Stepping in from the hot Florida sun into 50s Prime Time Cafe is like stepping into your grandmother’s living room, if your grandmother’s house was decorated in a fun, 50s-style kitsch. Black and white televisions playing old favorites, formica, pinks, blues, and 50s futuristic touches, this restaurant is nostalgic fun for anyone, whether you lived through that era or just watched it on Nick at Night.
Your server here will call herself “mom” or perhaps “cousin” or even “uncle,” but they’ll all have one thing in common: Making sure you mind your manners. Think it’s okay to put your elbows on the table? Mom has something to say about it. Didn’t finish your veggies? You better hide them because when your Cousin Sue comes back, she’s not going to like it. Some servers have the routine down better than others, especially the “mom” types. On our last visit, our server was friendly but brisk. Fortunately, the server for the table next to us had the entire room in stitches with her routine, as she went from table to table checking up on all of us, so we didn’t miss out on the fun.
As nice as it is to be entertained, you’re really here from the food and 50s Prime Time doesn’t disappoint. Think comfort food with a Southern touch, with standouts like fried chicken served with to-die-for greens, meatloaf, and chicken pot pie, but you can also try lighter fare like salads and poached salmon. Round that out with flavored sodas, like cherry coke, diner-style desserts, milk shakes, malts and even a few inventive mixed drinks for the grown ups, and you have an enjoyable, and fun, meal.
I live in the south and I’m picky about my fried chicken, so I was pleasantly surprised at how good Prime Time’s is. Your crust shouldn’t shatter and fall to the table when you bite into it, but it shouldn’t be a soggy mess either. This chicken falls nicely in between, a lightly spiced, non-greasy piece of chicken with a delicious crust. And there’s a lot of it, by the way, usually three to four pieces.
You’ll get it serving of mashed potatoes with gravy that are perfectly fine, but the real star of this dish is the greens that come with it. Spicy and, somewhat shocking to this southern cook, not not at all soggy, these greens are delicious. Of course I know you can make greens so they still have a nice bite to them, but I cook them the way I was taught: Until they’re mushy. If you’ve been turned off by greens before because of the texture, give these a try.
The roast beef is good too. Tender roast beef braised with tomato juice, it’s served in an unnecessarily complicated mound of mashed potatoes and julienned carrots and celery. I generally don’t care for pot roast that’s been cooked with tomato juice and I probably wouldn’t get this again because of it, but that’s more of a personal thing preference rather than a problem with the preparation and overall taste. Overall, it’s a good, solid dish and I liked how the carrots and celery were still slightly crispy. If you’d debating between this dish and the fried chicken, give the sampler platter a try. It comes with both plus meatloaf for $19.99.
Kids meals are the usual fare with the addition of a grilled fish option. My daughter really enjoyed the macaroni with marinara sauce.