party of 25 had dinner at Columbia Restaurant Aug. 5, 2009 and
ordered Paella and rated the food fair because, "The food order
was incorrect" and writes on 12/25/2009: "I am writing this
e-mail to express my sincere dissatisfaction at the quality of
the food & the service I received at your restaurant in St.
Armands, Sarasota on August 5. My family was staying in the
Sarasota area to celebrate my parents 50th anniversary. Our
party consisted of 21 people that had flown in from various
locations around the US. We decided to dine at the Columbia
because we always believed that it was a very special place.
Our party arrived around 9:00 PM and was seated fairly promptly.
Our hostess was quite amiable and noted that we would have a
couple of waiters helping us out. Eventually one waiter arrived
at the table and began taking our drink order. I sensed from the
start that he was upset for no apparent reason as he went around
the table taking the drink order. When I asked him if we could
have separate bills he said that it would be too complicated and
that we would work it out in the end. The waiter disappeared for
an extended period after bringing our drinks to the table,
eventually taking our dinner order after about 45 minutes. As he
took our order he was very upset because a couple of people from
the party stepped over to another part of the table to chat.
About half way through the order taking process he stopped,
visibly frustrated, and noted that he needed to go back and
retake orders because someone had moved. While taking my sonís
order he told him that he needed to hurry because the kitchen
would be closing in 5 minutes. We waited another 40 minutes for
our dinner to arrive and not once did he check up on our table.
By the time our dinner arrived the restaurant had closed & we
were the only ones left. To make matters worse, the food was
atrocious and several of the orders were incorrect. When my
sister tried to tell the waiter that he had given her something
she had not ordered, he argued with her telling her that she did
order the plate he had given her. She was very upset and called
him out for being rude and having a terrible attitude all
evening. The waiter ignored her & eventually went back to the
kitchen, again disappearing for the remainder of the evening.
Several times we had to ask for water from the bus boy. None of
the plates (including the bread plates from the start of the
meal) had been removed from the table. Our table was a disaster
& I had to ask the bus boy to bus the table because there were
so many plates & food on the table. We ended up leaving the
restaurant! at nearly 11:30. The waiter never apologized for his
In short, this was the absolute worst dining experience we have
ever had & the waiter ruined what was supposed to be a happy
family gathering. I am extremely upset & disappointed at the
Columbia restaurant and would never recommend it to any of my
friends or family. "
Service Rating: 5
Ambience Rating: 4
Kid Friendly Rating: 5
Value Rating: Value Rating
Overall Experience: 5
Times At Restaurant: 2
Middlebrook and a party of 5 enjoyed Steak, Shrimp and Salad and
writes on 12/29/2002 "What an excellent meal. "WOW" is the best
word to describe our meal at Restaurant Columbia.
My husband Greg and I had the filet and salad, it was perfect!!
Every bite of my filet melted in my mouth, the side veggies
looked fresh picked, the color was so bright and clean!! The
salad tossed in front of your table was fun to see. Restaurant
Columbia has a great kids menu also, my 2 1/2 year old son Alex
had chicken fingers and fries which he enjoyed. We unfortunately
did not stay for dessert, but, we will next time in February for
my Birthday. The dessert menu looked wonderful!! If dessert it
is half as good as the meal, I know we will love it too!!"
N. Bates dined with 18 people and writes on 4/29/2002: "Arriving
at the Columbia I didn't know the treat I was in for. Having
gone to Salamanca, Spain last summer, I miss the traditional
Spanish cuisine. I opened the menu and spotted the Palla "a la
Velenciana" right away. I knew at the moment exactly what I was
going to order. As it came out on the traditional Palla pan, I
could feel my eyes water due to the memories of my summer trip
flooding back to me. One bite and I melted. It tasted exactly as
I remembered it did in Salamanca, amazing."
Brittany Strandell of Sarasota says she has eaten at the
Columbia 12 times and writes, "This may be a Spanish restaurant
but it serves the best lobster dishes.... and of course its
Cuban Ham Sandwiches are to die for! This is my pick as my
favorite place to eat!"
writes on 8/20/2001: "I ordered CUBAN roast pork with moros y
cristianos, yuca, and plantains. What a disappointment this
choice turned out to be! I will mention individually what was
wrong with this item: 1. yuca: no salt, no mojo 2. plantains:
very good 3. moros y cristianos: the rice was too wet, it is
supposed to be very loose rice, it looked like mud 4. The pork
was definitely not cuban roast pork, it was a bad imitation of
american pork with a bad tasting watery gravy, please remember
Cuban do not eat gravy in any of their foods. If Columbia want
to continue using "Cuban" to identify their cuisine, they need
to send their cooks to some of the good Miami restaurants (like
Larios, La Casona, Versailles, Rio Cristal, etc.) to learn what
Cuban cuisine is really like.
Also, most of the food our party was served was cold, we were
not asked if dessert or coffee was desired, we had to ask for
Now, on the good side: the Cuban bread was very good."
writes on 6/30/2001: "The fresh baked Cuban bread is to die for.
It comes straight from the oven wrapped in a linen napkin. The
1905 Salad is made right in front of you by your wait-person.
Portions are generous (we all took home doggy-boxes),
exceedingly flavorful and it has real eye appeal as well. The
three of us covered the three major food groups: red meat, pork,
and seafood. Not a bad note anywhere. The next time we're in
Sarasota we will definitely return to the Columbia Restaurant."
Getchell writes on 3/5/2001: "We were amazed at the salad-truly
Cuban-tasty and multi faceted. Black bean soup was best ever.
Salmon with shrimp & lobster sauce was succulent and healthy!
Shrimp wrapped in bacon and fried to a crisp golden hue were
marvelous. Yellow rice with julienne carrots and snow peas were
all very flavorful. Nice blend of herbs and spices. Cuban
coffee-full bodied and rich -- finished off the meal. Too full
for dessert---maybe next time."
writes on 12/2000: "I am from the Sarasota area and brought my
fiance to the Columbia this past Summer. I have to tell you how
dissapointed we were in the service and the way we were handled
in the restarant. We had reservations and sat in a busy area
where we waited to close to 25 minutes before anyone came to
take our drink order. When I asked the Manager if he knew where
our waitress was he was apologetic and 5 minutes later our young
and very rude waitress showed up. She asked us " What do you
want" and that was it. No hello or anything. It was so
disapointing that we got up and left. The manager apologized as
we walked out the door, but I will not be returning anytime
soon. Waitstaff makes or breaks your dining experience and I was
sorely disapointed I had made the trip to the "World famous"