The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Given the choice between going to the grocery store or going out to eat, I’m choosing a restaurant every time.  Tonight’s choice was Cafe’ Alfresco in downtown Dunedin.  The patio was really loud, so we sat inside.

Let’s face it, we both like soup.

I got the Sicilian white bean soup and Loren got a cup of the creole.  The rice wasn’t quite done enough in his, but overall the flavor was good.  My bean soup was very tasty.

We got the “must try” appetizer, the Feta Alfresco.

It’s feta cheese, lightly breaded in panko crumbs, fried golden brown
and served over red sauce with garlic cheese bread.  Neither of us had ever had feta cheese this way.  At first, the flavor seemed overwhelming, but the more you ate, the more it mellowed out.  The garlic bread was good too.  I doubt we’d order it again, though.  As usual, we were both pretty stuffed at this point, but then came the entrees.

Loren ordered the salmon salad.

It was a huge piece of blackened salmon over a salad of lettuce, olives, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and artichokes with a Greek dressing.  He said it was very good.

I ordered the half portion of the chicken marsala.

It had a very nice marsala sauce.  The chicken was very tender and the pasta was good.  Both meals came with rolls that were really tasty too.

And because I just can’t pass up dessert, I got a slice of raspberry cheesecake to take home.

It was a hard choice between this and the death by chocolate cake.  I’ll have to try the cake next time.

Appetizer, two soups, two entrees, dessert and a drink for $38.  The food was fresh and had very good flavors.  The only downside was that our waitress wasn’t very good at refilling drinks.  Otherwise, it was a really nice dining experience.

Cafe Alfresco
344 Main St
Dunedin, FL

Cafe Alfresco on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: American, Dunedin
  • Call me crazy, but I think two people should be able to get in and out of a chain restaurant within an hour for lunch.  Such was not the case at Chili’s in Oldsmar today.

    When my friend Cathy & I walked in, we even remarked how empty the restaurant was, so as much as they wanted to tell us they were busy, I find it difficult to believe.  Incorrectly staffed, perhaps, but definitely not busy.

    We sat down and waited for about 10 minutes before our waitress even came to the table.  We watched two other tables of 4 get seated near us during this time too.  We ordered off of their specials menu, an appetizer and entree for just under $10.  Seemed like a good deal.  About 30 minutes later, our appetizers showed up.  

    I got the cheese sticks and Cathy got the Southwest egg rolls.   About 15 minutes after that, the other tables who sat down after us got their food. 

    At this point, we’re convinced that our order just got lost.  We flagged down the waitress who was a bit snotty and told us how busy they were.  We just said to put our food in to go boxes.  The manager came by with our to go boxes and also told us how busy they were.  That our order had only been in the kitchen for 14 minutes.   Ummm, yeah, then the waitress must have taken a very long stroll from when we ordered to when she put the order in.

    Then we sat again waiting for our check.  The manager came by once more and gave us $5 coupons for next time and we asked him if we could perhaps have our check.  Honestly, at this point, wouldn’t you have just comp’ed the food?  The waitress finally brought the check and we just dropped $22 cash on the table because who knows how long we’d have to sit there if we had given her credit cards.

    All in all, a rather uninspiring visit to Chili’s.  Though the cheese sticks were tasty, they were not what I had in mind for lunch.  But, I guess I have leftovers for later.

    3701 Tampa Road
    Oldsmar, FL
    (813) 814-7769

    Chili's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: American, Oldsmar
  • I was off work today and Loren works from home,  so I sweet talked him into going to see “Valentine’s Day” with me at the movies (he hates to admit it, but he actually enjoyed the movie).  Then it was time for lunch and I wanted to try some place we’d never been before, so we drove to Palm Harbor and went to Tiffany’s Family Restaurant. 

    They had chili on the menu and you could get it over macaroni and cheese, so I just had to try it.

    Imagine my disappointment when it came to the table and it was chili over Kraft macaroni and cheese.  Yeah, the blue box, baby.  I have to admit, the chili was good and tasted fine over the mac and cheese, but totally not what I was expecting.  Unfortunately, after watching “Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives” too many times, I always expect these family owned restaurants to make everything from scratch to where you can taste love in every bite. 

    Loren ordered the German pot roast which came with a potato pancake, sweet and sour cabbage and a side of spinach.  He thought it was ok.

    I ordered the meatloaf dinner with mashed potatoes and a side of cole slaw.

    This really didn’t do it for me.  The mashed potatoes tasted like they were out of a box or maybe a combination of actual potatoes and potato flakes.  The mushrooms in the gravy were out of a can and the meatloaf was nothing to write home about.  My best description is that it tasted like institutional food.  Something that might be served in a school or hospital.  Put it this way, I didn’t eat most of it and didn’t even bother to take it home. 

    For $32, I left quite disappointed and unlikely to go back.  The items on the menu sounded really good, but the execution was less than tasty. 

    Tiffany’s Family Restaurant
    35000 US Hwy 19 N
    Palm Harbor, FL

    Tiffany's on Urbanspoon


    We got up early this morning to go see “The Wolfman”.  Not your typical romantic Valentine movie, but it did have a few hearts in it… they were just no longer connected to their owners. 

    Since we weren’t sure how crowded most places would be for lunch today, we opted for Jack Willie’s.  It usually doesn’t have an early crowd on Sundays and the food doesn’t disappoint.

    We started with some calamari.

    Jack Willies has a very light batter on their calamari.  It doesn’t offer a lot of flavor, but that’s where the marinara comes in.  The combination of the two is very yummy.

    Loren ordered a very colorful cobb salad.  I swear this salad has everything you could ever want in it.  Quite a bit of seared tuna, lettuce, blue cheese, egg, tomato, onion, olives, spinach, bacon, and other greens. 

    I’ve been craving a burger, so got the mushroom swiss with fries.  Jack Willie’s serves 1/2 pound burgers and I only managed to eat half of it.  Juicy and cooked just right, plus their fries are really good too.

    We go to Jack Willie’s pretty regularly.  It’s close to our house and they have live music.  We usually sit out on the deck where you can see fish, birds and the occasion alligator.  It’s a very laid back kind of place. 

    Two entrees, appetizer and a drink ran us $32.

    Jack Willie’s Tiki Bar and Grill
    1013 St Petersburg Dr
    Oldsmar, FL

    Jack Willie's Original Tiki Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: American, Oldsmar
  • Loren ordered some coupons from so we went to Grind House Bar & Grill for lunch today.  He paid $3 for a $25 off coupon, but the catch is you have to spend $45. 

    I’m pretty sure the Grind House used to be a Beef O’Brady’s.  I know we had eaten in the space before, but it was a different restaurant at the time.  Honestly, we weren’t expecting much from a sports bar, but the food turned out to be exceptionally good.

    So, how do you spend $45 in a sports bar?  You start with an appetizer, queso and chips.

    The chips were warm and crispy and the queso had a nice texture and wasn’t too spicy.  Loren liked the green onions on top, I just scooped around them.

    Since it was a chilly day for Florida, mid-60’s, we went for some lobster/shrimp bisque and a bowl of chili.

    I gotta say, I was amazed at how good the bisque was.  It had incredible flavor and lots of chunks of lobster and shrimp in it.  I’d go back for the bisque anytime.

    So, we’re up to $13 now.  What shall we get for entrees?  Loren’s been craving a steak so he indulged in the top sirloin with a side of shrimp, mashed taters, and veggies. 

    He was leary about ordering it, but pleasantly surprised at how good it was.  The steak was cooked a nice medium, the shrimp were tasty and he had leftovers.

    I wanted a good ol’ greasy cheeseburger with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a side of onion rings. 

    The burger and onion rings were both good.  But, I was already pretty full, so most of it came home with me. 

    We still hadn’t reached $45 yet, so we had to get dessert.  Ok, we would have gotten dessert regardless because how can you pass up “warm brownie, with strawberries, caramel, chocolate sauce, ice cream and whipped cream”? 

    As full as we both were, it didn’t take long for it to look like this:

    It was a really tasty dessert.  We also got a slice of apple pie to take home. 

    We ended up spending $31 after the coupon and not including the tip.  Would we have spent that much without the coupon?  Probably not.  Was it worth it?  Without a doubt, yes.  The food was really good.  We didn’t even know the restaurant existed and probably would have never gone there without the coupon, but after such a great food experience, we’ll definitely go back.

    We thought we were in for an ordinary lunch at a hole in the wall sports bar, but instead we ended up with an incredible lunch and enough food for dinner as well.  Well worth the trip, coupon or not.

    Grind House Bar & Grill
    1500 McMullen Booth Rd
    Clearwater, FL

    Grind House Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: American, Clearwater