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Nov 8, 2009 05:06 PM

Ellington's on Sanibel Island - Lousy service, and Food. We won't go back!

Friends ask me why I rarely 'diss" a restaurant. Until yesterday, I had no reason to. Now I have a "lousy restaurant " tale to tell.

My dining group went to Ellingtons' new site, at former Dolce Vita, on Sanibel.
We had not one, but two lousy servers, and that's despite speaking to owner Sharon Wise!

Server "A" when asked by one lactose intolerant member what could she have that's free of milk, was told firmly and unequivocally by the server, after checking with the chef, that, "You can't have anything to eat here that's free of milk."

That made no sense. I can cook 100 apps mains and desserts off the cuff without milk at my home, as I have no milk in my fridge. My friend marched up to see the manager, who punted to the Owner, Sharon, who said "You can have the shrimp." Fine, 15 minutes wasted.

My other friend ordered the signature Chicken Caesar Salad. The waitress whirled around and confronted him. "We don't have that on the menu. Did you see that on the menu"t?" My kind friend, used to dealing wth bratty kids, calmly pointed to the $16 Caesar on the menu. 'Oh", she said. She took our orders. 20 more minutes gone. She then returend, and gave a long song and dance, trying to convince us that she never said there was no milk free items on the menu to us. That dog and pony act didn't fly with 4 bemused witnesses. She disappeared. Ten minutes passed. A new male server "B" appeared. Tag team like, he said "I'll be taking over your tab (from the other server)."

He later appeared with most of our appetizers, minus the fussed over Chicken Caesar Salad. We asked when that ws coming. He said "I didn't take any order for that." We replied "You didn't take any order for the other appetizers we ordereed either, and they are here. Where's the Caesar Chicken Salad?" Grudgingly he went back, checked with server "A" and came with a set up for making it table side. It was a small portion, tasteless without egg anchovy or any apparent "bite" from Worcestershire sauce or lemon , and the chicken strips were laid on top.

It got worse. The milk-free shrimp were bland, as if washed under running water to remove any milk. The herbs were blah. We lost our appetites for entrees, and left after paying full tilt for the lousy food. It's a shame to be treated that way. The musicians are good, and Dolce Vita left them a pretty place. As the only nightclub on the island, they are often full, and could care less if some visitors dont' accept lousy service. The people at the next table were visibly frustrated with server "A". At least she's consistent.

Well we don't care for consistently bad service and food, and we shall not be going back. There's far better places on Sanibel for good food and good service like Sweet Melissa's, Thistle Lodge, and Sunset Grill.

Sunset Grill
6536 Pine Ave, Sanibel, FL 33957

Dolce Vita Restaurant
1244 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957

Sweet Melissa's Cafe
1625 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33597

Ellington's Jazz Bar & Restaurant
937 E Gulf Dr, Sanibel, FL 33957

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  1. I saw the Dolce Vita was closed and Ellington's had taken the space last week. I had never considered Ellington's for food in the past. We mainly went for jazz after the island had closed up shop at say, 9 pm. (lol)

    Sounds like they won't be around for long. Dolce Vita disappeared with the disappearing super-realtors that plied clients with wine and song. LMF (edit) look at the idiotic link the new program has added for New Smyrna Beach, so close yet so very far)

    Dolce Vita
    1518 S Dixie Fwy, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168

    2 Replies
    1. re: LilMsFoodie


      Hey, New Smyrna Beach is in Florida, what more could you ask for from Chow's inane new system of force-linking our text to any hypertexted restaurant that vaguely fits?

      Chowhound doesn't let me remove the idiotic restaurant links it adds to my words and your words. Hope it's a moneymaker for them, yit is a misleading pain in the butt for readers.

      Ellington's allegely moved into Dolce Vita's site after it was foreclosed. Depending on the bank, it may not say open long. I hear there's a juicy scandal behind the whole sordid thing-nothing new. The owners will make hay, er money, while the ride lasts.

      Let the unwitting tourists do like the locals, and take their business elsewere.

      Dolce Vita
      1518 S Dixie Fwy, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168

      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

        DV was owned by John Armenia, a builder, developer that did Sanibel Harbor resort, the Hilton Inn on Sanibel and he built Riva del Lago, the tall, empty high rises overlooking Lakes Park on US 41. I imagine that Riva de Lago has done him in for the time being. At night there are no lights in the two towers.