Ah Dexters. I had high hopes for this place, as my trainer at work, Amy, recommended it glowingly. Given the menu and items listed I figured it would be a fairly decent place to go. In some ways my assumptions and hopes held true, and in others they were dashed upon the cold hard rocks of reality. Yes I am being all melodramatic, but hey, its the mood I am in right now.
Regardless, there were good and bad things about Dexter's, but I shall do as I usually do and start off my review with the approach. Dexter's is located just down the street from Fiddlers Green of all places, in historic downtown Winter Park. Or at least the branch of Dexter's we visited was. There are actually 3 total locations: Winter Park, Thorton Park, and Lake Mary. The actual parking and approach were not too terribly bad, but we did run into an issue involving street repairs and I had to take the long way around. Regardless, we found public parking directly across from the cafe and were able to enter.
The outside looked fairly nice, to me at least, and the inside wasn't too bad at first. I noticed quickly that the hostesses all wore very fancy dresses, while the waitstaff was in shirts and jeans. I found this combination to be kinda of...odd. This was the first of many oddities that I encountered, style wise, with this place. We were quickly seated however, and after browsing the menu and the special brunch section our water came over and took our drink orders.
On to oddity number 2 for me. Our drinks came out in fancy champagne style glasses. While this may be the standard considering that this is a wine bar, I found it strange that they would put water, diet coke, and regular coke in these fancy glasses. We also noticed that the people sitting on the porch outside who ordered orange juice had the same glasses. Perhaps they only have the one type of glasses but hey, I felt kinda fancy with this glass!
Our waiter then came back after about 10 minutes to take our order. Now, originally I intended to order 2 things: An omelet and stuffed french toast (which Dan ended up getting anyway). However, after I told him what I wanted in my omelet he seemed to assume that was all I wanted and went to Dan, cutting me off. Thankfully Dan got the french toast so I could try it. He left, and we sat there and waited.
After what seemed like 15 minutes he finally came back around and filled our drinks and I had the chance to order some soup once I found out that it was a Chicken Soup. Our waiter kind of worried me when he told me he was not sure what was in the soup though beyond chicken and some shell pasta. Now, I am picky when it comes to soup (I believe I have mentioned this before) so when it came out I was quite happy with the look. It was very rustic looking, with uneven chunks of chicken and veggies, and even an actual full bay leaf floating around. I took the bay leaf out and took a bite and found it to be excellent! Hey, things were looking up, I thought. This soup was killer. The smell was so good that both Dan and the Photographer ordered a bowl when he returned 5 minutes later.
After about 5-10 more minutes he brought our , and then about 5 minutes after that the soup for the photographer and Dan. Now my omelet, which had Andouille Sausage, Cajun Chicken, Pepper jack Cheese and Caramelized Onions was good. I was also pleased with my home fries, which were nice and full of potato flavor. The omelet was prepared in a fashion that our Photographer calls western, where the eggs were fluffy. Overall, the soup and actual meal was good.
However, during service our waiter started out acting pleasant but as the meal went on he got more and more...tired looking. As if he did not want to be there, and barely could hide his displeasure. He obviously did not want to be there nor serve us. This came to be really obvious when after our meal we needed a refill on our drinks (all 3 of us) and we could see him just chatting with some guys over at the bar. our Photographer stared at him, he looked right at her, and just kept talking for a minute. He then came by, kinda mumbled something about refills, then went OUTSIDE AND REFILLED EVERYONE ELSE before coming back to us. Service with a smile? Not likely! I kept an eye on the other servers and they all seemed to have that vacant "I don't want to be here" expression when they were dealing with their tables, and there was very little talking from them to the customers.
Finally we ordered dessert. I won't go on too much about the Cheesecake, as Dan and the Photographer have gone into a very lengthy description of it. I will talk about my Berry Trifle. It was good for my first foray into the world of Trifles... but it was most assuredly NOT $7.50 worth of good. I mean seriously, it was a tiny little tower of some berries, cream, and cake. Thats it. Nothing special about it. I am sure that the fact it was "marinated" in a wine had something to do with it. Had I known that dessert was that much I would never have ordered it.
Now finally I will talk about the biggest problem I had with the actual decor. The ceiling. Sounds strange that I would have an issue with the ceiling right? Well here is why. The walls and the entrance and the art hung on the walls all spoke of a refined gallery dining experience. However, take a glace up and you run into exposed wiring, air ducts, and sprinkler systems. All coated in insulation and spray painted black. The actual air vents for the air conditioner are set in these huge pipes and are dusty, and there is a skeleton where ceiling tiles (the kind you find in most offices) should be hung but are not. This really bothers me as I worry that dust and insulation could fall from the ceiling at any moment. And its just freakin tacky. The bathroom was even stranger. The decor in the bathroom had NOTHING in common with the main room, and the color scheme was just... odd. Green walls (deep forest green) along with orange brown stall doors, and the toilet paper hung out on the tanks of the toilets? What the heck?!
In the end, the food was good. However the service, ambiance, and strange disharmony of decor struck a chord with me, and it was not a good one. While I am willing to give Dexters a second chance, it will not be that location.
Ambiance/Style - Fail
Service - Fail
Soup - 4
Entree - 4
Dessert - 3
Overall - 3.5 (Might visit a Different Location)
The "french toast" that came was actually 4 pieces that had no resemblance to sliced bread. The plate had them arranged in a bunch with a nearby cup of syrup, some raspberries, and the plate overall was covered with a handful of powdered sugar. Each piece counted for two bites and the bites had a tangy and genuine raspberry taste. The syrup lasted through the dish and there was some to spare. I give this a 4 because there could have been more for what it was.
There was a Homemade chicken soup that I ordered prior to the french toast and it contained carrot slices, some potato and bay leaf. The soup arrived hot and had real grilled chicken in it. I finished the whole thing and had nothing bad to say about it.
I give it a 5.
The dessert was something I wasn't very impressed with.It was Key Lime Cheesecake. There was a presentation to be made here. Unfortunately, our camera person's order of the same thing showed that Dexter's does not hold consistency to be a high priority. My pie had no strawberry while the other one did. At a price of $7.50 (The price was nowhere on the menu. ) this is no mere oversight. Also, the raspberry sauce had a alcohol taste to it, when the description does not state this. If it truly had alcohol content in it, that would be devastating to people who react negatively to alcohol. The Key Lime and cheesecake aspects of the dessert did not complement each other at all. I had to finish it by force of will rather than finishing it naturally.
The dessert gets 3 because the concept was believable but the execution left me slightly disappointed.
The ambiance was nice on the outside, it was brick on the outside with small tables. The tables inside were the same. The ventilation was exposed on the ceiling and the ceiling itself was messily covered with insulation. The interior, being a majority of the dining area, is something that can't be left dirty like that. Ambiance gets adequate.
The service, well... the waiters just didn't seem like they wanted to be there. Their enthusiasm was low and we found ourselves at the end of our glasses for more than 5 minutes at a time. I also spotted a lot of them chatting in a corner of the restaurant and our camera person had to stare directly at one of them to bring a little service to the table. The service was adequate considering the amount of people there.
I kinda don't know if I want to return to this place. Luckily, there are other locations and it might have just been a bad day. But my bad day could easily be your bad day as well. This is why I am being truthful today.
Ambiance/Style - Adequate
Service - Adequate
Soup - 5
Entree - 4
Dessert - 3
Overall - 4 (Might Return to a different Location)
You don't know me, but I'm the Furious Photographer - the hand that holds the camera and records the Furious Foodies' journey. Normally I'm just along for the ride, but this week I'm furious. Our destination was one of the three locations for Dexter's. I liked the place, mostly. The art hanging on the walls was nice, the chairs, while wooden, were more comfortable than the benches at Fiddler's Green. It had a nice atmosphere to it, despite the paint-it-black-and-they-won't-notice naked ceiling. The waiter had a forced-cheerful demeanor, but that's pretty normal for servers. I'm sure Clay's raved enough about the omelet, so just imagine that times two. I got to taste the stuffed french toast, and I'll vouch for it being everything Dan said it was. The soup was fabulous...in fact, I ordered a bowl after smelling Clay's and it was every bit as good as it smelled - and I normally don't like soups. After the bowls were cleared away, and we'd placed orders for more water and some key lime cheesecake, I was cheerfully contemplating coming back to try the dinner menu at a later date.
Then it took five minutes to get a refill on water - after watching our waiter refill water for people outside - and another five for the dessert to come out. By this time, the waiter no longer pretended to be cheerful and he never did the usual 'swing by the table and ask if every thing's okay'. But eh, says I, a bad waiter doesn't ruin the restaurant, I'd still come back. So my key lime cheesecake arrives, with its artful puddle of raspberry sauce beneath it. Now, I don't drink. I don't like the taste of alcohol, and both of my parents have some unusual sensitivities and reactions to the stuff. I like bread pudding. I got bread pudding at Fiddler's Green, and mostly liked it. I would have tried the chocolate bread pudding here, except for the mention of a liqueur being one of the ingredients. So I went with key lime cheesecake, which mentioned nothing of the sort. Imagine my displeasure, then, when I took a bite to discover that the raspberry sauce now soaking the Graham cracker crust was, in fact, laden with booze. I do not appreciate being lied to. If the menu had told me that there was alcohol in the sauce, I would have ordered it without sauce - or, if the menu had listed the price of this deceptive dessert, I might have passed entirely. When the waiter came by with the checks, I asked about the sauce and got confirmation that there was, inf act, alcohol in it. Of course, he prefaced his answer with "I'm not really sure, I'd have to ask the chef," but I've made my living talking to people for three years now and I've been on both sides of that evasion. He knew that there was booze in that, and he knew I wasn't happy about it. So yeah. Expensive dessert that has a fairly significant ingredient that's NOT MENTIONED. I'm never going back to that location again, and even if we go to another location of Dexter's, I won't be paying an arm for any of their desserts.
Ambiance/Style - Adequate
Service - Adequate
Soup - 5
Entree - 4
Dessert - 2
Overall - 3.5 (Might Return to a different Location)
For more information, as well as directions and a menu please visit their website.