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
Loren was craving Chinese food tonight, so off to Big Bok Choy we went. The table we were sitting at was kinda dark, so my photos are a bit on the blurry side. But that didn’t change the tastiness of the food. I’m still on my fried dumpling kick, so we had to get some for an appetizer.
Yum, yum, yum. The filling was very flavorful and there were actually more than we could eat if we wanted to be able to finish our entrees. The leftovers made for a great snack the next day. We didn’t stray from our normal dinner order, there are just some things that are so good, it’s hard to pass up when we come back here. First some wonton soup, then the hunan chicken for Loren and the honey garlic chicken for me.
The hot peppers in Loren’s dish were bigger than usual, which was probably a good thing so he could pick them out of the dish. Even pulling them out, he was still sniffling a little from the heat. But, he loves how they enhance the flavor of the dish. My chicken was tender and the sauce is sweet, but not overly so. It has a tanginess that keeps me coming back for more. Total bill with a drink was $45.
Big Bok Choy Bistro
3730 Tampa Road #6
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 wandered around Universal Studios all morning and then decided to get lunch out on City Walk. We didn’t realize so many of the restaurants didn’t open until late afternoon. We finally ended up out on the patio at Pastamore. The waitress brought bread & dipping oil to the table first.
The bread was wonderful. Soft and warm and very tasty. The dipping oil, on the other hand was served in a rather large bowl and didn’t have any herbs in it. It was just odd. We started off with the fried calamari.
I felt the portion size was small for a $9 appetizer, but I had to remember we were in a theme park. Realistically, though, it was enough to share without totally spoiling our appetites for our entrees. The calamari was cooked well and had a nice crunchy exterior without being too chewy on the inside. The balsamic glaze and garlic aioli added a nice flavor, but the marinara sauce was pretty bland. Loren got the salmon salad.
He said the salmon was cooked perfectly and he enjoyed the salad. He likes olives and there were plenty in the salad. I went for the chicken marsala.
This was the lunch half portion, though to be honest, I didn’t realize that’s what I was ordering. Again, I had to remember theme park prices. The chicken was very tender and the pasta was just the right tenderness. The dish could have used a bit more of the marsala sauce, but overall, it was pretty tasty. I was also craving chocolate, so we settled on the chocolate sabayon for dessert.
It was a pretty little plate with a very tasty raspberry sauce. It was a light and fluffy sort of dessert, just what I was craving. Total bill with a drink was $47.
6000 Universal Blvd
The smell of cinnamon was just too much to pass up on our way through City Walk into Universal Studios.
I got a minibun, but Loren went for the Pecanbun which was more sugar and deliciousness than one person should eat first thing in the morning. But it was good. Total bill for the mini & the big bun was $8.50.
Universal City Walk
We went to the Matchbox Twenty concert at Universal Studios tonight and took in a late dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in City Walk. We got there a little after 10pm and there was a good 45 minute wait for a table. The restaurant was pretty loud, but luckily we were seated in a back corner so it wasn’t too bad. The whole place is filled with memorabilia from Forest Gump and our waiter even quizzed us on the movie. Loren went for Lt Dan’s Drunken Shrimp.
It had shrimp and a very mild andouille sausage over mashed potatoes. He really liked it. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the mashed potatoes were smooth and tasty. He ate every last bite on the plate. I got the stuffed shrimp.
This was also a really tasty dish. The crabmeat stuffing was plentiful and had a good flavor and the shrimp were cooked well. It also came with rice and a piece of garlic bread. Service was quick and efficient and our waiter was really friendly. Total bill with a drink was $41.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
6000 Universal Blvd
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 decided on Indian food for dinner tonight and headed over to Desi Tadka in Oldsmar. Loren got some Mulligatawny soup and we split an order of keema samosas.
The soup had a nice flavor and wasn’t overly spicy. You could really taste the lentils in it. The samosa had a nice crunch and the filling was flavorful. We didn’t stray far from our comfort zone for our entrees. I get what I always get, the butter chicken and Loren got the Chicken do Pyaza.
And the meal wouldn’t be complete without some garlic naan. My dish was spiced perfectly, meaning very mild. Loren’s was a bit spicier than he had anticipated. The different Indian restaurants we go to are very different in their interpretation of medium spicy. We both had some leftovers tonight. It’s such a hard balance deciding whether or not to finish what’s in front of you because it’s so tasty or extend the tastiness and bring some home. The only issue we had was that the service was really slow. Total bill with a drink was $45.
Desi Tadka Indian Cuisine
3780 Tampa Road
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
I was in the mood for a sub for lunch, so we drove over to Largo to Cesarina Deli & Bakery. They have a big variety of cold and hot subs along with some Italian dishes. I went for the California cheese steak.
I couldn’t even begin to pick it up & eat it until I had taken half of the meat off. There was so much of it and it was really flavorful and delicious. It had a wonderful seasoning to it and the bread was fresh and tasty. I was only able to eat half of it. Loren went for the muffalata.
He was only able to eat half of his too. He said the bread was crusted in some really tasty herbs, the deli meat was fresh and the olive spread was tasty too. Overall, some really yummy sandwiches. With a couple of drinks, the total bill was $19. I also ended up spending about $30 in the deli on some meats, olives, a really delicious cannoli, and some other baked goods. I had to buy some of this cake just so I could photograph it.
Definitely check this place out if you’re in the area. The subs are delicious.
Cesarina Deli & Bakery
2575 East Bay Dr, Ste 1
Always on the lookout for new places to eat, we ended up at Southern Fresh in downtown Safety Harbor for dinner tonight. They’re in the building across from the post office that used to house Brady’s BBQ, then Lulu’s. It’s a small space inside, but way too cold to eat outside tonight, though their patio area is very nice with a fire pit out front. The menu isn’t very big, though everything we tried was pretty tasty.
Loren started out with the BLT soup.
His first reaction was that it was a soup that tasted like a sandwich. He was really surprised and pleased with the taste. The combination of tomato, bacon, shallots, and romaine was completely reminiscent of a BLT sandwich. He’d definitely order it again. Everything is made fresh here, so there was a bit of a wait for our entrees. Loren got the salmon salad.
The salmon was cooked well and he liked the capers in the salad which added a unique little salty twist to the dish. He said it all mixed well with the candied lemon zest on top. I went for the fried chicken, mashed potatoes and roasted veggies.
The chicken was perfectly cooked. Nice & crispy on the outside and moist and delicious inside. My only criticism is that it could have used more seasoning. I found it to be just a little on the bland side. The mashed potatoes were peppery and could have really used some gravy. The veggies were a mix of carrots, brussel sprouts, onions, and zucchini. They had two desserts available tonight, so we got one of each.
The strawberry shortcake was on a sponge cake and had a fresh, not-too-sweet strawberry sauce on it. Loren scarfed the entire thing. I happily enjoyed my banana pudding. Overall, it was a very enjoyable meal. Total bill with a drink was $43.
122 3rd Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL
Pacific Thai in Oldsmar has become one of our go-to places for a quiet, delicious meal. The food here is always fresh and quick and we both always leave with happy taste buds. I’m still on my dumpling kick, so we had to start off with some of them as well as some soup.
The dumplings are flavorful and just yummy. It was a chilly night tonight, so I went for some won ton soup and Loren got the chicken & rice soup. I did find the soup in need of salt, but otherwise it warmed me up very nicely. Loren decided on the nam sod tonight.
It’s a salad with pork, veggies, and nuts and he really likes it. I decided to try the broccoli with oyster sauce with chicken.
The veggies were cooked perfectly and the sauce had a nice flavor to it. It came with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms and Loren kept stealing mushrooms off my plate. I even had some leftovers. Total bill with a drink was $37.
Pacific Thai Cuisine
4058 Tampa Road
We were late heading out the door for dinner tonight, so wanted to find some place that wasn’t loud and didn’t have a wait. We ended up at Taverna Skara in Safety Harbor. We skipped the appetizers tonight and went straight for the entrees. Loren got the Yemista, which was a stuffed pepper and stuffed tomato.
He really enjoyed this dish. They were both very flavorful, filled with rice, ground beef and herbs. The pepper wasn’t spicy at all, in fact, he said it was almost sweet. He cleared his entire plate. I went for the gyro platter.
The platter came with fries, side salad, pita and tzatziki sauce. The gyro meat was good. It wasn’t greasy at all. I would have preferred the pita pieces to have been sliced larger. I like to roll up the gyro in the pita and it was just difficult with the smaller sliced pieces. I was most disappointed in the salad. It wasn’t dressed at all. There was oil & vinegar on the table, but I guess I just assume that if I’m in a Greek restaurant, that there’s going to be Greek dressing on the salad. Last time we were here, they started us off with pita and olives, but that didn’t happen this time. Total bill with a drink was $31.
2454 McMullen Booth Rd
We were going to a movie later this morning, so decided to get breakfast instead of going out for lunch afterward. We drove into downtown Safety Harbor and settled in at Athens Restaurant. We got there at just the right time too. Right after we sat down the place got mobbed with customers. Loren went for an omelette and grits and some OJ.
The omelette was perfectly cooked and he enjoyed the grits. I went for some french toast, scrambled eggs and home fries.
At first glance, I thought they had put my scrambled eggs inside the french toast, but I quickly realized that was just the edges of the cooked egg batter that the french toast was dipped in. The french toast was light & fluffy and both the eggs and potatoes were cooked well. For $15, it was a quick, tasty, inexpensive breakfast.
226 Main St
Safety Harbor, FL
We got a bit of a cold spell this week, so I was craving soup for lunch. The lobster bisque at MecaFresh was calling to me so I went for the soup and half of their bacon, ham & cheese panini special.
I’m not a big bacon fan, but there actually wasn’t that much on the sandwich, so all I really tasted with a bit of saltiness. The panini was tasty though. The bisque was hot as lava when it came to the table, but once it cooled down, it was smooth and delicious. Satisfying my soup craving for a while. Loren got the soup/salad combo.
This was some sort of Mexican bean soup. It wasn’t very spicy, but he said it had some good flavors. Perfect for a chilly day. They offered us some frozen yogurt today too.
Loren finished every last bit of his. He said the vanilla flavor was just yummy today. Total bill with a drink was $20.
3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
We drove out to Tarpon Springs for lunch at Nana’s Restaurant today. We thought we’d miss the lunch crowd, but they were still busy at 1pm and out of most of the specials. Loren went for a southwestern chicken salad with a cup of black bean soup.
Their black bean soup is thick and rich and very tasty. Not spicy, but full of flavor. He said the salad was very good too. I went for a ham & cheese on sourdough bread and a side of home fries.
Sometimes the simple things are just the best. I love toasted sourdough bread and it went perfectly with the ham & cheese. There’s a reason this place is always packed. The food is fresh and homemade and the prices are good. Overall, a very tasty little lunch for $21.
857 E Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL
Just kidding, it was a lot of sushi from Mike’s Sushi in Palm Harbor.
Well, you see, we have to get a “make your own roll” with salmon, avocado, & cucumber, as well as a Rainbow Roll and a Mexican roll. Those are the basics. Gotta have them, always delicious. Then we decided to try the lobster roll, which was really good by the way. Loren always needs something spicy so he got a Crazy roll. We also decided to try a shitake roll this time. It was ok, but probably not something we’d order again. Loren also wanted some salmon.
Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that we started off with some Shumai, which are shrimp steamed dumplings.
These were awesome. Delicious little flavorful bundles of goodness. I wanted more, but I knew there was an abundance of sushi coming, so I held back. For me, I’m starting to favor Mike’s Sushi over Ocean Blue/Kaiko, mostly because of the variety at Mike’s. Both have fresh, delicious rolls, and although nothing will ever top the Super Crunchy at Kaiko for me, the overall roll options at Mike’s bring me in more. Total bill with a drink and a salad was $66.
33855 Us-19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
Loren was craving a steak tonight, so we headed out to the Longhorn in Palm Harbor. The wait was about 40 minutes, but we figured anywhere we went on a Friday at 6pm was going to be busy. The Longhorn currently has a Steakhouse Dinner for Two deal going on. It includes an appetizer or dessert, salads, and two entrees for $25. While we waited on our appetizer, we dug into the bread.
This is the way bread should be. It was warm and slightly chewy and oh so yummy. We just kept eating more & more of it. Luckily, our calamari appetizer arrived before we completely stuffed ourselves on bread.
The calamari was cooked pretty well, but any longer in the fryer and it would have been tough. It had a nice crunch and the smoky tomato ranch dipping sauce was awesome! I need to figure out how to make that at home.
They really had the timing down perfectly tonight. As soon as we finished our appetizer, the salads came right out and our entrees were served just as the waiter was clearing the salad plates. As busy as they were, I was happily surprised to not be sitting around wondering where our food was. Loren went for the Renegade steak & baked potato.
He said the steak wasn’t quite tender enough, but was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The 6 oz size was just the right amount for him too. I went for the salmon with a side of sweet potato bites.
I’ve found my new favorite side dish. These things were amazing. They had a sweet, maple syrupy aroma, but had the texture of a tater tot. It was almost like a butterscotch candy, but not overly sweet. Yummy! The salmon was perfectly cooked and very good. The only thing I didn’t like was the rice. It was way too spicy for me. I don’t know what kind of peppers were mixed into it, but I took one bite and my mouth was not happy.
We don’t go to too many chain restaurants, but we both agreed that this was one of the better dining experiences we’ve had recently. The restaurant was large and crowded, but they’ve figured out how to control the noise level so we could carry on a conversation. The service was attentive, but not intruding. Each course was served and plates were cleared in a timely manner and the food was very good. Total bill with a drink was $30.
35645 US Highway 19
Palm Harbor, FL
Surf Shack was our destination for lunch today. The weather was gorgeous today so having the big door open out to the patio was great. Loren likes the chips & salsa here.
I wasn’t able to stop eating the chips either. They’re sort of like Doritos and somewhat addictive. They had salmon tacos on their specials for today, so Loren decided to try them.
He said they were pretty good. He also liked the Shangai cucumbers that came as a side dish. He said it was amazing how something so simple could be so tasty. Normally, I get tacos here, but I decided to try the mushroom burger instead.
It was one big burger! It was juicy and cooked a perfect medium, but it desperately needed some additional seasoning. A little salt & pepper would have gone a long way to take this from a good burger to a great one. As is, I was more aware of the taste of the bun than I was the taste of the burger itself. Overall though, it was a pretty good lunch for $20.
Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen
12217 West Linebaugh Ave
We were looking for a quick, inexpensive lunch after going to a movie, so we headed over to Daddy’s Grill in Oldsmar. The lunch crowd was just finishing up as we got there. Loren got a club sandwich & fries.
He said it was pretty good & ended up taking half of it home with him. With all the layers, it really is like having two sandwiches. I went for a mushroom burger & macaroni salad.
I like the burgers here. It was cooked a nice medium & was juicy. It could have used a little more seasoning though. The macaroni in the macaroni salad was way overcooked & on the mushy side this time. For some reason, though, neither one of us liked our server. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but there was just something very abrupt and not overly friendly about her. Total bill with a drink was $17.
3682 Tampa Road