Metro Diner: Member of the Good Grub Hall of Fame!

Though Grub travels often, Jacksonville will always be home. With it’s temperate climate, beaches, and low cost of living, I enjoy being a Floridian. And since Jacksonville holds the distinction of having more mom and pos restaurants then any other city in the Southeast, there are plenty of culinary castles for Grub to explore! Today’s review probably counts as a homer review. I visited an old haunt of mine because I hadn’t been there in awhile, and Grub had a taste for diner food. The solution: I went to the Metro Diner! Now, for the purposes of full disclosure, I have to admit that I am a regular. Metro Diner is on my rotation of good grub spots, partly because of the quality of their food, but mainly because of the consistency of it. Metro has three Jacksonville locations – the original on Hendricks Avenue and the second one opened south of the city on San Jose Boulevard just north of the Duval/St. Johns County line. The newest location is in Jacksonville Beach on 3rd Street North. The newer locations are great, but nothing beats the original.

Metro regularly posts breakfast and lunch specials on Facebook, and I just happened to be online when they posted the specials for Monday – waffles for breakfast and a blackened chicken quesadilla. I love Mexican food, but at a diner? Grub is adventurous, so what the heck – I headed over to check it out! I wont go into too much detail regarding Metro Diner. They are one of the top ten restaurants in Jacksonville. They have won numerous awards for their culinary creations, and among them one of my favorites, the Pittsburgh Steak Salad, which is essentially a steak salad on top of a bed of French fries! Yep, you heard me. Fries. Metro Diner has also been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” starring Guy Fieri.

Again, I am not going to go into too much detail, but I had the quesadilla, which was filled with a large portion of blackened chicken breast, a black bean salsa, and bound together with both cheddar and mozzarella cheese. The quesadilla was large, and I was only able to eat half, but it was tasty. The chicken was moist and spicy, but not ridiculous with heat. The black beans added a bit of texture to the bite, but served more as a supporting cast to the chicken’s headliner.

One of the things that set Metro Diner apart from other restaurants is their service. When you walk in, the place seems chaotic with servers all over the place and no one seems to be performing any one particular task. But in reality, everyone helps each other. The food always comes out hot; it never sits under a warmer for any amount of time. One of Grub’s tests is to sample the French fries. If the fries are cold, chances are you are in for more disappointment as the meal progresses.

Metro Diner serves hot, fresh, and creative diner food at reasonable prices. The service is good, the staff is friendly, and the overall experience it good. This is a Good Grub Spot, and an inaugural member of Good Grub’s Hall of Fame, so give it a try!

Metro Diner on Urbanspoon

Restaurant:      Metro Diner

Address:          3302 Hendricks Avenue, Jacksonville, FL  32207

Telephone:      (904) 398-3701

Website:         www.metrodiner.com

Date of Visit:  June 4, 2012

Good Grub or Garbage © 2012

Philadelphia’s Reef is shipwrecked with Poor Service

So Grub is in Philadelphia for the annual Blogging While Brown and the closing social was being held at this quaint Caribbean restaurant. Now while we were a part of a private party upstairs, Grub thought it would be a good idea to have dinner and experience all Philly has to offer in terms of island dining. The Reef seemed like an inviting enough place. They have a full bar when you walk in, and the activity at the bar seemed adequate. Grub hates empty bars – its a sign of bigger issues! The upstairs where we gathered has plenty of room for large parties and has a separate bar.

The restaurant served us appetizers during the private gathering. Among the ones I sampled were the Crispy Wings that the restaurant advertises as fried “Southern Style.” Though the wings were flavorful and cooked through, they were far from crispy. Not sure what their definition of crispy is, but if the wings slide out of your fingers, they are not crispy. The other appetizer I sampled was the dry-panadas, which was very flaky as filo dough should be, but the filling was overcooked and left the treat pasty on the palate.

Appetizer = C

I had dinner with two of my blogging mates, whom shall remain anonymous, as I did not get their permission to publish them in this post. They both ordered the Curry Chicken, which looked and smelled great, and from all reports tasted good as well. I ordered the Jerk BBQ Beef Short Ribs, which were essentially short ribs. There was no jerk flavor, just an overpowering of BBQ sauce, which, if my palate serves me correctly, was made by Kraft. The beef was tender, as short ribs are supposed to be, but they certainly weren’t awe-inspiring. The ribs were served with cabbage and julienned yams. The yams were really sweet and “candied.” The cabbage was serviceable, but again not jaw dropping.

Entrée = B

When we came downstairs for dinner and asked the waitress who was sitting down on the job for a table, she never stood up. She motioned to the front-end manager and said, “They want a table.” The front-end manager found us a table after a ten-minute wait. The waiter took and addition eight minutes before he came over to the table to tell us that he would be back in a minute. Let me tell you a little about me – If you come to take my order and I tell you that I am ready to order, you have already taken to long to wait on me. I was ready to order. We had to repeatedly ask for drink refills, and we never received an apology for our inconvenience.  Level of service is one of my requirements and I have little tolerance for subpar performance in this area. To top off the evening, our waiter informed  us that the restaurant does not allow separate checks! Our party was only three deep, yet they could not split the bill.

Service = F

The Reef has potential, and I think that it can become the restaurant that it aspires to be. The food was fresh, hot and appetizing. The appetizers should go into the garbage can, so avoid them if at all possible. If you can past the horrible service, which I cant, this could be a great restaurant. When I go out to eat, I am spending my money, and I want to get my money’s worth. If your food is great and your service is poor, your restaurant is poor. Grub has told many a restaurant owner that they would be closed in six months, and to date I have not ben wrong. I will try Reef again the next time I visit Philly. Hopefully their service will at least rise to match their food.

As for of now, Reef is a place with good grub, but their business model is steeped in garbage.

Reef Caribbean Lounge on Urbanspoon

Restaurant:         Reef Restaurant & Lounge

Address:              605 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Telephone:         (215) 629-0102

Website:             www.reefcaribbeanlounge.com

Date of Visit:     June 2, 2012

 

Good Grub or Garbage (C) 2012