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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
First of all let me make it perfectly clear that this restaurant chain has nothing whatsoever to do with the wonderful cookie company by the same name.
When we contemplated a move from Detroit to Jacksonville a friend in the Motor City who had lived there before insisted that we sample this long standing Jacksonville tradition and especially for breakfast.
We had passed the Mandarin branch (that's a part of Jacksonville) on San Jose Blvd. several times and the parking lot was always full. So with expectations high, we dropped by on a Sunday morning at 9 for breakfast.
The restaurant looked a little worse for the wear. Drab, kind of dirty and in need of paint. But hey, some local traditions have the same qualities. No red flags -- yet!
Just as we entered the door a woman came rudely shoving by in the doorway and dashed to the left rear to a table. We figured she was a diner returning to her table and felt like she was kind of rude. But she returned to the empty hostess stand and it turns out, she was the hostess. Strike one! She pointed toward a container holding menus, "instructed us" to grab menus and head to the table of our choice. No warm smile, no "good morning," not a damned thing.
As we selected a table it was obvious that the menu's had a thick coating of grease on them. Nasty! A rather unpleasant woman came to our table to get our drink orders. Again, no smile, no greeting, no emotion.
The menu looked interesting with a pretty good selection. The "fried fish breakfast" got my attention. I love fish and figured that while it wouldn't certainly be fresh at a joint like this, it would probably be good. It came with two eggs (I ordered them "over easy" as I always do), grits and toast. My wife ordered French toast.
There were three big pieces of fried fish on the plate and I couldn't wait to dig in. But when I opened the little vat of tartar sauce, I noticed it did not feel cold. I had to wonder how long it had been out of the fridge. I used it anyway...but not for long. The fish was so foul with a fishy taste I couldn't eat it. My eggs were undercooked to the point that they were clear and runny. I nibbled at the outer edges that were cooked but that's all I could manage. I'm not squeamish about undercooked eggs but raw eggs bother me unless I'm making a fresh Caesar salad. The only good things on my plate were the grits (very good) and the rye toast.
My wife's French toast was just so so and she said the syrup tasted like it had been watered down.
I thought the coffee was decent but when I asked my wife if she wanted a second cup, she declined saying it didn't taste very good to her.
Between the lousy food and rude and unfriendly service, this was our last visit to this place. I don't get one thing. Every time I pass by the place, the parking lot is still packed. Am I missing something here?
There are several Famous Amos restaurants in Jacksonville. The one we mistakenly stopped by was located at 10339 San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin. I can only hope the others are better. This was one of the most disappointing and disgusting breakfasts we've had in decades!
Their website is here.