Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Madfish, St. Pete Beach, FL

I almost don't know where to begin in describing this dining debacle.  I will first say that my companions and I based our decision to check out Madfish for dinner predominately upon the excellent experiences we've had at her sister restos (1200° Chophouse and Snapper's Sea Grill, both also located on St. Pete Beach).  In retrospect, I have my suspicions that Madfish may be an adopted sibling due to the diametrically opposed DNA of the food quality found here.  I was having a "bad camera night", so not everything will be photo-documented.

The venue exterior is chrome-trimmed, retro-diner cute and the dining area is comfy-casual.  Our young server, André, was the only bright spot in the meal as he struggled valiantly to salvage our experience despite the subpar creations being dispatched to us by the kitchen.  

We requested an order of the intriguing sounding Doughnut O-Rings as soon as our glutei hit the Naugahide, which are basically thick, batter-dipped and fried onion rings dusted in powdered sugar to resemble doughnuts (the rings, not the glutei).  Have you ever bitten into a tempting looking onion ring, only to discover that the center was not cooked to complete tenderness so the entire scalding strand came whipping out of its golden tube to slap you on the chin?  That was the MO of the Doughnut O-Rings.

We shared an odd rendition of Oysters Rockefeller. Hollandaise (if that's what the thick, goopy sauce they were drowning in even was), bore little resemblance to that noble culinary creation, hadn't a single note of lemon, and tasted more like melted cream cheese than anything else.

The Chef's Mussels of the Day were nicely presented, albeit some of the most insipid in flavor I've ever partaken of. The promised Cuban toast sticks for broth sopping were AWOL.

Not feeling as famished as usual, I was reeled in by one of the early dining specials - a $12.95 slice of prime rib with mashed potatoes.  I will preface this by saying that I wasn't expecting a Ruth's Chris experience for thirteen bucks...but if you're going to offer a petite cut of prime rib, you should know what you're doing.  Ordered medium rare, what showed up had the thickness and texture of the sole of a work boot, having been cooked to a uniform gray hue throughout.  A gummy scoop of mashed potatoes reminiscent of my late '70s high school cafeteria fare was perched alongside.  The only saving grace of this meal was a better than average house salad studded with dried cranberries and cheese crumbles.  The zippy Green Goddess dressing drizzled atop was a modernized version with a garlicky kick that I wouldn't hesitate to buy if it were sold by the bottle.

Regular-priced dinner entrees were ordered by my dining companions, although none fared much better than I. The Belle of the Boulevard's $24.95 Filet Mignon was so overdone that it was channeling a hockey puck as "inedible" continued to be the buzz-word of the evening.

"But, what about the Boyz' dinners", you ask?  Their seafood entrees did not quite meet the epic bar of dismal quality set by the beef dishes, but almost.

There was a bland, vaguely shrimp-scampi-esque dish that Red Lobster could've given a run for its money...

...and a similarly unmemorable riff on Grouper Oscar (also failing to deliver for its $25 price tag). There was a sea of white space left on that plate with only the weakest discernible effort made at presentation.
The sturdy little Key lime bars delivered at the end of the meal were (at long last I can say it) not bad. 
This was an extremely disappointing experience based on food quality alone.  In fact, it was probably the worst restaurant meal I've had this year.  

I must add that our server inquired about the uneaten steaks and offered to replace them, Disappointed, cranky and ready to go home, we refused but noticed that they were removed from the final tab.  Due to his superhuman efforts, André's gratuity was generous and based on the full amount of the bill before the two entrees were deleted from the tab.  Service was not the issue here.

Perhaps the chef was on vacation or he/she was having a really off night.  Either way (not being one to throw good money after bad), I'll never return to Madfish.

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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.

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