The Cafe at Waterford- Tampa, Florida- 3.75 Stars
"It gets late early out there." -- Yogi Berra
As anyone can see who checks out the BBDO team on our website, two of our staff have been involved in the food industry in one way or another for decades. As such, they have given me a list of rules I should follow (I think of them as more like guidelines, after all, I am the Big Boy!) Anyway, the two cardinal rules are Number 1. Never send anything back (never upset the people handling your food) and Number 2. Never show up right before close (never upset the people handling your food). However, as we all know, sometimes life has a different agenda than you do. As such, I entered The Cafe at Waterford with 15 minutes left before closing. I honestly didn't know that they would have almost the entire kitchen broken down with this much time left to serve.
With everything put away clean and tidy, my options for lunch were exceedingly limited, though they did agree to serve me. I asked for the only items available, The Pressed Cuban Sandwich and a triple fudge Oreo crusted brownie. Perusing the menu while I awaited my sammich, I made a note to return when the kitchen was fully optional as some of the menu choices looked delicious. Looking around while awaiting my lunch I was taken in by the charm of the place. The kitchen was open, the spacing in the seating area was ample and everything sparkled with cleanliness. Being the only customer, I certainly didn't have to wait long for my food.
The Pressed Cuban Sandwich is what I would call a panini. It is as advertised and pressed in a sandwich grill before being served. This serves a few purposes. First and foremost, it grills the outside of the bread, secondly, it heats up the inside and melts the cheese allowing it to ooze into the sauce and meat for an extraordinary taste. Being a family owned and operated venture, I had the pleasure of having my food cooked by none other than Johnathan himself, the third generation of this family in the restaurant business. With all his experience and training I was looking forward to sampling his creations. Looking at the photos, you can see that at least as far as looks went, I was in for a treat. The Pressed Cuban Sandwich, on La Segunda bakery bread was grilled to perfection while the inside, consisting of carnitas, ham, pickle, Swiss and their own "Tony Montana" sauce was heated to perfection into a gooey mass of deliciousness. Everything was fresh and I found the combination of carnitas, ham, pickle, Swiss and Tony Montana sauce (what's in that sauce?) to be very original and mesmerizingly mouthwatering.
This brings us to the only other item available to me at this time, the brownie. It was homemade and it was the real deal and it was everything one would think a triple fudge Oreo crusted brownie would be. Out. Of. This. World. The brownie alone is worth a trip or two to Johnathan's kitchen. I don't know if he makes the brownies or if he has a brownie chef (I suspect someones Grandma might be involved here), regardless, they need a raise. It was warm, gooey, chewy, exploded on the palate and a fitting end to a delicious, albeit, light meal.
I am not going to say that I am an expert on managing a restaurant, clearly, I am not. While I understand that labor is the highest cost in any small service business, I still maintain that the kitchen should be fully operational at least until 5 minutes to closing. Breaking down as early as they did gave me feeling like I was not only intruding, but missing out on something truly wonderful.
The Big Boy says, "Go early, go often, take home brownies." #bigboydining #iamthebigboy