Monday, February 21, 2011

Cabana's Island Restaurant in Mentor

My fiancee and I were asked to go to Cabana's Island Restaurant in Mentor to celebrate her brother-in-law's 35th birthday with her family.  We had eaten at the old Cabana's location about a year ago and enjoyed our meal. I had high hopes that I would have another good seafood experience. My other future brother-in-law commented that Cabana's is well known for having some great seafood.  I checked and Cabana's was the winner for Best Seafood in 2008 and 2009 on Fox 8's Hot List.

Cabana's offers numerous seafood dishes as well as wraps, burgers, steaks and even pizza.   I am going to break down the experience to let you know how the rest of the night unfolded.

6:10pm--We were seated and our waitress was very accommodating to the little ones at the table.  She brought each of them a bucket of crayons which made them very happy!  She even agreed to split our checks and warm up a plate of food for my nephew who has a food allergy.

6:20pm--After looking over the menu, I had my meal narrowed down to two choices the Sausage Encrusted Grouper ($13.75), or the Yuengling Scallops ($14.95).  Our waitress recommended the scallop dish over the grouper dish so I went with her recommendation.  I also ordered a mix greens salad ($3.50 extra) and asked for sweet potato waffle fries ($1.25 extra) instead of the regular fries.   My fiancee, who is not a seafood eater,  ordered a bowl of French Onion Soup ($3.95) to start and the Taco Salad ($8.95) for her entree. Everything was off to a very good start.

6:50pm--A half hour has past and no one has gotten their soup or salads.   Finally another waitress brought out two cups of soup, one salad and two entrées. We were very confused as to what was going on at this point.  What made matters worse was the waitress didn't know what the dishes were.  She asked our table "Who ordered fish?"  Well, four of us ordered fish, so we asked her what kind she had and she didn't have any idea what she was holding.   My fiancee's sister was given her soup and entrée at the same time.  She told the waitress she didn't want her soup and entrée together, so the waitress took her entrée away.  At this point one person had an entrée,  one person had an entrée and their soup together, one person had only soup, one person had just a salad, and two people had nothing!  To make matters a little worse,  the entrées that were at the table didn't have the correct sides paired with them. The waitress scampered off to the back to try to see what was going on.  This is where the mass of confusion began.

6:55pm--A few minutes pass and our regular waitress came back over to the table and apologized for the confusion.  She brought out more entrées, but again didn't know what was on each plate.  I still didn't have my salad and asked to cancel my salad order because I wanted it as an appetizer not with my entrée.   Since she didn't know what the dishes were she left the food on the tray at our table and went to try to figure out what dishes she had brought out.

7:00pm--Our waitress returns with a few more entrées and small dishes full of what she thought were correct sides.  Although everyone now had their entrées,  not one had the correct sides, and the vegetarian at the table was told her dish was the Ginger Mango Mahi.  She questioned it, but was told it was correct.  She took a few bites and knew right away she was eating the Sausage Encrusted Grouper.  As a vegetarian she was not happy and we figured out that she was actually eating what should have been her husbands plate.  To make matters worse, the entree that was sent back because it was brought out with the soup was brought back out and it was stone cold.  At this point our waitress was very flustered and went to get the manager.   The manager came over and asked what was wrong.  We explained in a very nice way that not one person at the table had in front of them what they ordered except my fiancee, but she was given her soup and entree at the same time too!  The waitress commented to the manager right in front of us that she wanted to pick up the tab for the whole table because she felt so bad.  The manager looked at her and said that he would "Take Care of It."  He then took back the ice cold fish and had them fire a fresh dish.  By now, everyone at our table was laughing and I seriously thought I might have been on "Restaurant Review PUNKED!"  I mean how could this be happening!  Thank goodness we have a sense of humor!

7:15pm--Now, 5 out of the 6 people at the table had an entree.  Below is a picture my Yuengling Scallops and the regular fries (I ordered sweet potato fries.)   The Scallops themselves were actually pretty good.  A crispy, yet somewhat dense outside, and a soft warm scallop inside.    The fries however were awful.  Soggy, unappealing and just not edible. 
My fiancee also enjoyed her entrée.  She liked how the chips were shredded and not left whole.  This allowed her to get a little bite of everything on her fork.    What she was not happy about was that she had no salsa, sour cream, or dressing.  Instead of serving them with the entrée, they were set at the opposite end of the table with out anyone realizing.  The French Onion soup was flavorful and tastey but she would have enjoyed it more if she didn't have to eat it with her entrée.
7:30pm--By this point, I asked how everyone's meal was at the table because I wanted to get a true sense of if the food was actually any good.   What I failed to realize was that my fiancee's sister still had no entree!  Myself and the birthday boy had finished our entrees and she still had no food in front of her.   The manager then walked over and handed her a fresh Key West Salmon.   Finally everyone had their main course!!!

7:45pm--I asked again how everyone dishes were.  Both the Key West Salmon and the Ginger Mango Mahi were extra salty.  If that were not the case, the dishes would have  been pretty good.  By far the best dish at the table ended up being the Sausage Encrusted Grouper.  I was given a bite of it and it really blew me away.  The spicy, crunchy crust was excellent and the grouper was perfectly cooked.  I actually was kicking myself for ordering the scallops!  Our waitress then came back over and said can I buy the table a round of drinks.   Immediately the two year old responded "Yes Please!"  Laughter took over the table and just a few of us said sure.   After she brought us our drinks she asked us if we would like our tab.  We all said yes because the little ones at the table were getting a little antsy.

7:50pm--Our bills were brought to the table and the waitress said "The manager has taken care of all the drinks, and I've comped a few things for each of you."  We all then looked at our bills and saw that everyone was charged full price for every single entrée I was pretty annoyed and here is why:
1. No one at the table would have gotten our last drink if it were not offered to us.  
2. Before the "free drink offer" Covering the drinks only covered 5 beers and 1 glass of wine total.  My fiancee and I only drank water! 
3. The "comped" things she mentioned were things that were NEVER brought to the table in the first place, my salad and my sweet potato fries.   They even charged my fiancée for her extra dressing she asked for because she never saw the plate with the salsa, sour cream and dressing at the end of the table.
4. The final straw for me was that they fed a vegetarian sausage for goodness sake...what if she would have had a food allergy like the two little ones had at our table!

I grabbed everyone's bill and asked the waitress to see the manager again.  Before going over the manager, I let the waitress know that we were not angry and we really did sympathize for her.   Clearly this disaster of a dinner service was not all falling totally on her shoulders.  When I approached the manager and stated my gripes he kind of seemed annoyed and said "We'll I picked up the tab for the drinks."  I mentioned the 4 things I listed above and then he said he would come over to the table in a minute.  I handed him the tabs before I walked back to the table.  

8:00pm--Our hope to make things "right" was for the manager to comp a few entrees that were totally wrong.  Specifically the the vegetarians Mahi Mahi, and the Key West Salmon which took forever to finally be served correctly.  Finally, the manager came over and said that he called the owner and that our bill was taken care of.  He stated that he was very sorry for the dinner service and that he hoped that we would come back and give them another chance.   None of us expected this response,  but we were pleased that the manager did finally in the end fix what turned out to be the single worst service any of us had ever had. 

Food: Some dishes were great, others were just average.  Soggy fries and over-salted fish didn't help the evening at all.  3/5
Drinks: A very average beer selection, not a craftbeer on the list for me to drink. 1.5/5
Atmosphere:  If you go to Cabana's you'll find a fun, light hearted, place.  Nothing fancy, but then again they are not trying to go for that at all. 3/5
Service:  Our waitress was very kind and sweet.  Our whole table really did feel bad for her.  Our experience, however, was totally dysfunctional from the kitchen to the table.  We are thankful that the manager took care of us in the end, but we all felt like he really was trying to get off easy by only picking up a few drinks. 1/5
Overall:  The food was average, the drink menu lacked craftbeer, and service was laughable. It was a good thing we had a sense of humor, we kept looking for Ashton Kutcher the whole night. 2/5

Cabanas Island on Urbanspoon


Vickie Kuhn, a Shaklee Independent Distributor and Fundraiser Coordinator said...

This is so sad. In my youth, I was a waitress and this comedy would never have happened. I say poor management and training for the staff involved.

I have been to the Cabana's in Chardon and although I think the food is average quality, we were given the correct entrees, sides and drinks and the service was good.

Anonymous said...

As a former server...not knowing what you're serving ....unless its your first shift at that restaurant is not acceptable...maybe if servers ran their own food they would learn the food items and make sure things got to the right table. I feel like I am pretty easy on wait staff because I know how hard it can be...but I also know how easy it can be. Management needs to make sure servers know their stuff before their shift, test them on it, if they don't know it...send them HOME! I don't normally eat fish, not because I don't like it but because I am a vegetarian ...I went out on a limb and was very disappointed, the Parm/Herb paste was so salty I had to scrape it off. The fries were so bad Mason wouldn't even eat them, lol! Lastly, a restaurant manager's job is to keep the customers happy and support their staff...not be slimy and try to get away with setting a table up with their highest mark up item on the menu (beverages)
This was the second time we went to this establishment, and the second time we had HORRIBLE service.

CLEgal @ Why CLE? said...

Yikes! What an awful evening, but keeping your sense of humor had to help. And knowing that you got to write about it too... :-)

deanna said...

Whoa! I don't think I would ever go to that restaurant because I don't live near Mentor but thanks for the heads up! I too used to be a server and it is the server's fault if the soup and salad comes out with the entree because it's all the timing on how you enter it in the computer. If you know your table has soup and salads, you wait until you punch in the entrees. It's not rocket science! My favorite part of the story was "Who got the fish?" LOL

Anonymous said...

I have been to this restaurant and had a pretty similar experience. The brought me the wrong dish and when they brought me the correct dish it was cold. Poor staff and management so I have not gone back.

Mary jo said...

I just wanted to say what a wonderful time my friends and I had at Cabana's. We have gone every Wednesday evening for the past few years (old location and new) and have NEVER had a bad time.
Our personal favorite would be the Nacho's!

Robert B said...

I would have to agree w/mary. I have been to Cabana's many times over the years and have never walked away dissatisfied or unhappy about my meal or service. This had to be a fluke for that evening. Then again I never judge on first impressions. I always try to give second chances.


Brad said...

Rob and Mary. I plan to do a revisit to Cabana's in the future. I always try to do at least one follow up review to every single restaurant I review because consistency (both food and service) is very important to me.

I have actually eaten at the old location a few years ago (before I started reviewing) and our experiecne was not bad at all.

Thanks for reading my blog, I hope you continue to be avid readers! :)

Ron Newton said...

I worked at the Cabanas on Station street for years before moving on to a career in Sales. I know they take their food serious, and their guest's happiness serious as well! If i would suggest anything to you, as a former employee and current "regular", it would be to stop in with the wife (while you're not working), get a beer that they have on the menu, order whatever sounds good to you, kick back, relax, and soak up the atmosphere! It was a great place to work, and it's an even better place to hang out. Next time you swing by ask if Ron is there...chances are I'm at the bar with my wife! I'll buy you a drink.

Unknown said...

I think cabanas is a great place to eat i have always had great experiences there!! nothing like you describe maybe they were just having an off night


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...