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Sep 26, 2010 05:46 PM

Review of Tapas Garden in Indian Rocks Beach

We'd read good reviews of this place on and thought it would be a good place to eat dinner, since we both love tapas. What a mistake! We were the only people in the restaurant on a Saturday night, which should have told us something, considering that other restaurants in the area had full parking lots. It actually reminded us a lot of the show Kitchen Nightmares, where the restaurant was deserted and the standards had slowly slipped over time (we're giving them the benefit of the doubt that they weren't always this awful).
We arrived during "happy hour," which ostensibly should have entitled us to $5 tapas. After we were given the check, with full priced tapas on it, we overheard another server (not ours) tell the second group in the dining room that the $5 tapas was tapas that was not on the menu. Unfortunately, our server did NOT tell us this. He was very nice and friendly, but seemed quite callow, given the absence of his notification about the tapas specials and the fact that he didn't offer us dessert or to order more tapas, even though we said that we'd start with 3 and would probably order more. There were other strange things about the service like, with an entirely empty dining room, they gave us the table next to the bathroom. The woman who seated us didn't pull out our chairs or spread out our napkins, which was another indication of the unpolished service that we received here.
The food, though, was the big problem. We wanted to start with three different tapas, but they were out of the one that sounded most appealing to us, the fried green tomatoes with crab meat. We ordered the ceviche, four crab croquettes, and the shrimp al ajillo. The ceviche turned out to be a garden salal with precisely TWO shrimp, sliced lengthwise, and a half of a bay scallop, which was cut into two pieces. Not exactly what is usually indicated by the term "ceviche," especially for $7.50. The crab croquettes, which were described as "filled with crab and cheese," turned out to be plain potato croquettes. Neither crab nor cheese was in evidence here. The shrimp al ajillo, at $7.95, was a giant rip off. This, of the three dishes, turned out to be the only one that was what it said it was: shrimp with garlic sauce. However, $7.95 at Tapas Garden buys you 6 medium-sized (26-30/lb) shrimp. Woo hoo! I've posted a photo, though it's only got 5 shrimp, since I forgot that we were photographing the food and had eaten one of the shrimp before I remembered this.
I was so irritated at this point by the misinformation and misleading descriptions that we just paid the check and left. I didn't even finish my glass of wine because I was so irked. I would definitely advise avoiding this restaurant unless you would like to pay too much for mediocre food with either excessively small portion sizes or misleading ingredients like their "ceviche" or "crab" croquettes.

Tapas Garden
Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785

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  1. I LOVE paying too much for mediocre food, specifically with misleading ingredients and excessively small portions! I'm there!

    heh no just kidding, I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience, but I'm happy you saved me the trouble of ever eating there. we have friends with a place right on IRB, and there isn't much in the way of foodie-quality grub there, especially on the strip. Guppy's wasn't terrible, but if I lived in IRB I would probably make the drive in to St Pete just to get good food. It's sad that in the absence of competition, mediocrity flourishes. Salt rock was pretty decent, and the little coffee shop out there had some bitchin muffins too. In general though IRB is a pretty "B-" area for grub.

    2 Replies
    1. re: askdrtodd

      Good to know, I thought it looked interesting. And Dr. Todd I am with you on the IRB Coffee. Their orange cranberry muffins are just amazing.

      1. re: juli5122

        That's exactly the one I was talking about! Nice. Wife and I had the orange/cran muffin and an iced coffee, it was an unexpectedly tasty treat.

    2. Disappointing dining experiences suck!

      I really enjoyed my meal at Tapas Garden a couple of months ago. We tried the Duck and Chicken Liver Pate, Chef Randy Mussels, Crispy Duck Leg with Orange Wine Sauce, Filetito, Lobster Escargot, Baked Brie in Puff Pastry and Banana Cream Pie...the hub-unit and I both loved it all. Everything was as described, portion size was what I expect from a tapas dish, and our service was excellent.

      I'll grant you, that ceviche dish doesn't sound very inspiring!

      Tapas Garden
      Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785

      1. Jim Webster, the food critic for the St. Petersburg Times, had better luck:

        1. "6 medium-sized (26-30/lb) shrimp. Woo hoo!"

          If those shrimp were 26-30's, as they do look in your photo, you were NOT ripped off. They are considered extra large, not mediums, in the industry....just sayin...