Vacation Day 5: A Tale of Two Meals

IMG_3856It was the best of meals, it was the worst of meals, the contrast between my lunch and dinner more different than a cumulous rain cloud and a dollar store bag of nacho flavored chips. My wife and I went into Orange Beach today, to exchange a t-shirt I bought a couple of nights ago, and decided to grab lunch while we were there. Since Orange Beach is where I typically go on a beach vacation, I’m fairly well versed in all of the good dining options there, and after listing off a few for Leticia, we decided on Cosmo’s. It was around 11:30 when we arrived so the restaurant was not yet packed with the tourists we’d come to expect every time we went out to eat, so we were seated right away. I ordered a blackened mahimahi sandwich, which was the fresh catch special of the day, with fries and an unsweet tea to drink. The waiter was fantastic and very attentive to our needs, never letting my glass of tea drain empty before refilling it for me. The food itself was great, the fish was cooked perfectly, blackened with a thin crust and the meat so tender that it came apart easily, but not so much so that it completely deteriorated and fell apart with each bite. The fries too were perfect, not too thick and cooked to a crispy perfection with a flavorful seasoning on them. Yesterday I said that my shrimp and grits was the best meal that I’d had to that point, and it was, but it’s time to make an amendment to that declaration. My lunch today at Cosmo’s is not only the best meal I’ve had on this trip, but it might possibly be the best meal I’ve ever had on the Gulf Coast period.

I should have realized that my nearly perfect streak of meals on this vacation was too good to last, because it did, but I had no idea that it would happen tonight, in the very same day when I had my best meal. We went to a place called Tacky Jack’s and while the name should have been a clear signal that this was no place I needed to get involved with, it was a place that came recommended to us, so a little after six, the whole family was sitting outside the restaurant, sweating and waiting for our names to be called. Nobody asked if we wanted to sit outside or inside, so they put us in the more miserable of the two environments, the only conciliation being that there was a large fan pointed directly at our table outside, the downside being that it wasn’t plugged in. I looked at the menu, which lived up to the tacky reputation that the restaurant’s name had me expecting, calling nachos “Mexican Garbage” and Sandwiches “Samiches.” It took me the entire fifteen plus minutes in which we were waiting for our waitress to make her first appearance, to decide what I was going to get, and it wasn’t a problem of having to choose between several options that all sounded really good, but rather picking the meal that seemed like the least terrible option.

I went with the blackened shrimp tacos, and while they were blackened in a hot skillet at some point, it wasn’t done after I’d ordered it, because when the food came it was all cold. The shrimp tasted okay but since it was all cold, the entire meal was pretty unenjoyable. My brother asked me if I would get the same thing if I went to eat there again and I told him no. Then he asked me what I would get and I told him directions to a better restaurant, which perfectly sums up how I feel about Tacky Jack’s. The waitress made very few appearances at the table, and once we finished eating and were waiting for the check we didn’t see her for at least twenty minutes, not that the place was busy, empty tables all around us. I wish we’d gotten the memo like everybody else that this place was to be avoided, but at least I’ll no better in the future, and if my experience can help at least one person to not go through this disappointing ordeal themselves, then I suppose it will all be worth it.

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