Please! For the Love of All That’s Holy – Do Not Eat Here

What can I say? I’m usually a pretty upbeat, easy-to-satisfy person. I like to toss around superlatives – this is the best yellowtail sashimi ever, what a perfect day, I loved that movie. You get the drift.

Furthermore, it’s pretty hard to just out-and-out pan a Miami restaurant. The competition here is fierce, and most places you go to, if not actively great, are at least passively mediocre. If you go to any restaurant on Lincoln Road, you’re probably going to eat reasonably edible food that you’ll think is great after a pre-dinner cocktail and half a bottle of wine. Most restaurants in Miami do not go out of their way to offend each and every one of your many thousand taste buds and your intelligence.

That is not the case of the Lost and Found Saloon . It will offend both.

We went there in a group of about 8 people and all initially loved it. It’s located at 36th St and NE 2nd Ave, and looks like a nice, non-pretentious, hole-in-the-wall. My kind of place. And you gotta love the name. Inside, the decor was thoughtful and lovely – murals of western plateaus, lots of raw wood details, giant bull horns used for taps on the beer. Even a life-size, standing cut-out of John Wayne. Plus the waitress and the bartender(/owner?) were extremely nice and accomodating.

After the first impressions, it all went to hell.

The food was unspeakably, offensively bad. This was food that went out of its way to taste awful. Unfortunately for us, we were all pretty hungry and everything on the menu is cheap, so we ordered tons of dishes between pairs of us and shared. My eating partner and I had crab salad in endives to start. (Even though it’s a pretty big menu for a small place and they let you order from the breakfast section, they don’t actually have appetizers, so this dish appears as an entree even though it’s basically a handful of tiny lettuce leaves and some meager, watery crab salad.) At this point, I should mention – superfluously – that this is a “quote-un-quote” TexMex place. A TexMex place where nary a tortilla chip is offered or seen, I might mention. So the endives and crab salad were transformed into “fusion TexMex” by tossing in a few kernels of corn and whole lotta hot, red powder. No – not chili powder – wait for it … paprika. Yes. Paprika.

The rest is a fugue of awfulness so unmitigated that we eventually started to think it could only have been done on purpose. To screw us. Or, hypothetically, as a vanity project: the owner was screwing the chef.

The starter was followed by a surprisingly bland Mahi Mahi. I say surprisingly bland because it, too, was covered in paprika. The sides were unsurprisingly bland rice and equally bland asparagus. Keep in mind this is a TexMex joint, when I tell you that the only thing that redeemed the blandness was mashing everything up with the two slices of avocado on the plate and some generous dollops of sour cream and salsa verde.

We also shared some chicken enchiladas, which came out after the mahi mahi for some reason, and which we still – innocently – were holding out hope for. How can you mess up a chicken enchilada? I could go to Publix, buy one of their awesome lemon pepper rotisserie chickens, some bags of shredded cheese and lettuce, tomatoes, onions, tortillas and avocadoes and call it a day. Ta-da! Here are some awesome chicken enchiladas prepared just for you!

Well, the chef here should have used the Publix lemon pepper chicken, because inside this fried up tortilla there were what looked and tasted like colorless boiled cubes of skinless chicken. As in the previous dish, throwing the remainder of the sour cream and salsa verde over it was the only way to choke it down and stop the hunger.

I must mention here that we couldn’t really get up and leave at any point because we were there celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday. (Poor sap.) And he had picked the place out himself because it sounded cool.

So we stayed and suffered. And then came the ultimate shock when I read a handwritten sign posted up high and prominent behind the bar that read something along the lines of “Patrons will order one entree and one alcoholic beverage per person.” At first I thought this was one of those signs to keep the bathroom-using bums away. Like can’t pay, can’t pee or something. But the syntax was so odd, I decided to ask the waitress. Who confirmed that at this so-called restaurant everyone has to order an entree and a drink. No “Just a beer, thanks.” No “I’ll just have Miami water with that.” Both. You must order both.

In other words, for the privilege of sitting somewhere nice, in a cool neighborhood (right near the new downtown Target!) and having a beer pulled from the tap by a real long-neck horn, I have to pay for – if not choke down – one of their horrifying entrees. And if I were clueless enough to go there to eat, but was, say – a recovering alcoholic – well no service for me. And that would actually be a blessing. Not the recovering part.

And if that’s not a insult to both tongue and brain, I don’t know what is.

2 Comments so far

  1. Eira (unregistered) on January 4th, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

    By the way, New Times gave this The Lost and Found Saloon a positive review: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/Issues/2006-06-01/dining/cafe2.html. Don’t believe the hype.


  2. MIchelle (unregistered) on January 7th, 2007 @ 11:00 am

    I have to agree with Eira on this one. I was one of the party celebrating the saps birthday and, though the downward slide of the food didn’t become apparent until a little further into the meal for me, by the time we got to dessert it became obvious the delectable cake we ordered off the menu had been replaced by the outdated store bought kind. They were as stale as a year old bag of chips we might find in an unnamed friends kitchen. (No offense, unnamed friend, but you know it’s true!)

    As soon as I’ve perfected my newfound love of ice cream making I will invite everyone over for a freshly made treat!



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