PF Changs – Gainesville

Finally got a chance to go to PF Chang’s last week. I have been to one other location in the past (Anaheim) and enjoyed it, so I had some background on what the food was like and what to expect.

Of course, I managed to choose a Friday night before a football game weekend, so it was absolutely slammed. The rows of RV’s in Butler Plaza parking is enough of a sign to anyone that the restaurants in the area are going to be filled to the brim. I kind of knew this ahead of time, which is why I called ahead and made a reservation. I had tried to make the reservation online, which is an option, but apparently their system was down.

Inside, I checked in and was informed there would be a small wait, which was acceptable. It really was slammed. Soon we were escorted to a booth. As a note, the booths are tight, so if you are a large person, you might want to hold out for a table with proper chairs.

The place is decorated decently, with some monitors for watching the various sports that this town is known for. However, they have one significant problem here… the noise. There appears to be no baffling for noise whatsoever in this place, and it gets very loud very fast. I know others have reported on this issue, but I just wanted to reiterate the fact that they really need to do something about it, because it is not a pleasant experience.

Anyway, on to the food. Our drink orders were taken… I opted for water, but others in my group went for some fancy things. One was the coconut cooler, which I tried. This was an odd thing, because one of the after effects of this drink is that it kind of tastes like buttered popcorn… and the moment you have that in your head, every subsequent taste of the drink tastes like buttered popcorn. Great if you are into that sort of thing. I will politely pass on trying that again. As it isn’t something I would ever order in the first place, I can’t call it a detriment to the place… different people have different tastes and all.

So next up come the appetizers. I had ordered the lettuce wraps, which I found to be quite good. I did ask for some chili sauce to go with it, since I like a bit of spice… and found myself using the entire ramican of chili sauce they brought out. I used up all of the lettuce (about a quarter head of iceberg) on half of the filling, but our waitress offered to bring out another chunk of lettuce. I declined that, but I did appreciate the offer. I had bigger plans for those leftovers! Other appetizers that appeared were the spare ribs, which were nice but not something I would order… their flavor was good though. Also was the cauliflower tempura, which was also quite nice, and something that we were pretty sure one of our “no vegetables” people would be able to eat. He didn’t, but that didn’t stop us from trying to get him to. One other item that came out were the crab wontons. These again were pretty good, but they were in a bit of a pool of grease from the deep frying, which was sad since they also then dripped said grease as you were conveying them to your mouth. Queue the first spot of grease on the front of my shirt… *sigh*

Alright… on to the main course… I had ordered the chicken pad thai, and it was beautiful. Of course, by this time the table is kind of full of dishes, some empty, some not… I decided the the best thing I could do was to empty the plate from the lettuce wraps onto my pad thai, because why not? One less dish in the way, a bit of extra flavor on my main course, all is good! The pad thai was quite good. Not the greatest I have had, but good. PF Chang’s caters to the common denominator, so the concept of spicy is not really in their vocabulary. Still, it was good. I also got a chance to try one of the sides of asparagus that came out for a friend, and that was excellent.

Finally it was time for dessert… not for me, but for others. It is really nice that they have some smaller desserts in the form of small jars, which are perfect for a single serving. The banana spring rolls also looked very good, and I know that one of our party can attest to that fact.

All done with our meal, we paid our bill and got out of there. There was still a line at the door to get in, and it looked like they wouldn’t be calming down for a while. I would say for the next couple of months, if you want a quiet meal aim for a weekday, and definitely avoid game-day weekends.