This past Saturday night, after seeing comedic legend George Carlin perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall, we were invited to a late dinner with one of our friends and his parents. These New York transplants are big fans of the Palm, where the steak house got its start, so off to the Palm at Westshore mall we went. Traci and I had been to this location once before, about a year and a half ago, and had a decidely mediocre experience. We were hopeful for a better visit this time.
Unfortunately, our experience at the Palm was worse than before. We didn't wait particularly long to be seated, but once we were seated, the fun began. Service at our table (keep in mind this is only a group of five and the place wasn't packed at this point of the night) was painfully slow even for a steak house. Later we found out that our server was new on the job. Great. Lucky us.
Our appetizer, the Palm's signature "half & half" (half cottage fries, half fried onions), tasted mildly burnt. When our food finally did come out, I wasn't really that hungry. My filet tasted okay and the sides (mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and mushroom caps) were decent - nothing great. I do have to say that Traci's chicken dish was very good as was the veal I sampled from another plate.
The capper to the pricey dinner was when the restaurant manager only half-apologized to our friend's father, who had complained about how long everything was taking. The manager would have been better off not saying anything. There was even a big ordeal in boxing up the left-overs and dividing them up properly into two different bags. Needless to say, we passed on the offer of free dessert.
I've eaten once at the Palm location in Orlando (inside the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios) and had a good experience so clearly all Palm's aren't like this. That said, the Tampa location will continue to be on my avoid list. Call me crazy, but Charley's remains my favorite local steak house, followed by Bern's. I'd like to try out the Capital Grille at International Plaza & Bay Street next.
Bottom-line: Forget three strikes, two strikes and you're out when it comes to the Tampa location of the famous Palm Restaurant. Better local steak house experiences await at Charley's and Bern's. I suspect the Tampa locations of Ruth's Chris and the Capital Grille do a nicer job also.
Inspection Scorecard: Last Inspection - October 2006 - violations - Critical (15), Non-Critical (2).