It’s been a long time since I have written a blog entry. A lot has happened since my last pre-45-election post, like moving to Florida, but I will save that for another day.
My husband, Marcus, and I moved permanently to Coconut Creek, Florida in the late spring of last year, 2021. We are living in a 55+ community where my mother-in-law, Enid, has lived for 30 years. Generally once a week we pick a restaurant to go to and during the past year we have been doing a private rating of each place we visit. After a couple of not so great experiences, I thought maybe it would be fun to share with the public our evaluations of the restaurants we go to. It may be helpful to them in making a dining choice here in Broward County. I may have lost all 3 of my blog followers during my absence, but I’m hoping to attract a few through these Restaurant Review posts so feel free to share the link. I believe there is a place at the bottom where you can add a comment if you want to.
Many of the places we have been to have been very good. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a return visit to an establishment isn’t quite as good or sometimes, is even better than the first visit. Lots of times the change in our rating from 1-10 with 10 being the best, occurs because of the service from the waiter or busyness of the restaurant.
I am starting off my new blog series with the latest outing that took place this past Friday, May 22. The day was extremely wet with thunderstorms all day long. I read a report that we got over 6 inches of rain here in Broward County. So, maybe this poor experience was a result of an off day. But, maybe not.
Pho Saigon Cuisine-1394 FL-7, Margate, FL 33063 Hours are 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM every day. They are closed on Monday. (954) 975-2426
My mother-in-law likes to arrive early to restaurants. She is uncomfortable when they get loud and arriving early is one way to avoid this situation. This is often a good plan because parking can be a problem at some locations. On Friday, finding parking wasn’t a problem. We found a spot behind the restaurant in a lot with plenty of empty spaces and walked through a covered ally to the front of Pho Saigon Cuisine to avoid getting wet from the rain. It was about 5:15 when we arrived.
It was empty except for one very bored looking waiter. We asked if they were open. “Yes, sit wherever you like”. Being particular about where in a restaurant she sits, tonight Enid would have no difficulty picking a table. We were quite literally the only seated customers in the restaurant the entire time we were there.
Pho Saigon Cuisine Restaurant. Empty.
I have a real aversion to being the only people eating in a restaurant. Are we the only people who have been here all week? Is the food been in the kitchen any good? Will we seriously regret our decision to stay and eat? All of these questions ran through my head in the first seconds after entering
She selected a table in the middle of the restaurant and sat down. Our waiter brought us the menu and came back minutes later with water for each of us. He then stood, pen in hand ready to take our order. I had barely made it through the first page of a 6 page menu. None of us had time to make a selection. My husband asked him for hot tea for all of us. “We should be ready to order when you get back.” I said.
In just a couple of minutes, the waiter deposited a pot of barely warm tea and 3 cups on our table. He then took our order. I found the menu confusing. Different soups were listed on at least 3 of the pages. Feeling overwhelmed I ordered the Wanton soup as an appetizer since I am familiar with it and Pork and Shrimp for my dinner. Marcus had egg rolls and Mix Salad with Lotus Shoot Shrimp and Pork for his meal. My mother-in law ordered the Spring Rolls and a shrimp dish over rice noodles that I didn’t catch the name of.
After finishing the lukewarm tea, we ordered another pot. It arrived slightly warmer than the first. But, still not really hot. We were half-way through our second pot of tea and still our first course had not arrived. It took over 15 minutes to receive our appetizers.
The Wanton soup was presented in a large bowl full of pork wantons. It looked really good. However, the bowl was not sitting on a charger plate so when the waiter put the bowl down onto the table his fingers were on the inside lip of the bowl. I found this disturbing.
Since the idea of starting a restaurant blog began mid-meal, I didn’t get photographs of everything we ordered. All of the appetizers looked good. My soup, in addition to being scalding hot, was extremely salty. It was so hot in fact that the first taste burned my mouth. My fault for thinking the soup would be lukewarm like the tea! After eyeing Enid’s spring rolls, my husband wished he had gotten them instead of the egg rolls. But we all dug in, hungry from our wait.
One of my biggest pet peeves with a restaurant is serving an appetizer within minutes of delivering my meal. I know it happens when establishments are busy. Orders get mixed up, the waiters get swamped with tables and can’t keep up. I was a waiter for many years so I know. It happens. But it should never happen when a restaurant is not only not busy, but they only have one table to serve!
With the exception of three people who walked in to pick up carryout orders, there were no other customers in the restaurant the entire time we were there. So, when the waiter delivered our dinner before we even had a chance to get started on our appetizers, I got irritated. Although the bowl of shrimp and pork I ordered looked nice, it was not what I was expecting. I was hoping for a hot dish served over rice noodles or rice and received what looked like a salad. I should have asked our waiter. So, it was my fault for not asking him. (In all fairness though, he mumbled when he spoke and seemed reluctant to converse with us. So, I didn’t bother to ask him for recommendations.)
There was a selection of condiments on the table including Hoisin Sauce, hot pepper sauce and Sriracha Chili sauce. We noted the message on the sticky bottle of Hoisin sauce “Refrigerate after opening for quality”. This bottle had never seen the inside of a refrigerator. I guess we may never know what quality Hoisin Sauce tastes like.
Also on the table were heavy plastic soup spoons, napkins dispensed one at a time whose container boasted “better for the planet” (not sure how or why?) and an abundance of chop sticks. Our waiter never came back to check on us after delivering our food. He didn’t come back until the end of our meal. I find chopsticks impossible to use and there were no other utensils on the table or offered to us. The plastic spoon wouldn’t work with the dish I was presented with. I picked up a shrimp and some of the pork with my fingers.
My husband stopped eating his Lotus Shoot Salad about halfway through because they had a hairy quality to them that he found distasteful.
Except for sampling a few mouthfuls, I didn’t eat my main meal. The bowl of soup was sufficiently filling. I added some hot pepper sauce to the soup to try and break the saltiness. It helped. The shrimp in the giant-sized bowl of salad was quite good. They had a teriyaki flavor. But the pork was overcooked, dry and tasteless. I offered my dinner to my husband and mother-in-law. They picked through the bowl eating what they wanted. Enid was happy with her dinner and ate quite a bit of it. She took her leftovers home along with some portion of my dinner.
Like I said at the start, maybe it was the rainy weather that kept people away from the Pho Saigon Cuisine restaurant, or maybe there has been a slip in business for another unknown reason. Whatever it is, I won’t be going back. I gave the restaurant a 4 on a scale from 1-10. Marcus & Enid were more generous giving them a 5. Most of the food was ok but the school lunch room atmosphere, a complete lack of other patrons and bad service from a waiter who seemed he’d rather be anywhere else but there, heavily influenced my decision. I thought the cost of our meal was high but maybe that’s because we didn’t eat very much of it.