Is Bob Evans The Best Restaurant In Palm Coast? Here’s Why We Think So.

Since arriving in Palm Coast nearly two years ago (March, 2021) we’ve eaten out in at least 25-30 restaurants in the area, mostly in Palm Coast and some in Flagler Beach and Bunnell. Almost every time we’ve gone out it’s been a disappointment. And in most cases it’s been a serious disappointment, to the point where I wonder if the people running these places even have a clue.
I also wonder if I’m just too picky, especially considering my background vis a vis the food industry. I worked in restaurants at various times growing up and in young adulthood. I’ve published magazines for most of the last 40 years and a number of the publications I did had food-related articles in them, mostly restaurant reviews.
And actually one magazine was a food magazine that covered growing vegetables and how to cook them. In Bangkok I wrote about 700 restaurant reviews over a 23-year period and also published a hospitality and food service trade magazine for six years.
I wrote about chefs, I interviewed Michelin-starred chefs and ate their food and I learned a tremendous amount about food preparation from these people.
And then I owned a restaurant for five years and served expatriates and tourists and some local Thais a menu of traditional American food like burgers, ribs, steaks, meatloaf, fish and chips and my mother’s spaghetti sauce and apple pie.
In short, I’ve had a bit of an education over the last 40 years or so. Am I an expert? Who knows (or cares?), but I do know how food should be served in a restaurant and when I encounter slipshod service, bad food preparation or owners who don’t seem to care about their customers, or the food service business in general, I sometimes get perturbed, let’s call it.
What really galls me is that most of the time the problems these places are having are so easily correctable with either a little knowledge or a little care.
So why do I think that Bob Evans might be the best restaurant in Palm Coast? Because they are consistent and they know what they are trying to do. Does Bob Evans have the best food around? I don’t know. I haven’t been everywhere in this area. I will say that the portions are good sized, the prices are reasonable and the quality is consistent.
I’ve interviewed dozens of chefs and in some cases, as mentioned, they were very accomplished people. I used to like to ask them, “What’s the most important factor in creating a successful restaurant and each one of them — each one — said “consistency.”
It’s true. If you put out a dish and a customer loves it then the next time that customer orders the same dish it better taste exactly the same. If it doesn’t then the customer is going to be disappointed. We all know from our own experiences that this is the case.
So if you go into a Bob Evans and order any of their dishes they should have, like any restaurant, consistent quality, and in our experience so far they always have. They may not have the most innovative menu or the trendiest items on it but at least you know what you’re going to get each time and that’s important to diners like me. And you. And everyone else.
I actually wrote this article because a dining companion I’ve had for the last couple of months got upset after I criticized a couple of places that we went to recently. The first place served us prime rib tips that were pretty dry and were overcooked. I also got a martini that was brown. I never saw a brown martini before so I sent it back. They then brought me one that tasted only of cheap gin so I didn’t drink it.
I paid but before leaving the owner sort of ran into me and asked about my order. When I told him about the prime rib tips he told that they usually cooked them medium well to well done. I couldn’t figure out why you would take beautiful, prime rib and cook it till it was well done and dried out. I figured he had no clue either, especially since his bartender couldn’t even make a martini.
The second place was Mexican and I ordered a steak and seafood dish. The waitress asked me how I wanted the steak cooked and I told her medium rare. When she brought it to the table the steak was about a quarter of an inch thick and cooked to well done or beyond. It had the look and consistency of shoe leather. I mean, how else is a steak that thin going to end up?
And why would you even take an order for a medium rare steak when it’s that thin? The people here obviously didn’t have a clue either, although they make very strong margaritas.
When the waitress asked me how the steak was — probably because I hadn’t really touched it — I told her it was terrible. I was going to pay, and didn’t ask for a discount or anything, but they decided to take it off the bill for some reason anyway.
I didn’t think I was being demanding in either instance. I just wanted some decent food. I don’t think it’s too much to ask when I’m paying good money for what I’ve ordered.
So back to Bob Evans. The food is prepared well, it’s reasonably priced, it’s consistent and it’s tasty. The service is not great but it’s far from bad and considering the staffing problems all restaurants are having now I would never hold it against them.
If every restaurant here would just do what they do then the whole Palm Coast dining scene would take a big step forward.
— Tom Aikins
Bob Evans, 100 Garden St. S., 386-246-5300