The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

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    The Restaurants at My End of the Universe Tampa Bay restaurants

Archive for the ‘Cuisine’ Category

We went over to Palm Harbor for dinner tonight at the New England’s Ale House Grille.   We almost didn’t even bother going in since their main parking is by valet.  I’m just one of those people who doesn’t like handing my keys over to a stranger.  We did manage to grab the last spot in the lot next door and walk over.  They didn’t have any seating available inside, so we found a table out on the porch, where unfortunately they allow smoking.  The first thing Loren noticed was that the main board on the railing around the porch in front of us was warped.  He looked at me and said, “Wouldn’t you have just spent the extra money to replace it with a straight board?”.  I only mention this because that lack of detail was evident in our entire experience here.

We ordered a bowl of clam chowder to split between us.

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Our waitress brought out 1 spoon and then asked us if we wanted another one.  Umm, yeah.  I can only assume that she had to walk to the furthest part of the kitchen and wash the spoon herself given how long it took her to bring one back to the table.  It became very apparent throughout the meal that she hasn’t been a waitress for long.  As for the chowder, it was underseasoned and the potatoes were unevenly cooked.  It didn’t have a lot of clams in it and the ones that were in it were on the chewy side.  It was very creamy, but one note.  The only saving grace was the little bit of bacon on top.  Next up were the salads.

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It was a mixed green salad, which I’m not fond of.  I’m an iceberg lettuce kind of gal.  Loren likes the greens; I think they’re just yard weeds.  At this point, the waiting began for our entree.  Loren asked for some more ice for his tea and again, I can only assume that the waitress had to go to the far corner of the restaurant to get it.  I also observed the other tables around us with empty glasses.  One guy had asked the waitress for ketchup, but eventually gave up and  asked another table if he could borrow theirs.  About 5 minutes later the waitress showed up with the ketchup.

Then our entrees finally arrived.  Loren ordered the crab cakes with brussel sprouts and mac & cheese.

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He said the crab cakes were ok, but again like everything else, lacked seasoning.  The brussel sprouts were unevenly cooked so only half were edible. The mac & cheese was pretty good.  I ordered the whole belly clams with red potatoes and mac & cheese.

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As you can see from the photo, there are brussel sprouts on my plate.  I informed the lady that brought our food that I had not ordered brussel sprouts.  She went back to the kitchen and I never saw her again.  Our waitress came to the table and I told her that I ordered red potatoes and she went back to the kitchen.  Eventually, she came back out and apologized and said it was her fault, and would I like to have the potatoes?  Seriously?  All this time and you still haven’t brought me my potatoes??  I told her yes and about half way through the meal, I finally got the unevenly cooked red potatoes.

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Now, as for my clams… sigh, they were not properly prepared and were watery.  Definitely needed seasoning as much as everything else on the plate.   There was also one big chunk of smooshed together clams that I just left on the plate.  The menu also said there should be dinner rolls, but that never happened either.  At this point, we just wanted to get out of there.  Now, here’s the kicker.  This was an overpriced $61 meal and they charged me 25 cents for water!  Now the bill said “water with lemon”, which I didn’t specifically ask for lemon because I just remove it anyway, but I have never in my life been charged for water.  I will be surprised if this place survives.  Everything from the poor service to the unevenly, under-seasoned food to the fact that they are so cheap as to charge for water solidified the fact that we’ll never be back.

New England’s Ale House Grille
3419 US 19 Alternate
Palm Harbor, FL
727-785-9700

New England Ale House Grill on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service1/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value1/5
1.6/5

A friend and I were heading to a movie and stopped at First Watch for breakfast.  Luckily, we got there before the big Sunday crowd showed up.  We both ordered skillets.

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I got mine with avocado and over easy eggs. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and the fruit on the side was fresh.  It was fresh and perfectly cooked.  That’s one of the things I really like about this restaurant.  Everything from the decor to the food is light and fresh.  It just has an overall different feel from so many of the other chain breakfast restaurants.  Something as simple as leaving a pitcher of water and coffee on the table makes it so much more convenient for both the waitress and us.  Total bill was $9.

First Watch
2569 Countryside Blvd
Clearwater FL
727-712-8769

First Watch on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value3/5
3.9/5

Get Dessert


We tried going to BurgerMonger last week but couldn’t find a parking space.  This location on Enterprise Road is notorious for not having enough parking for all of the businesses in the little shopping center.  I think this space has turned over at least 4 times that I can remember.

You order at the counter and they bring the food out to you.  It’s set up and looks a lot like Five Guys with the open kitchen.  The food came out fast and was surprisingly very tasty.

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You just never know what to expect from these quasi-fast food restaurants.  Their claim to fame is the Akaushi Kobe beef that they use in their burgers.  It was a tasty burger.  They cook them well done unless you ask otherwise, which we both wanted medium and they were cooked a perfect medium.  Loren added bacon, cheese & a garlic sauce that he really liked.  I went with mushrooms, onions & cheese.  We also got the 1/2 lb of fries.  They actually could have been cooked a little longer.  They were a bit limp and not quite crispy enough.

What this place has over some of the others is a strawberry butter cake.

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This was awesome.  It had two big scoops of Hagen Daaz vanilla ice cream, sweetened strawberries and a tasty butter cake.  Worth every penny and calorie.  Total bill with a drink was $27.

BurgerMonger
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 207
Clearwater, FL
727-726-4001

Burgermonger on Urbanspoon

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

Italian Lunch


We went over to Zerillo’s Italian Grill for lunch today.  The restaurant was pretty empty for lunchtime.  We haven’t been here for quite a while since our last experience wasn’t that great.  We started off with some garlic rolls.

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I think these were the best part of the meal.   They were fresh out of the oven, soft and warm and very garlicy.  Good stuff.  The tomato sauce had a nice flavor to it as well.  For his lunch, Loren ordered the chicken parmesan which came with a stuffed shell and I ordered the chicken marsala which came with pasta.

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I should have reread my last blog post about this restaurant before I ordered.  The waitress asked what kind of pasta I wanted and I said fettucine alfredo and just like last time, she never indicated that there was a $4 upcharge for it.  Either tell me what kind of pasta comes with the dish or let me know it costs more for what I ask for.  Other than that, though, both dishes were pretty good.  The chicken was tender and the sauces both had a good flavor.  There was a lot of food and we both had leftovers.  At one point Loren attempted to use the salt shaker only to discover the salt was one big clump inside the shaker.  Total bill with a drink was $27.

Zerillo’s Italian Grill
11653 Countryway Blvd
Tampa, FL
813-855-5178

Zerillo's Italian Grill on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.4/5

We were in Largo this afternoon and stopped at Culver’s for lunch.  It’s a burger chain popular in Wisconsin and the midwest.  You order at the counter and then they bring the food out to you.  Loren decided to be different and got a prime rib sandwich with onion rings and I got the mushroom burger with their famous cheese curds.

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For a while there, we weren’t sure if we were going to get our food.  It was ridiculously slow coming out of the kitchen and quite honestly, not worth the wait.  The burger was overly salted and the cheese curds tasted no different than cheese sticks you get at any chain restaurant.  Maybe they’re better if they’re fresh out of the fryer, but these weren’t all that warm.  Loren said the prime rib was ok.  Nothing to make us want to come back here.

We figured we might as well try the frozen custard since it wasn’t likely we’d be back.

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It’s a good thing we didn’t need to be anywhere this afternoon because it took even longer for these to come out than it did our burgers.  No wonder it’s so hard to find a table in the restaurant, everyone’s just sitting there waiting.  As for the custard, they were very good.  Thick, rich, and creamy with good flavor and texture.  You can mix in a bunch of different toppings.  Loren got vanilla with caramel and brownies and I got the chocolate with hot fudge and Oreos.  Total bill with a drink was $24.  The food is average, the custard very good, but they need to work out the timing of getting the food to the tables.  The wait was just way too long for fast food.

Culver’s
3500 E Bay Drive
Largo, FL
727-223-9915

Culver's on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service1/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
1.7/5
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  • Filed under: American, Dessert, Largo