Badfins – Potential but in need of work

I keep trying but maybe I should stop

Reviews like this one are what makes being a food and beverage writer difficult. Sometimes being upfront and honest is part of the job. Often times it gives a place the chance to fix things that are broken which is why it can be a necessary evil.

I never aim give a bad review on just one visit. Having worked in the restaurant industry for so long I understand that sometimes things go wrong. No place will ever be perfect or never have an off night. That being said, this is not a one stop review. I have visited Badfins multiple times since its opening and I’m falling out of love for this place.

Overall, I will say I like this place in general. Badfins is a neat spot located across the street from Clearwater beach. There is a pretty great view attached to the seating here.

Like most places in Clearwater beach there is definitely a touristy feel. This becomes obvious with things like their selfie wall. That is this area though. Even though regulars like myself visit the area daily, most restaurant staff are shocked when they meet a local.

While being a touristy area can discourage locals at times, locals alike can definitely find this place as a good stop. You want to sit back, have a drink, an appetizer, and enjoy the outdoors, Badfins can do that. Everything is relatively low priced in comparison to surrounding locations, and overall has a nice relaxed vibe. Can even catch some live music on occasion.

However there are some things that really come across as bad flaws. Things that really annoy me as a patron and make it difficult to come back regularly or ever again.

Like I said, I keep trying to like this place but maybe I need to take a lesson from Frozen and “let it go, let it GOOO!” (I have nieces).

Layout in general

First off they have a host stand like thing out front. Sometimes someone is there and sometimes not. Even when someone is there it’s like what’s the point. They don’t seat you or really do much but goof off. It is a order at the bar seat yourself type system. So every time I go there and see them I am confused as to what the point is.

Sometimes they let me know how it works and all which is great if I was new but it is just weird. I wonder if they are trying to do the Miami beach thing? If you have never been there, every restaurant has staff out front harassing you as you walk by in order to get you to eat there. I usually go out of my way to avoid them.

The whole idea of ordering at the register and then sitting down should work just fine. You order, grab your beer, and take a number while you wait for your food.

Sounds simple enough but it is not.

The ordering process is painful at times. It takes forever to get your order placed. I don’t know if its lack of training or system issues but whatever the reason may be it takes forever. The person behind the register often seems to not know what they are doing. And this is when I am the only one in line or maybe waiting on one person to finish ordering.

When seated I will enjoy sipping on a beer and it never fails, the moment I get low and ready to order again that line gets long. People always seem to come in waves at this place. It can be a ghost town and then all of a sudden all of Florida is there. Just imagine if it takes forever to order when its slow how long it must be to order when its packed.

I very often see people half way through the line get pissed and walk out. I don’t blame them. Granted they have multiple registers but I never see anyone jump on and help out. There is a lot of standing around.

Truth is though, they have staff that is supposed to come out and wait on you when sitting to get you more to drink or eat. But that is another issue on its own.

Service issues

Nobody for the most part seems to like working at Badfins. Either that or they just are rude in general. There are a few friendly people working there but rarely see them.

A while back it was impossible to get any service and the employees were actually fighting over it. They would pawn it off on the other ones and argue about having to help anyone.

When someone finally come over, they were just down right rude. One guy that got stuck helping us had an attitude about everything.

This has seemed to be a reoccurring issue. In the beginning of this place’s existence, that was not the case and just the other day we met a nice young girl that just started.

On my first visit a nice young girl took good care of my party. She was attentive and very friendly. We discussed the beer and drink selection. She made some interesting selections for us to try as she realized we were beer drinkers and interested in something unique.

Was nice to find out they had some unique items not on standard menu. However, they were not good. Seemed like the local brewers way of getting rid of the bad test batches. When she came back to discuss the beers, we told her our thoughts and she agreed they were not good… I am not sure why they were recommended then but oh well.

The service can be hit or miss but the majority of visits have not been enjoyable.

The thing with this too is that you can start a tab when you order. Being able to pay that tab is daunting. I wonder how many people just walk out out of frustration.

The food

Badfins has the typical Florida beach pub fare. Tacos, nachos, and and sandwiches. They have kind of a fusion thing going on.

From what I have tried food wise, it has all been decent. Portions are very small but what you do get, the food is decent tasting. I am not a fan of the table side sauces though. I think they use liquid smoke and its not great. Not terrible, just not great.

There is nothing special about any of the food but for a quick bite before dinner or you just want a snack, its a good option. That being said, the price is a bit steep for what you get. Being a chef I know how frustrating it can be with pricing food on your budget but the food you receive needs to show the value of the order. Badfins fails in this regard.

Like I said before about the ordering process being slow translates into the kitchen as well. It takes a long time to get food. Even when it is slow it takes way too long.

Food control seems to be an issue as well. A recent visit (same day I had the really horrendous service) they ran out of pulled pork. That’s is ok, it happens. I want to try the nachos with pulled pork but chicken was acceptable.

What kind of irked me though is that the substitute option was chicken but at the same price. The cost of chicken compared to pork is quite different. As a business it is generally good practice to make these types of adjustments to show value to the patron.

When the nachos fin

ally showed up, there was almost no chicken. I counted two pieces in the entire tray of nachos. Maybe they were getting low on chicken also or just made it poorly. Whatever the reason it is practices like this that make you question the integrity of a company. That whole night felt like a rip off at this point.

The Drinks

Again the drinks are hit and miss. It is not the most amazing selection of beer or wines but what they offer is pretty good. There is plenty of something good for everyone which is nice. Not everyone wants the same thing.

If you are a Florida guy like me there are quite a few local brews to choose from. There is one key problem though, the beer is warm. I don’t know if I have ever had a cold beer show up to the table.

I am not talking warm like room temp, but warm in the sense of a beer that sat for a few minutes. This is not always a bad thing as some beers are just fine that way. However, some beers need to be cold. I ordered a sample tray just the other day and all four beers were nasty tasting. I was fully planning to stick around for another beer before the sampler. Each beer was so warm and nasty though that I was put off. Paid my tab and left.

As far as mixed drinks are concerned, those are pretty spot on from what I have experienced. There Bloody Mary is off the chain.

Now they don’t have a license for hard liquor so they use lower alcohol mixers. They are very good. You really would not know they use lower alcohol beverages in there. Again for the price though, I would rather have higher alcohol content but the I am not there to get “fit shaced.”

The only mixer I am not crazy about is the daiquiris. Literally they just buy a pre-mixed syrup and add the alcohol. I know most places do that but its one of the reasons why I would not order that.


Overall, if you are at the beach and interested in a quick snack or a drink, Badfins is a good spot as long as it is not too busy. Good atmosphere with a chill vibe.

However, its things like slow and poor service that make it a one beer stop only. That is, you go for one drink and when you finish prepare to move on.

When people don’t feel inclined to stay longer and order more or they just plain can’t, that is a lot of lost business. These are flaws that Badfins needs to fix.

I hate to even say these things because of how badly I want to see this place be awesome. I still very much like this place but because of the flaws I find it difficult to go out of my way to visit. If I am in the area I would probably stop in because it is a better option on the beach than most places.

While my feelings about this place are both positive and negative, I strongly encourage everyone to go check it out. They are still new and probably have some kinks to iron out. Hopefully that does happen sooner rather than later.

Side note for management, you need to petition the hotel next door to stop with that stupid canon. Man that thing is annoying.

The Pool Boy

A lover of all things food and beverage related, Ron Nattress is on the constant hunt to learn and experience all he can. A man of many hats, he takes his passion from grain to glass to readers.

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