The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

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Busy Brunch


Since our breakfast outing last weekend didn’t quite satisfy, we headed over to Nicki’s Omelette & Grill on Hillsborough today.  There was quite the crowd in the restaurant, but it didn’t take long for them to clear a table and seat us. 

Loren’s not much of a breakfast person, so he ordered the California burger with fries.

Just take a look at the layers in that burger!  Burger, bacon, guacamole, sour cream, jack cheese, onions, lettuce, and tomato.  It was quite the yummy mouthful.  The fries were nice and crispy too. 

I wanted breakfast, but they didn’t really have a combo that had what I wanted, so I had to order everything separately.

Pancakes, hashbrowns, and scrambled eggs with cheese.  The pancakes were perfectly cooked and the hashbrowns were good.  When I order scrambled eggs with cheese, it’s rare that they come out the way I like.  I expect the cheese to be completely melted and gooey inside the eggs.  These were ok, but the cheese wasn’t cooked in quite enough.

Total meal cost us $17.  It was more than enough food for both of us.  The guy at the table next to us ordered the “Biscuit Debris”.  It looked like a heart attack waiting to happen.  😉

Nicki’s Omelette & Grill
6805 W Hillsborough Ave
Tampa, FL
(813) 888-9365

Nicki's Omelette & Grill on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value4/5
3.2/5

Eggstyle Breakfast just opened up in Oldsmar in the space that used to be Winners and then Kuzina.  It looks like a good location for a breakfast place since there are several hotels right behind it.  Based on our experience today though, they may get the one time through crowd, but I know we won’t be repeat visitors.

The bar area when you first walk in has been turned into a juice bar and the interior has been repainted in bright colors.  The floor is no longer carpeted and I think that may have had a big influence on how loud it was in there today.  You could barely hear yourself think, and this was at breakfast. 

Loren ordered a western omelette which came with potatoes, toast, and cinnamon apples.

He said it was more like scrambled eggs with stuff in it than an omelette.  The cinnamon apples were really good though.   I ordered the two eggs and pancakes meal which also came with potatoes, toast, and cinnamon apples.

The cinnamon apples and the potatoes were the only things on the plate at the right temperature.  The eggs were lukewarm at best and I couldn’t even eat the pancakes because they were cold and spongy. 

Total breakfast was $18.  Most items on their menu seemed high priced for breakfast.  Service wasn’t very good either.  Our waitress never returned to our table to check on us until we were finished.  When she noticed my uneaten pancakes, she said “oh, it’s a lot of food” and I said, “no, the pancakes were cold”.  Then she just walked off and brought us our check.  This was also the first place I’ve seen the credit card machines brought to the table.  I get that it helps prevent people from stealing your credit card number, but I wasn’t too keen on her standing there waiting for us to put in the tip. 

So, if you’re looking for cinnamon apples, the ones here are pretty tasty, but if you want breakfast, I’d recommend heading down the street to Cracker Barrel.

Eggstyle Breakfast
3980 Tampa Road, #105
Oldsmar, FL
(813) 562-5278

Eggstyle Breakfast on Urbanspoon

Food1/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value1/5
1.5/5

We drive by the Monte Cristo Family Restaurant any time we go into Dunedin and I keep saying I want to try it.   We were finally there early enough in the day to check it out.  They only serve breakfast and lunch.

They had a bunch of breakfast specials today and I ordered the Eggs Benedict Florentine.

Two poached eggs over English muffins with spinach, tomatoes, and Hollandaise sauce plus a side of hash browns.  The eggs were a little overcooked, but the tomatoes were definitely fresh.  It’s always nice to actually taste a tomato.  The hashbrowns were pretty bad.  Shaved potato slices with no seasoning whatsoever.

Loren ordered a burger with everything.

The waitress heard “plain burger”, so it came out with nothing. Another waitress heard the conversation as our waitress started to take the plate away & told her to just get a side of lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. 

Overall service was pretty bad.  We had to ask for silverware and for the most part, our waitress was no where to be found.  The other waitress in the restaurant cleared the plates and brought our check.  Total bill with a glass of OJ was $13.  We both agreed that it’s unlikely that we’ll be back.

Monte Cristo Family Restaurant
1617 Main St
Dunedin, FL
727-733-6453

Monte Cristo Family on Urbanspoon

Food0/5
Service0/5
Atmosphere0/5
Value0/5
0.0/5

My sister and I meet up every year for the Fringe Festival in Orlando and Brian’s Restaurant is our stop for breakfast. 

It’s a little diner on Orange Ave near the festival and I found it a few years ago because it claimed to have the best sweet buns in town. 

These are pretty good, but I have to say, they were better when we first started coming here a few years ago.  The last couple times I’ve been, the buns were a lot drier and didn’t seem as fresh. 

We ordered some breakfast, I got some eggs with toast & hashbrowns, she got an order of hashbrowns and my niece and her boyfriend shared some eggs and a Belgium waffle.  I had sweet bun frosting on my fingers so I didn’t take any other photos. Everything was cooked well and the total bill was $16, so it’s definitely a cost effective place to eat breakfast.  Our waitress was nice, in fact I think we’ve had the same waitress every time we’ve been there. 

It’s a good little restaurant to get a quick, inexpensive breakfast.

Brian’s Restaurant
1409 North Orange Ave
Orlando, FL
407-896-9912

Brian's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Food0/5
Service0/5
Atmosphere0/5
Value0/5
0.0/5

Day 8 of our vacation we had reservations for lunch at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company.  On the way there, we stopped at the World Botanical Gardens to check out Umauma Falls.

What a beautiful 3 tiered waterfall.  We’ve seen numerous waterfalls on our trip, but this one was simply gorgeous.  The actual gardens aren’t as nice or plentiful as the Hawaii Botanical Gardens, but the waterfall is definitely worth the admission price.

The Hawaiian Vanilla Experience Lunch was pretty interesting.

Their vanilla in infused in all of the lunch items.  The vanilla lemonade was really tasty.  Lunch was a chicken sandwich with salad and roasted potatoes and a vanilla bread pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  You also get to hear the story of the vanilla farm and get to visit the shade house where they grow the vanilla plants.  Trust me, after this visit you’ll completely understand why vanilla is so expensive.  Lunch and tour for two was $70, plus we ended up buying a few vanilla souvenirs as well. 

After lunch, we went hiking through another cave and then walked around Kalopa State Park.  The park was beautiful and very serene.  We headed back to Hilo and stopped at the Hilo Bay Cafe for dinner. 

Unfortunately, we hadn’t made reservations, but luckily there was plenty of room at the bar, so we ordered dinner there.  I think this was our best meal of the trip.

I started out with a Thai curry coconut soup that was amazing.

Loads of interesing flavors that were amazingly warm, but not too spicy.  Loren had a salad and really liked the dressing.

I ordered the hamakua mushroom pot pie with chicken which came with a side salad.  This is the way pot pies should always be.

The pastry crust was flaky and perfectly baked.  Chicken and fresh veggies in a creamy sauce inside.  This is comfort food at its best.

Loren ordered their fish special of the night which was ono over a bed of mashed potatoes, spinach and tomatoes in a beurre blanc sauce.

Perfectly cooked, with wonderful flavors.  There was nothing left on his plate when he was finished.  And since our entrees had been so good, I certainly couldn’t pass up their version of chocolate lava cake.

Finally!  A restaurant that understands that lava cake should have a liquid center.  Loren was chatting with another customer at the bar and I had half of this eaten before he even turned around.  Wonderful deep chocolate flavors and the vanilla ice cream was a perfect complement.

The entire experience was great.  This is definitely a restaurant that “gets it”.  The bartender was our waiter and he kept our drinks filled and plates cleared.  It was interesting watching him make bloody mary’s all night.  He must have made 8 of them while we were there.  Total bill was $61 and worth every penny.  If you’re in Hilo, make a reservation and eat here at least once on your trip.

Hilo Bay Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday was our last full day on the island.  We ate breakfast at the B&B and then headed down to the Volcano Park again to see the Jagger Museum and the end of the Chain of Craters road.  We also saw the Holei Sea Arch.

We stopped at Thai Thai Restaurant for dinner in Volcano.  For an appetizer, we ordered the summer roll.

I didn’t like it, but Loren did.  It had mint and cilantro in it that just completely ruined it for me.  Those just aren’t flavors I enjoy. 

I ordered the chicken coconut yellow curry at the mildest setting available.

I admit, I’m wimpy when it comes to spicy, but if this is mild, I’d hate to see what hot is like.  My mouth was on fire.  It had an interesting flavor, chicken and potatoes in the curry sauce, but my lips were tingling after just a few bites.

Loren ordered the ginger chicken.

His was even spicer than mine.  He enjoyed it, but still ordered some coconut ice cream for dessert just to cool off his tongue.

The ice cream had bits of coconut in it.  Total bill was $50 and it took a while for both of us to regain sensation in our tongues and lips.  This is not a restaurant for the meek when it comes to spicy.

Thai Thai on Urbanspoon

Last day on the island and we got up at 3:00am in order to go on the sunrise Lava Ocean Boat Tour.  It was just so amazing during the sunset tour that we had to do it again before we left the island. 

After the tour, we headed back to our B&B for breakfast then over to the Liliuokalani Gardens for awhile.

We ate lunch at the Kuhio Grille in Hilo.  We actually ate breakfast here on our first day on the island.  Pancakes and a Belgium waffle that were huge and way more than one person could eat.

Lunch on our last day also consisted of way too much food.  I ordered the chicken katsu with some corn chowder.  The chowder was really, really thick.  It had the consistency of mashed potatoes. 

The chicken was a little overcooked.  Not the best I’d had on the island.  Loren ordered one of their specials, a Philipino combo which had spare ribs, adobo & pumpkin, long beans, wing beans and pork.

He was a happy guy.  The meat just fell off the bones of the spare ribs.  Wonderful flavors all around.  He had no idea that he was eating pumpkin until he asked the waitress what it was.  Our final meal on the island ran us $28.

Kuhio Grille on Urbanspoon

All in all, we had an amazing vacation in Hawaii.  At every turn we were fascinated by the scenery.  From beautiful waterfalls, to lush green rainforests, to endless lava fields, to flowing glowing lava.  We kept saying “Wow”, only to have a bigger “Wow” uttered at the next stop.  The food was also wonderful.  So many of the restaurants used fresh, local ingredients and it was so apparent in the final dishes. 

If you’re interested in seeing the rest of our photos, you can check them out on my Flickr page.  We’re slowly getting them edited and posted.  Aloha!

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Food0/5
Service0/5
Atmosphere0/5
Value0/5
0.0/5