Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Restaurant Review - Manny's Original Chophouse, 35496 Hwy 27, Haines City, FL

Manny's Original ChoPhouseOn a recent Sunday, Grandpa called up to say he had heard about a really good steak restaurant way down south on US Hwy 27 in Haines City. He had heard it could get pretty crowded so we decided to head down around 4 pm figuring we would beat the crowd. Around 4:45 pm, we had arrived in Haines City and it wasn't too hard to find Manny's Original Chophouse on the west side of US 27 - just look for the big sign with a cleaver as the "p" in Chophouse. We were able to sit right down at one of the last open tables. For the rest of our dinner, there was a constant crowd of people waiting to be seated so I figured we had gotten really lucky with our table.

The decor at Manny's Original Chophouse is eclectic roadside steakhouse. There are license plates from around the country used as wall-hangings as well as road signs, hubcaps, and a lot of neon. It's also very loud. I had to shout a few times so that Grandma, sitting just across the round table from me, could hear me. The tables are covered with white butcher paper and there are crayons for the kids (and adults) to color with and decorate their space. The menu is surprisingly extensive with chicken, fish, ribs, and burgers, but we decided to stick with the house specialty and get steak.

I ordered the 12 oz Prime Rib for $14.79. All entrees come with the bottomless salad bowl, yeast rolls, and a choice of a potato, veggies, or black beans & rice. I chose the garlic mashed potatoes and was asked if I wanted gravy on them. I thought that would ruin the garlic flavor so I said no - that ended up being a mistake that I'll get into later. Grandpa ordered the 16 oz T-bone steak ($16.99) with sweet potato and Grandma asked for the bacon-wrapped filet ($14.98) with a baked potato. The kids' menu runs from $3-$4 and includes the standards like mac-n-cheese, cheeseburger, pepperoni pizza, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, corn dog, as well as "steak-on-a-stick". BB ordered the corn dog and LB, no surprise to me, ordered the mac-n-cheese. Kids' entrees come with just fries, not a drink, which ended up being another issue. Inexplicably, Manny's does not have child-sized drink cups so both of my kids got their drinks in the same very large plastic cups as the adults did. BB ordered a sweet iced tea like I did and LB ordered a chocolate milk. Our server had to go check on the chocolate milk when she brought the other drinks to our table because apparently the chocolate milk came from the bar (?).

Service was kind of slow but I suspected that would be the case in this crowded restaurant Manny's delicious tossed saladalthough the kids seemed happy making drawings on the table. A little while later, our bottomless salad bowl arrived along with yeast rolls with cinnamon butter. Our server tossed our salad in a large stainless steel bowl tableside and then pHot yeast rollsrovided plates for us to serve ourselves. Seriously, this was one of the best tossed salads I have ever tasted. It just had your standard salad ingredients in it - iceburg lettuce, thinly sliced carrots, radishes, shredded cheese - so it had to be the dressing that was so amazing. The menu listed it as a garlic ranch dressing but it was incredibly flavorful and was a great accompaniment to the crisp lettuce. The yeast rolls were soft and still hot from the oven which made it even better to put on the sweet cinnamon butter.

It was at this point that we had a "fly" issue. For some unknown reason, there were a few flies buzzing around Manny's that day and even the server commented that was unusual - she figured maybe someone had left a back door open or something. Unfortunately, one particular fly was apparently as big a fan of chocolate milk as LB is. Luckily, LB had been guarding his chocolate milk and notified me immediately when he discovered the intruder. When we caught our server again, she quickly replaced LB's chocolate milk and all was well after that.

Kid's mac-n-cheeseWhen our food arrived, I was pleased to see that the maKid's Corn Dogc-n-cheese came with garlic toast and that the corn dog was pretty big - a good value for the money. All of the adults' food looked fantastic. My prime rib was incredible - done perfectly to medium with dipping sauces of au jus and creamy horseradish on the side. It was so flavorful and tender... until I tried Grandpa's T-bone. Wow, the T-bone was well-seasoned and juicy with great meaty flavor. Grandma's filet was also very good so Manny's main dishes got the "thumb's up" all the way around. While Grandma and Grandpa had Manny's Prime Ribequally good side dishes, my garlic mashed potatoes were... dry. Darn, I should have listened to the server and gotten the gravy! At this point, though, I was getting pretty full and we coManny's T-bone Steakuldn't find the server for a while so I was fine just leaving the side dish alone.

LB had picked at his mac-n-cheese and, of course, eaten all of his garlic toast. BB had done really well and finished his complete corn dog and then started helping Grandpa eat his T-bone steak. In all, it was a really great meal, except for one last surprise when we received the check. While all of the soft drinks and iced teas were $1.99 a piece, LB's one chocolate milk was $3.45! That actually turned out to be more than his entire meal. When I asked the server about this, she said she was sorry but that's because it came from the bar. So, LB will be getting lemonade next time we come to Manny's Original Chophouse.


Anonymous said...

Mannys does have good food; however excessive calls have been made to health department about the excessive health violations. Manny also doesn't treat his servers well and hates to pay them the $3.15 and hour that they deserve. Also, Manny wife Angie likes to accuse staff of theft etc. Bartender Mike was arrested in 2005 for selling liquor to minors. I choose not to go to Mannys due to the place being so dirty and the way his family treats staff.

Anonymous said...

I am a server at Manny's I have worked there for almost 4 years. I have never had a problem getting paid and I have never heard Manny's wife Angie accuse anyone of stealing. If our place is so dirty why does the health inspector who inspects are restaurant come there and eat? If it was that bad I would think he would eat elsewhere no matter how good the food was. Health inspections are public information anyone can look it up and see what we have ever been cited on.

Anonymous said...

I have been a regular of this restaurant for 2yrs now and even though the food is good, the service is terrible. If you want to wait 1-2hrs to be seated and then be treated like garbage, by the owners, then this is the restaurant for you. The last time I went there, I was so shocked at how the owner yelled at me in front of all the other customers, as well as the guests we decided to bring the restaurant for the first time, that I am amazed people still go there. I was told to wait 1hr, however ended up patiently waiting for almost 2hrs. When we got seated our table wasn't even ready, we didn't have chairs for everyone to seat, and when I approached the owner/hostess the madness started. I am strong believer that customer service out-weights everything else but they have no sense of this at all. What a shame that for something so little, I was treated so bad. Being a regular at this restaurant is a shame to see how they really don't care about their clients. It won't surprise me to see them going out of business if they continue treating people like this. If you still decide to visit this restaurant then Good Luck but remember... I told you so!!

Pam said...

We have visited Manny's several times on several vacations over several years.
Our meals have always been fantastic.

The service has been great...yes we have had to wait but the place has been packed, but we do tend to go for happy hour so we expect to wait.

We can't wait to return to Florida to go to Manny's for our next meal!

Anonymous said...

This place is incredible. We live in Seminole county and make the hour drive to Manny's at least once every two months. I have taken over 20 different people there and they all agree it's among the best meals they've ever had.

There is usually a long wait (especially on Wednesdays, buy one get one free fajitas), but if you do the call ahead seating you won't wait longer than 30 minutes.

When people get into how much servers make and what happened in 2005 that just sounds like a disgruntled worker or possibly competitor.

Do yourself a favor and take the trip, you'll thank me later.

P.S. Best ribs I've ever had, and the Ribeye is incredible.

Anonymous said...

It will be a cold day in hell when I will ever go to Manny’s Original Chophouse in Lake Wales, FL again! I would rate them as a fair steak house with adequate service and a somewhat unique atmosphere. My biggest problem with Manny’s is service following a visit. I forget my credit card upon leaving. I was next in the Pan Handle area of FL and was not able to go back to get it. I desperately wanted to get that particular credit card back as I have many things automatically charged to that card number and did not want to get a new card. I called and talked to a guy who indicated he was Manny’s son and who told me he was too busy to be bothered with mailing forgotten credit cards back to patrons. His attitude was tough luck for you. Ray S.

Bill said...

For a much better alterantive to Manny's try Louie Mack Steakhouse in Lakeland. http://www.lmsteakhouse.com

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