The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

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Archive for the ‘Clearwater’ Category

Spicy Thai


The bi-weekly lunch meeting was at Chiang Mai in downtown Clearwater today.  It’s one of those upscale-looking places that is probably expensive in the evenings (don’t know, never been there for dinner!), but caters to the downtown business crowd for lunch with affordable and tasty meals.  I used to work 2 blocks from the place, so I’ve been there for lunch a few times.

My favorite Thai dish is Ginger Chicken.  It’s just good stuff, and I really like it, so it’s what I almost always get at a Thai restaurant.  This being an “authentic” Thai restaurant, they asked me how hot I wanted it.  My answer was a risky (for me) “medium”.  You just never know what you’re going to get with Medium, but it’s usually not deathly hot.  This batch was perfect for me.  Yes, it was a little spicy, but it seemed like a great deal of the heat simply came from a lot of fresh ginger, which is fine by me.

The main course was preceded by a bowl of chicken and rice soup, which was excellent, as well.

Another lunch on the company’s dime, but it was probably about $9 before the tip.

Parking kinda sucks in downtown Clearwater, though.  Not many places to park besides on-street metered parking.  I didn’t feel like running around, so I just parked close and fed the meter.  As I was dropping quickly dropping my two quarters in the meter, I noticed that it already had 43 minutes on it from the last user… and that since the meter maxes at 1 hour, my second quarter was of no use (but was greedily accepted, just the same).  Insult to that minor injury:  I was there for more than an hour and got a $20 parking ticket!  So, my “free lunch” cost me $20.50 for parking.

Chiang Mai Thai and Sushi
(727) 461-0414
415 Cleveland Street
Clearwater, FL 33755

Chiang Mai Thai & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

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  • Filed under: Clearwater, Thai
  • Sushi Friday


    We were actually heading to Fish Tail Willie’s since the power went out the last time we tried to eat there, but it looked mobbed this time, so we ended up at Jo-To Japanese Restaurant in the same shopping center.

    We’d eaten at Jo-To before, but forgot that their entrance is around back by the lake.  It really is an odd set up.  Anyway, they weren’t busy when we got there, so it was a nice quiet dinner.

    Loren started out with a salad and I ordered the fried oyster appetizer.

    The oysters were really tasty.  The crispy batter on them was excellent.  The only downside was that I should have let them cool a bit before biting into the first one.  I burned my tongue pretty well on the hot juices that flowed out.  It came with a tasty BBQ sauce to dip them in. 

    We decided to order sushi.

    From the top, we got a Tekka tuna roll, a Rainbow roll, a California roll, a Mexican roll, a Spider roll, and some salmon.

    They don’t have a wide variety of sushi, but their prices are very reasonable.  The Mexican roll was really good.  The avacado in the California roll wasn’t as fresh as it should have been, but overall, the roll had a nice flavor.  The Spider roll was good, but the claws sticking out of it were pretty funny looking.  Loren enjoyed the Rainbow roll, I’m just not a fan of smoked salmon.  He ate the salmon and Tekka as well. 

    For $45 we got 5 rolls, two pieces of salmon, an appetizer, salad and drink.   Is it the best sushi we’ve ever eaten?  No, but the restaurant has a nice atmosphere and the waitstaff is extremely polite.  We were both quite full by the time we rolled ourselves out of there.

    Jo-To Japanese Restaurant
    2549 Countryside Blvd
    Clearwater, FL
    727-796-2022

    Joto Japanese on Urbanspoon

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  • Filed under: Clearwater, Sushi
  • Have you ever gone to a restaurant on the night it’s going out of business?  I gotta say, it’s a rather surreal experience.

    We had a Restaurant.com coupon for Sophia’s in Clearwater, $25 off a total bill of $35, so we headed out there for dinner.  There weren’t any other customers there when we arrived, but we figured it was probably just slow because it was a rainy Thursday night.

    The owner brought us some menus and while we were looking them over another customer came in and sat at the counter.  She started chatting with the owner who told her she was going out of business tonight because the landlord raised the rent. 

    At this point, we started to question whether or not we should eat dinner there,  but the owner came by the table and said she didn’t have everything on the menu, but could make most things. 

    We decided to give it a try since we had the coupon anyway and she was willing to honor it.  We started out with some cheese sticks.

    The sauce was tasty and the cheese sticks were pretty good.  Loren got the chicken caccitore.

    He liked it.  I got the baked ziti with ricotta and meatballs and was less than impressed.

    The meatballs were obviously out of a bag and there wasn’t any ricotta in it at all.  I didn’t like the sauce either, it was a little too garlicy for me.

    About half way through our meal, the U-haul truck shows up and they started dismantling the restaurant around us.  People were moving out kitchen equipment and taking things off the walls.   It felt a little awkward.  We got our bill, dropped a $20 on the table and headed out.  Even if they weren’t closing their doors, I doubt I’d have gone back.

    Sofia’s Italian Restaurant
    1710 N. Hercules Ave
    Clearwater, FL
    CLOSED

    Sophia's Restaurant & Pizza on Urbanspoon

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  • Filed under: Clearwater, Italian
  • Loren ordered some coupons from www.Restaurant.com so we went to Grind House Bar & Grill for lunch today.  He paid $3 for a $25 off coupon, but the catch is you have to spend $45. 

    I’m pretty sure the Grind House used to be a Beef O’Brady’s.  I know we had eaten in the space before, but it was a different restaurant at the time.  Honestly, we weren’t expecting much from a sports bar, but the food turned out to be exceptionally good.

    So, how do you spend $45 in a sports bar?  You start with an appetizer, queso and chips.

    The chips were warm and crispy and the queso had a nice texture and wasn’t too spicy.  Loren liked the green onions on top, I just scooped around them.

    Since it was a chilly day for Florida, mid-60’s, we went for some lobster/shrimp bisque and a bowl of chili.

    I gotta say, I was amazed at how good the bisque was.  It had incredible flavor and lots of chunks of lobster and shrimp in it.  I’d go back for the bisque anytime.

    So, we’re up to $13 now.  What shall we get for entrees?  Loren’s been craving a steak so he indulged in the top sirloin with a side of shrimp, mashed taters, and veggies. 

    He was leary about ordering it, but pleasantly surprised at how good it was.  The steak was cooked a nice medium, the shrimp were tasty and he had leftovers.

    I wanted a good ol’ greasy cheeseburger with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a side of onion rings. 

    The burger and onion rings were both good.  But, I was already pretty full, so most of it came home with me. 

    We still hadn’t reached $45 yet, so we had to get dessert.  Ok, we would have gotten dessert regardless because how can you pass up “warm brownie, with strawberries, caramel, chocolate sauce, ice cream and whipped cream”? 

    As full as we both were, it didn’t take long for it to look like this:

    It was a really tasty dessert.  We also got a slice of apple pie to take home. 

    We ended up spending $31 after the coupon and not including the tip.  Would we have spent that much without the coupon?  Probably not.  Was it worth it?  Without a doubt, yes.  The food was really good.  We didn’t even know the restaurant existed and probably would have never gone there without the coupon, but after such a great food experience, we’ll definitely go back.

    We thought we were in for an ordinary lunch at a hole in the wall sports bar, but instead we ended up with an incredible lunch and enough food for dinner as well.  Well worth the trip, coupon or not.

    Grind House Bar & Grill
    1500 McMullen Booth Rd
    Clearwater, FL
    727-726-5577

    Grind House Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

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  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: American, Clearwater
  • Didn’t feel like cooking dinner tonight, so we headed out to Poblanos Mexican Grill on McMullen Booth.  We eat at Poblanos pretty often.  It’s quick, relatively cheap, and tasty. 

    Loren got the burritos tipicos, burritos made from beef tips, topped with queso dip.  I decided to try something different tonight, the grilled shrimp chimichangas.   The shrimp chimi was tasty, but needed to be deep fried a little longer.  It wasn’t crispy at all, more like a shrimp burrito.  They smothered the whole thing in queso which is ok by me.  The cheesier, the better.  Plenty of food for $24.50.

    Poblanos Mexican Grill
    245 McMullen Booth Road
    Clearwater, FL
    727-796-7080

    Poblano Mexican Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon

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  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: Clearwater, Mexican