Picking the worst restaurant in Miami is almost as hard as picking the worst driver on the Palmetto. There’s just such a hall of fame of awful, leaving the honor to just one doesn’t seem fair. But if you listen to the good people of Yelp there is one clear-cut winner: the Columbus Restaurant at the Colony Hotel.
The Colony was actually the backdrop for the famous Scarface scene where the dude gets chainsawed to death in a shower. Which according to some Yelpers is still preferable than dinner at the Columbus.
A quick perusal of Columbus’ page shows they clearly said no when Yelp called asking them to advertise. The phrase “can you give a place zero stars” was used repeatedly. Multiple people made reference to hospital visits. One lady claimed a roach climbed up her back, and more than one person called it “the worst experience of my life.”
Clearly those people have never been to the DMV in Hialeah, but...
Could the Columbus really be this bad? We decided to find out.
The first thing that greeted us as we approached the restaurant was not a host or a waitress, but rather an ear-splitting rendition of “Truffle Butter” coming from a speaker out front. Which isn’t even appetizing when you hear it in a strip club, but is downright revolting when trying to eat dinner. (Because, you see, the song’s not actually about…… nevermind.)
We were seated relatively quickly by an older man who, despite the fact that there were three open tables already set with plates and silverware, seated us at a table set instead with used plastic shot glasses, filled with pre-chewed limes.
The waitress was actually very pleasant, and explained to us in a thick Russian accent that the drinks were 2-for-$25-to-$55. Apparently most of the Yelpers who claimed they were lied to about the price of the drinks just couldn’t understand a Russian accent over blaring Lil Wayne. Clearly they haven’t spent enough time at Tootsie’s.
Our first margarita was a $55 Ocean Drive monstrosity.
It would only have been an appropriate size if our names were Andre the Giant or Amanda Bynes.
It’s like someone said, “You know, that 64oz margarita has enough liquor in it to kill a small horse, but you know what would make it a guaranteed trip to the stomach pump? Dumping a beer inside. Oh what the hell, make it an even two.”
When it arrived it stood so tall on the table you actually had to stand up to drink it. Probably a good idea so the liquor doesn’t all go to your head, but still more aerobic exercise than one should have to put into drinking on Ocean Drive.
They tell you they’re two-for-one. What they don’t tell you is two of them is actually the annual liquor consumption of some small countries, and therefore pretty impossible to finish during dinner. So essentially you end up spending the equivalent of the cost of a tank of gas on one drink. Welcome to Miami. Now go complain about it on Yelp.
We considered ordering one of their artistically presented seafood platters. They’re all simply listed at “market price,” and though we’re not exactly sure what “market” they’re referring to, after tasting it we can only assume it’s the frozen section at Food Lion.
The couple next to us had ordered one, and were not at all shy about letting us sample some of their uneaten lobster. This should have been our first indication.
I’m pretty sure the Columbus doesn’t have its own private boat bringing in a daily catch like they do at Fontainebleau. Just a hunch.
For the first course we ordered a margherita pizza, which resembled an actual margherita pizza about as much as our aforementioned $55 cocktail resembled an actual margarita. The pizza that’s typically served with fresh tomato and basil was served with neither, replacing them with a sort of slimecheese that oozed down your throat and a sauce that was like Campbell’s tomato soup without the zest.
The crust was thin and overcooked, and the edges of the pizza were so sharp your leftovers probably wouldn’t make it past TSA.
Halfway through the meal, our $55 margarita had melted into a sad mix of flat beer, sugar water, and cheap tequila. It was kind of like drinking the bottom of a cooler after a frat party, so we made good on the 2-for-1 and ordered another. Bet Columbus didn’t see THAT one coming!
They saw it coming. And brought us a second margarita in less time than it should realistically take to make one. Two sips in and we both decided to stick with water.
Since we passed on the Gorton’s Shellfish Platter, our main courses were a cheese-covered chicken Parm and a flap steak au poivre. Both served with mashed potatoes.
The potatoes were clearly served to prepare diners for their imminent hospital visit. Made out of the land’s finest dehydrated potato flakes, they were reminiscent of something you’d eat after major surgery/in jail. So our friend says.
At least the chicken was locally sourced. “Locally” as in sourced from the cafeteria at South Pointe Elementary School.
It tasted like they’d sent whatever was left over after “Chicken Fingers and Easy Mac” day, cooked out that lassst little bit of flavor, and smothered it with cheeseslime.
The flap steak looked like they’d taken a cow’s ACL, artfully draped it over some mashed potatoes, topped it with onions, and tried to pass it off as actual meat. I’ve never tasted an ACL, but I’d wager this was chewier. Note to aspiring chefs out there: connective tissue doesn’t taste good, even au poivre.
And what were we given to perform the invasive surgery we’d need to slice off even one piece of this “flap steak”? That’s right. A butter knife.
If you ever wondered how everyone in South Beach stays so skinny, it’s probably because they’re eating here. There’s no possible way you can have more than two bites of anything, unless you lack a sense of taste and pregamed with Pepto-Bismol.
The one bright spot, however, was the oft-maligned service. Now, “bright spot” is a relative term. Yes, getting a refill on water is probably easier on a Spirit flight. But in Miami, the fact that the waitress was polite, the busser was prompt, and our entire meal took less than an hour puts them squarely in the top 10%.
Maybe low standards really are the key to a happy life.
So was this really the WORST restaurant in Miami? That’s hard to say. But for oversized drinks and inedible food with a blaring rap soundtrack and dirty tables, well, it’s hard to beat the Columbus. And it is, at least, better than being sliced open with a chainsaw.
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