The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Some mornings you just wake up and already have a craving for what you want for dinner.  For me, it was shrimp etouffee from the Cajun Cafe down in Pinellas Park.

We’ve eaten here countless times and I always get the same thing.  Mainly because most of their food is too spicy for me, but the etouffee has such a wonderful, rich flavor to it.  I try and try to replicate it at home, but still can’t quite get it to match theirs.

Tonight’s dish was a little spicier than usual, but it didn’t stop me from licking the plate clean.  We also got some fried okra.

Crispy on the outside, mushy on the inside, just the way okra should be.  The batter also had a little spice to it.  Loren ordered something different tonight, the roast pork dinner with a side of jambalaya.

I found something else I could eat here.  The pork wasn’t spicy at all.  It had a rich, almost sweet flavor to it.  It was very tender and tasty.  The jambalaya made up for the lack of spice in the pork.

Total dinner ran us $35.  Then we headed down to Indian Rocks Beach to watch the sunset.

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
8101 Park Blvd
Pinellas Park, FL

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou on Urbanspoon

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  • Filed under: Cajun, Pinellas Park
  • No, really!

    On our way home from the track today, Jeff and I stopped in Ocala for dinner.  Jeff popped up Urban Spoon and picked out a well-ranked place in the appropriate price range, and off we went.  I used to live very near Ocala when I was younger (in the early 80’s!), imagine my surprise to see that Ocala now has an “old town” district with a bunch of nice restaurants!  After a little circling and some odd right-turn-from-the-left-lane action from Jeff, we found a place to park and we walked across the street to this place called Harry’s Seafood.

    Just as we were crossing the street, at least 3 parties of 4-6 people walked in the door right ahead of us!  But, it was 5:30, so they weren’t packed yet, and we didn’t have to wait for our table for two.  A quick look at the menu revealed that Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill has the tagline of “A New Orleans Style Restaurant”.  Cool!

    We figured out why the crowd was rolling in at 5:30, too.  They have a 4-6pm “early bird” menu (they call it something else, but that’s what it is) with some very reasonable prices on it!

    So, we ordered some typical cajun fare with not a lot of great expectations, this being Ocala and all.  Our waiter was quick with our drinks and did a good job of keeping them topped up and taking care of us in general.  While we were waiting for our entrees, we got bread.  Now, I’m not a huge bread fan.  I often don’t even bother tasting it, but if it’s good and/or has something good to dip it in, I’ll enjoy it.  This bread was AWESOME!  Very fresh, just a little crispy on the outside, and oh-so-tasty with a spread of their delicious herbed butter.  We had to get a second loaf, it was so good!

    Our entrees arrived VERY quickly.  Jeff’s comment was “did I order yet?”  But, there it was.  His steaming plate of Crawfish Etouffe, which looked and smelled great!  He commented on it being a bit spicy… of course he dumped some of the Harry’s-branded hot sauce that was on the table on there, anyway.  I ordered the Jambalaya, which had ample portions of shrimp, smoked sausage and chicken and was pretty darned tasty, if I do say so myself!  Not “hot”, but definitely spicy.  We both ordered off of the “early” menu, which is smaller portions than what’s on the regular menu, and neither of us could imagine needing more food than we got.  I even boxed up about 1/3 of mine to take home. (could have eaten it… just wanted to enjoy it later)

    I guess Jeff picked up from Urban Spoon that this place is supposed to have an incredible mud pie, and he couldn’t live without trying it.  It’s like a coffee-flavored ice cream cake with a crisp layer of chocolate on top and who knows what else.  I was kinda turned off by the coffee (not a fan) and wasn’t going to try it.  But, it was HUGE, and Jeff didn’t get too far past half-way with it.  Being ice cream, he couldn’t take it home… so, I tried a bite.  To my pleasant surprise, the coffee flavor was very mild and with the giant mound of whipped cream on the side… well, let’s just say there wasn’t a lot left on the plate!

    We got out of there for about $35 with extremely happy tastebuds and full bellies.  Too bad it’s so far away, I’d go back here often!

    Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill
    24 SE 1st Ave
    Ocala, FL

    Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Cajun
  • On the bayou!

    Another Friday meeting at one of our favorite “conference rooms”, Cajun Cafe on the Bayou.

    I remembered to take a picture today, partly because my plate just looked pretty.  I wanted a light lunch, so I ordered the “Baby greens and a cup” for lunch with a cup of Gumbo.  The other guys ordered either a bowl of Jambalaya or Cajun burritos.  I’ve had both and they’re really good… the Jambalaya is notably spicier than the Gumbo, however.

    Great food and service, as usual.  Cajun Cafe rarely disappoints!

    Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
    8101 Park Blvd N
    Pinellas Park, FL
    (727) 546-6732

    Cajun Cafe on the Bayou on Urbanspoon



    When I went to Zerillo’s earlier in the week, I noticed another restaurant in the same shopping center call “A Taste of Heaven New Orleans Cuisine”.   Since they’re only open for dinner, figured we’d head out there tonight.  It’s not like there are a lot of New Orleans/Cajun places to eat around here.  The closest one that we like is the Cajun Cafe down in Pinellas Park. 

    The restaurant was empty when we got there a little before 6pm.  The owner/chef, Jocelyn, came out to greet us.  She’s really personable and made us feel very welcome.

    We ordered our drinks and she recommended the tea so Loren got a glass.

    I’m not a tea drinker, but trust me, this is not what I would consider tea.  It was a sweet fruit drink made with fresh pineapple, mango, and raspberry.  Almost like a lemonade.  I ended up ordering a glass of my own.  It was actually too sweet for Loren, but just right for me.  Jocelyn said she makes different fruit blends depending on what fruit is in season.  Definitely order the tea when you visit.

    We ordered our meals and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Patience was definitely the order of the evening.  Granted everything was made fresh to order, and we were warned that the homemade corn bread would take 15-20 minutes, but it took at least an hour to get our food. 

    Finally our entrees arrived.  Loren ordered the Jammin’ Jambalaya. 

    The jambalaya was good.  It had some spice but not too much.  She actually asked what level of spice we wanted in the food.  He said it was dryer than what he wanted, but had plenty of chicken, sausage and shrimp in it.  He’d probably order it as a side dish next time, not a meal.

    I ordered the shrimp etoufee and a side of mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, and corn bread.

    The menu said the etoufee came with fried okra slices, but it didn’t.  I ordered it non-spicy and though it had a good flavor, it was actually a little bland.  I think it needed some of the spice afterall.  The sauce was smooth and the shrimp and rice were both cooked well.  The menu also said warm cornbread upon request, which I assumed meant it came with it, but we were charged separately for it. 

    The thing about the cornbread is that it was supposedly the reason our meal took so long to come out and unfortunately, it wasn’t worth the wait.  It was ok for cornbread, but nothing to write home about.

    I like mac and cheese and this one was a tasty version.  Homemade, very cheesy with a hint of garlic.  Even Loren liked it and he’s not that into mac and cheese.

    The sweet potato souffle had a strong clove flavor.  Loren liked it more than I did.  I like a sweeter version of the dish, more cinnamon, less clove.   It had a nice consistency and the ramekin it was in kept it steaming hot. 

    Our waitress was Jocelyn’s 13 year old daughter.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the necessary experience, nor would you expect her to at her age.  A few more customers came into the restaurant while we were eating so it took a while for her to get back to our table.  They didn’t have any desserts on the menu, only for special occasions we were told.  I was really hoping for some beignets, but no such luck. 

    We finally got our $43 check, but then they had to fight with their credit card machine.  So we waited.  And waited.  Luckily, we had enough cash on us because they didn’t get the machine working.  This was about a 2 hour outing for dinner and we were the only customers when we got there.  I really wanted to love this place.  I definitely recommend going for the food; it was fresh and made to order.   Jocelyn is a great host and has a wonderful personality, but since she’s also the chef, once she went into the kitchen, the dining room lacked the service and attention to detail it needed. 

    A Taste of Heaven
    11665 Countryway Blvd
    Tampa, FL

    A Taste of Heaven New Orleans Cuisine on Urbanspoon


    I met my sister in Orlando today to go see the “Out of this World” costume exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center.  Last time we were in Orlando we ate at the Crooked Bayou and really enjoyed it, so we headed there again today.

    It’s more of a bar than a restaurant and you really need to sit outside.  Inside smells really stale.  But since it was such a beautiful day today we wanted to be outside anyway.

    I ordered the oyster po’ boy with tater tots.

    This place makes a great tater tot.  My sister got an order of the spicy tots plus a cup of jambalaya.  The po’ boy was really good.  Nice crisp oysters with lettuce, tomato and mayo lightly pressed in French bread.   For $14, it was plenty of food for both of us. 

    Crooked Bayou
    50 E Central Blvd
    Orlando, FL

    Crooked Bayou on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Cajun, Orlando