Dining review: Disappointment abounds; Stilts needs to go a lot higher
There’s a lot of great things to say about Stilts Bar & Grill, the beach-side eatery inside Marriott’s Crystal Shores; unfortunately, the service isn’t one of them.
My partner in dine and I arrived this steamy afternoon after a long search on the island for a place to eat. Our first stop, Davide Italian Café; closed for summer break. Philly Grille, also closed. Stonewall’s. Open. No one was in the parking lot and the one person we saw inside was busy trying to resurrect an electronic menu and had no time for us. So, with no objections, we left.
Welcome to summer on Marco Island.
Upon arriving at Stilts, we saw a good-sized crowd partaking in refreshments and watching the World Cup on the single flat-screen TV behind the bar. We waited and waited for someone, anyone to acknowledge us. Finally, we interrupted a staff member who was playing with some dirty dishes and asked if we could seat ourselves.
After 10 somewhat grueling minutes at the table, wondering if we should leave, a member of the wait staff brought dishes out to the table behind us and cautiously acknowledged our existence. Six minutes late, we had menus.
Add all that waiting up and it was more than 20 minutes from entry to menus in hand; something that typically happens in under a minute.
On to a better topic, the food. Thank goodness! It was happy hour, and we benefitted from the lower-priced appetizers by ordering two: the artichoke and spinach dip with tortilla chips and buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese dressing.
The chips were tasty, with or without the dip, which was adequate; but nothing special. I would describe it as a creamy guilty pleasure and warn you to check your teeth after. The wings were the right amount of hot; severed with celery sticks. They leave one with some messy hands, as expected. It might be wise if they served them with wipes; since the bathrooms are on the first floor.
It may just be your hands that are messy, but you’ll feel as though you need a head-to-toe shower afterwards.
On to the main meals; at the insistence of my editor, I ordered the mahi mahi from the street tacos options. Grilled, generous chunks of white meat – this is the real chicken of the sea – with my choice of corn tortillas (you can have flour). There was a total of three tacos, with Cole slaw inside and drenched in chipotle aioli. That would be my only complaint. Too much sauce (and they dared give me more sauce on the side).
My dining companion had the grilled chicken sandwich, as the menu called it. Now this was a bit weird. Yes, it said grilled, but in the description, it said blackened. Can it be both? I suppose. But generally, it’s not expressed in that fashion. And guess what? When the dish arrived, it was grilled. It however, was not blackened. Mystery solved.
So, the chicken is served on a brioche bun, and is topped with mozzarella, avocado, Cole slaw and tomato. It received some hearty thumbs up; but also had generous toppings that could and probably should be scaled back a bit.
We left with our bellies filled and happy. An emotion missing from most of the staff. At least the birds were busy cleaning the floors; and they were the only ones, it appears.
This experience does not live up to the Marriott brand. That was our biggest surprise. I guess vacation club rules apply? The company should up their game, or consider calling it the Comcast Vacation.
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If you go
Stilts Bar & Grill
Located in Marriott's Crystal Shores, 600 S. Collier Blvd, Marco Island