It may not have the sophisticated ritz of a SoBe nightclub, and some of the clientele look like characters right out of Andy Warhol's Trash, but the unpretentious vibe is precisely why the sprawling Parliament House Resort is widely lauded as the premier GLBT ' and, some would even argue, straight ' night-life destination in town. The clubs and bars scattered throughout the complex attract throngs of revelers and come Gay Days, it's raining men.
But even bear cubs and chicken hawks get peckish, and if you've ever traveled the North OBT thoroughfare, you know the pickings, insofar as food is concerned, are slim. So, as you'd expect from any decent resort, an on-site restaurant offers the kind of satisfaction only a full-service kitchen can provide.
And in keeping with the resort's fraternal and down-to-earth disposition, the Rainbow CafÃ©'s humble digs are as relaxed as its waitstaff. The walls of scarlet stucco and the soft red hue imbuing the square space have something to do with it, as does the fare, which is on-par with dishes served up at any big-box eatery.
This isn't a place to dine on foie gras and sauternes; it's a patty melts'and'buffalo wings ($5.50) kinda place, the latter being a satisfying-enough appetizer ' moist and saucy, but with too vinegary a finish to qualify it as outstanding.
I didn't know what to expect from the cheeseburger chowder that accompanied the chicken marsala ($9.95), but it proved to be a comforting bowl of thick, creamy goodness, with plenty of beefy morsels. The chicken marsala, however, looked like it could've been served straight out of a Stouffer's frozen dinner. The edges of the shrunken breast halves were hardened, likely because they were sautÃ©ed too long, and the side of veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and carrots) tasted as though they had just recently been thawed out of a bag.
At $15.95, the 8-ounce filet mignon was a decent value, but the circular slab was served more medium-well than the desired medium, and those bland veggies just put the dish closer to the Perkins end of the flav-o-meter. Admittedly, though, I picked my baked potato clean.
Mirrors on three of the restaurant's walls, I soon came to notice, are conducive to man-peeping, which serves to liven up the atmosphere as eyes, sometimes sheepish, sometimes gazing, dart from mirror to plate, then back to mirror. Taking in this reflective exercise can be interesting, if not entirely voyeuristic, so when my waiter entered the scene, I peeled my eyes away from the mirror just in time to see a plate of the bartender salad ($7.95) set before me. The strips of teriyaki chicken on a bed of field greens completed my chicken three-way for the night (cue the gasps), but alas, the teriyaki sauce was too sugary for my liking, and the soggy greens didn't help elevate the dish in my eyes.
Swoon-worthy chocolate cake ($2.95), served with a dollop of cream, was gooey-fabulous and one of only two desserts on hand, the other being carrot cake.
Beginning on the Wednesday prior to Gay Days weekend, the cafÃ© is expected to be 'slamsville,â?� as my waiter put it, with the restaurant staying open 24 hours from Friday to Monday evening.
Apologies if I came across sounding like a dining diva, but I couldn't help it â?¦ the Rainbow CafÃ© brought it out in me.