For whatever reason, I didn’t get a good vibe the first time I visited Kool Beanz. It may have been because we were in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, or that the place had a line out the door. In any case, we didn’t end up eating there. We’re certainly glad we went back because this place is a gem. And don’t be fooled by the online menu: the available fare is constantly changing.
We went this past Wednesday as part of a restaurant crawl in honor of our friend Jill visiting Florida for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I was so excited because the last and only time we had eaten there, they ran out of incredible looking short ribs. Since the crawl is a majority-rules affair, I spent the next hour selling the Kool Beanz short rib to the girls. Imagine my shock when we arrive and it’s gone from the menu. “You might have some in the back, right?”, I asked our waitress with a wink as I slipped a $5 into her hand.* Nope, sorry. This wasn’t the first time I’d been cursed by the food gods (never again, Peppers on Cap Circle).
We started with drinks. The wine and beer selections are creatively displayed on wine and beer bottles, respectively. Also, the wines and beers are relatively inexpensive. The cheapest glass of wine at Avenue Eat and Drink that night was $8, but you could get a suitable glass at KB for $5.50. Both the appetizer and entree selections are extensive to say the least. Before going, I would encourage you to checkout their online menu as it seems the items there are permanent, but they most certainly will have quite a few specials available when you arrive. I contemplated the frog legs, but the girls shot those down.
We collectively decided on the coconut curry mussels. At this point in the night, most everyone was gone and the kitchen was slowing down. The cooks started talking to us about what they were turning out. One mentioned that he makes the curry for the mussels from scratch. Another mentioned he thought the addition of fish sauce made the curry too salty. Sitting at the bar at KB is an experience unto itself. On busy nights, it’s fun to watch dishes being made, start to finish. On slow nights, you can actually talk to the cooks. We peppered them with questions: what should we eat, how do you make this, how do you make that, what the heck is a monk fish? The mussels came out and we devoured them like we had never seen food. The curry was a little salty but we wiped the bowl clean with the complimentary bread. We looked at the entrees but the cooks immediately said “Get the monkfish”. So we did. Monkfish has a very unfishy texture. It’s not flaky, but dense like a lobster tail. It came out in a bowl with a fennel-saffron tomato broth, fingerling potatoes and sourdough crostinis. The dish was fantastic.
Their dessert menu was not nearly as adventurous as the dinner menu. We decided on the apple dumpling with vanilla bean ice cream, three spoons please. Kool Beanz was now 2 for 2 and approaching “Regular Hangout” status. I give them a ton of credit for going crazy with their offerings. It’s not often we walk away saying we would like to try everything on the menu. Which reminds me, SUPPORT YOUR LOCALLY OWNED AND INDEPENDENT RESTAURANTS!
*Disclaimer: I didn’t try to grease our waitress, but I’ve always thought it would be cool. If you’re a server in Tallahassee and are open to being greased, leave a reply.