Hello neighborhood, hope you’re enjoying your holiday season! Welcome back to Lunchtime With Tillie: We missed being around these parts! As Lesterhead mentioned last week, the family was felled by a stomach bug. (Don’t worry, no local restaurants contributed to that!) Tillie and I are back now in fine eating form and would like to thank those who sent along get-well-soon thoughts. For our return, we decided to try and play it simple by going to the recently reopened Chinese and Spanish eatery Sapolo, located on Myrtle Avenue. I say “play it simple” because of the fact that it’s directly across the street from our house! And this was a good thing because the day we went was that brutally cold and windy one we experienced last week, so a trip with little travel time was definitely appealing.
After all this time in the area, I had never gone to Sapolo, primarily because of the whole “two separate cuisines” thing that I’m always leery about, which I mentioned when Tillie and I went to Mexican and Italian restaurant La Stalla. Why, oh why, can’t these places just do one or the other? Or maybe they could just go all out and do some kind of fusion thing, I don’t know: The separate menus always present a frightening prospect to me.
I put aside my concerns and rationalized Sapolo was our best bet, with the weather and all. We got in and the place had the feel of one of those big, modern-type diners, which I found comforting in a way. Tillie and I were shown to a booth and instead of strapping her into the high chair right away, I walked around with her some. I’m sure it’s just in my head, but whenever she’s all bundled up in her winter gear I think she must feel a little claustrophobic. But what do I know about little kids, winter clothes and what they think? I’m from Alabama!
Anyway, as we were walking around, I showed Tillie the aquarium at the front of the restaurant and the exotic fish inside, and she loved that! She was squealing with delight, tapping on the glass, you name it: If she could’ve gotten in there with the fish it would’ve made her day!
When we got back to the table, there were glasses of water waiting for us. I gave her a sip or two, but Tillie still had fish on the brain. She kept pointing toward the aquarium, but I had to tell her, “Tillie, this isn’t Sapolo Aquarium, it’s Sapolo Restaurant so let’s get ready to eat.” (Yeah, right, that really did the trick! I just had to ride out the “look-at-the-fish” wave.)
While Tillie was wishing she was anywhere but in that high chair, I took a look at the lunchtime menu. There was a number of options, all grouped by price. I decided to get the General Tso’s chicken with chicken-fried rice and wonton soup to start: decent options for Tillie to try, I thought. The soup arrived almost instantaneously and it was fine, nothing too special about it. I tried to get T to have a taste, but she was uninterested. I did manage to give her a couple of sips in between her yelling at me to bring her back to the fish tank.
Then the main course arrived: a heaping mound of rice with what appeared to be about a whole chicken. I mean, it was a lot of food – plenty enough for me and Tillie. The waiter brought out a small plate so I could dish her up some of it. I took a bite of the food first and it wasn’t worth writing home about. The rice was bland, and I don’t know if you’ve encountered this with General Tso’s chicken, where underneath all that sauce, the crust is pretty hard and the chicken is bone-dry. Well, that was the case here, totally overcooked.
I put some of the rice on the little plate for Tillie and she was barely going for it when I was using the plastic spoon to feed her. I switched from that to using my fork, which I guess makes her feel like she’s eating as the grown-ups do (a little trick I picked up from Tillie’s mom). I took my broccoli and cut it up into tiny pieces for her, which she enjoyed.
I was kind of “ehhh” about the meal myself. I kept trying to find a moist, tender piece of chicken – just one! – but couldn’t do it. I ate enough of it, though, to say I at least put something in my stomach!
When we were finally done eating, a waitress brought Tillie and me some fortune cookies. We had a bite, then I brought her back up to see her little finny friends, which she got a kick out of. I got the check, paid the bill, bundled Tillie back up (which isn’t really the most fun of tasks, for either of us!) and we were out.
Now about Sapolo: Would I go there again? Believe it or not, especially how I said I wasn’t enamored with the food, that’s a tough one. The service was excellent – I don’t even know if I give Tillie that much attention! And the prices were pretty good, except for the $1.75 for the canned Coke. Plus, there are those fish in that big tank up front. I guess I’ll have to find something on the menu that I like – or I could just take Tillie to the aquarium!