Dragonfly Tempe. Has Anyone been and can compare?
A small group of us meant to hit Cafe Boa for happy hour but ift was full, so I suggested headig across the lot for a snack and drink.
I can't give a proper review as we only had apps, but even then I was disappointed. Firstly, the menu was... "unbalanced?" For smaller bites it was eggrolls and more eggrolls. There must have been 12 different variations of the dish. There were some other apps that didn't jump out as being worth exploring for the price. I'm also guessing they seem to have dumbed down the menu choices for westerners at this location.
I was perfectly happy to order traditional eggrolls and was given some decent fare but with a tiny piece of lettuce, and a carrot/jicima slaw. No mint or other aromatics. The dipping sauce was that sweet orange variety, not the fishy/vinegar type from Vietnam.
The service was also blah. Despite being the only table there, our server came by only now and again. It also took about 25 mins to deliver any food, though we were the only patrons. It was 20+ minutes to get a bev. Nothing was ever offered or suggested... it required us asking about specials, faves, etc.
I'm not bashing it on purpose. It's near where I live and I'd love for it to do good. Again, it might be their Tempe location is influenced by the virginal college crowd. I'd love for some Mesa fans to compare and contrast the places.
I've been twice and had good experiences. But I will say service is young Tempe ASU style and I judge accordingly. And, a few extra fried items have been added...presumably for ASU tastes.
That said, the originals tasted just as good to me, and their happy hour promos seemed unique to the new location.
Beef pho was just as good as the original in Mesa, which was what mattered most to me.
I've also been twice. The service was a bit erratic, although never rude or slow. My wife ordered a glass of pinot noir from the wine list and we had to explain to the server what she wanted. There's definitely a need for some more staff training. On the other hand, when we had our baby with us, we requested a bowl of soft tofu for her to eat and got it without any fuss. In fact, I don't think we were even charged for it, although I certainly would have been willing to pay. That was classy.
As for the food, everything I've had has been very well-prepared. The only criticism I have of the menu is that the lunch specials come with soup or salad. Somehow, either choice seems redundant with a bowl of pho, which is essentially a bowl of soup with a salad of bean sprouts, basil, etc. on the side. It seems like a spring roll might be a better appetizer to include with the lunch specials. Regardless, I'm happy to see more indy restaurants on Mill, so I hope Dragonfly works the kinks out and prospers there.
Ate at Dragonfly on Mill once again this weekend. No major problems to report. We had pho, the Saigon crepe, and the papaya salad. All were excellent. Service was noticeably better than during the two prior visits. The only negative was a TV that was too loud in the bar area. Some music would have been better.
I will say, however, that this place may need some Chowhound love. It was only 25% full during my visit. Admittedly, we were there at an off-peak time, but I'm still a little worried about indy restaurants on Mill. A few years ago, Mill seemed to be on the verge of becoming dominated by chains, but lately there's been a resurgence of independent dining at the north end. Just as these indy places have started to prosper, there's been light rail construction, torn up streets for Tempe sewer improvements, exaggerated stories in the Republic about parking woes, and the opening of Tempe Marketplace two miles away (one of the worst urban planning decisions I've ever seen). My point: If you like Caffe Boa, Dragonfly, Rula Bula, Restaurant Mexico, Med Fresh, In Season Deli, and other places on Mill, these restaurants probably need your support now more than ever.
Funny you mention Tempe Marketplace. I have friends who seem to love it and go every weekend. I cringe when they invite me out as almost all of the eateries (and stores) are chains. I'm not sure if it was bad urban planning as it seems to be working, nor am I sure it detracts from other places since there's a segment of the population not that interested in seeking out unique, local places. In fact, some seem content with the "pre approval" of the masses.
That said, we went to Dragonfly because Boa was packed for happy hour. We ended the crawl at Rula Bula which was also packed. I hope the rest of the newer places find a groove. It's gotta be a tough place to do business given the wide range of demographics and also construction.
Sadly, Dragonfly on Mill has closed. My wife and I were walking from Caffe Boa to Gammage Auditorium for the Ben Folds show and noticed that Dragonfly was dark with a big "for rent" sign in the window.
I really liked this place, but it seemed to struggle to find customers. Some of the problem was probably the restaurant's own fault. The service was pretty hit-or-miss. On the other hand, it didn't help that the incentive-subsidized Tacky Marketplace opened around the same time and that some customers have been scared away from Mill by wildly exaggerated stories of parking problems.
At least Caffe Boa seemed to be doing well tonight.
I thought they didn't really want customers. I had been wanting to try Dragonfly since I heard of its opening, but every time I was down on Mill my dining companions wanted to go elsewhere. I finally convinced two girlfriends when we were at the last Tempe Art Festival. It was at least 15 minutes past the posted opening time for lunch, yet when we went in they were still sweeping and wiping tables, and informed us that they weren't open yet, to come back later, maybe 30 minutes. We were shocked. Tempe Art Festival with thousands of people walking by your front door, and you don't want to get lunch started on time?
Funny how negative experiences stick....I recall every detail of that encounter, but couldn't begin to think of where we did end up going for lunch, or how it was. Still, I would have really liked to have tried it, but just didn't make the effort after that one visit.