Archive for Restaurant Reviews

Big Kahuna

Our Secrets Revealed

We take great pride in finding and supporting great restaurants. When a new spot opens we try and get there as soon as possible and do a review. So it’s always nice to see one of our favorites getting some press (other than us).

We’ve been supporting Enkai Sushi(formerly Shinsen) since, well…they opened. So it was nice to see owner Katie Lombardo featured in the St. Thomas Source the other day.

Here’s a snippet:

The fish is a given. It’s the rice that makes sushi.

Words of wisdom from the 28-year-old restaurant chef Katie Lombardo, owner of Enkai Sushi Bar. And she should know. At this tender age she has already racked up six years in the sushi bar business.

Read the full story here.

It’s nice to see she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves. Enkai is not a “traditional” sushi restaurant, and that’s why we love it so much. Everyday you go in there’s some new crazy concoction of mouth watering invention!

Thanks Katie!

Visit their website here: http://www.enkaisushi.com.

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Big Kahuna

How To Give Great Customer Service In A Restaurant

There’s a simple solution to customer frustration in your restaurant. Be open, honest and upfront. If you don’t want customers complaining about charges for condiments or extra dressing or extra anything just tell them before you tack it on their bill.

That’s what Kokopelli does. Recently there have been significant increases in power, gas, food…you name it. Everything has gone up. So naturally restaurants have to pass these increases on through the cost of the customers platted dish.

I went to lunch yesterday to try out their new ribs and the first thing I noticed was this sign on Kokopelli’s front door and throughout the restaurant:

(click to enlarge)

Basically it says there are some price increases because of the cost of power, gas, food etc. They compared their price increases to other restaurants and found them to be in line or less. They’re sorry for the necessary price increases. They thank the customers for their continued support.

Perfect.

But here’s where they take the extra step. Unlike a lot of restaurants who surprise you will an extra charge for salsa or whatever they clearly identify in red what ANY extra charges will be. If it ain’t in red it ain’t gonna cost you. No surprises.

(click to enlarge)

Now if I want an extra Koko Bun I know up front it’s going to cost me $1.00. That’s fair. As a customer I can decided whether to buy it or not.

It’s really simple to me. Just tell customers upfront if there are additional costs no matter what the item is. If you don’t want to print it on your menu then simply train your wait-staff to tell the customer, “an additional salsa is charged 50 cents, is that okay”? How freakin’ easy is that?

Kokopelli is doing it right and they obviously care about their customers and it shows.

And because of their approach to customer service their business has increased tremendously in a very depressed economy. How many restaurants can say that today? Keep up the good work Pat and Jen, you’ve really made a difference.

Oh and they’ve revamped their menu (more to come on that later) so go in and check out what’s going on.

Just for the record I don’t write this article on Kokopelli if they hadn’t taken these customer service steps.

Oh and Kokopelli is an awesome advertiser on our blog :) but that doesn’t change the fact that their service and appreciation for their customers is really great :)

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Big Kahuna

Heidi’s Honeymoon Grill Is A Must See

We spent the day over at Water Island last Sunday and I’m here to tell you I found the best burger I’ve ever had in the US Virgin Islands at Heidi’s Honeymoon Beach Grill.

The burger is massive at 3/4 lbs and it’s juicy goodness. Good thing they’re not in the St. Thomas Blog Awards because they’d be tough to beat.

It was our first time ever over there and we really enjoyed the day.

To get there head over to Crown Bay and catch the ferry at Tickles. The ferry goes back and forth all day. It’s a little bit of a walk from the ferry to the beach so carrying anything heavy should be considered. We brought a beach bag and beach chairs and I’m happy we didn’t carry a cooler full of ice.

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Big Kahuna

Old Stone Farmhouse Is King Of Surf and Turf

Old Stone Farmhouse (OSFH) recently won our 2011 Best of St. Thomas Award for Most Romantic Restaurant so we figured it was time to go by and do a full review of the new owner/chef Greg Engelhardt.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived was the door we normally would enter that leads into the bar was closed and signs were posted for free valet parking. We followed the signs to a nice cul de sac where we were met with a very nice valet person. Locals know from previous Old Stone Farmhouse owners that parking was always an issue so first problem solved very nicely :)

The inside of the restaurant seemed to be the same with the exception of maybe new artwork but the interior was never an issue with OSFH in the past. This is a restaurant that Nicci and I visited (and enjoyed) before we moved here, during a vacation in 2003. The last few years for the restaurant have been trying with different owners and an expensive menu. Greg Engelhardt is the third owner in as many years so we were interested in a new Steakhouse/Seafood concept.

Here’s how OSFH describes itself from their website:

OUR NEW FOOD PROGRAM

Along with offering an award winning wine program and an extensive list of wines by the glass the restaurant will feature seafood, steakhouse and vegetarian menus inspired by French technique and local Caribbean ingredients. Steaks are hand cut to order – size specified by guest. The island’s local fish (snapper, wahoo, grouper, mahi mahi, live lobster) are always in house! Guests may select their meat and fish in the kitchen.

I really wanted to get an objective view of OSFH so we brought along our friend and restaurant owner Steve, from Jack’s. After a drink at the bar we were escorted to our table to find customized menus waiting for us. The wax seal of the new logo OSFH was a great personalized touch. We also learned if you gather 50 seals you can turn those in for a bottle of champagne. (Nicci’s currently on a seal hunt)

The first thing I noticed on the menu was the prices; much lower compared to previous OSFH owners. The second thing we noticed was that we couldn’t find steak on the menu…which seemed odd for a steakhouse. The third thing we noticed was how delicious the menu’s offerings looked. Yum. Our waiter came over and explained how OSFH works. You get to mix and match a meat dish with a seafood dish or order 2 meat or 2 seafood selections. And off the menu they have hand cut steaks, lamb, elk etc. Ah! STEAK! 18 months ago a steak would have cost you $45-$65 dollars, now a 4 ounce filet will run you about $18 (then 4.50/ounce after that) at least that’s what I recall. Great price!

Another change, and a fun one, is guests of OSFH are allowed to go back to the kitchen to pick out food (and nibble on a sample or two). I found this interactive and gutsy. How many restaurants REALLY want to be interrupted with guests traipsing through their kitchen? How many can say their kitchen is clean enough to actually be viewed? I was intrigued.

As we walked back to the kitchen we saw some customers signing the wall as they were leaving…

And here is a picture of owner chef Greg Engelhardt in the immaculate kitchen…

Greg and I spoke for about 5 minutes in the kitchen as he described the concept. He took us over to the live Maine Lobsters…

I found Greg to be enthusiastic and passionate about his food and St. Thomas. Greg and I had never met so he did not know I write the St. Thomas Blog so I really got a true feel for his vibe and what he wanted for his customers.

We began the meal with a 5 cheese plate (you can choose 3, 5 or 7) followed by hand-rolled cannelloni pasta and french onion soup…

I ordered a 12 ounce filet with Maine Lobster, Nicci got a 4 ounce filet with Maine Lobster and Steve ordered the elk with Jumbo shrimp. The food was prepared exactly to our order and delicious. I had never tried elk before and I must say it was awesome. Where on St. Thomas can you get elk?

Here’s the elk and shrimp

And the filet and lobster

The food was delicious! And check out those portions!

After we were finished I went back to the kitchen and spoke with Greg some more and let him know I write the blog and that I would be writing a review. We talked for about 15 minutes of the past reputation of Old Stone and how he was working hard to change that with an affordable menu that doesn’t lack quality. Then I signed the wall…

Unfortunately we have no comments on the desserts – we made a point of trying a handful of things on the menu and by the time we were finished we had no room left for any sweet endings. Which is too bad – I can only assume the desserts would be delicious.

Nicci, Steve and myself enjoyed our OSFH experience. The meal was spaced out perfectly over a few hours, making for a great evening out. We are definitely back on the Old Stone Farmhouse fan-train. Their food and service was spot on and chef Greg’s interaction with his customers is really a great idea. The prices make the restaurant a place you can go to regularly without breaking the bank or putting it aside for special occasion dining only.

Nicci and I will be back soon as we are going to present them with their Most Romantic award!

Thank you OSFH, keep up the great work!

Old Stone Farmhouse is not an advertiser on the St. Thomas Blog

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