The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Loren was craving a steak tonight, so we headed out to the Longhorn in Palm Harbor.  The wait was about 40 minutes, but we figured anywhere we went on a Friday at 6pm was going to be busy.  The Longhorn currently has a Steakhouse Dinner for Two deal going on.  It includes an appetizer or dessert, salads, and two entrees for $25.  While we waited on our appetizer, we dug into the bread.

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This is the way bread should be.  It was warm and slightly chewy and oh so yummy.  We just kept eating more & more of it.  Luckily, our calamari appetizer arrived before we completely stuffed ourselves on bread.

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The calamari was cooked pretty well, but any longer in the fryer and it would have been tough.  It had a nice crunch and the smoky tomato ranch dipping sauce was awesome!  I need to figure out how to make that at home.

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They really had the timing down perfectly tonight.  As soon as we finished our appetizer, the salads came right out and our entrees were served just as the waiter was clearing the salad plates.  As busy as they were, I was happily surprised to not be sitting around wondering where our food was.  Loren went for the Renegade steak & baked potato.

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He said the steak wasn’t quite tender enough, but was perfectly cooked and seasoned.  The 6 oz size was just the right amount for him too.  I went for the salmon with a side of sweet potato bites.

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I’ve found my new favorite side dish.  These things were amazing.  They had a sweet, maple syrupy aroma, but had the texture of a tater tot.  It was almost like a butterscotch candy, but not overly sweet.  Yummy!  The salmon was perfectly cooked and very good.  The only thing I didn’t like was the rice.  It was way too spicy for me.  I don’t know what kind of peppers were mixed into it, but I took one bite and my mouth was not happy.

We don’t go to too many chain restaurants, but we both agreed that this was one of the better dining experiences we’ve had recently.  The restaurant was large and crowded, but they’ve figured out how to control the noise level so we could carry on a conversation.  The service was attentive, but not intruding.  Each course was served and plates were cleared in a timely manner and the food was very good.  Total bill with a drink was $30.

Longhorn Steakhouse
35645 US Highway 19
Palm Harbor, FL
(727) 781-9300

Longhorn Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value4/5
4.0/5

Big Burger


Surf Shack was our destination for lunch today.  The weather was gorgeous today so having the big door open out to the patio was great.   Loren likes the chips & salsa here.

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I wasn’t able to stop eating the chips either.  They’re sort of like Doritos and somewhat addictive.  They had salmon tacos on their specials for today, so Loren decided to try them.

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He said they were pretty good.  He also liked the Shangai cucumbers that came as a side dish.  He said it was amazing how something so simple could be so tasty.  Normally, I get tacos here, but I decided to try the mushroom burger instead.

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It was one big burger!  It was juicy and cooked a perfect medium, but it desperately needed some additional seasoning.  A little salt & pepper would have gone a long way to take this from a good burger to a great one.  As is, I was more aware of the taste of the bun than I was the taste of the burger itself.  Overall though, it was a pretty good lunch for $20.

Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen 
12217 West Linebaugh Ave
Tampa, FL
(813) 475-5916

Surf Shack on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.0/5

Need a Knife


We went over to Rumba Island in Oldsmar for dinner tonight.  They were pretty busy tonight & we ended up with a table in the bar area.  Surprisingly, the noise level wasn’t too bad.  I think the fact that the bar area is open to the outside makes a big difference.  We started off with some conch fritters and my favorite little corn muffins.

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The conch fritters were really good.  They were tender and just a little spicy, nothing that overwhelmed my taste buds.  Overall, they just had a really nice flavor and texture.  Loren got the tuna rumba salad for his entree.

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He said the tuna was cooked a nice rare and had good seasoning.  I went for the kbobs & shrimp which came with a salad.

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The shrimp were cooked ok, but the batter had very little seasoning.  They were just kind of plain.  The kbobs weren’t tender enough for me and some of the chunks were bigger than bite size and really hard to cut with a butter knife.  I also got the island rice and mashed sweet potatoes which were both tasty.  Total bill with a drink was $43.

Rumba Island Bar & Grill 
3687 Tampa Road
Oldsmar, FL
(813) 475-5974

Rumba Island Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon 

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.0/5

It was around 2pm when we got out of the movies and Loren suggested we give Ozona Pig another try.  Unfortunately, we walked in and were told they closed at 2pm, so we walked across the street to Molly Goodheads instead.

We split a bowl of clam chowder.

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This was so thick and rich and yummy.  Definitely one of the better versions in the area.  For his lunch, Loren went for a blackened mahi sandwich.

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He said the mahi was cooked perfectly and the fries were nice & crunchy.  I decided on an avocado burger and onion rings.

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The burger was very thick & juicy, though not quite cooked to the medium I asked for.  The onion rings were a bit on the salty side and needed to be a bit crunchier.  The only thing I really dislike about Molly’s is that they allow smoking on the patio and even though we were inside, as people walked in & out the door, you could still smell the smoke.  Total bill with a drink was $26.

Molly Goodheads 
400 Orange Street
Ozona, FL
727-786-6255

Molly Goodheads Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value3/5
2.9/5

I attended a luncheon at Oystercatchers with a group of about 20 people.  The restaurant is very pretty, overlooking the bay, but the service was lacking and although the food was good, it seemed very overpriced for the quantity of food on each plate.

We started off with some calamari fries & crabcakes, though I forgot to take a photo.  Both were very tasty.  The calamari wasn’t cut in rings, but rather long, thick pieces.  It was tender and the breading was good.  The crab cakes had lots of crab in them.

For my entrée, I ordered the sautéed scallops and side salad.

I guess I was just a little surprised that there were only 3 scallops in the dish.  They were tender and sautéed nicely in garlic and butter; but for the price, the serving size seemed rather small.  They actually serve a single fried oyster with the dish, and I’d have been happy with a plate of those, though I didn’t see them on the menu.  I also ordered the Godiva Chocolate mousse for dessert.

When I think of mousse, I imagine a very light, fluffy chocolaty dish.  This was more like a piece of fudge.  It was thick and rich and yummy, but not exactly what I was expecting.

As for the service, I think a lot of us were unimpressed.  The wait staff for our table seemed very abrupt and unfriendly, even rude at times.  When our entrees came out, they placed the wrong plates in front of several people and one lady had to send hers back because her salmon was undercooked.  I believe every entree was $20+ each, so for those prices you expect better service.  Several people told me they’ve enjoyed the Sunday brunch here, but many of them said they wouldn’t come back for lunch.

Oystercatchers
2900 Bayport Dr
Tampa, FL
813-207-6815

Oystercatchers on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service1/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value2/5
2.4/5
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  • Filed under: Dessert, Seafood, Tampa