Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fajitaville -- Corpus Christi, TX

Fajitaville at 221 South Hotel Place in Corpus Christi, TX ( is actually three spots in one. Located on Corpus Christi Beach (what I've grown up calling North Beach) this bright, multi-colored building houses the open air Bamboo Beach Bar on the first floor, The family oriented "Grill" on the second floor, and the more upscale Club Riviera on the third. We opted for the third floor experience. (The Grill and Riviera share the same menu.)

While researching, today, I found that the restaurant opened on October 29, 2011. I would think that after four months things would run a little more smoothly. We felt as if we had come into a very new operation. The hostess greeted us warmly and explained that she would have someone take us up to the third floor shortly. "Less than ten minutes," she said. True to her word, in actually less than five, there were not one, but two hostesses expecting to take us up, leaving the family of five who were there before us wondering if they would make it to the second floor.

After a bit of confusion, we arrived at our table with only one hostess in tow. She graciously seated us, and our server arrived shortly thereafter. She seemed a little green, but eager to please, although she was not very familiar with the drink menu. The wine list did not include my favorite wine, Sauvignon Blanc, so I asked if they had one. With a slight look of panic in her eyes she said, "If it's not on the menu, we don't have it." It surprised me a little that a place on the beach, serving seafood, would not have a more varied selection of white wines. I ordered the Pinot. Rob ordered the Malbec. I noticed after she served our water that she had to tear the bartender away from his meal to fill our drink orders. I like a server who makes sure the customer doesn't wait longer than necessary.

We had decided on our entrees by the time she arrived with our wine. Many items on the menu sounded intriguing, and I finally settled on the Seashell of Salmon Roulade which is described as, "Salmon fillet rolled in Rockefeller creamed spinach, finished with tarragon pesto cream." I was allowed two sides and ordered the "hand-hacked mashed potatoes" and house salad with a raspberry vinegarette dressing. Rob ordered the Stuffed Gulf Shrimp which are stuffed with blue crab, fried, and served with lobster butter and roasted red bell pepper sauce. He opted for the baked potato and house salad with a Caesar dressing, because they didn't have his favorite, honey mustard.

Our salads came and we knew we were in trouble. Although fresh, they were the classic bowls of lettuce (dressed up with Romaine rather than Iceberg) with one slice of tomato, one slice of cucumber, a little dusting of shredded carrots and croutons. We have learned that you can generally judge the cuisine of a restaurant by the quality of the salad they serve. This salad is generally indicative of less than top-notch food; unfortunately the stereotype held true.

Let's do Robs food first this time. When our server sat his plate down, he looked at it and said, "I thought the shrimp was stuffed." She server said they were. In defense of the restaurant, he was not expecting fried, but after checking the menu, he had just missed that. I thought that stuffed shrimp would be larger. These were about the size of medium sized shrimp. There was no lobster butter on his plate, but there was a red sauce. I tasted one of the shrimp with the red sauce. First, the sauce was nothing special -- no memorable flavor --  and second, the shrimp were indeed stuffed, with about a quarter of a teaspoon of what I supposed was crab. You could not taste it, but what you could taste was that the shrimp were of the frozen variety.

Now my dish. The potatoes had no seasoning. I take medication for high blood pressure and so I have become accustomed to eating foods with a minimum of salt. I had to add salt and pepper these, they were so bland. My first thought was that Robert Irvine would have a field day with the kitchen staff. (Reference to the Food Network Show, Restaurant Impossible, for those of you who are scratching your heads.) The salmon tasted as if it had landed on the griddle right behind an order of bacon. I have never had salmon that tasted like bacon before. The "Rockefeller creamed spinach" was sandwiched inside the salmon. Let us have a short cooking lesson: A Roulade is the french term for a thin slice of meat rolled around a filling and Rockefeller generally refers back to Oysters Rockefeller which was named so because it was so rich. Nothing on this plate was rolled, and not only was the Rockefeller creamed spinach not rich, it tasted as if it came out of a can, having no real flavor at all. And forget about a tarragon pesto cream. It was finished with a drizzle of the raspberry vinegarette. Yes, the very same dressing I had on my salad. We passed on dessert.

The building is festive, with a pleasant decor and wonderful view. The seating and wait staff, although trying to please, were very unpolished. The food, if ours was any indication, was not worth what we paid, much less the drive over the bridge. We could only figure that it being a tourist oriented restaurant, they expect to get away with less than excellent food. In my book, that is the wrong attitude to take. Rob left with an upset stomach, and this couple will not be eating at Fajitaville again.

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