The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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My only criteria for lunch today was somewhere that I could look out over the water.  We ended up at Whiskey Joe’s over the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa.

We chose a nice shaded table by the door so we got a little burst of air conditioning as people walked in and out.  We had a great view of the bay and the beach.  This is what living in Florida is all about.

Loren ordered the blackened grouper which came with a creole cognac sauce and shrimp, rice and broccoli.

The creole sauce wasn’t overly spicy, but had a lot of flavor.  The grouper was nicely blackened.  He could have used a knife to cut through the large broccoli pieces though.

I ordered the shrimp po’boy with fries.

Unfortunately, the menu didn’t mention the spicy remoulade sauce that was on the bread.  It was spicier than the creole sauce on Loren’s fish.  I ended up eating half the sandwich since the sauce was soaked into the bread and just ate the rest of the shrimp off the plate.  There were a lot of shrimp too.  Nice and crunchy and the fries were really good. 

I couldn’t pass up the mud pie for dessert.

Yes, it’s huge!  An Oreo cookie crust, topped with a layer of Haagen Dazs vanilla bean ice cream mixed with Butterfingers, then topped with Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and a fudge sauce.  I don’t think we could have finished it even if we hadn’t just eaten lunch. 

Total bill was $38.  The food was good and the view was awesome. 

Whiskey Joe’s
7720 Courtney Campbell
Tampa, FL

Whiskey Joe's on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: American, Seafood, Tampa
  • We had been to Walt’s Seasonal Cuisine in Dunedin a few years ago, and decided it was time to go back.  They were pretty busy tonight, but we were able to get a table without a wait.   Unfortunately, we sat next to a large party that was very loud, so we could barely hear each other. 

    Loren started with a house salad and I got the seafood chowder.

    The salad had nice fresh greens and a light dressing.  The chowder was tomato based with a lot of fish in it.  It had a really nice flavor.

    We had to wait on the bread as it was still in the oven and trust me, our patience was rewarded.

    Fresh, hot out of the oven, soft on the inside, crusty on the outside with sunflower seeds on top which added a unique flavor.

    For his entree, Loren ordered the salmon special with black bean sauce and mashed red potatoes.

    He really enjoyed the salmon.  The black bean sauce was tasty and the mashed potatoes were whipped just right. 

    I ordered the lump crab cakes with key lime dijonaise sauce and mashed potatoes.

    I’m really picky about crab cakes and these were great.  Not a lot of fillers, just a lot of crab.  They were seared nicely, so they had a nice crust, but tender in the middle.   The key lime sauce was awesome and I really liked the mashed potatoes.

    We really should have stopped here, but it was hard to pass up a Ghiradelli chocolate brownie with strawberries and whipped cream.

    It was really good.  The strawberries were fresh and sweet and the brownie had a nice texture and flavor.  A perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

    Total bill was $60 and worth every penny.  While we were there, Walt stepped out from behind the grill and came and talked to the customers at every table.  That’s when you know you have a chef/owner that really gets what a successful restaurant should be like.  Good food, personalized service, and attention to details. 

    Walts Seasonal Cuisine
    1140 Main St
    Dunedin, FL

    Walt's Seasonal Cuisine on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Dunedin, Seafood
  • We didn’t head out to eat until about 7pm, so we wanted to go somewhere close.  We hadn’t been to the Tuscano Grille in quite a while so we headed over there for dinner.

    We were able to get a table without a wait which is always nice on a Friday night.  They had live music on the patio tonight as well.

    I’m always happy when they bring warm bread to the table.

    Loren didn’t think it had much flavor, but I really enjoyed it.  It was warm, had a nice texture, and was tasty, especially dipped in the oil.

    We ordered the Balsamic Glazed Calamari.

    The balsamic aroma was really strong. I’m not sure what the white sauce on it was, sort of a mayo, I guess.  The calamari had a nice flavor, but you really did need to dip it in the marinara sauce to cut the balsamic a bit.  The presentation was a bit sloppy and this is where the service began to decline as well.

    We rarely saw our waitress.  The busboy stopped by our table more often than our waitress did.  The dirty dishes from the bread and calamari sat on our table for a very long time.   When our soup and salad came out, they were still on the table and the person who brought the food didn’t bother to clear any dishes away.  Finally one of the busboys took the calamari dishes and I had to ask him to refill our drinks.  It wasn’t until they finally came to take our soup and salad dishes that I was able to get rid of the dish of oil for the bread and I only managed that by putting it on the plate with the soup bowl.  Call me crazy, but I just don’t think dirty dishes should be left on the table as you start to eat your next course.

    Speaking of the salad and soup…

    Loren chose the house salad with his meal and I got the mushroom soup.  The soup wasn’t pretty to look at, but it had a nice deep, rich mushroom flavor.

    Loren ordered the swordfish and it came with mashed potatoes.

    It was a very sparse looking plate.  He thoroughly enjoyed the swordfish though.  It was thick and meaty, well grilled and had an awesome flavor. 

    I ordered the veal scallopini which came with mashed potatoes and I substituted broccoli for the spinach it came with.

    I had a very similar meal at Restaurant Hapa earlier this month and theirs was definitely better than this one.  The broccoli wasn’t cooked enough for me and the potatoes were a bit thick.  The veal was tender, but the knife they gave me wasn’t sharp.  I’m still on the fence about the marsala sauce.  There was something about it that just didn’t appeal to me.  The flavor was too strong and Loren thinks it was because of the mushrooms.  It’s not that it was a bad flavor, just very overwhelming.

    We were stuffed at this point, but when I see a chocolate dessert on the menu, I feel an obligation to take it home.  We ordered a chocolate mousse cake to go.

    The menu said it came with a vanilla bean sauce, but guess you don’t get it if you don’t eat it in the restaurant.  Just stuff it in a box too small for it.   It was really tasty, though it could have done without the chocolate sponge cake bottom.  It sort of ruined the overall texture of the dessert.

    Total bill was $53.  We definitely got plenty of food, in fact most of mine came home as leftovers, but we just weren’t impressed by the service or the overall presentation of the dishes. 

    Even when we had finished our meal, one of the busboys came and cleared the dishes and boxed up my leftovers.  We sat there talking for a while before our waitress ever came to see us again.

    Tuscano Grille
    2544 McMullen Booth Road
    Clearwater, FL

    Tuscano Grille on Urbanspoon


    We got a $10 coupon for Bonefish Grill in the mail today, so we headed out there for dinner.  Talk about immediate results from a mailing campaign. 

    Luckily, we went out for dinner a little later tonight because when we got to the restaurant there were a bunch of teenagers just finishing up and leaving for prom.  We timed it just right and were able to get a table without a wait.  I gotta say, those kids were really decked out in their suits and gowns.

    We were both pretty hungry after a long day for Loren at the autocross track and me at the Great American Pie Festival in Celebration.  We started out with the Singapore Calamari.

    I gotta say, this was some of the best calamari I’ve had in a while.  It was really fresh and had a nice crunchy coating on it.   It was mixed with peppers and served with a sweet and spicy Asian dipping sauce.  The dipping sauce was too spicy for me, but Loren liked it.  

    I have to add a note in here about the service and attention to detail.  Two plates were placed on our table stacked on top of each other for the appetizer.  When the appetizer was brought to the table, the waiter went to pass out the plates and noticed one had something on it and immediately went back to get us another one.  I know this seems like common sense, but too often something like that isn’t even noticed by the staff at other restaurants and we would have had to have said something about it. 

    I got a cup of their corn chowder with lump crab.

    There were some big chunks of crab in the soup which was really nice.  I’m a big fan of corn chowder and this is a wonderful version of it.

    Loren got a salad with his entree and they brought out some bread and olive oil to dip it in.

    The bread was nice and crusty on the outside, but soft and warm on the inside, just the way it should be. 

    For our entrees, we both ordered off of the specials menu.  Loren got the Deluxe Mixed Grill, which was a sirloin steak, scallops and shrimp.

    He said the shrimp were overcooked, but everything else was done just right.  They gave him some scalloped potatoes even though he had chosen a salad as his side dish and they served a chick pea garnish on both of our plates. 

    I got Lily’s Atlantic Salmon with jasmine rice.

    The salmon was served with spinach, artichokes and goat cheese.  It was really good.  By this point, I was pretty full, so most of it came home as leftovers, except for the chick peas, those just didn’t do it for me.

    With our $10 off coupon, the total bill came to$36.  Not bad for the amount of really good food that we got.  We don’t eat at Bonefish very often, but I’m not sure why.  Every time we’ve been, we’ve gotten great service and really tasty, interesting food. 

    Bonefish Grill
    2519 McMullen Booth Rd
    Clearwater, FL

    Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon


    Lunch with the boss at Joe’s Crab Shack in Clearwater today.  They like to play music at Joe’s.  Seems they have a loop that runs for about an hour.  Mostly old stuff from the 70’s and 80’s, or remixes of same.  Fairly listenable when they don’t have it turned  up too loud.  But, about every hour, they play “Car Wash”.  Yeah, you know the one.  Car wash, yeah!  That, in itself isn’t so bad, but the wait staff gets out and dances and shouts to it… every hour. (gets old in a hurry if you happen to be there more than an hour… which we have, on occasion)  Joe’s is probably a fun place in the evenings… personally, I think they try to be TOO fun at lunch time.  Glad I don’t work at Joe’s!

    Anyway, the food at Joe’s is decent.  Typical chain restaurant fare, but pretty good seafood for a chain.  Nothing to write home about, but we eat lunch there fairly often.  Must not be too bad if we keep going back, right?

    Had their blackened Mahi sandwich today with some fries.  It was not overly blackened, was nicely cooked, and quite tasty.  Huge chunk of fish, too… I cut about 2″ off of it to eat after I was done with the sandwich!  In the past, I’ve had their surf & turf burger (fried shrimp on a burger, really good!) and several other things that I can’t think of right now.

    Looked like they had reworked their menu again since the last time we were there.  A lot of pricier menu items, but the sandwich page was still reasonable.  $7-8 for a good-sized sandwich.  Pretty sure they charge extra for the fries, though.  So, not the cheapest food, but good.  They have a large covered patio for comfortable outdoor seating, too… that’s the main reason we go there aside from being a central location for us.

    Joe’s Crab Shack
    2730 Gulf to Bay Blvd.
    Clearwater, FL
    (727) 799-8530

    Joe's Crab Shack on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Clearwater, Seafood