The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.


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Archive for the ‘Palm Harbor’ Category


Leo’s Italian Grill opened up 3 weeks ago in Palm Harbor so that was our destination for lunch today.  It’s a huge space with a patio, banquet room, and large bar area.  We were seated in a booth that seemed rather awkward to me.  The table was too long for us to sit opposite each other, so we sat in the middle & looked out at the other diners in the restaurant.   The experience didn’t get off to a good start when the waitress brought Loren sweet tea instead of unsweetened and just went downhill from there.

Both our entrees came with soup or salad.  Loren chose the wedding soup & I got the pasta fagioli.


Both were desperately underseasoned.  A little salt can go a long way.  This was the theme of the meal though, it was all very bland.  I certainly prefer non-chain restaurants, but I compared everything I ate to that at Olive Garden and the chain definitely wins out this time.  The bread sticks were really tough and thick.

Even the dipping oil was lackluster.  I also noticed a definite lack of consistency in how the waitresses handled their tables.  When another waitress brought out the bread & oil, she explained what was in it.  When another table said the bread was hard, she brought them out a different basket.  When ours went to clear some plates, she asked if she could take the bread basket & I said yes because it was hard.  Her answer was oh, well, sometimes they just come out that way.

We tried the calamari.

It had a very thick coating of batter on it, so they were very crunchy and also in need of some seasoning.  The marinara sauce had an undercooked taste to it.  It was almost a metallic taste from the tomatoes not being allowed to simmer long enough.

For his entree, Loren got the chicken piccata.

Now, this is a dish he gets at a lot of restaurants and the key flavor you expect to taste is lemon.  It was non-existent in this dish.  In fact, the sauce tasted like eggs & butter.  He did say the chicken was very tender though.  I went for the eggplant rollatini.

I’m not sure how to describe the taste on this.  It had a lot of mozzarella which I guess ended up being the predominate flavor.  The eggplant was very mushy and the ricotta also tasted like eggs.  There just weren’t any Italian spices or even salt & pepper to give it any flavor whatsoever.  I ate half of one.  Needless to say, this isn’t a restaurant we’ll be returning to.  I’d choose Olive Garden over this any day.  It was a very disappointing $29 lunch in both food and service.

Leo’s Italian Grill
33286 US Hwy 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL

Leo's Pizza & Italian on Urbanspoon


Loren & I headed over to MecaFresh for lunch today.  They had a chicken and portobello special that sounded good to me, so I gave it a try with a bowl of lobster bisque.

The description of this sandwich was chicken and portobello mushrooms with onions and a mayo aioli. Unfortunately for me, there was a rather important key word left out of that aioli description… horseradish.   After a few bites, I realized there was horseradish in the sauce, but by then, the damage was already done.  That burning sensation built up in my sinuses and grew into a lovely headache that lasted for the next 6 hours.  Did I mention that horseradish is evil?  I don’t mind the taste of it at all, the panini was actually very tasty and I did eat it all.  There was no point in stopping after those first few bites, but I did regret it for the rest of the day.  And though the lobster bisque here is quite tasty, they’ve been surpassed by the bowl we had at La Trattatoria in Dunedin.

Loren got a half roast beef sandwich & salmon salad.

His had the same mayo aioli on it, but he likes it and doesn’t have the reaction that I have to horseradish.  He said the salad was a little wilted, but overall it was good.  MecaFresh is also now offering free frozen yogurt with  the purchase of an entree.

My guess is they’re now competing with the Green Market Cafe that also offers free yogurt with a meal.  They only had vanilla, but for frozen yogurt, it was pretty good.  Total bill was $19 with a drink.

3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL

Mecafresh Cafe on Urbanspoon


Our plan tonight was to eat at Marley’s Monster Grill, only to discover they’re closed on Sundays.  Luckily, we had driven by Marathon Grille the other night & noticed they were open, so that’s where we ended up.  For some reason, I always thought they were a breakfast & lunch only place.

They started us off with some bread.

The bread was buried under a bunch of crackers & butter, but once we got down to it, we were happy campers.  I prefer my bread to be warmed, but even though this wasn’t, it was really tasty.  I actually think Loren ate more of it than I did.  A little plate of oil to dip it in would have been a nice touch rather than the butter.

We started off with some stuffed mushrooms.

The crab stuffing was very flavorful and we could have easily eaten a few more of these.  They were yummy.  My entree came with a Greek salad that I ate half of before I remembered to take a photo.  You’d think by now, I wouldn’t forget.

I liked their Greek dressing.  Loren went for a Marathon salad for his entree which came with a side of pita bread.

He said the chicken was very tender and the salad had a nice variety of veggies and greens.  He enjoyed it. I ended up taking the pita bread home with my leftovers because I definitely had leftovers.

Pastitsio, that wonderful Greek lasagne that so many restaurants don’t get quite right.  This was a very tasty version of it though.  It wasn’t dry, the seasoning was just right, and the bechamel layer wasn’t too thick.  I’d order it again here.   Total bill with a drink was $28.  Compared to the $28 we spent for lunch today, this was the much better deal.

Marathon Grille
33675 US Highway 19N
Palm Harbor, FL

Marathon Grille on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Greek, Palm Harbor
  • We ate lunch at Hurricane Grill today and the place was deserted.  Granted, it was about 2pm when we got there.  It’s amazing what the power of suggestion can do for you though.  We passed Burger King on the way to the restaurant and when I think of Burger King, I think of onion rings, so I had to order some.

    They were nice & crunchy with a mild beer battered flavor.  They were served with a honey mustard sauce that was tasty.  Loren ordered some chicken sliders.

    He said they were ok.  He got them with the mango BBQ sauce, but ended up dipping them in the remaining onion ring sauce.  I ordered some boneless wings, half with the raspberry sauce and half with honey mustard sauce.

    They really need to offer a smaller portion of boneless wings.  Ten really is too many for me.  I found the wings to be rather tough overall.  They’re just too crunchy for my taste.  I enjoyed the raspberry sauce; it had a nice sweetness that went well with the chicken.  The other one just paled in comparison.  I ended up bringing most of them home.

    Total bill was $28 with a drink.  For the price, I just don’t think it was worth it.

    Hurricane Grill & Wings
    33086 US Highway 19 N.
    Palm Harbor, FL
    (727) 771-2923

    Hurricane Grill & Wings on Urbanspoon



    We’re always up for a new restaurant, so we checked out Ugies Smokin’ Good Seafood for dinner tonight.  It’s in the Fountains Shopping Center where Bawarchi & Vallarta’s are.  I want to preface this review with a few comments first.  One, this restaurant just opened this week.  Two, we didn’t order any entrees, just side dishes.  And three, this isn’t the type of restaurant we really like to go to anyway, so perhaps that skewed our experience from the get go.

    Though I’m pretty sure this isn’t a chain restaurant, it felt like one.  It’s an order at the counter and they’ll bring the food to you type of place.  Sort of reminded me of the Louis Pappas restaurants.  I found the entree menu to be rather small.  The two smoked items were mullet or salmon, neither which appealed to me and then they had shrimp or crawfish steam pots, tacos, fish sandwich, chicken sandwich & a burger.  Instead, we settled on some sides and appetizers to share.

    We started with the shrimp queso dip.

    The queso dip had a very familiar taste to it, sort of like that recipe on the back of the Cheez-wiz bottle.  There were pieces of shrimp in it, but it just tasted very generic and bland.  In fact, those are the words we used to describe everything else we ate as well.  We tried the Boston Clam Chowder, the jambalaya, mac & cheese, and the shrimp & grits.

    The chowder and corn muffin that came with it were ok.  Let’s put it this way, we’ve been to restaurants where we fight over the last spoonful of chowder and sometimes even lick the bowl, this wasn’t one of those kinds of chowder.  This was very bland and definitely did not taste homemade.   We didn’t even finish it.

    Out of all the things we got, Loren liked the jambalaya more than the rest.  It had chicken, sausage and shrimp in it, but not the flavors that would wow you.  I thought it was a bit watered down and it wasn’t spicy at all.

    The shrimp & grits suffered the same fate as everything else.  It just had no taste.  The texture on the grits was fine, but, let’s face it, grits are bland unless you add some seasoning, garlic, cheese, and herbs to them.  The mac & cheese was also very dry.  The one thing this place has going for them are the prices.  Virtually everything is under $10.  These five items plus a drink was $21.  They were certainly overstaffed while we were there.  I counted at least 10 people just standing around.  Two different people checked on our table, which as a word of advice, I’d assign specific tables to specific people or they’ll end up like Tiajuana Flats where you’re constantly being interrupted.

    Ugies Smokin’ Good Seafood
    34726 US Hwy 19 N
    Palm Harbor, FL

    Ugies Smokin' Good Seafood on Urbanspoon