The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Charred


I received a coupon in the mail for $8 off two entrees at Outback, so we headed out there for dinner tonight.  They were also doing a 4-course special, so we both opted for that.  The kitchen was backed up, so it took a while to get our bread and soup and salad.

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We both chose the clam chowder which was quite a bit spicier than I had anticipated.  It was creamy and had good flavors though.  What we didn’t know, until the bill came out, was that there was an upcharge for the clam chowder.  I’m always a little miffed for things to show up on the bill that we weren’t told about ahead of time.  Our waitress said she didn’t know there was an upcharge.

There are a limited number of choices on the 4-course entree menu, but that wasn’t an issue for Loren.  He got the 6 oz sirloin with a baked potato.

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Though the presentation left a bit to be desired, he said the steak was cooked a perfect medium.  He enjoyed it.  Normally, I order the Alice Springs Chicken, but it wasn’t one of the options, so I tried their new Honey Mustard Chicken.

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That was a mistake.  There’s a distinct difference between lightly charred and burnt.  This fell into the burnt category.  I tried to eat around the crispy parts.  The main reason I didn’t send it back is that Loren would have been finished with his meal before something new could come out of the kitchen for me.  We’d already been waiting a long time so it wasn’t worth the effort.  The waitress asked if I wanted to bring the leftovers home and I told her no, couldn’t she see how burnt it was?  The manager came over and was very apologetic and took it off the bill.  Let’s face it, something that looks like this never should have made it out of the kitchen.  For our last course, we got one of each desserts offered, the cheesecake and carrot cake.

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For me, the cheesecake was the best part of the meal.  It was creamy and the raspberry sauce was good.  Loren liked the carrot cake.  Since we no longer had two entrees on the menu, I didn’t use my coupon and the final bill ended up being $21 with a drink.

Outback Steakhouse
31988 US Hwy 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
727-789-6283

Outback Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.0/5

In Training


We went out to the Garden Grille Cafe for dinner tonight and had a waitress in training.  Luckily, she had another waitress working with her whispering in her ear everything she forgot to do.  We started off with some clam chowder and some calamari.

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The clam chowder was a bit on the gritty side.  They definitely needed to rinse the clams more.  It needed some salt, but was ok otherwise.  The calamari also needed some seasoning.  Loren got a Greek salad with chicken.

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He said the chicken was very tender and the salad was ok.  I ordered a mushroom burger.

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It was cooked way past medium and was pretty dry.  They brought out the dessert tray and I was surprised at how many choices there were.  We settled on a raspberry cake with cheesecake filling.

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Unfortunately, this cake must have come frozen and was not thawed out properly.  Parts of it were frozen solid, part of the cake was dry and the other part was wet.  Not moist, but wet.  The actually cheesecake filling was pretty tasty.  Service was lacking in some areas as there were dishes left on our table way longer than they should have been.  Total bill with a drink was $36.

Garden Grille Cafe
8425 Hillsborough Ave
Tampa, FL
813-901-5660

Garden Grille Cafe on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.0/5

Far Out, Man


Woodstock on 5th recently opened up in the space where Crepeology used to be in Safety Harbor.  It’s a really small building and I’m amazed at the quality of food they were able to put out of that tiny kitchen.  There aren’t a lot of tables, but there is a patio out back and they had live music tonight.  The whole restaurant and staff are decked out in a 60’s music theme and the menu items are all named after musicians and bands of the era.  We started off with some of the white chili.

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When it came to the table, we both thought it looked like a bowl of cheese queso dip.  And to be honest, it would have gone great with some tortilla chips.  It was very thick, creamy, and cheesy. It had a nice flavor to it, just a hint of heat and overall very tasty.   For his entree, Loren ordered the “Grateful Dead”.

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It was two tri tip grilled steaks with potatoes and green beans.  The steak was cooked a perfect medium, seasoned wonderfully, and was very tender.  I ate some of it because it was actually too much food.  Drop the price a little and just serve one steak and it still would have been enough for an entree.   I ordered the “Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young”.

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It was a pappardelle pasta with wild mushrooms.  One bite and I was hooked.  The cream sauce was amazing.  The only thing I really didn’t like were the wild mushrooms.  Some of them were really tough and chewy.  The pasta was cooked perfectly and I licked every last bite of that sauce off the plate.  We also decided to try the desserts.  We got the citrus cake and a strawberry mousse tart.

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They don’t make the desserts in house, but instead get them from a local bakery.  Loren really liked the citrus cake.  It was moist and had a wonderful orange flavor.  I found the crust on the tart to be a little hard, but the strawberry mousse filling was tasty.

Overall, the food was amazing; however, other aspects of the experience weren’t as great.   It did take a while to get our food, but, it was definitely fresh and homemade.  They have a very young and inexperienced wait staff.  They were very sweet and pleasant with bubbly personalities, but seemed a bit over their head when it came to actually keeping up with their tables.  The other thing we found annoying was that the door to the patio is in the small dining room, so there was a constant opening & closing of the door as people went in & out.

They post their weekly menu specials on their website and also serve breakfast & lunch.  We’ll probably go back again as the food really was delicious.  Total bill with a drink was $61.

Woodstock on 5th
155 5th Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL
727-797-4444

Woodstock on 5th on Urbanspoon

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

Mmmm… Sushi


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.

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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??

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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.

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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?

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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
Clearwater, FL
727-953-9828

Ocean Blue Sushi on Urbanspoon

Food5/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value3/5
4.3/5

Pastamore


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Pastamore
6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL
407-224-2244

Pastamoré Ristorante and Market on Urbanspoon

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