The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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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.

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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.

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He said they were pretty good.  He also liked the salsa and guac that came with them.  I went for the burger melt.

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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
Clearwater, FL
727-726-8855

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Clearwater, FL
727-400-6824

La Bella Eva on Urbanspoon

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

Spicy Dinner


We prefer small, quiet restaurants, so tonight we headed over to Laziz Indian Cuisine for dinner.  We started off with the Onion Bhaji.

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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.

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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.

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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
Clearwater, FL
727-797-7541

Laziz Authentic Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Food5/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.8/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Clearwater, Indian
  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    For his entrée, Loren got the pork souvlaki platter.

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    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.

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    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.

    Taverna Skara
    2454 McMullen Booth Rd
    Clearwater, FL
    727-726-9000

    Taverna Skara on Urbanspoon

    Food3/5
    Service4/5
    Atmosphere4/5
    Value3/5
    3.5/5

    AAA Coupon


    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    It was definitely more tortelloni than beef, but he said it was very good.  I ordered the fettucine alfredo.

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    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.

    Olive Garden
    29461 Us-19 N
    Clearwater, FL
    (727) 787-3988

    Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service4/5
    Atmosphere4/5
    Value4/5
    4.0/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Clearwater, Italian