I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Backwoods Bistro. On the one hand, the people I had known who had eaten in their original location in Sopchoppy FL seemed to love the place. On the other hand, the people I knew who had eaten at their Tallahassee location weren’t impressed. What did I know about the place? I knew it was built in a building that used to house a comedy club. That’s it. I didn’t even know what kind of food they served. I had no idea if it was a nice restaurant or a causal restaurant. The one thing I did know? I was hungry.
Walking into the place,
I still wasn’t sure if I was going to eat at a nice or casual restaurant. The outside made it look like a dive. The kind of place where you’re going to get great bar food. The inside however looks like a modern, nice restaurant. My friend seemed just as confused as I did. After looking through the menu, I figured out what they were going for. What I though was a restaurant going through an identity crisis became something different as I browsed through the various salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and pastas on the menu. Backwoods Bistro isn’t confused about what it is. Instead, it is trying to carter to everyone.
The menu is a mix of casual food and fine dining food. It tries to apply to both the foodie and the picky eater. This isn’t a bad thing, as long as the food for each palate is prepared with the same care. I have seen many restaurants attempt this very feat and fail. Would backwoods Bistro do the same? Or could they pull off a menu that focused on everyone instead of a direct audience?
I ordered something from them menu that I felt fit more of a foodie. I ordered the Cajun shrimp pasta for $15.95. I chose this because if they had a specialty, it seemed to be seafood. However, they did have beef, chicken, and vegetarian food options. My friend ordered something that fit more of a causal diner, the Portobello sandwich with French fries for $9.95.
Our server was friendly and kept our drinks refilled. There isn’t much else to say about the service. If anything, the service was barely noticed. Again, this isn’t a bad thing unless you’re the kind of person who expects the waiter to be your friend while they wait on you. She was quick and quiet. It actually allowed time for me to talk with my guest which is nice.
I really enjoyed my dish. It was fried shrimp, penne pasta, veggies, in what they call a “rowdy sauce”. To me, the sauce tasted like a cross between a vodka sauce and a spicy romesco (red pepper) sauce. It was very creamy. The shrimp had a nice crunch and the texture of butter. It literally melted in my mouth. My favorite part of the dish though? All the different textures. Each veggie was cooked to a different degree. Combine this with the crunchy shrimp, slightly al dente pasta, and the veggies, each bite had a different note to it. I also felt that the chosen veggies for the dish (onion, celery, etc.) really complemented the sauce.
My friend also loved her Portobello sandwich. I can’t speak to it too much (I didn’t try it), but it looked good. She said it was one of her favorite veggie sandwiches in Tallahassee. The sandwich was basic, it had cheese, onions, peppers, and ranch. I did try one of her French fries (which were beer battered). I like my French fries crunchy and full of flavor (not just salt). These delivered.
I did have one complaint about the restaurant. We eat there at lunch time. Backwoods Bistro does not have a lunch menu. I felt $15.95 for my pasta at lunch time was a bit steep. I would have loved the option to order a lunch portion at a cheaper price. It was a lot of food for the middle of the afternoon.
Did Backwoods Bistro pull it off? Can they really cater to both the foodie and the pickey eater? To answer that question honestly, I would need to try a lot more of the menu. Will I be going back for seconds? Yes. Yes I will.
401 E Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Friday & Saturday: 11am-2am*
*food until 10pm, bar until 2am