Specifically, Antonio’s Coney Island.
To provide some context, I have heard nothing but glowing reviews from numerous friends and from my husband. It has a 4.5 rating on Yelp – and I know Yelp ratings cannot always be trusted, since they rely on the perception of other reviewers being a fairly accurate representation of yours, but a 4.5 feels rare, and corroborated the verbal reviews I had received. Additionally, this restaurant does serve standard Coney fare, but is primarily cooking and serving Honduran-influenced food. I was expecting a lot, and I think rightfully so, given the circumstances. Instead, I had one of the worst experiences of my life at any restaurant, including the Little Caesar’s I used to go to that was pick-up only and usually operated by people whose physical and mental capacities had been noticeably limited through the use of narcotics.
This terrible episode began when we walked through the door. The location is small, which could make it snug and cozy, but instead was unwelcoming and confusing. It was missing the Coney Island sign informing good citizens who pass through the entrance of whether we should Please Wait to be Seated or Please Seat Yourself. I let my husband take the lead, because he had been to the restaurant before, and followed suit when he sat down on one of a few chairs standing against the wall. No one working at the establishment acknowledged our existence, not even a simple “Hello,” not even a smile, until a three-person family walked in and told the waitstaff who immediately flocked all around them that we were already there and should be seated first.
Instead of taking this negligence as the foreboding it was, I tried to maintain a good mood, telling myself that this was a small establishment and people make mistakes and the food is supposed to be really good, which is really what matters. Particularly since I was very hungry.
After a considerable amount of time had passed, a cute, bubbly young waitress showed up at our table to take our drink order. I will note, she did not mess these up. My husband got his diet soda, my son got his milk, and I got a Jamaica. The Jamaica was almost unbearably sweet and undrinkable, but it was the drink that I ordered. The food order, on the other hand, was another story. I don’t know if it was a matter of the waitress or the kitchen being inept, but have a feeling it was both, and the result was a horrifying experience that made my husband and I both ill.
My son ordered the enchiladas, which are described as ” 3 deep fried corn tortillas topped with seasoned ground beef, Honduran cabbage slaw, sliced tomato, sliced avocado, homemade special sauce and Parmesan cheese.” What our waitress gave him were tostadas covered with something resembling dog food that most definitely was not beef, and which, when my husband the chef tried them, we determined were not the delicious enchiladas my husband had been served on a previous visit, and we did not take umbrage to our son’s refusing to eat them.
My husband had asked the waitress which entree he should try – the fried green banana or yuca dish. She recommended the yuca, but put him down for a side instead of an entree.
I ordered the relatively safe breakfast spread, with over easy eggs, bacon, fried plantains, and slaw. Hard to mess up, although this restaurant managed it, giving me an empty cup in lieu of the side of crema, and putting the driest slaw known to man on my plate.
There was disappointment all around when the waitress gave us the bill, which, when including the tip amounted to around $50. I reluctantly pulled out my debit card. $50 is a bit on the hefty side for a Coney island, and to pay this sum for food that was not what we asked for and was noticeably worse than anything I could have made myself at home (eggs and toast, cereal and milk in a bowl, cheese and crackers, fruit – I’m not a great cook, but all of these edibles are ones that I can prepare and that would taste better) was difficult for me to do.
The stomach pangs started as we began walking back to the car. I thought, at first, I was being dramatic, or was just so pissed about being ignored as though my family and I are not people only to be served expensive food that didn’t taste well that it was physically manifesting itself. But these pangs did not go away. I remained ill for the remainder of the day. And my husband’s stomach began bothering him as well, although he is neither a hypochondriac nor susceptible to illness induced by espousal rage.
So in summation, although many people appear to have a very enjoyable time at this restaurant, at the very least, when it is having an off day, it is not only a bad experience, it is a horrible one. I ended up paying $50 at a Coney island for food that made me ill and tasted worse than if I had just pulled $50 from an ATM and eaten the paper bills instead. If you are in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and go to this establishment, what could it cost you? Do yourself a favor, and eat anything else. Literally anything.