Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Shrimp Warehouse, Brandon, FL

Grease (or Gross) is the Word

Wow...considering how much we previously enjoyed the sister outpost of this casual seafood shack in Ybor (Shrimp & Co.), I was in no way prepared for the utterly dismal experience we had today.  UD and I took his dad and spouse out for an early Sunday dinner, fully expecting the cuisine to be of the same general quality as that served by the Ybor establishment.  If I may speak frankly, it was pretty much a cluster**** from start to finish.

First off, the place looked a little crusty around the edges. I'm no clean freak...indeed, I am a proponent of giving my immune system a workout so it'll be there for me when I really need it (no hand sanitizer for this girl)...but still, it was a bit of a turnoff.  If there's ketchup on the wall, wipe it off.

Our young server seemed to truly care and tried hard, but it was immediately clear that he lacked both the training and the tools to reach his full potential.  We ordered a half pound of chilled shrimp and an order of onion rings to start...which took a full 30 minutes to arrive despite the fact that we were practically the only people in the building.  I'm guessing they were waiting for the shrimp to chill, which never actually came to pass as the eight small and one gargantuan anemic-looking specimens were delivered at room temp (presentation was strange and oddly unsettling, I thought).

Onion rings were oily and overcooked. Epic FAIL.
Dinners took another 30 minutes to materialize after final orders were placed.  We inquired as to the King Crab market price, which sent our waiter scurrying for the answer.  After providing it, he later returned to inform us that they were out of King Crab.  No problemo. I went with the fried fresh grouper basket and requested sweet potato fries as my starch (cole slaw and hush puppies were standard issue).  Shortly, I was informed that there were no more sweet potato I settled for regular fries (what else was I gonna do?).  The hot, crispy fries turned out to be the best part of my meal. Hush puppies were hard and cold, cole slaw was limp and warm, and the grouper tasted like it had been cooked in grease that had long surpassed its shelf life as far as reuse.  Blech.  
The folks both opted for the Seafood Combination, which, to me, pretty much echoed the quality of my entree but included shrimp and scallops while substituting a less expensive fish (which, in fact, is described on the menu only as "fish").  Whiting, maybe?  They seemed to enjoy it enough to want to take their leftovers home, nonetheless.
Underdog felt he couldn't go wrong with the Louisiana Boil (crawfish, shrimp, potatoes, corn and andouille)...but even that was not presented as described.  Basically, a huge mess of crawfish showed up with four coin-sized slices of andouille, half a dozen shrimp, a few clams (a welcome but unexpected addition) and some mushy potatoes dumped on top.  No corn in sight and no explanation for its absence.  There was clearly some hole-patching going on as an unacceptable number of menu items were unavailable on this occasion.
We also found this swimming around in the Low Country Boil.  Do Chiquita Banana stickers have a seasoning property I have not been made aware of?  Maybe this is "the new bay leaf":
When my in-laws requested a box for their uneaten food, they were informed that the restaurant was all out of the "regular" boxes, so everything had to be broken down into five 6" dessert containers...which was a bit of a PITA. 

This was a $120 meal for four people, so I won't be bitter...but I also won't throw good money after bad.  I catch grief sometimes for not giving a restaurant more than one try before a negative post, but your first time at a restaurant is akin to a first date or a job only get one chance to make a good impression. They've seen the last of me.  Get it together, Shrimp Warehouse. To survive in Brandon, you'll have to (at the very least) be clearly superior to the lower-end chain restos which are apparently adored by all in East Hillsborough (this isn't exactly a mecca for foodies)...and that wasn't happening today.

The Shrimp Warehouse on Urbanspoon

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.


  1. How sad it is to read a review such as this. When the Belle of Ballast Point and I dined at the Warehouse we had a very pleasant experience, and had hopes that this restaurant would succeed - especially after the verbal assaults launched by their competitor across the street.

    Having dined with Sweet Polly and her Under Dog on several occasions, we know that in addition to being charming and beautiful people they possess finely tuned and discerning taste buds, and if they say a food venue sucks, then it truly must SUCK.

    Like Super Hero UD, I too had the Bayou Boil and it was superb. It also didn't look anything like that gawd-awful mess in Sweet Polly's photo.

    Finding a banana label (in fairness, a partial label) in my food would have been the ketchup on the wall, frosting on the cake, and last straw for me too.

    I have to wonder, Shrimp Warehouse, what the hell happened to you?

    Sweet Polly and UD, we'll see you soon. Can hardly wait!

  2. I was very surprised at the experience, especially considering how nice a job they do at Shrimp & Co. It felt a little as if no one was in charge. I ignored a lot of the negative reviews on Urbanspoon as it was pretty clear to me that many of them were shills. Hopefully, these guys were only having a bad night.

  3. It's unfortunate you chose to eat here, when the restaurant across the street, also with shrimp in the name, is infinitely superior. A weekly rotating four course tasting menu for $25. Housemade ice cream flash frozen in liquid nitrogen. Custom cocktails made with fresh produce and infused simple syrups. In fairness, does the fact that it was a partial sticker as opposed to a full make any difference.

  4. Thank you for your comment, McFoodster. I elected to post it in spite of the fact that I sense you may have a dog in this hunt.

    Honestly, I've seen some unnecessary online vitriol from "the other shrimp place" that has been a turnoff to me. We actually considered dining there the other night, but decided against it for that reason as well as the fact that there's a little too much tilapia on the menu for my taste. We're in Florida...there are so many more exciting fish to be had.

  5. Thanks, you may have just saved me from a horrible dinner. :)

  6. Wow a bad place for sure Polly. I watch restaurant rescues on TV all the time and there are definitely lots of people who are totally out of their element in the biz. Take care.

  7. I had the same experience Sweet Polly on 4/21/13... wish now I had found this review. Service was horrid even though there were only about 7 customers. Food that should have been hot was cold and the coleslaw warm (I passed on that as I prefer not to spend my evening at Brandon Regional). I was really hoping to find an alternative to the many chain food places in Brandon. We would love to pump some $$ back into the local economy with local owners however this place needs to step it up 4 or 5 notches first.

  8. Same experience for me after they first opened. I thought maybe it was growing pains, but my visits were 4 months apart. SOS! The owners don't seem to give a damn and making your opinion known to them falls on deaf ears. Their best bartender(deserted a sinking ship) went across the strip mall to the new Mexican place Poblanos which has turned out to be fabulous. Shrimp Warehouse is an epic failure. Close the doors and sell it to someone who gives a damn and knows what they are doing.