Wednesday I took my mother and children to St. Augustine, Florida to celebrate my son’s birthday. He really likes to go there and check out all the historical sites in the city. The rest of us like to shop and eat. This time we decided to try out a new restaurant. In fact, we have decided that every time we go to St. Augustine we will try a new restaurant. I like the idea of not doing the same thing every time we go there. We found a nifty magazine full of restaurant advertisements in one of the shops we went in and read the menu of each and every one, we chose to try out:
46 Avenida Menendez
St. Augustine, FL 32084
Harry’s was very easy to find. I didn’t recognize the street name, but I pulled it up using my iPhone map and called to get directions, it turned out we were two streets over from it. The map:
Once we got there we had a lot of trouble finding a parking place. There is a parking lot right by it, but they charge $8.00 to park there. $8.00, REALLY!!! All I could think of is how I didn’t want to pay $8.00 just to be allowed to go in and eat. I decided why not call the restaurant to see if maybe they had their own parking lot; no such luck, they said no, and told me I could either park in that lot or look for a place on the street and use the parking meters. So, I decided to go looking for a meter, they are a lot cheaper. After driving around for 15 minutes we finally found a spot on the street not too far away and parallel parked. Parking was interested to say the least. I haven’t parallel parked since the time in High School Driver’s Ed. where I almost hit the group of classmates that were waiting for their turn to try it out. Needless to say I failed that class. When we went to the meter to get a parking slip a homeless man came up and told us not to pay for parking because after 5pm it’s free. We were so thankful for his kindness that my mother gave the parking money to him. We walked to Harry’s and found there is an entrance on each street side, which was very convenient since we were tired from walking all day.
Walking in I felt right away this was a good choice. I loved how the patrons ate inside an outdoor courtyard. There were colored lights around the walls, different types of trees and flowers, tiki torches all around for lighting and heat lamps by each table. It wasn’t crowded, but there were a good amount of people. I would say it was 85% populated; looks like business on a Wednesday night is good. Picture of the courtyard:
We followed the pathway up to the hostess, gave her my name, she grabbed menu’s and walked us to an outside table; no waiting. My daughter thanked her for the table since it was the one she hoped we would get seated at, how lucky. I didn’t like the chairs; they were weak feeling cheap plastic outdoor chairs, but taking in the surroundings soon took over and I quickly forgot about them.
We didn’t have to wait long for the waitress to come take our drink orders, always a plus. I ordered water; I always order water, it’s such a healthy choice. While we were waiting for our drinks, it started getting cold, so now we were wishing we asked to sit inside. December in Florida always means weird weather. It can start out with warm ‘let’s wear shorts’ weather during the day and then turn into ‘oh my goodness; I need a winter coat’ cold in the evening. Thank goodness for heat lamps. When the waitress came back with our drinks, which, because we were so cold, seemed to take a lot longer than I had hoped, we asked her to turn the lamp on. She mumbled something I couldn’t understand, but my mother tells me it had something to do with “blah blah blah…manager.” Five minutes later we saw people going around turning lamps on; thank goodness. Five more minutes went by and the waitress came back to take our orders. I ordered Salmon for my meal and a salad to share with my daughter:
Bourbon Street Salmon – house marinated & finished with a bourbon honey soy glaze – 17.99
Chicken Caesar salad- grilled or blackened, Harry’s version of this timeless classic – 12.99
I wanted to order the salad, the gumbo (I have loved gumbo since a trip I made to New Orleans a few years ago) and crab cakes. I was feeling really hungry. I asked if there were onions in the crab cakes; oh how I hate onions. The waitress said she did not know and just stood there. Ok, I just want to say, I really hate it when people do that. I was frustrated because I was hoping she either knew or would find out. I temporarily gave up and just decided to order something safe, hence the salad and salmon. At this point, I started feeling dissatisfied with the waitress. She seemed unwilling to do anything other than simple take orders and give food. I really hate that, I look for good service, not just plain old service. I didn’t say anything to her about it, I mean it’s not like she was doing something wrong, just she didn’t give me the information I wanted. Instead I decided to call the restaurant and ask. Their number was still on my phone, and I really wanted those crab cakes. I asked the girl who answered the phone, but she said she didn’t know if onions were in them and just sat there too. Ok, now I am frustrated. She could have offered to find out. I waited a second to see if she would offer to find out, but no she just sat there and then said is there anything else I can do for you. I said yes, I would like you to put me through to someone who does know if there are onions in your crab cakes. (For those of you thinking this, yes, there are crab cakes out there without onions and some with. I love the ones without, sooo good) she put me on hold, someone else answered and again I asked them my question. And again, they didn’t know. I was placed on hold and third time and again, someone else answered, I asked them, they didn’t know. I said well does anyone there know? The man placed me on hold a fourth time. All I can say is WOW. Finally a first person answered the phone who actually knew, he said yes there are onions and I thanked him and hung up. Now I know and won’t order them. I realize I didn’t have to do this, but I really wanted those darn crab cakes (although after each hold I wanted them less and less and it became more about proving a point) I guess I might Google a recipe and make them myself another day. My three minute phone call:
In the meantime our food took 15-20 minutes to show up. Not too bad I think considering they were busy. I was frustrated though because the waitress didn’t stop by at all during this time to see if we needed more drinks. My mother decided this will affect her tip. Yes, we tip based on level of service. 5% for poor service (I believe even poor service gets a tip) 10% for o.k., but not so great service, 15% for standard every day average service, 20% for really good service, and 25% on the rare occasion some ones service was out of this world amazing. I have rarely given this amount. I tend to give 15-20%. I found this really neat iPhone app called Tip Calculator. It calculates your tip and divides it based on how many people are splitting the bill. This app has really comes in handy.
We finally got our food and all the things we needed to go with it and to be honest the food was great. My salmon was cooked to perfection, no pink inside. The bourbon sauce on it was just the right flavor and just the right amount. The fries were cooked to the perfect crispiness, and the chicken in the salad was delicious. I would go back just for that chicken. The caesar dressing for my salad was o.k., not great, but good. It wasn’t tangy and it wasn’t fishy, but instead it was a little bland. I ate every bite of my food, no doggie bags for me. The portions size was large, but I was really hungry, it was the first meal I had eaten all day.
During the meal a man showed up with instruments and was setting up to play. I carry mixed feelings about live entertainment. I have always had bad luck with this. They usually sing and sound horrible and you can’t wait to get out of there. So I was concerned. Plus I was with my mother who is very selective with music; she is anti-rock due to her religious beliefs. I have to say though, he had a good voice and I was very please. He smiled at the patrons and made a point to tell us to thank our servers. We tipped him for the wonderful performance. Our entertainer:
After the meal we went to the restroom. There was apparently one upstairs (according to my mom), but I never saw it. I went to the bathroom downstairs which was one room and it was right next to someone’s table. I would really hate to be stuck at that table. The bathroom smelled bad. I took a picture of the bathroom because to me if a restaurant has a disgusting bathroom so does the kitchen. You can decide for yourself:
Based on my total experience, I would probably go there again, for the following reasons I love the outdoor ambiance, the music was good, and the food was great. I would hope the next time I go, I don’t get the seated by the bathroom and I hope to get a different waitress. I also won’t go before 5:00 pm unless I plan to spend the day in St. Augustine to make my parking cost worth the money.
Here are a few pictures from our visit at Harry’s: