I’m on vacation all week and we’ve been craving cheeseburgers, so headed over to Athens in downtown Safety Harbor.
A mushroom cheeseburger with fries for me and a bacon cheeseburger with a side of chicken noodle soup for Loren.
He really liked the soup and we both devoured the burgers. They’re just fresh, simple, inexpensive, and tasty. Total bill with a drink was $16.
226 Main St
Safety Harbor, FL
Another quiet dinner tonight, this time at Bascetti’s in Dunedin. The restaurant was pretty empty when we got there around 5:45pm. We liked the calamari the last time we were here, so had to get it again.
The calamari was very tender and flavorful, though some of the pieces were stuck together and didn’t get quite as crispy on the outside as I would have liked. It’s a really tasty dish though, especially with the dipping sauce. Next up were the salads and bread.
The last time we were here, neither of us were too keen on the housemade salad dressing. It was better this time, but I’d still prefer a nice ranch dressing. The bread was warm and delicious. The dipping sauce is addictive. Loren decided to try the catch of the day which was mahi.
He said it was good, though he didn’t like all of the veggies that came with it. I ordered the bolognese pappardelle.
This dish was quite unexpected. Any other places where I’ve ordered the bolognese, it’s been a tomato based sauce. This was a very thin, white sauce. It almost reminded me of a stroganoff. The meat tasted like sausage and the pasta was homemade and cooked perfectly. I just have mixed feelings about the dish. It was ok, but I don’t think I’d order it again. It just lacked depth of flavor. Total bill with a drink was $49.
1568 Main Street
We have a habit of getting out of the house later than expected for dinner on Friday nights and most places are just mobbed. We drove into Dunedin thinking we’d eat at Casa Tina, but there was a line out the door, so we walked down the street to Cafe Alfresco. The restaurant was busy, but not full, and pretty quiet which we kinda like. We started off with potstickers.
Yum! These were perfectly fried with a tasty, slightly spicy filling. I could just eat a plate of these and be happy. Loren’s dinner came with a salad and I went ahead and ordered one for $1 as well.
The rolls were warm and soft and very tasty. For his entree, Loren got the chicken piccata.
He tried to explain to me the difference between a good piccata and a not so good one. This was a good version, the chicken was perfectly cooked and the sauce was buttery and lemony, but not overly so, and the capers made the perfect accent to the sauce. He was a happy guy. I went for the Friday night fish & chips.
It didn’t have an overly crunchy batter on it, but it was good. The fries were nice and crunchy and the cole slaw had just enough tang and sweet to it. We were really bad tonight & got two desserts.
Loren wanted some carrot cake and I got the raspberry cheesecake. Both were delicious. He said his cake was moist and flavorful and mine was creamy and decadent. We were quite stuffed by the time we rolled ourselves out of there. Total bill with a drink was $49.
344 Main St
After going to see SkyFall at the movies, we went over to Smokey Bones on Gulf to Bay for a late lunch. From the moment, we walked in the door, the smell of BBQ surrounded us. It smells so good in there. We decided to start off with the Southwest spring rolls.
They had some heat, but were pretty tasty. The only issue was that our entrees came out almost immediately after the appetizer did. They definitely lose some points for timing. Loren ordered the 1/3 rack of ribs with a side salad and baked potato.
He ordered the St Louis ribs, but the bill says he got baby back ribs. He couldn’t seem to tell the difference, but he said they were very good. He cleaned his plate and started eyeing mine. I went for a combo of baby back ribs and pulled pork with onion rings and mac & cheese.
The baby back ribs were delicious. The sauce was sweet and the ribs were very tender. Before I ordered, I had planned on taking the pulled pork home as leftovers, so I didn’t eat much of it. I did find the pulled pork kind of dry though. The onion rings were the big disappointment on the plate. They just weren’t crunchy. The mac & cheese was like lava when it came to the table and still steaming when I put part of it in the leftover box. It had a good flavor and was really creamy. Loren had talked about chocolate cake the night before, so we couldn’t resist ordering a slice.
It was delicious. Moist and chocolatety and perfect with the scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum! Total bill with a drink was $56.
2693 Gulf to Bay Blvd
A new seafood restaurant recently opened up in Safety Harbor. The Nantucket Bucket is located on 2nd Street S, just off of Main Street. Their indoor seating was full when we got there, so we sat out on the back patio. As we walked back there we noticed the kitchen was in what looked like a trailer to the left of the building. There were plenty of long tables on the patio and we were seated on one end while another couple was at the other end. This wasn’t really an issue, but as the place filled up, there was a family of four seated between us and it felt a bit crowded to me. I’m just not a fan of community seating, I prefer having my own table.
We started off with some potato bites (tater tots) and lobster based corn chowder.
The key word here is lobster based, meaning there wasn’t actually any lobster pieces in the chowder. In fact, the only thing in the chowder was corn. It tasted like frozen corn to me which has a texture I’m not fond of. The chowder itself was ok; rather peppery, but the amount of corn in it was ridiculous. I can’t imagine anyone being able to consume that much corn in one sitting. It really needed some other vegetables to alleviate the monotony of the dish.
The tater tots were good; but in all fairness, it’s hard to mess up a tater tot. Loren said the cheese sauce was pretty bad. Basically canned cheese sauce with canned jalapenos on top. For his entrée, Loren ordered the house salad with blackened mahi on top.
The salad was huge, but he said the menu indicated it should have had bacon on it and it didn’t. He liked the mahi and said it was cooked well, but he didn’t finish the salad. He also had to wait for the salad dressing since the waiter didn’t ask him which kind he wanted when he took the order. I decided to try the lobster roll and lobster based mac & cheese.
Let me start off by saying I’m originally from a fishing family in New England and we had fresh lobster quite frequently right off the boat. There is very little that needs to be done with lobster in order to make it delicious. A lobster roll, in my opinion, needs just a little bit of mayo, some salt & pepper and you’re done. Maybe a little celery or lettuce for crunch. I don’t know what they did to this lobster roll but it was quite inedible. The only word I can use to describe the taste is briny. It just got more and more unpleasant to eat with every bite and after just a few bites, I gave up completely. Loren tasted a chunk of the lobster and didn’t think it was bad, but then took another bite and tasted exactly what I did. The mac & cheese suffered the same fate. It had that same briny flavor to it. It was also a rather waxy mac & cheese versus a creamy version. Even the coleslaw had way too much vinegar in it.
When our waiter came back to our table and saw my uneaten meal, he asked if I wanted a box. I said no because it wasn’t very good. He cleared our plates and an experienced server would have mentioned something to the manager. That didn’t happen in this case. He brought the check and that was it. Granted, this place has only been opened a few weeks, but there was absolutely nothing about the experience that would make me go back again. Total bill with a drink was $41.
519 2nd Street South
Safety Harbor, FL
The Indian restaurant on Forest Lakes and Tampa Road in Oldsmar has new owners again. I think this is the third set of owners it’s had. Now it’s owned by the same folks that own Deeya Indian Cuisine in Clearwater. There was only one other table of customers while we were there. We started off with the Keema Samosa.
These were flavorful and crunchy. I liked dipping them in one of the sauces that came with the papadum. Loren got the chicken tikka.
He’d never ordered this before. It was kind of like Indian fajitas. The chicken was very tender and flavorful. He really enjoyed it. I ordered the butter chicken and the garlic naan.
Granted, this is the only Indian dish I ever get because it’s just so yummy. The depth of flavors and creaminess are just wonderful. The chicken was tender and I managed to finish the whole thing. The garlic naan was good too. We had no complaints about the food, but the overall atmosphere in the restaurant just didn’t seem friendly to me. I’m not sure how to explain it. Total bill with a drink was $41.
Desi Tadka Indian Cuisine
3780 Tampa Road
A new Thai restaurant just opened up on the corner of McMullen Booth & Enterprise. Sabai Thai Cuisine is a cute little restaurant with a variety of Thai dishes and sushi. We started off with an appetizer platter.
I’m a sucker for a plate of fried appetizers. The shrimp were really good and my favorite on the plate. I’d definitely order the dumplings again, they had some nice flavors. The eggrolls, spring rolls and curry puffs were also tasty. Since we ordered the appetizer platter, we only ordered four sushi rolls. Surprising, huh? We ordered a tuna and avocado, a salmon and avocado, a Mexican roll and a spicy tuna roll.
Their sushi menu is pretty standard without a lot of specialty rolls. The sushi was a bit on the bland side, except for the sauce on the spicy tuna which was really spicy. Loren took a lot of it off before eating it. The shrimp in the Mexican roll wasn’t as warm as I would have liked it. I’m guessing it was done before we had finished our appetizer platter and they just didn’t bring it to the table soon enough. I wasn’t a fan of the texture of the tuna roll either. It was like it was chopped up and as such had a mushy texture. We’ll probably go back again to try the Thai dishes. I’m not sure that this was the best location to open up another Thai restaurant though, especially with Ban Thai right across the street and Ocean Blue just across McMullen Booth. Total bill with a drink was $42.
Sabai Thai Cuisine
2454 McMullen Booth Road
Wanted a cheese steak for lunch today, so we headed over to Marina’s in Westchase.
They were running a special today for a 6″ sub plus fries & a drink. I like the cheesesteaks here. The bread is just perfect to hold all the ooey, gooey goodness. Loren got the meatball sub special.
He said it was good too. We both cleaned our plates, not even a french fry left over. Total bill was $13.
Marina’s Pizza and Pasta
12121 W Linebaugh Ave
We checked out Blue Dog Po’ Boys in Clearwater today for lunch. It’s not a very big place, but the New Orleans flavors definitely packed a punch. We started off with some gumbo.
Lots of deep, rich flavors and just enough spiciness to make it interesting. Loren kept pulling the bowl closer to his side of the table. Since he wanted leftovers he ordered a whole muffaletta sandwich, the photo below is only half.
The waitress wrapped the other half and even with only half on the plate, he only managed to eat a quarter of it. It’s huge. He really enjoyed it though. Lots of meats and the olive spread was tasty. I went for a oyster po’boy with a side of sweet potato fries.
This was a pretty large sandwich too. I ended up eating half and just eating the oysters out of the other half. They were crunchy and tasty and the who dat sauce added some additional spice. The sweet potato fries were crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and had a cinnamon sugar coating on them. They could have been dessert. But, alas, there was bread pudding for dessert.
Yummy, yummy, yummy! It had a really tasty sauce on it and a nice texture and flavor overall. We’ll definitely be back to eat here again. Total bill with two drinks was $37.
Blue Dog Po’Boys
25708 US 19 N
It’s not often that emailed offers work on me, but when I got the limited time $16.90 offer for a pound of stone crabs from Bonefish Grill, I just couldn’t resist. I haven’t had stone crabs in quite a few years and we figured there probably wouldn’t be a wait on a Tuesday night, so off we went. We started off with bread and calamari.
Bonefish really does make some of the best calamari in the area. It’s tender and comes with an Asian dipping sauce that’s really tasty. It’s both sweet and spicy. The bread was fresh and warm and delicious as well. Loren got a salad and I got some of their crab corn chowder.
Their corn chowder is really thick and creamy with lots of crab in it. It’s almost a meal in itself. Loren got the mahi for his entrée.
He said it was perfectly cooked and tasty. He didn’t care for the carrots side dish though. He said they were too sweet and too hard. I, of course, got the stone crabs with some drawn butter.
I didn’t like the fact that they were served cold, so the waitress took them back to the kitchen to get heated up. Cold crab just doesn’t work for me. Otherwise, though, they were just how I remembered them. It cracks me up (no pun intended) that a pound of crab is only 5 claws, but I was so full from the calamari, chowder, and bread that it was fine. Our server was very attentive and friendly. Total bill with a drink was $55.
2519 McMullen Booth Rd
I wanted to go down to Weedon Island Preserve today, so we ate lunch at the Cajun Café on the Bayou. No surprises in what we ordered, I got the crawfish etouffee and Loren got some gumbo with a salad.
I love the food here. It’s always so flavorful and fresh. As much as I tell myself I’m not going to eat the whole plate of food, there’s nothing left when the bill comes. It was a bit on the spicier side today, but oh, so good. This time of year it’s also cool out so you can sit on the patio. Total bill with a drink was $32.
Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
8101 Park Blvd
Pinellas Park, FL
We went to Lowry Park Zoo this morning and ate lunch at La Pequena Colombia on the way home. We’d eaten here once before and really liked the food. This visit was more of the same homemade goodness.
Empanadas were first on the list.
They have a very creamy, tasty filling with a nice crunch on the outside. I wasn’t going anywhere near the sauce served with it though. Loren said it was spicy and tasty.
He went for the chicken fajitas with a side of chicharron. That fried pork skin is one of the main reasons we’re back here.
He says it’s addictive. Crunchy, porky goodness. I liked the taste of his fajitas. They had this carmelized flavor to them. A little bit of sweetness and spiciness. Much better than I’ve had at a lot of the Mexican restaurants around. The chicken was very tender and there were plenty of leftovers. I got the Arroz con pollo which came with chicken stew.
This also had great flavors and there was way too much of it for one meal. The chicken was flavorful and tender and mixed well with some of Loren’s red beans. I ended up ordering an extra side of red beans to take home with my leftovers. Everything just has that homemade, authentic scrumptiousness. Total bill with a drink was $32.
La Pequena Colombia
6312 N Armenia Ave
I’m on vacation this week and we were heading to an 11:30am movie so decided to grab some brunch at Cracker Barrel. I say brunch because Loren’s not much of a breakfast eater. He got a chicken BLT and some soup, while I went for pancakes, eggs, and hashbrowns.
He said the sandwich was ok, not a lot of seasoning on it. His soup went missing and he was half way finished with his meal before our waitress came back & we could tell her.
My over-easy eggs were perfect and they make a darn good pancake here, especially with the warmed up syrup. I don’t know how anyone could get through a stack of pancakes with just one little bottle of their syrup though. I barely manage it with two. Total bill with a drink was $21.
13833 West Hillsborough Avenue
We ate dinner at the Hungry Greek over on Race Track Road tonight. I swear, all these little Greek places have the exact same look and the food tastes pretty much the same. Loren got the dolmades and I went for a gyro.
He said the dolmades were ok. I liked the gyro, but I found it rather difficult to eat. They really packed on the meat (which is ok) but the one slice of tomato on top didn’t exactly make it easy to bite into without getting the whole thing in one bite. Total bill with a drink was $21.
The Hungry Greek
12950 Race Track Road
We drove over to Zephyrhills today and ate lunch at the Chowderhouse. The big draw for me was that their website said they had whole belly clams. We both started out with clam chowder, one New England style and the other Boston style.
The main difference between the two is that one was more creamy than the other. They both tasted ok. I actually liked the creamy one more and Loren liked the other, so that worked out pretty well. For his entrée, he got the blackened grouper sandwich.
He said it was good. It came with fries & cole slaw. I ordered the whole belly clam roll. They were perfectly cooked and had that flavor I craved, but they were a bit on the small side.
There was no way I was going to be able to pick it up and eat it like a sandwich, so I just picked the clams off the bun. The macaroni salad was good too. The waitress brought around the dessert tray and we decided to try the homemade blueberry and coconut cream pies.
These were both somewhat disappointing. The crust wasn’t crispy and flaky at all. It was very dense and doughy. I don’t know if it’s because they had been in the fridge or what, but nowhere near as good as the pies at Yoder’s in Sarasota. That’s pretty much my baseline for pie now. Total bill with a drink was $42.
The Chowder House
36626 SR 54
Nauti Nancy’s was the destination for dinner tonight. I guess we’re the odd ones since we prefer to eat in the air conditioned restaurant instead of out on the patio. We started off with the fried ravioli.
They were filled thick with ricotta cheese and very yummy. I would have liked them a little crispier though, but otherwise very good. We both ordered off the specials menu tonight. Loren got the surf and turf.
It was salmon cakes and prime rib with veggies. He said it was pretty good, but he liked the salmon cakes more than the prime rib. I went for the salmon cakes which came with rice, veggies and covered in hollandaise.
It had a really nice flavor, especially when you mixed everything together. My only complaint is that I would have liked the salmon cakes to be a bit more crispy. The entire dish was just one note in the texture department. They had bread pudding on the menu tonight and we just had to try it.
It was delicious with lots of wonderful flavors. I’d definitely order it again. They also brought out some beignets, but by that point, we were both so full that we barely managed to eat one of them…. and yet we did.
This really is one of my favorite places to eat. The prices are reasonable and the food is always so fresh and delicious. Total bill with a drink was $38.
700 Eldridge St
Some quick soup, salad, and sandwiches for lunch today. We went over to MecaFresh and Loren got the half roast beef and a salad and I got the half eggplant parm with the lobster bisque.
It was all fresh, tasty and good. We didn’t get our free frozen yogurt today though. I don’t know if we were supposed to go back up to the counter to get it or what. They seem to be a bit inconsistent about how they offer it. Total bill with a drink was $19.
3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
I was craving some avocado egg rolls, so we headed out to BJ’s at Countryside Mall. Parking is somewhat of a nightmare over there with the movie theater; but surprisingly, we didn’t have to wait for a table. That’s not to say that the volume of noise in the restaurant wasn’t deafening though. I really wish they were able to dampen the sound level in there.
The avocado egg rolls lived up to expectations. These things are so yummy. Crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside with just the right amount of spices.
Loren continued on the avocado path and got a California chicken sandwich with fries.
He said it was ok, nothing to write home about. The crispy fries were tasty though. I went for one of their October specials, the bratwurst sandwich with sweet potato fries.
This was a pretty flavorless bratwurst. Even with the onions and mustard sauce, it just didn’t really pack a punch. The sweet potato fries came out after the bratwurst, but at least they were fresh and tasty. Total bill with a drink was $36.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
27001 US Highway 19N
We were planning to eat at another restaurant that had been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives when we got back to Vegas, but it was mobbed so we ended up at Kung Fu Plaza Restaurant instead. We started off with some fried calamari.
It was crispy and tender and really yummy. I could have eaten this for my entree. Loren got the garlic beef and I went for the orange chicken.
Both dishes were very flavorful and cooked perfectly. You could just tell there was someone in the kitchen who knew what they were doing. It also didn’t look like there were a lot of tourists eating here, mostly locals, which is a good sign in my book. Based on everything I ate in Vegas, if you get the opportunity to eat off of the Strip, I highly recommend it. The local flavors were much more reasonable in price and had better flavors. Total bill with a drink was $32.
Kung Fu Plaza Restaurant
3505 S Valley View Blvd
Las Vegas, NV
After another long day hiking, we ended up at Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, UT for dinner. It’s a cute little restaurant and we had high hopes for an amazing dinner. Sadly, that didn’t happen. We both ordered soup, Loren got the black bean and I got the corn chowder.
The thing they boast most about here are the fresh vegetables grown in their own garden. I really enjoyed my corn chowder. It was creamy and had a nice flavor to it. Loren wasn’t quite as enthused about his. He thought it tasted more like a chili. The bread was very good and came with a basil butter.
The entrees took quite a while to come out of the kitchen. We both ordered the specials of the night. Loren got the prime rib and I got the filet.
Talk about appearances being deceiving. As beautiful and appetizing as this plate looked, the prime rib was stone cold. The vegetables were a mix of warm and cold and we’re still not sure if that was on purpose or not. The carrots were so hard that we could barely cut them with a knife.
I ordered my filet medium, but it was closer to a medium rare. The main issue I had with it though was the sauce that was on top of it. It was horribly spicy. Loren said it tasted like jalepeno, but I don’t what it was, I just had to cut off the top part and put it on Loren’s plate. The mashed potatoes were supposed to be some sort of lemony potatoes, but I couldn’t taste even a hint of lemon in them. Overall, it was just so disappointing and even more so when we got the $99 bill.
Hell’s Backbone Grill
N0 20 North Hwy 12