Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Restaurant Review--GrantLee's Florida Brigade Tavern and Grill

My mother always taught me that if you can't say something nice it is best not to say anthing at all. Fortunately I don't live with my mother any longer so I can make some honest commentary regarding this new restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, FL.

GrantLee's Florida Brigade Tavern & Grill  Located on U.S. 1 next to the New Smyrna airport in the old Stella's Skyline building.

The outside of GrantLee's which is
located near the New Smyrna
Airport in the old Stella's Skyline
building on U.S.1
Photo from the GrantLee website
I was assuming this was going to be a Civil War themed restaurant based upon the name and the information on the website. I suppose it is but I didn't really get much of a Civil War vibe. Sure there are a few prints on the wall and there's a small bookcase with what I assume to be Civil War books (I didn't bother looking) but when Michael Jackson is belting out Thriller over the in-house music it's pretty tough to take it very seriously. In addition the staff shirts have what is supposed to be Generals Grant and Lee I am guessing at Appomattox. If I didn't know who they were I would have really had to work at it to figure it out. I am pretty sure that none of the staff know much about the Civil War but call me a snob.

So we went a just a bit before 8pm on a Sunday night. There weren't more than three other parties, all of whom had food on their tables, and a couple at the bar who were just at the edge of sober. It's not busy is what I am getting at. The elapsed time before a server gets to our table--7 minutes. The busboy (I am assuming that's what he was) brought us our iced teas 5 minutes later. This was not a real good beginning in the first week of being open.

I found the menu to be a bit weird. On the dinner menu there were only 14 entrees to choose from but yet there were 16 side dishes available. Some of the entrees had what were supposed to be clever names like "Johnny Reb Country Fried Steak"or "Chickamauga Chicken". Most however just had regular titles. On the dinner menu there was not a burger to be seen despite two being advertised on the front page of their website. After looking at the online menu it appears these are only available at lunch. Can't say that I understand this decision.

After being informed that two of the 14 entrees were not available my wife ordered the Yankee Pot Roast and a side of cheese biscuits. I ordered the Georgia Pulled Pork Platter with fries. The waiter bounded off only to return a few minutes later to tell my wife that they don't have any biscuits and recommends the corn muffins (plural) instead. She opted for that.

Somewhere oh, around a half hour later, our food arrived in two seperate trips. My wife gots hers and several minutes later mine arrived. Presentation wise my wife's was OK. Mine however looked like a can of cat or dog food had been turned over. I've ordered pulled pork at many restaurants but never have I had something like this served. This was not pulled, it was chopped, and chopped, and then chopped again. There was no resemblance to meat here. The taste was only mildly better once I loaded it up with sauce. For a restaurant that is supposed to pride itself on bbq this does not cut it on any level. Then there were the unseasoned frozen french fries. According to the website there is an option for handcut fries. I didn't notice it on the menu and the server did not offer. Maybe I missed it maybe they don't offer that option in Florida.  Just an all around disappointing meal.

Like I said my wife ordered the Yankee Pot Roast. As with mine this should have been pretty simple and straight forward. Note my words should have been. Have you ever had Yankee Pot Roast with raw onion and carrots that have to be cut with a knife? Neither had my wife until dining here. Her side of corn muffins (plural) was actually one very large muffin kind of like you would get at a Starbucks. Not really made for sharing if that is your goal. The meat was OK but needed seasoning.

Once finished we wait a bit but finally get the bill. We anticipated the corn muffin being on the bill since it did not appear the pot roast came with a side item. It wasn't there. Maybe it was comped because they were out of biscuits. Perhaps the waiter forgot. Who would know or care at that point. My wife put her card in the holder and left the end sticking out so the waiter can see we are ready. Now it's time to once again play the GrantLee waiting game. So we wait. And move the holder around on the table. And wait. And move the holder again trying to get anybody to see we are ready. Various employees walked by at least a dozen times but of course our waiter has gone on sabbatical at this point and has not been seen. My wife finally got up and asked a woman (waitress, busser, owner, who knows) if she could take the card and cash us out. The employee left to find the waiter who after a few minutes made an appearance. He did at least bring the card and receipt for tip and signature back promptly.

Unfortunately the story doesn't end there as both my wife and I ended the night with stomach cramps. Neither one of us ate more than a bite of the others meal so the culprit appears to have been bad unsweet tea. Anybody who has ever been hit with this will understand why this night turned into a complete washout and how and where the night ended.

Overall a really bad experience. Considering the location and the fact that most folks living in the area have to drive by many other restaurants to get to GrantLee's they will need to pick it up tremendously in order to survive. Perhaps they will. Whether we would eat there again is open for debate. If we do it won't be in the near future.


  1. Was there Sunday 5/5/2013 their were 4 in our party. It was a nitemare to say the least. Wife got FOOD POISIONING. Emergency room determined that!!!!!! Its fri 5/10/13 an she's feeling a bit better thank god!!!!!
    I rest my case

  2. Well this was our third time to this establishment and out last. First we ordered an appetizer with potato skins and the waitress cam back about 10 minutes later and informed us that they didn’t have potato skins. Well we have had them before and they make them their – why would a restaturant on a Friday night not have potatoes. Also my chicken tasted burned and the French fries came out and were NOT cooked.

    My husband asked if it was happy hour and was told YES and ordered a Yuengling draft beer. When we got the bill – the happy hour price was $3.50. WTF. When this was ordered before it was $1.75 – which is a pretty steep increase. The waitress should have informed us that the prices had increased and let us know the new prices.

    We asked to speak with the manager. She came to our table and she proceeded to tell us Yuengling was NOT a domestic Beer which is kind of funny because it’s brewed in Pottsville, PA and Tampa, FL and is tied for the Largest American Brewery (see here I was going to speak and she stopped me and told me that she needed to finish. Which was quite RUDE if you ask me. She was getting very loud and should not be a manager. I asked who the owners were and she told me her parents. Well we know why she has the job. They would be better off hiring a REAL manager that knows how to deal with customers correctly. She also added that 10 of the waiters/waitresses had been fired or laid off recently – I wonder if that has anything to do with the management of this place.

    I had told quite a few people to try out this new restaurant – but I will make sure that everyone knows that they SHOULD NOT!!!!