The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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    The Restaurants at My End of the Universe Tampa Bay restaurants

Something Different


We eat at Pacific Thai in Oldsmar at least twice a month, maybe more.  Their food is always so fresh and tasty and the staff is very friendly.  We went there for lunch today and although Loren ordered his usual ginger chicken, I went for something different.

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Today I decided to try the crispy duck with sweet and sour sauce.  This was a very intriguing set of flavors.  The duck was tender with crispy skin and the sauce had a unique sweetness that went really well with both the duck and rice.  It had a very familiar flavor, but I couldn’t really place it.  And though I’m not usually a fan of nuts in my food, this dish came with cashews which is the only nut I really like.  A very tasty lunch for $22.

Pacific Thai Cuisine 
4058 Tampa Road
Oldsmar, FL
813-855-6633

Pacific Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

 

Food5/5
Service5/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value4/5
4.7/5

Looks Can Be Deceiving


A friend of ours posted a photo of their dinner from Clear Sky Draught Haus in Dunedin, so we decided to head over there for dinner.  As far as I could tell, there’s no signage on the building and the only way we knew we were in the right place was a very small sign on the curb.  We’ve eaten at other restaurants in this space and the biggest issue with the location is the very small parking lot.

They have a nice outdoor patio that’s pet friendly, but as we walked up to the hostess booth, we could tell the hostess was stressing.  I don’t think she was trying to be rude, but she came off that way.  She didn’t smile until she was ready to deal with us.  After we were seated, Loren said asking us to wait wasn’t a big deal, but the way she put her hand up in a “stop right there” motion was not a welcoming first impression.

The space inside wasn’t very big and they had it open to the outside which was pleasant tonight, but will likely be sweltering come summer.  We looked over the menu and so many of the items sounded amazing.  Calamari was on the appetizer menu so I couldn’t pass that up.

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It seemed like a small portion for the price and unfortunately, it was both chewy and flavorless.  The only redeeming thing on the plate was the lemon ginger dipping sauce.  The batter desperately needed some seasoning, even a little salt would have helped.  For his entree, Loren ordered the mushroom crusted salmon.

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Loren’s a lot less picky than I am about food.  If this had been served to me, I’d have sent it back.  The salmon was fishy.  I’ve eaten a lot of salmon and it just shouldn’t taste that way.  The manager came by and asked how things were and I told him the fish was not fresh.  He ended up taking it off the bill and also gave us a $15 coupon to come back again.  The customer service was good; the food, not so much.   Another manager came by and said something to the effect of the salmon wasn’t his favorite dish on the menu.  Makes you wonder why it’s on the menu, doesn’t it?   I ordered the Tuscan Chicken.

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It was served with cappicola, goat cheese, and a mushroom risotto.  I liked the chicken, but would have preferred that it was a little more tender.  That became very apparent as I was trying to cut it with a butter knife.  I will never understand why any restaurant wouldn’t give you a real knife when serving beef, chicken or pork. The cappicola and goat cheese added an interesting flavor to the dish.   The mushroom risotto was unevenly cooked.  Nice flavor, but would have been better without the crunchy pieces of rice.  We decided to try the banana bread pudding for dessert.

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The menu described it as a banana bread pudding with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, whipped cream and a cherry.  I didn’t taste any caramel and there wasn’t cherry on top, instead it was a very unevenly heated dense banana bread.  The bottom was hot, the middle was cold, and the rest was lukewarm.   Overall, it was just a very disappointing meal.  Everything looked and sounded good, but the execution just wasn’t up to par.  Total bill with a drink was $37 after the salmon was removed.

Clear Sky Draught Haus
680 Main St
Dunedin, FL
727-286-6266

Clear Sky Draught Haus on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value2/5
2.5/5

Fried Chicken


We’ve seen so many new restaurants come and go lately that I’m pleasantly surprised when one makes it past their one year anniversary.  The first time we visited Southern Fresh in Safety Harbor, I didn’t think they’d survive with such a limited menu.  Don’t get me wrong, the food is amazing; but with so few choices, I had my doubts as to how often customers would return to eat there.  I’m happy to say that they had a packed house tonight and the quality of the food has remained constant.

Loren started off with the BLT soup.

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This is one of those dishes that you have to taste to believe.  It has all the flavors of a BLT in a warm, peppery broth.  The fresh crunch of the lettuce is such an interesting texture for a soup.   Because the restaurant was full, there was a bit of a wait for our entrees.  We were seated inside and I could see into the kitchen where the fried chicken magic was happening.  Every piece was hand breaded and cooked in cast iron skillets.  I also spent some time just looking at the decor.  I liked the old fashioned glass domes on the ceiling fans.

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Our entrees arrived fresh and hot out of the kitchen.  Loren ordered their special tonight which was a blackened red fish with saffron rice and roasted veggies.

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He said it was delicious.  The fish was perfectly cooked and seasoned.  The roasted veggies were tasty, but some were unevenly cooked so harder than others.   I went for their famous fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and the roasted veggies.

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My only complaint is that I wish it was served on a larger plate.  It was a bit crowded and hard to not knock things off onto the table.   I ordered the dark meat which meant two thighs and a leg.  The chicken was crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.  There’s nothing I like more than real mashed potatoes and these were the real deal.  Banana pudding is the only dessert on their menu, but tonight they also had a strawberry shortcake on their specials menu so we had to have some.

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Though I’m not a big fan of sponge cake, the rest of this dessert was delicious.  Fresh strawberries, not overly sweet and a perfect portion for two.  The service here is also very good.  They all help each other and clear plates and fill glasses.   Overall, a great dinner for $44.

Southern Fresh
122 3rd Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL
727-216-6341

Southern Fresh on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value3/5
3.9/5

Breakfast


We were down in St Pete today and stopped for breakfast at Doe Does Diner.  The place was packed, but luckily we got there at the tail end of breakfast so a lot of people were leaving.   I’m guessing the only menus they have are the paper placemats on the tables because we weren’t offered any menus, which seemed strange since there weren’t any lunch selections on the placemat.  Maybe you have to ask for a lunch menu?

Anyway, we both settled on breakfast.  Loren ordered an omelette and I got the country benedict.

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It was typical diner food.  Both dishes could have used more seasoning.  The biscuits in my dish were very good.  They’re buried under all of the sausage gravy in the photo.  Overall, a fairly hearty breakfast for $14.

Doe Doe’s Diner
9395 Bay Pines Blvd
St Petersburg, FL
(727) 398-2407

Doe Does Breakfast and Lunch Diner on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.0/5

New Sushi Restaurant


Blue Sake recently opened up in Dunedin, so we headed over there for dinner to try out their sushi.  The restaurant looks nice and was well lit.  I’m not a fan of mood lighting where it’s so dark that you can barely see your food.

We started off with the Golden Silk Shrimp and a cucumber salad.

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Loren liked the shrimp more than I did.  They’re wrapped in egg noodles and fried.  They had a nice crunch, but the shrimp was overcooked.  For our sushi, we got a tuna avocado roll, a salmon avocado roll, a Mexican roll and a Bonsai roll.

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Plus this cute as can be dragon roll.

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They definitely get points for creativity.  The little wasabi dragon head was just too cute.  Overall, the sushi was really fresh and tasty.  They had a large selection of rolls to choose from and their prices are in line with the other sushi restaurants in the area.  The funniest thing about the experience was when the waiter came to clear the plates, he said it was time to slay the dragon and then he squished it with another plate.  It made me chuckle.  Total bill with a drink was $61.

Blue Sake
1425 Main St, Ste I
Dunedin, FL
727-216-3699

Blue Sake on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.4/5