We really do know better than to visit a new restaurant during its opening week, but we decided to try Pisces Sushi Global Bistro tonight anyway. Let’s just say they were still working out the kinks. We were seated by one of the owners and she started to explain the drink menu to us, but since we’re not drinkers we just asked for water and an iced tea. She said she’d check to see if they had any tea. Then a waiter came by and repeated the same process. Let’s just say, it was a long evening.
The owner said instead of bread, they serve rice balls.
It’s lightly fried sushi rice and they were pretty good. A little crunch on the outside and dense rice in the middle. This is where the waiting began. A large group came in and I think that really overwhelmed them. The noise level also got rather loud. The owner came by and apologized for the wait saying that the chef was a perfectionist and didn’t like the first attempt at Loren’s dish, so they had to remake it. Eventually, our waiter came back to the table and asked if it would be ok if Loren’s dish came out before the sushi I ordered.
The Jamaican Me Crazy was a spicy pork dish that unfortunately came to the table cold. The rice was a little warmer and the veggies seemed to be right off the grill. Loren liked the flavor of the dish, but would have liked it better had it all been the right temperature. My Kanisu roll came out next.
I thought the cucumber was sliced a bit thick and the roll was very loose, but it had a good flavor to it. Eventually, the Mexican roll and Royal California roll came out.
The Mexican roll was cold. It had to have been sitting there for quite a while. When the waiter came back to the table, I told him about the temperature of Loren’s dish and the Mexican roll and they offered to make another one. The second Mexican roll came out really fast and was pretty good. As for the Royal California roll, neither of us was very fond of it. I didn’t like the texture of the snow crab and we both thought it had a less than fresh taste to it. At this point we were just ready for the check, then the owner came by and said she had something for us. The waiter than brought out a free dessert.
Although it was a nice gesture, neither of us is a fan of tiramisu. They also took the Mexican roll off the bill. Total bill with a drink ended up being $36. They were very apologetic about the whole experience, but there really wasn’t anything about it that makes us think we’ll be back. Hopefully, they’ll get all the kinks worked out quickly.
Pisces Sushi Global Bistro
2340 State Road 580
We had a coupon for Carrabba’s, so that’s where we headed for dinner. They were packed and it was only 5:30pm when we got there. We had hoped to beat the crowd, but ended up with a 25 minute wait. The restaurant was very loud and we were seated up against a wall that connected to a large party room which made it even that much louder where we were sitting.
We started off with the Spinach Fonduta.
This was a really tasty appetizer, but needed a few more toast points. We had quite a bit of spinach dip remaining once the 6 pieces of bread were gone. The dip was creamy and had a nice mellow flavor to it. We ended up dipping the untoasted bread from the basket to scoop up the remaining dip.
Our dinners came with soup or salad and we got one of each. The soup tonight was a lentil.
Loren enjoyed the soup. He said it had some nice savory flavors to it. For his entree, he ordered the sirloin skewers.
These were really tender. It’s not often that he’s gotten kabobs that were this good. I ordered the fettucine alfredo.
I found the cheese to be way too sharp for my tastes. Loren said it tasted more like a mac & cheese than an alfredo sauce. I prefer a very creamy, mellow sauce and this just wasn’t it for me. Total bill after the coupon was $27.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill
2680 Gulf to Bay Blvd
We went over to Ban Thai for dinner tonight. The weather was really bad, so I think that may be why the restaurant wasn’t completely full. The last few times we’ve been here, it’s been packed. While Loren went for some Nam Sod, I had to have a lobster roll and we split a Rainbow Roll.
He didn’t remember ever getting the Nam Sod here before, but he really liked it. The lobster roll is a huge plate of goodness. After a while the sauce starts to heat up for me, but otherwise, it’s just big chunks of lobster. The Rainbow roll was also fresh and tasty. Total bill with a drink was $43.
Ban Thai Restaurant
2519 McMullen Booth Road
We went over to Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant on East Bay for dinner tonight. We haven’t eaten here in a long time. Loren munched on the chips & salsa while I dug into the chili bean dip.
There was a bit too much jalapeno in the bean dip for me, but Loren liked the salsa. He got some beef fajitas for his entree.
The meat wasn’t super tender, but he said overall it was ok. I went for the crispy tacos.
I love crispy flour tacos, but there was no way you could actually pick this up to eat it. This was a definitely a fork & knife kind of dish. Neither of us liked the refried beans. They just had an odd flavor to them. Total bill with a drink was $30.
Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant
5042 East Bay Drive
Tri City Plaza
We normally don’t even attempt to go to Bonefish on the weekend because it’s so crowded, but we decided to try early tonight & didn’t have to wait for a table. They had some lobster specials going on tonight, so after devouring the bread, we started off with some lobster rangoons.
We both enjoyed these. Nice and crispy with a lobster cream cheese filling. I always have to get the corn chowder when we go to Bonefish. It’s one of my favorite things on the menu.
It’s very thick and creamy, but just have a wonderful overall flavor. I’m glad I got both the appetizer and the chowder since my lobster roll was somewhat disappointing.
I get that lobster rolls shouldn’t have a lot of mayo on them, but they do need some. This was just very dry and I didn’t like the raw onions in it either. The lobster pieces were really small and felt like the leftovers from other lobster dishes versus having lobster chunks being pulled specifically for this dish. Loren got the 10oz sirloin with the scalloped potatoes.
He said it was pretty good. The steak was cooked medium and was fairly tender. Total bill with a drink was $50.
2519 McMullen Booth Rd
We had a coupon for Smokey Bones so headed over there for lunch today. I was craving some baby back ribs and ordered the house rack.
I was disappointed in them. They were charred a bit too much for me and the other set of ribs under the one in the photo were from the end of the rack, so very small and rather tough. There just wasn’t enough juicy meat on these bones. The baked beans weren’t cooked long enough either. They had a bit too much texture to them. Loren ordered the pulled pork sammy & a side salad.
He said it was pretty good, especially after adding some bbq sauce to it. Total bill with a drink after the coupon was $21.
2693 Gulf to Bay Blvd
We had a AAA coupon for Olive Garden, so that was our destination for lunch today. Luckily we just missed the Sunday lunch crowd. We started off with salad & breadsticks and one of their new appetizers, the Fried Cheese Risotto.
These were very cheesy, but the risotto inside was complete mush. Other than the outside crust, there was no texture whatsoever. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t like them, because I did, but they were more like fried cheese, than fried rice balls.
Olive Garden was having a two for $25 deal that included dessert, so Loren & I both ordered off of it. He got the Parmesan Potato Crusted chicken.
He thought it was pretty good. The chicken was tender with a nice crunchy exterior. I ordered the bucatini formaggio.
It didn’t do much for me. It was just a fairly plain bowl of pasta and I didn’t really care for the taste of the sauce. The special also came with dessert. Loren got the dark chocolate with caramel dolcini and I got the chocolate mousse cake.
These were both yummy. My mousse cake was thick and creamy and had little chocolate covered krispie balls on top that added an interesting texture. I think Loren scooped every last morsel out of his plate. Good stuff. Total bill was $27 after our coupon.
29461 Us-19 N
I’ve been wanting to try the new PF Chang’s at Countryside Mall, but the wait has been outrageous since they opened. We happened to be over there early today and were able to get a table in the bar area. We started off with the salt and pepper calamari.
Definitely not worth the wait and we waited a long time for the appetizer to come out of the kitchen. They don’t put the salt & pepper on it when it comes out of the fryer, instead giving you a container to sprinkle it on. It loses its appeal because it doesn’t stick to the calamari properly. As for the calamari, it was chewy. The dipping sauce that came with it tasted like it came right out of a jar. It was not good. For his entree, Loren chose the sesame chicken.
He liked the flavor of it, but the veggies didn’t taste fresh at all. The chicken was tender and the sauce was sort of sweet and spicy. I tried the honey chicken.
Again, the flavor was ok, but the chicken wasn’t tender enough for me. Overall, it tasted like overpriced chain restaurant food. Nothing we ate had any sort of freshness to it. It was all just very generic. The wait was ridiculous for both the appetizer and the entrees. It’s just not an efficiently run restaurant at this point. When we got up to leave, a woman came barreling at us to grab the table since the wait for the dining room was so long. Total bill with a drink was $41.
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
27001 US Highway 19N #115
Johnny’s Italian Restaurant on a Friday night is a very crowded place. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. Salads and bread started off the meal while we waited for our calamari.
The Johnny bread is one of the best things about this restaurant. The oil & garlic dipping sauce will have you warding off vampires for a week. The bread is just perfect and we ended up getting a second loaf. It’s hard to resist. Next up, calamari.
It was very tender and had a nice crunch. The dipping sauce that came with it was rather spicy with lots of red pepper flakes. I was feeling the heat for a while. Loren ordered the Tuscan Steak with Portabella Sauce.
The interesting thing was that he actually tried to order something else, but the waitress talked him out of it. I can’t remember what the other item was, but she said it didn’t have a lot of flavor and that he’d enjoy this one more. And he did. I went for the chicken marsala with a side of fettucine alfredo.
The chicken was tender and the marsala sauce had a really nice flavor to it. When they get their alfredo sauce right, it’s really good here. Tonight was one of those nights. I could have eaten an entire bowl of just that. I felt the need for chocolate tonight so we ordered the chocolate cake.
This was an incredibly rich and chocolately cake. It had thick ganache layers and just melted in your mouth. Perfect ending to a very good meal. Total bill with a drink was $45.75.
Johnny’s Italian Restaurant
2907 SR 590 #1
With so many Thai restaurants in the area, we decided to circle back to Ban Thai for dinner tonight. They were crowded as usual, but had a few tables open so we didn’t have to wait. I’m still on my “must have dumplings” kick, so that’s where we started.
I think this is the first time we’ve ordered them here. They were tasty little bundles of pork and veggies, but very dense. Loren went for the ginger chicken.
He said it was very good. I find the flavors here to be on the dark side. I don’t know if that makes any sense or not, but there’s just something about their sauces that don’t thrill my senses. Loren likes it though. For me, it’s all about the lobster roll.
This one sushi roll is a meal in itself. It’s huge, incredibly sloppy to eat, and oh so good. Besides the actual rolls, there are also chunks of lobster piled up on the side. It’s my favorite roll here. We also shared a Rainbow Roll.
This was very fresh and tasty. It’s a huge contrast to the sauce drenched lobster roll, but perfectly delightful in its own right. With sushi, simplicity can be quite awesome. Total bill with a drink was $45.
Ban Thai Restaurant
2519 McMullen Booth Road
We were over in Clearwater tonight and ended up at Greektown Grille for dinner. It’s been a while since we’ve been here, but luckily we got here early and it wasn’t too crowded. They started us off with very yummy bread.
This was one of those addictive breads. We had to move the basket away or we weren’t going to eat any of our dinner. Soft and thick and just yummy. We ordered the crab and spinach dip appetizer.
Though neither of us could actually identify any crab in the dip, it was still very good. There weren’t really enough pita chips to finish the dip, but I don’t think there was any way we were going to finish it anyway. Loren ordered the seafood platter.
It came with calamari, flounder and shrimp along with some rice and horta. We had no idea what horta was and it turns out it was boiled greens similar to spinach. The rice was a little on the spicy side and the fish was covered in a lobster cream sauce. I ordered the seafood pasta which had the same lobster cream sauce on it.
My dinner also came with a small Greek salad. The seafood pasta had both shrimp and scallops, but there really weren’t a lot of scallops in it. Some little pieces and maybe one full sized scallop. There was something about the lobster cream sauce that I didn’t really like. I can’t put my finger on what the flavor was, but it just wasn’t vibrant enough. I know that’s a vague description, but there are sauces that sing to me and this one was just flat. Total bill with a drink was $50.
1230 Cleveland St
We hadn’t been back to Dominic’s Italian Grille in a while because our last visit left something to be desired. Unfortunately, tonight’s experience wasn’t much better. The restaurant was pretty crowded and we ended up at a table right in the middle of the room. Loren’s dinner came with a salad & we started off with some Arancini.
The menu said the rice balls were stuffed with crab, but neither of us could find any. They were very dense and really needed some seasoning. Loren ordered one of the specials tonight, the braised short ribs.
It tasted like pot roast. He liked it, but the green beans were inedible. I ordered the chicken marsala.
The chicken was overcooked and not tender enough for me. The sauce was ok, but didn’t really pop. Again, I think it was a lack of seasoning. I like the pasta souffle that came with it. Service was rough all the way around. Our waitress disappeared for a while, someone took Loren’s drink and we weren’t sure if they were going to bring it back, we had another lady clear some plates, only to stack them in an unstable pile with one ending up in pieces on the floor. Total bill with a drink was $35.
Dominic’s Italian Grille
3163 Curlew Road
Time for tater tots so that means Pete & Shorty’s.
A bacon cheeseburger for Loren and a mushroom burger for me. This was a two napkin burger. Really juicy and tasty. Oh yeah, and the tater tots were yummy! Total bill with a drink was $17.
Pete & Shorty’s Tavern
2820 Gulf to Bay Blvd
We decided to try Red Robin over at Countryside Mall for lunch today. We thought we were going to miss the lunch crowd, but it was packed. We ended up waiting 15 minutes or so for a table. We decided to start off with some chips & queso.
It was pretty good. The flavor and creaminess was just right and it had a little bit of heat. There weren’t enough chips to start off with, but the waitress brought more. By the time the new basket of chips arrived though, our burgers were out. Loren got the Guac Burger and I got the mushroom burger.
We both agreed that these were some pretty tasty burgers. They definitely don’t skimp on the toppings either. There was a mound of mushrooms on mine. They also come with an endless supply of steak fries, though neither of us even finished the ones already on our plate. But, of course, you pay for all the freebies one way or another and the total bill with a drink was $31. A bit much for some burgers, even though they were pretty tasty.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
27001 US Highway 19 North
It was a dark and stormy night and sushi seemed like a perfect way to chase away the gloom. We headed over to Ocean Blue since it was close and I could hear the Super Crunchy calling to me.
Luckily Loren isn’t quite as enamored with it as I am, either that or he’s just afraid I’ll swat his hand away if he tries to eat too many pieces of it. I just love that roll. We also got a Mexican roll and a Rainbow roll. Both were delicious. Yeah, you didn’t think we stopped there, did you??
Loren had to have a spicy tuna and a Scott roll plus one more that I can’t remember. I think it was tuna or maybe salmon, either way, it was good. As always, everything was fresh and tasty. Loren also got a salad.
Oh, and remember that dark & stormy night? About the time we were finishing up, the sky opened up and a deluge of rain poured down. That could only mean that we had to order dessert, right?
Fried cheesecake is one of the strangest and tastiest desserts around. Soft and slightly frozen on the inside, crispy on the outside. Very tasty throughout. Finally the rain let up, our taste buds were happy, and our wallet was $62 lighter.
Ocean Blue Sushi Bar & Kaiko Japanese Restaurant
2475 McMullen Booth Road
We went to a movie this morning and then ate lunch at BJ’s at Countryside Mall around 2pm. I’m convinced that this place is busy no matter what time you go in there, but at least the roar of the crowd wasn’t as bad in the middle of the afternoon. The key, we’ve learned, is to get a table by the front windows, otherwise, you can barely hear yourself think in there.
The avocado egg rolls are the main draw for me here.
Crunchy on the outside, creamy and delicious on the inside. And it’s avocado, so it’s healthy, right? Right?? Doesn’t matter, they are just too yummy to pass up. For his entree, Loren tried their mahi tacos.
He said they were pretty good. He also liked the salsa and guac that came with them. I went for the burger melt.
They make a pretty tasty burger here. It was juicy and the bread was toasted just right. I ended up bringing half of it home. The skinny fries were nice & crunchy and Loren couldn’t resist scarfing a few. For $36, it was a very satisfying meal.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
27001 US Highway 19N
We’d already eaten at two new places for us this weekend, so I decided to try for a third. We ate dinner at La Bella Eva over in Clearwater. It’s a small Italian pizza place in strip mall on Belcher. It was nice and toasty inside which was perfect on this rather chilly evening. We decided to try the potato soup.
My first bite was very flavorful, but cold. We had to send it back to the kitchen to get heated up. After that, though, things went much better. The soup was really good. Thick & rich with a wonderful flavor. Loren kept trying to slide it closer to his side of the table. The bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. You know it’s good when Loren reaches for more before I get a chance to. We also got some calamari.
The calamari was a little chewy and needed some salt, but otherwise pretty good. You can get a medium or spicy sauce to go with it and we chose the medium. It wasn’t really spicy, but definitely had some red pepper in it. At this point, we both realized we had already ordered too much food, and then the entrees came. Loren got the linguine with meatballs.
He liked it. It was a rich sauce. I though it tasted like there was wine in it that hadn’t been fully cooked off. I got the eggplant rollatini.
It was like lava when it came to the table. The eggplant was cooked very well. It still had some texture to it and the cheese and sauce were tasty. Too many places overcook the eggplant to mush, but this was a really good dish. We both had leftovers and decided to split a Manhattan truffle for dessert.
Vanilla and chocolate ice cream covering a cherry & almond center and completely enrobed in dark chocolate. It was delicious. They had several different varieties of these truffles and I think we may have to go back just to try some of the other ones. Total bill with a drink was $38.
La Bella Eva
1469 S. Belcher Rd
We prefer small, quiet restaurants, so tonight we headed over to Laziz Indian Cuisine for dinner. We started off with the Onion Bhaji.
This was the first time we tried it and it was really tasty. It had a little bit of spice, lots of flavor, and a nice crunch. I also ordered a cucumber & tomato salad.
We’d eaten most of it before I remembered to take a photo. I’m always surprised that something so simple tastes so good, especially as a contrast to spicy food. No surprise with what I ordered, it’s the butter chicken for me every time. Loren got the Chicken Jalfrezi and we also got some garlic naan.
Our taste buds were really happy. The flavors are just so wonderful in these dishes. We even managed to have some leftovers, though it was hard to keep from eating every last drop of it. Total bill with a drink was $41.
Laziz Indian Cuisine
2475 N McMullen Booth Rd
When we were at Sabai Thai last night we noticed that a new Greek restaurant just opened up next door called Taverna Skara. It’s a light and airy looking restaurant and they weren’t busy at all when we got there. They brought pita and olives to the table while we looked at the menus.
Loren said the olives were really good and I enjoyed the pita, though I would have liked something to dip it in. We decided to try the fried calamari for an appetizer.
This was a mixed bag of tender and chewy pieces of calamari. It seemed as though the pieces that kept their coating were fairly tender, but other pieces ended up being overcooked. The dish definitely needed salt and I didn’t like the way it was served in the cone. It made it very hard to get pieces out and dripped oil and crumbs all over the table.
For his entrée, Loren got the pork souvlaki platter.
It had pork, rice, pita, Greek salad and tzatziki sauce. He enjoyed it and ended up with way more pita and rice than he could eat. The tzatziki sauce had an interesting flavor to it. I can’t quite put my finger on what was different about it, but there was something. I tried the pastitsio.
This was a very good version of the dish. The flavors were all there, the pasta was tender and the béchamel sauce was creamy and had good flavor. My only criticism was that they melted some cheese on top that formed a hard crust. I just didn’t care for that. I also would have liked if it had been served with a small Greek salad. Most of the other entrees on the menu were served with a side or salad, so it seemed odd that the items on the Traditional Greek Entree list were not.
Service was very attentive, almost too attentive, but I’m guessing it’s because they’re new and there weren’t too many customers in the restaurant. Overall, the food was good and we’ll probably be back again to try some other dishes. Total bill with a drink was $43.
2454 McMullen Booth Rd
We had a AAA coupon for 25% off at Olive Garden that expired today, so we headed over there for a late lunch. We weren’t sure how busy they were going to be on Christmas Eve, but when we got there at 1pm, we didn’t have to wait for a table. We started off with soup, salad and breadsticks.
I think we could have stopped right here and been very full and very contented. The breadsticks were fresh and soft and both the salad and soup were yummy. I like the pasta fagioli soup here. It has a nice blend of flavors and textures. For some reason, we felt the need to order an appetizer.
Calamari & stuffed mushrooms… oh so good! They prepare a really tender calamari here. The mushrooms were also flavorful and filling. As if this wasn’t enough food, we ordered entrees as well. Loren got the braised beef tortelloni.
It was definitely more tortelloni than beef, but he said it was very good. I ordered the fettucine alfredo.
This is my favorite dish here, though it could have used a little more sauce on it. It’s very creamy and the noodles are cooked perfectly. There’s a reason we don’t come here very often; we eat too much. We both took home some leftovers. For a chain restaurant, they really do prepare the food very well. After the coupon, the total bill was $26.
29461 Us-19 N