Jason's Deli is one of the first places hubby and I ate at when we were apartment hunting in Sarasota. And it won me over right away with one simple premise - free ice cream! That's right. No matter what you order at Jason's Deli, you can help yourself to some free soft serve. Granted your choices are limited to chocolate, vanilla or swirl and chocolate syrup is your only topping option, but still - FREE ICE CREAM! And yes, I know I'm talking about dessert first (sorry, mom!) but I wanted to get the good stuff in up front.
Last weekend, we decided to hit up Jason's Deli again after running some errands. Hubby of course went for his usual Club Royale - turkey, ham, bacon, swiss, cheddar, lettuce and tomato on a buttery croissant with honey mustard.
Usually we split that, but on this day I was seduced by a salad I saw on a woman's tray who almost bumped into me as I walked in the door. It was full of cheese and fruit and nuts and all sorts of other yummy goodness that I just couldn't pass it up. Now, Jason's Deli also has a salad bar - but usually I steer clear of those things. To me, they're just breeding grounds for bacteria what with all the coughing, sneezing and filthy hands that tend to gravitate towards "all you can eat" type deals like white on rice. But as the Nutty Mixed Up Salad was a signature salad, and was made behind the counter, I figured it would be okay.
At first glance, it was a beautiful sight. Overflowing with grapes, feta cheese, nuts, dried cranberries, raisins, pumpkin seeds and organic apples, I could barely wait to dig in! But first I had to pick my salad dressing - from the salad bar, no less. So, I held my breath, perused my options and picked a raspberry vinaigrette that I thought would compliment the fruitiness perfectly. I drenched it on my salad (I'm totally a dressing person and usually need to ask for "extra" at restaurants) and began to give everything a good mix. It was then that I noticed that my salad wasn't all it was chopped up to be. All the toppings were covering up disgustingly wilted lettuce. Now, finding one or two brown leaves is generally forgivable. However, this was more than just a few brown spots. This was lettuce so rotten that it had gotten to that mushy black stage. GROSS. And it wasn't just a few pieces. I'd say about half of my salad was inedible.
Now, it's one thing if they've got wilted lettuce on the salad bar line and nobody knows about it. But you can't tell me that the server who made my salad behind the counter didn't notice that half the stuff looked absolutely terrible! But no, he/she just tried to cover it up with fruit and nuts and hope that I didn't realize that I was eating bitter, nasty mush!
Hubby lovingly offered me a few bites of the last half of his Club Royale, which I happily accepted, along with his pickle (true love is always giving your pickle-loving spouse your pickle - always!). The Club Royale is a generally tasty sandwich, but I do have one beef with it. The bacon on the sandwich is that pre-cooked rubbery stuff that is pretty much a let down for any real bacon lover like myself. For my money, I'd rather have a few pieces of crispy, cooked-to-order bacon on that sandwich. It would give it a crunchy texture and salty infusion that would take the sandwich from OK to OMG.
Particularly unsatisfied with my lunch experience, I turned to the ice cream machine to drown my sorrows in a sugar rush. Sure, I'll go back. But I'll steer clear of anything with lettuce.
Atmosphere - B-
Taste - B (sandwich), C (salad)
Presentation - C
Service - B
Price - $
5231 University Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34201