Eating out at Houlihans our experience

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Florida Guide > Dining

Eating out at Houlihans our experience


During our vacation to Florida we decided to try a new place to eat.

Here are our thoughts and experiences of our visit…. please note this is purely based on our single experience at this one restaurant.

Houlihans on the Highway 192 seemed at first glance to offer an evening of indulgence and a place which would be a bit more up market from the usual all you can eat buffet restaurants.

From the outside Houlihans looks really inviting with an outside bar, lilac lighting and a welcoming entrance. We were promptly seated in a booth which offered plenty of space for the 5 of us. I really hate being squashed onto a table which is really only meant for 4 people, so it was nice to have the space.

We were greeted promptly by our server who quickly produced the drinks which we had ordered. Houlihans has an extensive wine list, prices (July 2009) start from about $22 a bottle rising sharply upwards. One of our party had a glass of Chardonnay which was $6. 99, the rest of us, children and drivers, stuck to soft dinks.

The menu was fairly broad, starters at $5. 95 upwards and entrees ranging from $10. 50 for a sandwich to $20 for a sirloin steak. Houlihans prides itself on what they call “from scratch cooking” meaning all the meals are freshly prepared from “scratch”.

Although being cooked from “scratch” the food didn’t take long to arrive, but our server had vanished and we were left abandoned for sometime without fresh refills of our drinks. Despite asking, we were about halfway through our meals before our server returned to refresh our drinks.

Then my husband discovered a large piece of hard plastic in his Tilapia, again it felt like ages before we could attract the attention of a member of staff. Our server was busy with the table behind us, who had ordered Champagne and everyone else seemed to make a point of avoiding eye contact with us. Eventually we were able to gain the attention of our server, who apologized and sent the manager over, he was less than helpful. Although he was sorry, he just smiled like a “Cheshire Cat” and did not offer to change the meal.

My husband is not a wasteful guy, he ate the rest of the, by now cold meal, but did not really enjoy it, as the thought of what else may be in there was a little off putting.

Then the check, or bill to us UK folk arrived, the server seemed pleased to say they had taken 10% off. We explained that we could have given then a 10% of coupon out of any guide book and that we were happy to pay for the meals we had enjoyed, but did not wish to pay for the tilapia with the added plastic! Again we were left waiting sometime for our server to re appear with another check, this time 10% off and a free kid’s meal…. . I repeated our desire to pay for what we had enjoyed and said we did not wish to pay for the tilapia. Finally, another check arrived with the tilapia taken off. We paid the check and left a reasonable tip for the server, who was very apologetic; it really was not her fault.

The experience ruined our evening. Ok, we appreciate that occasionally things do happen. But our issue really was with how it was dealt with. If the incident had been taken care of professionally and promptly we would probably have stayed longer, having dessert and coffee.

They should have brought another meal for my husband and explained straight away that we would not be charged for the meal. However as they failed to do this, we just ate our meals and left, feeling uncomfortable that we had had to argue and spoil our evening to gain a successful resolution to a problem which should have been swiftly dealt with at the onset.

Houlihans won’t be getting another visit from us!

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