Restaurant? – Impossible?

"Dinner Impossible" chef Robert Irvi...

Image via Wikipedia

On Thursday evening, Sweet Cheeks and I dined at Captain and the Cowboy Restaurant in Port Charlotte, FL.  This restaurant was recently given a make-over on the Food Network show “Restaurant Impossible“.  Chef Robert Irvine comes into struggling restaurants, spends $10,000 over 2 days, and makes improvements.  We had watched the episode where the restaurant received a makeover and had looked forward to having a little brush with celebrity, so to speak.


We had eaten at this establishment many years ago and we both recalled enjoying our meal.  This new and “improved” restaurant – not so much.  We both remembered the old restaurant being dark, crowded, cluttered looking and very casual.  The new restaurant had a much cleaner, crisper look.  Here’s my take on the dinner.

We arrived and the interior of the restaurant was much as we had seen on the episode that had aired.  The subdued colors, clean lines, and understated decorations had a calming, but welcoming effect.  The one drawback:  the ceiling was absolutely disgusting.  Dingy, yellowed ceiling tiles were dotted with rusted vent covers.

We ordered drinks – Miller Light for him (chosen from the list of beers our server recited), a glass of Riesling for me.  Uh Oh, out of Miller Light.  Fortunately, Sweet Cheeks likes a variety of beers so he chose another.  My Riesling was just on the room temperature side of “chilled”.  Not cold and crisp like I like it.  But I drank it because, hey, it was there and so was I.  We tried to order dinner.  Sweet Cheeks ordered crab cakes and wanted a salad, but unlike his tastes in beer, he can only eat one salad dressing – Thousand Island. They don’t have it – scratch the salad.  He wanted soup, but the soup of the day was cabbage.  Sweet Cheeks doesn’t do cabbage.  He ended up reluctantly ordering baked beans and french fries for his sides.  Our server stated she could not substitute the crab bisque for his soup without charging him the full price of the bisque, but she did not check with the manager as he requested.

Dry Whites Flight

Image by carriejeberhardt via Flickr

I ordered Tuscan Brick Chicken, baked potato and fresh asparagus.  Uh Oh, the manager came over to inform us, no chicken and it will take an additional 30 minutes (or so) to have some ready.  I chose the sesame tuna instead.  The manager offered a free glass of wine for my trouble, but since it wasn’t satisfying to me to begin with, I declined.  I requested a cup of the crab bisque instead.  He gladly brought our complimentary soup – a large bowl and 2 spoons.  It was heavenly.   I was afraid to even eat anything after that for fear it would be a let down.  That’s how good it was.

Our food arrived.  My tuna serving was very small (for $21) but it was cooked to perfection and it was quite delicious.  However, I did not get my asparagus and had to ask another server to find our server so that it could be brought from the kitchen.  It arrived about the time I was 2/3 done with my meal.

Sweet Cheeks liked the crab cakes – but his baked beans appeared to be pork and beans from a can.  He took several bites trying to determine if they were Bush’s or Van De Kamps, and while he couldn’t determine the brand, he did determine that they were definitely pork and beans.  From a can.


Baked beans on toast close-up - Vanilla Lounge

Image by avlxyz via Flickr


There were 2 televisions (on 2 different stations) that were on that were visible from the center of the dining room we were seated in.  I found that to be a little annoying.  I had been looking at the dessert menu and wanted a piece of cheesecake, but I heard another server tell her customers that they were out of cheesecake, as well.

We dined on a Thursday evening – and the restaurant was not at all busy (it is not quite tourist season here in Florida).  I can understand not keeping a large inventory on hand, but the Captain and the Cowboy were out of a lot of things.  The menu was considerably pared down – 1 sheet printed on plain white paper (I remembered it being multiple pages with a dizzying array of choices before).

Our server, Malia, was friendly and professional.   Some of the food was extremely good – and some was simply not up to par.  Being out of the limited items that were offered seemed like poor management, and serving canned pork and beans – simply inexcusable.

If I eat there again, I will probably get the crab bisque – and I’ll probably get it to go…


Filed under General Mumblings, Uncategorized

26 responses to “Restaurant? – Impossible?

  1. Interesting post. And a reminder that reality TV is not unedited TV.

  2. i saw that episode too…it really fools people eh? canned beans ok at home but…oh well, onward and upward. continue…

  3. What a bite!!! How frustrating to have an evening out at such a nice place, be so fraught with ….disenchantment. Hope you found another great place to make up for this one.

  4. tsonoda148

    Wow, I’m jealous! I am a fan of those cooking and chef shows. I’ve seen that one a couple times and always wondered if the restaurant and the food stays as nice as when the show leaves it.

    • Yeah, I know. To have a celebrity (the restaurant) almost in our back yard!!! I think when the tourists arrive they might do better – except that a great many of them are looking for cheap eats…

  5. –Appreciate reading reviews of restaurants. Thanks.
    Did you get your aspargus?

    I love that you call your partner “Sweet Cheeks!”

    • I did, about 2/3 of the way through the meal – it was pretty nice – grilled and seasoned well.

      I don’t think Sweet Cheeks appreciates being called that so much, but then again, it is much sweeter than a great many of my pet names for him.

  6. How very disappointing to look forward to something and then a big let down. But hey, you had Sweet Cheeks with you to make up for the disappointment. Imagine if you had gone alone and had nobody to comment to.

  7. Great commentary. I too have often wondered about these restaurants and their actual viability following the celebrity visit. Very enlightening. Sounds like they need to get a little more organized in the kitchen.

  8. I think you should do a food critic column for you local newspaper. This was an entertaining post about not such an entertaining dining experience. Good job!

  9. Agree with Lorna! And I also think it ironic how everything new gets old again… very very fast… lol. Make over or not, such is life lol

  10. I always wonder if those places go back to their bad, old ways once the TV crew packs up – you can’t change human nature in 2 days.

    I got a notice of a new post of yours about NaNoWeWaWo, or whatever that acronym is about writing in November, but when I try to bring it up the screen says it can’t be found. Did you pull the entry because it was too dazzling for human eyes? You got a notice of a lawsuit for copyright infringement from the WaWeNoNaGaGa folks? What’s up?

  11. Well, I can’t get to it either. Let me do some investigation.

    • My subscription list showed the following the other day:

      NaNoWriMo – Uh, Oh, Here we Go k8edid ReblogLike
      Today was the first day of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. Today was also the first day of full time employment. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, but I signed up and I’m going to give it my best shot. Image via Wikipedia I was up at the crack of 5:20 am, wrote a bit, went to the pool (where I do some of my best thinking but unfortunately can’t stop to write my ideas down and by the time I hit the locker room I’ve usually forgotten all the brilliance). We …
      Read more: 142 more words, 2 likes, 2 links, 2 images »
      1 day, 19 hours

      But when I click on it, your page comes up with the message:
      Not Found
      Apologies, but the page you requested could not be found. Perhaps searching will help.

  12. Interesting post, k8edid. I will say that running a restaurant or any small business is a lot harder than it looks (and it looks plenty hard) and that if you’re to the point where you’re willing to go on a reality TV show and be mocked and humilated to save your business, your business (or you personally) have serious, underlying issues. The TV show might have made some superficial changes, but it can’t fix problems like a poorly-run kitchen.

  13. WOW … mu husband and I had been to the Captain and the Cowboy years ago ( 1990) when we lived in Deep Creek. It was okay then and have often wonderede if we should give it another try. Thanks for the warning that is not my idea of dining. I do not want to watch t.v. when I eat out. I will take my business to our favorite “Cafe 209” in Punta Gorda.
    Great for critic write …

  14. Pingback: Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible to Makeover Bloomfield Restaurant | I heart PGH

  15. How cool that you got to go there, but geesh, they were out of EVERYTHING! That is so not cool. Especially when they were down to a one-page menu (they always seem to do that on Restaurant Impossible). And imagine if Robert Irvine heard about the beans from a can!!!

    The bisque sounds like it might be worth it, though…

  16. Fred

    The place is closed, I guess they ran out of beans.

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