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Let down in Lee: Ted's at Coconut Pointe and Cantina Laredo at The Bell Tower

Two days, two disappointments and surprised at both.
Dinner at Cantina Laredo was dismal. I have always had good luck here and liked the atmosphere in the bar area for dinner. Hot tortilla chips and excellent salsas, perfect top shelf margaritas and my favorite: Chile Rellenos picadillo.

Not so this week, the chips tasted as if the oil was way overdue for changing. A very off flavor. The margarita was not as good as usual: I don't think they were using fresh squeezed juice. The real disappointment was the Chile Rellenos. Soggy poblano with ground beef filling that was tasteless. Usually it has golden currants, toasted almonds and beef and pork filling. It was a pale imitation of one of their signature dishes. Restaurant was less than 1/2 full but that is pretty good these days at Bell Tower. I mentioned it a friend and their experience had been similar. My husband's Prixe Fixe dinner was horrible and unidentifiable and inexplicably cold except for the sizzling plate.

Next day, while shopping at Coconut Point, I planned to have lunch at The Grape. I walked in, saw no one behind the bar, only two ladies smoking with glasses of wine outside and not one person eating at 12:45 on Tuesday afternoon. I decided on Ted's which has apparently decided to emulate Arby's or somesuch with a dreadful pulled "chicken" sandwich. Buffalo burger sounded too heavy to me. Fries were good as always. Even their pickles they make on site were soggy.

A pickup with season is desparately needed. I hope that this is just the last limp through the off season and not a true decline in quality. LMF

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  1. LMF,

    That's the second underwhelming experience at Cantina I've heard in 3 months.

    I've had two lunches at the Grape, one decent, over a year ago, one ok. I won't go back.

    Ted's Buffalo burgers are on the dry side, and need some 20% fat to compete with a good burger. That defeats the purpose, as buffalo is supposed to be less fartty, and thus less tasty. I'll stick with beef, especially "Kobe beef" from Jimmy P's in Naples, slappd on my home grill, with caramelized onions placed in the center..

    I had dinner at new Bravo at the Mercato, and had a very good experience. Pretty interior, with faux Corinthian "ruins". Not open a week, and they have their act together. Better run chains are kicking butt.

    I wonder if Ted's in Naples will flop as Kona and Ruth's Chris did. Coastland Mall is a tough market.

    Chardonnay is closed, no answer on their phone..

    1. Cantina Laredo was good when they first openend up here in Palm Beach Gardens. But it seemed their food quality went down hill quickly afterwards.

      Is this Ted's Montana Grill you are talking about? They usually maintain a high level of quality from my experience.

      5 Replies
      1. re: freakerdude

        Cantine Laredo is a small Texas-based chain. Seems like quailty control when Texas come in to start up the business, but then tends to slip in general when the locals take over.

        1. re: freakerdude

          Yes, it was Ted's Montana Grill. I was surprised at how poor it was this time.

          1. re: freakerdude

            Freakerdude when was the last time you were at Cantina in Palm Beach Gardens? We have been going there since it opened. I had one bad experience and the manager fixed it quickly. The food is obviously fresh and LMF the ritas here are definately fresh squeezed and strong. I know Michael and he seems to expect perfection. Next time you go, talk to him and let him know where you heard this. He will make sure all is well. LMF I hope the management is as good where you are.

            1. re: Kid texas

              The Cantina in Fort Myers is 7 years old at least (their first outside of Texas) and has been very good until this year. I've been three times this summer and each visit has been poorer than the previous one.

              People will probably give them another chance as we have few alternatives here.

              1. re: LilMsFoodie

                I will tell Michael. I am sure he will tell someone in Fort Myers. I have never tried the Chile Relleno Picadillo, but will next time I am there and let you know if PBG is good.

          2. What a shame. I learned to make good guacamole there. It seems to be an issue here in Lee county. Whenever we get a good chef, or a good restaurant it gets dumbed down to lowest (tourist) common denominator. I remember when Leapin' Lizard here in Cape Coral had outlandishly good food for a Key West style bar, and now, it is just bar food. If it wasn't for good Cuban pastiles I would say all hope was lost.

            1. Tried Ted's at Coastland (Naples) and it was awful. have had good bison burgers in the past, just don't expect it there. and i was a bit surprised because i saw one in Park City and figured it had to be somewhat decent to compete in the ski town.

              the Grape is so mediocre that i can't even begin to describe its failings. out of maybe 25 wines i saw 2 that i wanted to order (one was Mer Soleil).

              anyone have any opinions on the other places at Coconut Point ?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Zeits

                Poor Grape. I liked it when it first opened. It must do a business late at night because I never see anyone there. When I was still doing model homes, I shopped for incidentals at Coconut Point everyway, so I knew the restaurants there quite well. I last ate there over a year ago and it was ok only. They try to have "off beat wines", not too many seem interesting. I did get excited and bought my first Torrontes there and have been a big fan ever since.

                Lately, I've only been to Tony Saccos, which to me was totally forgettable. Big whoop on coal fired pizza. I've started to make my own here at the house on the gas grill. I had a lovely lunch on day at The Grand Cafe or whatever the old Bice is called. They seem to do the best of the restaurants at lunch. All summer, there were fairly good crowds. For dinner in the area, we have tended to go to Angelinas.

              2. LMF: ditto your evaluation of Catina Laredo. Our last two or three visits were equally dissapointing. We have loved this place for awhile but I think we have written it off.
                We live in North FL and have always tried to eat here on every visit to the area, but I think we have written it off. Food quality, taste, service have all gone away.

                1 Reply
                1. re: yayajac

                  See my reply to Freakerdude. I hope the managers where you are as good as they are here. I have been to the one in Jacksonville and it is just as good as Palm Bach Gardens.

                2. I've always liked Blue Water Bistro. It sounds like that might be the best restaurant in the mall now(Coconut Point), although it's not inexpensive. Tony Sacco's let me down too. They were so proud to have the super hot oven and blistered pizza crusts, like Italy, but taste and texture just aren't there.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: RevrendAndy

                    I like Blue Water Bistro as well. It is a value priced restaurant compared to Chops. I've had good dinners there.

                    The Ruth's Chris that is there is very poor. I had a miserable experience once and normally wouldn't return but we had to go with another couple who claimed it was the greatest restaurant around. They served me those little frozen peas with cheeze whiz again and I mentally ticked it off forever. What is with the Pepperidge Farm rolls at a place like that. (first time they were hot on the outside and still slightly frozen in...upscale my ____)

                    Pagiello's looks like it might be fun. They have that guy from Parrot Key, Frank Torino (who impersonates Elvis, Englebert, Frank Sinatra, etc) out on the patio doing his schtick. Might be fun with lovely weather.

                    1. re: LilMsFoodie

                      Blue Water Bistro is the best of the lot. I wish they served lunch again. The Grape was mediocre, and the wines are unremarkable. Ted's Montana bison burger was dry. The staff was very good a few months ago when I was there. Sacco's food has disappointed eveyone I've met, and I've not been there. Not heard great things about Hemingways. Shanes Rib Shack has good pulled pork and bbq, and I like their sauces. Ruth's Cris gets average reviews-I've not been to that one, tho I did like the Naples one before it closed. Chopsticks has a cute gimmick on making your own dish to be heated in a wok and served to you. Not bad food.
                      Overall, not great pickings at Coconut Point.

                      As far as other malls, Promenade is dying, wiht only Roy's, Molino;s and Silver Spoon still open, and 75% of the mall is closed, with just "artists studios" filling up space. Two new places closed in less than two months, as I went to the mall last week. Sad to see it go downhill. Lutgert's other mall, the Mercato is the mall with the best restaurants, each one is doing very well, to the chagrin of local mom and pop places.

                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                        Power shopping is dead. Malls have to repurpose themselves or be like The Promenade, Bell Tower, etc. Restaurants along won't help Mercato. Three years ago I was furnishing high end model condos and homes in Bonita, Estero, and Fort Myers and these shops were all busy They hit a wall two years ago and regular retail died soon after. .There will have to be another use created.. I seriously doubt too many want to live above the restaurants and shops. That was a shopaholic dream hatched in 2003.

                        The busiest restaurant at lunch at Coconut Point is generally The Grand Cafe or whatever the successor to Bice is calling itself. As often as not, this is where people will meet for lunch these days. I think it is primarily because of its outdoor tables near the shops that people actually use.

                        1. re: LilMsFoodie

                          Regular retail folks are wary of opening anywhree, let alone with the Mercato rents as shoppers spending habits over thenext year are an unknown.. It's season, and most of the retail slots are nicely boarded up, never leased.

                          The Stage Deli was to open last month, maybe it'll open later this month. That may be the tenth Mercato eatery lot of food spots!

                          As an aside from realtors...The Mercato residences have not sold well, and prices will have to drop another 20% to be close to competitive with other new condos and new single family homes. You can buy a furnished brand new 3,400 sq foot home now in Naples for $400K (originally $1.2 million), whereas the Mercato's 2,500 sq ft and less condos are $500+, just to overlook parking lots or look straight into a neighbor's windows. While the rear units look over grass, that greenery and view will be covered up with more units in a couple years. Some developers, to keep up prices, sell at one price, then "lease back" the unit, and pay 20-25% over then next year or so, so the selling price is high, and the buyer gets thier discount. Whatever makes a sale in these days.

                          1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                            I'm looking forward to Stage Deli. I know the Stage 62 from suburban Detroit. They had great chewy rye and excellent corned beef. I have been reduced to corning my own beef since there was no where in SW Florida I liked since The Miami Connection closed. I'm not Jewish but I know a good deli. I am hopeful the new Stage will give me my deli fix. LMF

                            1. re: LilMsFoodie


                              Corning your own beef-you're the best! Gotta survive, one way or another! Years ago we had Manicini and Moishe, and others still offer their alleged Deli style foods, but they just don't get it. All I ask for is a great pastrami on rye...

                              I spoke with the owner of Stage 62 while he was in Detroit, and he can't wait to start. Menu looks great.

                              I wonder if Naples Code dept will make him wait a while. Naples is so anti-business, and the code enforcement frequently delay business openings for months, often till after the season.

                              1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                when i lived in dc Carnegie Deli (or was it Stage) opened at Tyson's Corner and i can tell you there plenty of people who couldn't wait, esp of a particular ethnic group and i think it lasted 1 or 2 yrs. not sure where the trouble started. the deli's in Balt are pretty good so the meat can be brought in from there. can't do much about the water (for bagels and whatever else the legends say make the difference). all i can say is that the dc area still doesn't have a great deli (although they finally figured out bagels with Bethesda Bagels)--so i'm cautiously optimistic.