The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

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    The Restaurants at My End of the Universe Tampa Bay restaurants

Down Home Cooking


We were in Arcadia today and stopped at Wheeler’s Cafe for lunch.  It was a crowded little restaurant, but we were able to get a seat out on the porch.  Loren ordered the cheeseburger with a side of chili.

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He said both were good.  The chili wasn’t spicy at all, but had a rich, tomatoey flavor.  I went for the country fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, and fried green tomatoes.

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The chicken would have been better had it been flattened before being fried.  It was a bit on the tough side.  The mashed potatoes were homemade and yummy and the gravy had just the right amount of pepper in it.  As for the fried green tomatoes, they were quite greasy, but had a good flavor.  I wanted something sweet so we got a piece of the chocolate pudding pie.

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This didn’t do it for me.  The pudding was a bit too gelatinous for me and I’d much rather have real whipped cream than whipped topping.   Overall, the experience was just ok.  The food took a long time to come out and our waitress disappeared completely.  She never came back to the table to check on us.  Another waitress brought our dessert and check.  Total bill with a drink was $21.

Wheeler’s Cafe
13 S. Monroe Ave
Arcadia, FL
863-993-1555

Wheeler's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
2.7/5

Loud But Tasty


We decided to try the Mellow Mushroom for dinner tonight.  Friday night and the place was packed.  We had about a 30 minute wait before we got a table.  This is one of those restaurants where the acoustics are horrible.  Bare floors, open ceiling and you can barely hear yourself think, never mind trying to actually have a conversation without yelling across the table.  We definitely didn’t need it, but we started off with the spinach artichoke dip.

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The dip itself was tasty, but I’m just not a fan of crunchy toast points.  I find them hard to eat.  I actually wasn’t sure that 6 pieces of bread were going to be enough, but it ended up being a good ratio of dip to scoop.  For our pizza, we went for a medium Holy Shiitake.

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I really enjoyed this pizza.  It had shiitake, button, and portobello mushrooms, onions and a blend of cheeses plus a garlic and olive oil base.  It was had such a wonderful blend of flavors. The crust was perfectly cooked, not too crunchy, not too soft.  I would absolutely order it again, though probably to go.  Total bill with a drink was $20.

Mellow Mushroom
2630 Gulf to Bay Blvd
Clearwater, FL
727-723-2000

Mellow Mushroom on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere1/5
Value2/5
3.0/5

Mike’s Cafe & Grille


We made it to Lake City and had to stop for dinner.  We found Mike’s Cafe & Grille in a darkened strip mall.  I don’t know how they get any dinner business in this location.  There was just one other customer when we got there and we were alone the rest of the meal.  We got some potato soup to start off with, then Loren got the sriracha chicken salad and I tried the parmesean crusted chicken.

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The soup had a familiar flavor, but neither one of us could place it.  It was very good.  Loren said the chicken wasn’t too spicy and had an almost sweet & sour taste to it.  My chicken was flavorful and tender.  The mac & cheese was very creamy with a unique taste to it.  I really enjoyed it.  And I needed just one more piece of chocolate cake before this vacation ended.

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Tender & moist cake with a fudgy center.  Goodness all around.  Total bill with a drink was $36.

Mike’s Cafe & Grille
426 SW Commerce Dr, Ste 115
Lake City, FL
386-961-9911

Mike's Cafe & Grille on Urbanspoon

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

Etienne Brasserie


We started our drive back to Florida from North Carolina and stopped in Athens, Georgia for lunch at Etienne Brasserie.  This turned out to be one of the best places we ate on vacation.  It’s a little French bistro kind of place with someone who knows what they’re doing in the kitchen.

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We started off with the fried calamari.

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We eat a lot of calamari, it’s one of our favorite appetizers, and this one did not disappoint.  It was perfectly cooked.  Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside and not at all chewy.  It was served with a delicious lemon aioli.   Loren got the French dip and I went for the Croque Monsieur.

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I actually ordered the Croque Madame which came with a fried egg, but they forgot to put it on.  The waiter realized the mistake and asked if I wanted to send it back, but I figured it was just going to make it super messy and difficult to eat, so I settle on the Monsieur instead.  Both sandwiches were delicious.  Flavorful meats and cheeses.  The only thing I didn’t like was the herb mustard.  It was a little too strong for me.  For dessert, I couldn’t pass up the chocolate mousse.

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Yum!  Perfect ratio of mousse to whipped cream and it had a deep, dark rich chocolate flavor.  Perfect ending to a lovely lunch.  Total bill with a drink was $37.

Etienne Brasserie
311 Broad St
Athens, GA
706-850-8008

Etienne Brasserie on Urbanspoon

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

Bogart’s


We unexpectedly found ourselves back in Sylva, NC at dinnertime and I didn’t have anywhere planned to eat there.  We ended up at Bogart’s and it was my least favorite meal of our vacation.  It’s a generic steakhouse and reminded me of the Outback chain.  We started off with some bread & salad and ordered the crab dip.

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The bread & salad tasted exactly like what you get at Outback Steakhouse.  The crab dip was really spicy which I didn’t expect at all.  I couldn’t eat very much of it because it just numbed my mouth.  Loren got an 8oz ribeye and I decided to try their prime rib special.

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Loren said his steak was ok.  The prime rib, however, had a flavor profile that I did not like at all.  It was very herbaceous and the prime rib itself was tough.  I barely ate any of it.  Not a restaurant we would go back to. Total bill with a drink was $46.

Bogart’s
35 E. Main St
Sylva, NC
828-586-6532

Bogart's on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.0/5