Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ft. Lauderdale: Art & Design Cafe

Sadly, this review predates my picture taking.  This is from back in 2009:

The art on the walls is really cool, but that's really it as far as my compliments for this place will go.  If you want to pay a significant premium for simple food you could easily make yourself after stopping at your local Wal-mart, have at it!

Let's take a look at the menu:
Appetizers:
-Small Mango Chutney Baked Brie - $10 (I wish my sister had chosen to order this.  It probably would have been tasty.)
-Large Mango Chutney Baked Brie - $16
-Tomatoes $ Mozzarella Caprise - $10
-Shrimp Cocktail - $10
-Bruschetta - $10 (Cami ordered this, which I know she did to make our group a little more socially acceptable after the waiter made his disappointment in our party's 4 waters and no wines very apparent.  Well, pardonez nous, we were two Mormons and two chicks on their way to an open bar.  Anyway, the bruschetta was bad - the tomatoes were mushy, blech.  Cami actually makes kick ass bruschetta, so bad brushchetta at restaurants is particularly annoying for me.)
-Lentil soup - $9 (Cami ordered this, and it was pretty plain, despite the waiter's misplaced enthusiasm in recommending it.)
-Soup du jour - $9 (that day, it was cream of brocoli)


Salads:


-Boring chicken caesar salad (romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, croutons, and caesar dressing), inexplicably named after Picasso, even more inexplicably priced at $15
-"Van Gogh's" Spinach Mushroom salad: just spinach, mushrooms, pine nuts, and a balsamic vinaigrette - no mystery, no intrigue, the mushrooms are plain ol' kind you see in packages at the store - $15



-"Monet's" Vegetarian Salad: very typical: field greens, celery, cranberries, raisins, peaches, mandarin oranges, walnuts, and raspberry vinaigrette - $15
-"Rembrandt's" Salmon Grill: just salmon, field greens, tomatoes, Italian vinaigrette - boring - $19
-"Chagall's" Mahi Mahi Grill: mahi mahi, spinach, mixed peppers, mango chutney dressing - $19
-"Maxx's" Tuna Tataki Grill: seared tuna tataki, arugula, asparagus, wasabi dressing - $19 (Sounds good,  but still too expensive)


Oh, wow, look what I just found on the menu: "All salads, pastas & entrees are served with our delicious assorted breads & dipping oil."  What bull shit.  We ordered three of those, and got nary piece of bread, much less dipping oil.  I would have really enjoyed assorted breads - I love assorted anything.


Sigh.. moving on...


All of their entrees are the typical meat entrees you'd expect from anywhere: lamb, veal, skirt steak, filet mignon, mahi mahi, tilapia, salmon, ahi tuna, chicken picata: $22-$29


The side options are pretty decent, so at least there's that.  Unfortunately none of us ordered an entree, so I can't say if they were of notable quality.


You can also make your own salad, but if you want it to be good or interesting, you pretty much have to pay out the ass.


Some of the desserts looked tasty if uninspired, but they were all also at least $9 of course, and I can only assume they wouldn't have been worth it since nothing else on the menu really was.


Our waiter was new, and told one of the people in our party something I can guarantee wasn't true about the menu.  Follow along as I explain.

The pasta section looked like this:

-Sauteed Pesto Pasta 12
-Sauteed Pasta with Garlic & Oil 12
-Sauteed Tomato Pasta 12
    -with Diced Chicken Breast 15
    -with Tigertail Shrimp 18


I suppose it takes a bit of brains for this to be intuitive.  All of those baseline pastas are 12 bucks.  Adding the meats is a simple matter of tossing them in or on the pasta.  The girl in our party who ordered pasta wanted the pesto instead of the tomato.  She asked our ditsy gay boy waiter if she could get the pesto pasta with the shrimp, but he was (ridiculously) pretty sure she couldn't.  A combination or laziness, stupidity, ignorance, and the hesitation of being wrong...  It was his second day, and it's okay if he didn't know, but what he should have said was, "Oh, I'm not sure.  I'll ask the chef for you.  If you can't have that, do you still want the tomato pasta with the shrimp or the pesto pasta?"  He didn't want to do that though because if she'd opted for the pesto pasta sans the shrimp, our bill would've gone down six bucks.  He was overly trying to up sell us at every step of the way, which is normal to some extent, but it was a little over the top with this dude to the point of being tacky at times.

To sum, he didn't bother getting us the breads and oil, he was slow, he couldn't answer our questions (which led to our friend not getting the pasta she really wanted), and he didn't get us the coupons we were promised by the friendly owner or manager or whoever it was who came out to do the typical owner-introduces-herself-to-you-to-make you-feel-like-you're-having-a-special-and-classy-dining-experience thing.  Bah.


It did give us a good story to tell for the night, though, when a random drag queen started performing out of the blue, walking all around the restaurant and up to people's tables.  All in all, this is one of those places I write off as pretentious and overpriced.

They need a better menu/chef, to make sure they train their waiters better, and that no group gets treated like second class patrons just because they're younger and/or not drinking alcohol.

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