How could any professional kitchen screw up a skewer? You know, a kabob. Well, I didn’t think it would be easy – so that’s what I ordered the other night at Fandango Café, a casual Mediterranean place on Osprey Avenue not far from where I live here in Sarasota, FL.
Having had a less than satisfactory experience not long after they opened last year, I thought I’d give them another chance. Why not?
That was a big mistake on my part.
Not inexpensive at $15.95, my chicken skewer, prepared, according to the menu, with “a saffron-lemon marinade and char-grilled” came with a small Greek salad, a side order of my choice (I thought baba-ghanoush would be good) and some warm pita bread.
Things started out, well enough. The Greek salad was predictably small but good. I have to admit, I’m easily won over with feta.
However, the moment of truth arrived when the skewer of pale yellow, chicken chunks (without a hint of char — or marks from the grill, for that matter) was placed on the table in front of me. A puddle of pureed eggplant kept the lack luster kabob company on the plate.
Not what I had hoped for. Even so, I could have overlooked appearances if something actually happened when I finally put a few bites of the stuff in my mouth. No such luck. Nothing that honestly could be called saffron was there. Neither was much else. Maybe some turmeric. The limpid yellow color had to come from somewhere.
And in keeping with the blandness of the ill-fated bird on the skewer, the baba-ghanoush, (spelled baba-ghanoosh on the menu) gave off none of the characteristic smokiness that makes this Mediterranean specialty, so special. No smokiness?! That’s exactly why I ordered it.
Things were shaping up like a dinner at an all night diner in Akron, Ohio. Yes, I’ve been there. Unfortunately, on both counts.
Self absorbed in serious disappointment, I almost forgot about my wife sitting across the table. Trulee had ordered the lamb kabob. Not a surprise, she loves lamb. Was it at least acceptable?
From the look on her face, I knew the lamb offered no redemption. After only one bite it was apparent she couldn’t go on to the next.
“Dry.” “Strange.” “Unpalatable.” That’s what she told the waiter when asked about the food. She then insisted he take a bite, to see for himself. I didn’t think he would. But to our amazement, he did.
And to his credit, the accommodating young fellow came close to the same conclusion. Maybe not quite as vehemently voiced. But enough to give us at least some satisfaction and to brighten our mood a bit.
Here’s hoping things will improve. It wouldn’t take much. Just some concern about how the food really tastes, and a willingness to listen.
I could suggest some excellent cookbooks too. No doubt they’d help.