3252 SW 22nd St Miami, FL 33145
305 529 0047
I recently had occasion to revisit Sergio’s on Coral Way who I previously wrote about – not too happily – and I’m happy to report that it was way better than before!
Funnily enough as I was waiting for my food I heard a (Cuban) couple at the next table commenting that the food had recently improved. Well, it had.
I had chicken fricasee, black beans and rice and yuca and am delighted to report that not only did I enjoy it, I had to leave lots of it because they give me so much! Given my healthy appetite this rarely happens – way to go Sergio’s!
The waiter was also very nice, as was the cortadito to finish.
Collins Ave., South Beach, Miami Beach, FL 33139
That was my last experience at David’s Cafe on Collins Ave. in South Beach and that’s the manager Carlos Perez I’m talking about.
Despite vowing never to go back to David’s Cafe after lousy food and service there one night – I complained to my waiter about the small amount of chicken I got in my chicken with beans and rice dish, he basically just smiled and shrugged with an ‘I couldn’t care less’ attitude – despite the mediocre food and lousy service from that guy, I have been back there a couple of times simply because it’s convenient.
My hairdresser is in South Beach and usually when I get out of there I’m hungry and with my low blood sugar issue it makes sense to eat as fast as possible. David’s Cafe with it’s lunch buffet offers that. I prefer Puerto Sagua close by but my experience there is I’ve had to wait longer than I like for food.
So today I don’t feel like eating in the morning (Having enjoyed the lovely Easter buffet at Calamari restaurant in Coconut Grove yesterday. Very filling!), in fact I don’t feel like eating until the afternoon when I’m having my hair done.
So as soon as I’ve finished there I rush out and David’s Cafe seems like a sensible way to go to eat fast. It was hitting 3pm – peak low blood sugar time of the day.
I go to David’s Cafe, have a very mediocre lunch of rice and beans, tilapia and chicken noodle soup from the buffet. Mediocre but I was happy to eat.
I helped myself to a knife and fork from those at another table, helped myself to the buffet food. Half way through my meal the previously mentioned waiter brought a glass of water to the table. No they don’t serve Blue Moon and I didn’t fancy the beers they have so that was that, I was just drinking water.
On leaving I went to the other side of the restaurant, where there are high counters, stool chairs and a lottery machine. It seems busier than the restaurant side. I ask to pay my bill, as I’ve done before, and no, consternation, the previously mentioned waiter comes over and tells me I have to pay back on the restaurant side. OK.
So we walk to the other side of the restaurant, to his till, I give him a $100 bill and he rushes off somewhere for a while to change it. I didn’t see any bill but I did know the buffet is $8.95. The waiter comes back and hands a pile of money to me. $88 change out of a $100 bill for an $8.95 meal.
“Hey”, I said when he was rushing by my way again. “You gave me the wrong change.”
He explained that yes he took $12 for the cost of the meal, tax and gratuity.
“I wasn’t intending to give you a tip,” I told him.
He says OK a with a smile puts $1 into my outstretched hand with the $88 change on it. Then he rushes off.
I don’t know what $8.95 and taxs is but I’m sure it’s not $11 – OK, I’m sitting in a bar so I’ll ask:
$8.95 + tax is $9.80.
Hmmm. So the waiter took $2.20 and I had told him expressly he wasn’t getting a tip.
No, I didn’t feel like staying in David’s Cafe and have a fight with the waiter for him stealing $2.20 from me.
So here I am having a Blue Moon in this nice Irish pub, ‘The Playright’ in South Beach, and I think I’ll give the owner of David’s Cafe a call to find out what he thinks of this waiter’s behaviour. Call me old-fashioned, I kind of think that an owner would like to know if an employee is stealing from a client in front of other clients.
Postscript – it’s the next day, 4/10/2012. I called the Meridian Ave. David’s Cafe – a lot older than the Collins Ave. location – and asked to speak to the owner this morning. I was put on hold and listening to music for a while. I called back. Again I asked for the owner, this time I got put onto someone.
The woman on the line said the owner wanted to know which company I was from. I told her what had transpired at their Collins Ave. location the day before with me and she sympathized and said she’d pass the message onto the owner and he would call me. She recognised the waiter I was talking about as the manager of the Collins Ave. location, Carlos Perez.
That was this morning, now it’s the evening. If the owner gets back to me I’ll add his reaction to this piece.
Funnily enough I mentioned my experience on Facebook yesterday and it drew a slew of negativity about David’s Cafe, including this comment from an Hispanic male regarding the both locations; “Both of them really bad, Cuban style!!!!”.
Hopefully I’ll have an admirable response to report from the owner real soon. In the meantime I’d avoid it if I were you!
UPDATE – 7/13/2012
A couple of days ago I finally got around to putting this review on Yelp. Next morning I received an email from an owner of David’s Cafe, very disturbed about what I’d said about the restaurant.
We talked and he was very personable and apologetic. He said in a month they are closing the second David’s in South Beach and the original one on Collins will be the only one open. Let’s hope they get rid of the duds in their company.
This conversation took place 3 months after my original compaint that apparently didn’t get to the owners. Good luck to them.
3252 SW 22nd St Miami, FL 33145
305 529 0047
Sergio’s is often busy. That just has to be because of the location.
Located across from Winn Dixie on busy Coral Way, close to the beginning of Miracle Mile, Sergios is very well placed to take advantage of the passersby who enjoy Cuban food. I’m sure they do.
I stopped by at 11am and was ravenous, ordered Masas de Puerco (my favorite Cuban dish) and a Bud Light. Newcastle was the beer of the day, I didn’t think that went particularly well with Cuban food. A Blue Moon maybe, but Newcastle? Not for me.
At $9.99 the Masas de Puerco cost 2 or 3 dollars more than I’m used to paying elsewhere. There was one special of the day, whose name I forget, similarly one special soup too, whose name I also forget. At the Cuban restaurants I go to more frequently, Las Vegas in Coral Gables and El Christo on Calle Ocho, they always have a few specials of the day to choose from. That’s fun.
Back to Sergios. Sitting outside, I had told my server that I needed to be served fast. One reason was that I had an appointment in half an hour, the other was my alarmingly low blood sugar level. If I didn’t eat soon I knew I’d be liable to pass out/feel ill/murder somebody. I was most of the way through my beer when I realised ‘Hey, this is a Cuban restaurant, shouldn’t someone be bringing me bread?!’.
But no-one did.
(Most Cuban restaurants serve you a dish of flaky, toasted and buttered Cuban bread gratis whilst you wait for your meal.)
I’m not sure whether anyone else in the restaurant got bread either. The couple behind me noticed when I tried to peek at their table. Yes they had the plastic platters that bread usually comes in, and so did other tables. But they may have been eating sandwiches. They also come in platters like that.
Eventually my meal came, it took over ten minutes to come. Given I said I was in a rush I really don’t think that was good enough. Maybe it even took 20mins. When you’re in a blood sugar crisis things get confusing.
The pork most definitely looked like it had been first fried yesterday, again today. Over the chunks of pork in Masas de Puerco are sliced onions. The onions today included the tougher, thicker outer skin of the onion which I’ve never experienced in any other other cuisine but Cuban. Cuban restaurants often include them in their meals and I don’t like it.
The plantains looked like they had been made fresh, although they weren’t as soft (cooked as long) as I like. Most plantains that you get with Cuban food in Miami do tend to be very soft. The black beans and rice – well, they were like black beans and rice. Unremarkable.
Funnily enough I just went to Sergio’s (rather attractive) website to get their address and the correct name of my favorite dish (Masas de Puercos), and they have a photo of the same looking just like I described them – over-fried (above). They remind me of the way Nigerians like to cook their meat before making delicious stews, frying it twice.
It’s not the way I’m used to eating Masas de Puercos and you have only to look at how fat a lot of Nigerians are to see that double-frying food is fattening (that and the masses of oil they use in their cooking traditionally). Some people like eating fatty foods and being fat, personally I avoid both.
The best you usually get in a Cuban restaurant is ‘OK’ food – food that fills you, a few flavors, gives you the energy to go on. Even the most popular restaurants like Versailles and La Carretta aren’t even so good when it comes to flavor and fine dining. If you’ve been to Versailles or La Carretta you’ll think – ‘Fine dining? That’s a joke!’. Quite.
Similarly Sergios may get pretty busy but it’s not great food. It’s barely passable food. Today is not the first time I’ve been to Sergios and today I went for the same reason I went before – it’s on the way, it’s filling, it should at least be more healthy than the McDonalds beside it.
Other than that, why bother?