Steak, Kale Salad, Flatbread, or Classic Burger and Fries. There were high marks all around our table for the food.
Cheryl and I opted to split a bottle of wine, and our waiter Zach brought us a bottle of Gouguenheim Malbec. It was so delicious that I snapped a photo of the bottle so I’d remember the name and buy it next chance I got. What would we do without our smart phones eh? We finished every last drop!
Derek's, 5516 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34209 Tel: 941-794-1100