Flanigan’s Seafood Bar & Grill

I had high hopes. Perhaps too high. Flanigan’s was the first “seafood” restaurant we visited in Stuart after moving here. We actually won a gift card so we were super excited to check it out (because everything is more fun when it’s free).

I brought up their website before we took off to get an idea of my options. We vegetarians like to know what we’re up against before the hostess shows us to our seats. And the website was one of the reasons I was so enthusiastic about dinner at Flannigan’s. It boasted fish so fresh, you could only do better by catching it yourself, which was a real draw for me, because I do occasionally eat fish if it is local, sustainable and sustainably caught (so when I say occasionally, I obviously mean very, very occasionally). So due to the website and the restaurant name – Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill – I believed I was very possibly in for some tasty local fish.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning. From the minute we walked in I was unimpressed. The wait for dinner was barely 2 minutes on a Saturday evening at 6:15, which was great, but the three hostesses manning the front desk didn’t seem pleased to see us at all. Just another dreadful day at work, I guess, but I don’t want to see it on your face when I’m trying to enjoy a nice evening out with my husband. Try smiling.

We sat outside on the small patio because it was such a nice evening, but that turned out to be not such a great idea. There was a very loud bunch of drunk sports fans crowded around the TV who had no desire to censor their language. I suppose I shouldn’t expect too much from a bar and grill, but I still wasn’t thrilled to have to listen to middle-aged lushes swear up and down about being cut off from the bar.

The server wasn’t too friendly, either, at first. He warmed up after a while, but first impressions and all that. That certainly wasn’t the case with all the servers. Several of the other waitresses around were very friendly and personable with their customers.

Naturally my first question for our server was about the fish. Where did the Tilapia come from? He went to find out. Indonesia. The Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi)? Indonesia. All of their fish is from Indonesia. Please refer back to paragraph 2. And then explain to me how fish from Asia can in any way be labeled “fresh?” Besides not being fresh, it certainly wasn’t local which is a whole separate discussion since Stuart is literally on the coast. More importantly, fish farmed in Asia is one of the worst possible things you could put in your body. Disgraceful.

So I got the pasta. Guissepe’s Patsa. Because besides one or two fried appetizers and an unimpressive salad selection, that was a vegetarian’s only option. My fellow reviewer also got a pasta dish. The spicy Chicken Pasta. I was a bit surprised because he’s usually a burger guy at places like this. The food arrived quickly. Probably within 10 minutes, which I liked; I was starving.

But my pasta was not as described. I was supposed to be getting a flavorful pasta with olive oil, basil and red peppers. What it actually was was bland spaghetti with marinara sauce. There were no peppers in sight. The waiter had warned me that there was a little spice to it which wasn’t even remotely true. And the garlic butter rolls that came with both of our meals were no more than Kings Hawaiian rolls with garlic butter and canned parmesan. Really?

The Spicy Chicken pasta was almost as unimpressive. There were more vegetables present in my husband’s meal, but it was only slightly less flavorful. Actually, the only thing you could taste was the butter the noodles were coated in. So we did something we’ve never done before: we told the server we were dissatisfied. He offered us a menu to order something new, but not without a slight tone of irritation. He recommended their burgers and ribs, which he said were Flanigan’s specialties, but that only helped my husband. So he got the ribs and I ordered a dinner salad – no bacon (you can’t screw up a salad, right?).

The food took a little longer this time, understandable considering the ribs. My husband was pleased with his plate this time which came with a side of curly fries which were well seasoned if not a little stale-tasting.

We finished dinner off with dessert: Flanigan’s Shinanigans, a slice of apple pie topped with two scoops of ice cream, caramel and toffee pieces. It was decent. Most people probably would have enjoyed it more, but my mom is a licensed baker, so I have a very refined dessert palate. It hardly tasted homemade, my husband suspected frozen, but that didn’t stop me from helping him clean the bowl.

Sometime between dinner and dessert the manager made her rounds, asking half-heartedly how everything was. It seemed more like lip service than actual concern for her customers.

Over all, we weren’t impressed and even my husband was irked about the Asian fish. We’ll probably use the rest of our gift card to get a late night appetizer and drinks instead of going through the whole dinner ordeal again.

Conclusion? Flanigan’s is probably a perfectly acceptable place to go for drinks and cheese sticks if you want to watch the game with friends at the bar. But for dinner, especially with your family, it was a real let-down.

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