The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Extra Crunchy


We went over to the Thirsty Marlin in Palm Harbor for dinner tonight.  Our experiences here have been hit or miss.  From the food to the service, you never quite know what you’re going to get.  The food tonight was good for the most part, but the service could have used some improvement.  Loren got a salad & we started off with a Rainbow Roll.

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The rainbow roll was tasty.  It wasn’t rolled quite as tight as you get from most sushi restaurants, but the fish was fresh and the rice had a good consistency.  It could have used a little more avocado on it though.  For his entree, Loren got the blackened mahi sandwich.

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He enjoyed it.  The fish was perfectly cooked and the blackened seasoning had a bit of a kick to it.  I went for the fried grouper sandwich.

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I found the coating on the grouper to be way too thick & crunchy.  It was hard to eat.  I ended up pulling most of the coating off and just eating the fish which was tender and flaky.

Our waitress was friendly enough, but compared to the one waiting the table behind us, she just didn’t offer up the things I wanted to know.  If there are specials, I expect to be asked if I want to hear them and at the end of the meal, I expect to be asked if I want dessert before the check is brought to the table.  Total bill with a drink was $41.

Thirsty Marlin
1023 Florida Ave
Palm Harbor, FL
727-784-3469

Click to add a blog post for Thirsty Marlin Grill & Bar on Zomato

Food3/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
2.7/5

Madfish Grill


I have an obsession with Ipswich fried clams, so when I see them on a menu for a restaurant, we have to go eat there.  Madfish Grill in Sarasota is supposedly the only place in town that carries them.  They weren’t very busy when we arrived around 6:30pm which was fine with us.  We started off with some bread & the lobster fondue.

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The fondue was tasty with the toasted Cuban bread, but we didn’t like the strips of crunchy whatever it was that they put on top of it.  They tasted ok and we tried to remove most of them, but they sort of melted into the fondue so you couldn’t get a clean scoop without getting some of the now mushy garnish.  It was just unnecessary.  For his entree, Loren got the grouper Florentine.

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The asparagus was perfectly cooked and still crunchy, so he really liked that.  The grouper was also perfectly cooked, but after just having the fondue, the cheese sauce was a bit much.  It also had mashed potatoes on the bottom of it.  He was happy and very full.  The whole belly clams were the only thing on my mind.

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The clams were delicious.  Just like I remember from when I was a kid in New England.  The fries were ok, but the cole slaw was too tart for me.  I needed a touch of sweetness, so we got the chocolate lava cake.

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Pretty standard lava cake with ice cream and whipped cream.  Tasty end to a a tasty meal.  Total bill with a drink was $68.

Madfish Grill
4059 Cattlemen Rd
Sarasota, FL
941-377-3474

Madfish Grill on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.7/5

I honestly didn’t think we’d have an hour wait at 3pm on a Sunday, but it looks like Rusty Bellies in Tarpon Springs is busy no matter the time of day.  We wondered around the sponge docks for a while and then got seated out on the porch which was perfect.  Our waitress brought over some hush puppies while we looked at the menu.

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I had to make myself stop eating these or I was never going to eat my dinner.  They weren’t overly seasoned which is the way I like hush puppies. Quite addictive though.  It was a chilly afternoon, so we started off with a cup of crab corn chowder and a cup of seafood gumbo.

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Loren was amazed at all of the seafood in the gumbo. It had a little kick to it and he really enjoyed it.  The crab corn chowder was quite tasty.  Everything in it was cooked perfectly and it had a nice flavor.  For his entree, Loren tried the grilled grouper souvlaki pita.

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He said the tzatziki sauce was a bit too runny, but other than that, he said the fish was perfectly cooked and tasty.  I saw whole belly Ipswich clams on the menu and I was sold.

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Mmmm.  I love fried clams and these did not disappoint.  Crispy little bundles of memories growing up in Massachusetts.  For my sides, I got the potato salad and corn pudding.  I’d easily order this entire plate again.  And although we were both stuffed, I just couldn’t pass up the homemade orange pineapple cake.

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This was moist and flavorful with sweet bits of citrus and a creamy frosting.  We ate every last bite of it.  Total bill with a drink was $51.

Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill
937 Dodecanese Blvd
Tarpon Springs, FL
727-934-4047

Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill on Urbanspoon

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

We went over to Palm Harbor for dinner tonight at the New England’s Ale House Grille.   We almost didn’t even bother going in since their main parking is by valet.  I’m just one of those people who doesn’t like handing my keys over to a stranger.  We did manage to grab the last spot in the lot next door and walk over.  They didn’t have any seating available inside, so we found a table out on the porch, where unfortunately they allow smoking.  The first thing Loren noticed was that the main board on the railing around the porch in front of us was warped.  He looked at me and said, “Wouldn’t you have just spent the extra money to replace it with a straight board?”.  I only mention this because that lack of detail was evident in our entire experience here.

We ordered a bowl of clam chowder to split between us.

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Our waitress brought out 1 spoon and then asked us if we wanted another one.  Umm, yeah.  I can only assume that she had to walk to the furthest part of the kitchen and wash the spoon herself given how long it took her to bring one back to the table.  It became very apparent throughout the meal that she hasn’t been a waitress for long.  As for the chowder, it was underseasoned and the potatoes were unevenly cooked.  It didn’t have a lot of clams in it and the ones that were in it were on the chewy side.  It was very creamy, but one note.  The only saving grace was the little bit of bacon on top.  Next up were the salads.

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It was a mixed green salad, which I’m not fond of.  I’m an iceberg lettuce kind of gal.  Loren likes the greens; I think they’re just yard weeds.  At this point, the waiting began for our entree.  Loren asked for some more ice for his tea and again, I can only assume that the waitress had to go to the far corner of the restaurant to get it.  I also observed the other tables around us with empty glasses.  One guy had asked the waitress for ketchup, but eventually gave up and  asked another table if he could borrow theirs.  About 5 minutes later the waitress showed up with the ketchup.

Then our entrees finally arrived.  Loren ordered the crab cakes with brussel sprouts and mac & cheese.

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He said the crab cakes were ok, but again like everything else, lacked seasoning.  The brussel sprouts were unevenly cooked so only half were edible. The mac & cheese was pretty good.  I ordered the whole belly clams with red potatoes and mac & cheese.

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As you can see from the photo, there are brussel sprouts on my plate.  I informed the lady that brought our food that I had not ordered brussel sprouts.  She went back to the kitchen and I never saw her again.  Our waitress came to the table and I told her that I ordered red potatoes and she went back to the kitchen.  Eventually, she came back out and apologized and said it was her fault, and would I like to have the potatoes?  Seriously?  All this time and you still haven’t brought me my potatoes??  I told her yes and about half way through the meal, I finally got the unevenly cooked red potatoes.

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Now, as for my clams… sigh, they were not properly prepared and were watery.  Definitely needed seasoning as much as everything else on the plate.   There was also one big chunk of smooshed together clams that I just left on the plate.  The menu also said there should be dinner rolls, but that never happened either.  At this point, we just wanted to get out of there.  Now, here’s the kicker.  This was an overpriced $61 meal and they charged me 25 cents for water!  Now the bill said “water with lemon”, which I didn’t specifically ask for lemon because I just remove it anyway, but I have never in my life been charged for water.  I will be surprised if this place survives.  Everything from the poor service to the unevenly, under-seasoned food to the fact that they are so cheap as to charge for water solidified the fact that we’ll never be back.

New England’s Ale House Grille
3419 US 19 Alternate
Palm Harbor, FL
727-785-9700

New England Ale House Grill on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service1/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value1/5
1.6/5

We normally don’t even try to go to Bonefish on the weekends because they’re so busy, but surprisingly, we were able to walk in and get a table at 6pm without a wait.  They have a new menu, but we stuck with the specials and tried the Wagyu Beef & Ginger potstickers.

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These were interesting.  The ginger flavor bursts in your mouth from the first bite.  I found the filling to be a bit too mushy though.  I wouldn’t have had any idea what kind of meat it was if it wasn’t listed on the menu.  It was very soft and the only flavor you really tasted was the ginger.  Don’t get me wrong, they were tasty, but just had a strange mouth-feel to them.  I can’t resist the crab and corn chowder here so I had to order a cup of it.

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It has some nice bits of crab on top and a smooth, thick, creamy texture.  It’s got a little bit of heat and one of my favorite things on the menu.  Honestly, I need to just stop ordering entrees here and stick with the appetizer menu.

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I ordered the wild caught sockeye salmon, Lily’s way, with a side of broccoli and Jasmine rice.  I shouldn’t have bothered with Lily’s way, which is goat cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach and a lemon basil sauce.   It really didn’t enhance the salmon in any way and I ended up scraping it off.  I like goat cheese, but it’s too overpowering for salmon.  Honestly, I’m not sure that cheese goes with any type of fish.  The fish was nicely cooked, but the dish was way overpriced for what it was.

Loren ordered the Ahi Tuna Belleair.

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It also came with goat cheese, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes and the same lemon basil sauce as mine had.  He ordered it rare and it was way overcooked.  The absolute center was almost close to rare, but that was it.  He ended up taking the goat cheese off as well.  Overall, the food just wasn’t up to par from what we expect here.

We were seated at a table and instead of coming at us from the front of the table, our waitress would always walk up from behind in between us and it startled me every time.  She was stealthy.  She was very nice and I’m sure she came to that part of the table so she could hear us, but it just made me twitchy.  Total bill with a drink was $64.

Bonefish Grill 
2519 McMullen Booth Rd
Clearwater, FL
727-726-1315

Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

Food2/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value2/5
2.5/5