We ate out 20 times in August and spent about $500 between the two of us. Think this was the least we’ve spent out to eat in a month all year.
Here are the highs and lows from August:
Best Salad: Greek Salad at Athenian Garden
Best Dessert: Chocolate Lovin’ Spoon Cake at Panos Kouzina
Best BBQ: Brady’s Backyard BBQ
Best Sushi Roll: Yama Big Roll from Yama Taiyo Sushi
Best Burger: Pete & Shorty’s
Worst Ribs: Flamestone American Grill
Worst Entree: Steak kabobs at Koz
Worst Breakfast: EggStyle Breakfast
We haven’t been over to Brady’s Backyard BBQ since March, so we were due for some tasty BBQ’d meats. I think you learn to appreciate a place more after you’ve eaten at a few other places.
We decided to split a pick 3 combo and got brisket, riblets, and pulled pork. They charge an extra $2.50 to share, but they throw in an additional side, so we got potato salad, cornbread pudding, and a taste of collard greens.
There was so much food on the plate, way more than we could both eat in one sitting. I’ve turned into a brisket convert. I used to be all about the pulled pork, but my new found taste for brisket was wonderfully satisfied tonight. The cornbread pudding is one of my favorite side dishes here.
Total bill was $26 and there were plenty of riblets and some pulled pork leftover for lunch tomorrow. The brisket didn’t even have a chance at leftover status.
Brady’s Backyard BBQ
340 Main Street
Safety Harbor, FL
Since our breakfast outing last weekend didn’t quite satisfy, we headed over to Nicki’s Omelette & Grill on Hillsborough today. There was quite the crowd in the restaurant, but it didn’t take long for them to clear a table and seat us.
Loren’s not much of a breakfast person, so he ordered the California burger with fries.
Just take a look at the layers in that burger! Burger, bacon, guacamole, sour cream, jack cheese, onions, lettuce, and tomato. It was quite the yummy mouthful. The fries were nice and crispy too.
I wanted breakfast, but they didn’t really have a combo that had what I wanted, so I had to order everything separately.
Pancakes, hashbrowns, and scrambled eggs with cheese. The pancakes were perfectly cooked and the hashbrowns were good. When I order scrambled eggs with cheese, it’s rare that they come out the way I like. I expect the cheese to be completely melted and gooey inside the eggs. These were ok, but the cheese wasn’t cooked in quite enough.
Total meal cost us $17. It was more than enough food for both of us. The guy at the table next to us ordered the “Biscuit Debris”. It looked like a heart attack waiting to happen.
Nicki’s Omelette & Grill
6805 W Hillsborough Ave
Sometimes, we’re just not original in our selection of entrees. We went back Laziz Indian Cuisine tonight and ended up ordering the exact same entrees we ordered the first time we came here. It’s funny how you can look at a menu and certain things just grab you.
We did however order an appetizer this time, the Cheese Pakora.
It was ok, but I wouldn’t order it again. The chick pea batter doesn’t get crispy and the cheese inside doesn’t melt at all. It just had an odd overall texture that didn’t do much for me.
So, for our entrees, we ordered the Shrimp Makhani and the Chicken Jalfrezi plus some garlic Naan bread. Everything was soooo good. We cleared the plates. The sauces are thick and rich with just the right amount of spices. And dipping the Naan bread into the Makhani sauce was divine.
Total dinner ran us $40. The flavors in Indian food are just so unique compared to other cuisines we’ve tried. Unfortunately, we never have any leftovers because the food’s too good to leave any on our plates.
Laziz Indian Cuisine
2475 N McMullen Booth Rd
We ate lunch at the Farmer Boy Restaurant in Clearwater today. I’ve bought their dressing at the grocery store before and it’s pretty tasty, so figured we should check out the food as well.
Fresh baked yeast rolls are one of my all time favorite things and these did not disappoint.
I even asked for a second basket of them. They were sooooo good. Light, fluffy and delicious. Loren ordered the mini Greek salad with chicken.
He said it was ok. There was no feta cheese on the salad which was listed on the menu, but missing from the dish. Somehow without it, it just seemed like a regular house salad with chicken on top. He thought the dressing was a little too sweet and that it was just missing that overall Greek flavor.
I ordered the Moussaka, which came with a Greek salad.
Again, without the feta, it just didn’t taste like a Greek salad.
This was definitely not a pretty plate of food. The moussaka had a genuine Greek flavor to it, but it was pretty mushy. The meat sauce that came with it was very good. Total bill was $20. I do have to mention one item on the menu that made me giggle. They offer a vegetable lasagne… but it’s served with meat sauce. Sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it??
Farmer Boy Restaurant
2129 Drew Street
Hanging out at Applebees tonight with some friends for happy hour. Figured I’d be good and order a salad for dinner.
I ordered the 1/2 order of the California Shrimp Salad. Spicy shrimp, avacado, boiled egg, lettuce, tomato with a creamy avacado dressing. I had them hold the bacon and olives. Trying to be healthy you see. I did find the shrimp to be a little too spicy for my taste and there wasn’t a lot of dressing on the salad, but otherwise, it was fresh and tasty.
Ok, so maybe I was just pretending to be healthy so no one would notice the dessert I ordered.
The chocolate chip cookie sundae. Mmmmm…. a warm cookie, topped with ice cream, whipped cream, Oreo crumbles and a bit of hot fudge. There are three spoons, I did share.
Generally, I’m not a big fan of chain restaurants like Applebees, Chili’s, and TGI Fridays. I find most of the food to be very generic. But for $15, I had a great night out with friends.
4016 Tampa Road
Craving a burger for lunch today, so headed over to the Five Guys Burgers & Fries restaurant in Westchase. I’ve eaten here a couple of times and remembered that the little burger is one patty (which is plenty for me), but forgot just how many fries were in a small order.
Yeah, the cup is full of fries, but so is the bag. There were enough fries here for at least 3 people. I can’t even imagine what a large order looks like. Hot, fresh, and greasy, just the way fries should be. The burger was pretty tasty too. I got mine with mayo, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and grilled mushrooms. Not a lot of places offer grilled onions & mushrooms at no extra charge. For $7, I was completely full and had a ton of fries left over.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries
11622 Countryway Blvd
We headed over to the Lucky Dill Deli for dinner tonight. I noticed it across the street when we got sushi the other night. It was fairly crowded for a Sunday evening. I’m not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing, but we were seated next to the dessert counter. I just wanted to skip dinner and fill up on pastries.
The rolls brought to the table were fresh and tasty.
If you’ve read this blog before, you know by now if there’s mac & cheese on the menu, I gotta try it.
This was a huge bowl of homemade mac & cheese. It had some really good flavors, but it wasn’t heated all the way through. It also needed some more liquid in it. It was quite solid and not very creamy. The parmesean cheese on top was very strong. If you got a bite with it, that’s all you tasted.
I ordered the cheeseburger sliders, thinking it wouldn’t be that much food. I was wrong.
Three thick cheeseburger sliders with fries. I don’t think I’ve ever had sliders where the meat was this thick. They had good flavor, but were a little dry.
Loren ordered the chicken kabobs.
The chicken wasn’t very tender and the knife he had was very dull. At one point, while trying to cut a piece, it slid off the plate along with much of his rice. He said it tasted ok and the veggie side with it was tasty.
Since he ordered a drink, he got a free dessert and chose the raspberry cheesecake.
We were so full, that we got it to go. It was very creamy. I also ordered a napoleon to go as well. Granted, there were about a dozen desserts that tempted me, but I settled for just one.
The chocolate ganache topping on this was excellent and the cream was rich and tasty too. I didn’t like the pastry layers in between though. They were very dry.
Total dinner with desserts was $24 and we both had leftovers. We were amazed at the size of some of the sandwiches being served around us. You definitely get your money’s worth here.
Lucky Dill Deli
2800 Alt 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
Eggstyle Breakfast just opened up in Oldsmar in the space that used to be Winners and then Kuzina. It looks like a good location for a breakfast place since there are several hotels right behind it. Based on our experience today though, they may get the one time through crowd, but I know we won’t be repeat visitors.
The bar area when you first walk in has been turned into a juice bar and the interior has been repainted in bright colors. The floor is no longer carpeted and I think that may have had a big influence on how loud it was in there today. You could barely hear yourself think, and this was at breakfast.
Loren ordered a western omelette which came with potatoes, toast, and cinnamon apples.
He said it was more like scrambled eggs with stuff in it than an omelette. The cinnamon apples were really good though. I ordered the two eggs and pancakes meal which also came with potatoes, toast, and cinnamon apples.
The cinnamon apples and the potatoes were the only things on the plate at the right temperature. The eggs were lukewarm at best and I couldn’t even eat the pancakes because they were cold and spongy.
Total breakfast was $18. Most items on their menu seemed high priced for breakfast. Service wasn’t very good either. Our waitress never returned to our table to check on us until we were finished. When she noticed my uneaten pancakes, she said “oh, it’s a lot of food” and I said, “no, the pancakes were cold”. Then she just walked off and brought us our check. This was also the first place I’ve seen the credit card machines brought to the table. I get that it helps prevent people from stealing your credit card number, but I wasn’t too keen on her standing there waiting for us to put in the tip.
So, if you’re looking for cinnamon apples, the ones here are pretty tasty, but if you want breakfast, I’d recommend heading down the street to Cracker Barrel.
3980 Tampa Road, #105
Surprisingly, we haven’t had sushi in almost 3 weeks, so we were definitely due for some tasty fish wrapped in rice. Tonight, we decided to try Yama Taiyo Sushi in Palm Harbor.
We know we always order too much sushi, so we told ourselves that we’re just going to order 5 rolls… and some salmon nigiri.
Loren started off with a salad. Unfortunately, our waitress slipped away before he could ask for a fork. His chopstick skills are improving though.
When our waitress brought the sushi, she very quietly said what was on the plates and then left. I thought I heard her say “spicy” something and I knew we hadn’t ordered anything spicy.
Sure enough, instead of the Mexican roll I had ordered, they gave us a spicy salmon roll. We were able to flag down another of the wait staff and they gave us the spicy salmon at no charge and also brought out the Mexican roll. Loren liked the spicy salmon roll. He said it wasn’t overly spicy, but had good flavor. The Snow Crab roll was quite tasty. You can definitely taste the crab and it had a good texture. Same with the Special Scallop roll. The Rainbow roll was amazing. The salmon, tuna, and white fish on top were really fresh.
The Mexican roll was good. The shrimp was cooked well and the avacado in it was very fresh and flavorful. And then there was the Yama Big Roll.
They weren’t kidding when they called it a BIG roll. It was 12 huge pieces fried with tuna, salmon, and avacado. It was awesome. The sauces on it were not overwhelming at all and the tempura batter had an incredible crunch and texture. This absolutely counts as two rolls instead of one. It’s also the first thing I’ll order the next time I’m here.
Total bill ended up being $55 and we had leftovers. We hadn’t expected the spicy salmon roll and the Yama Big Roll was much more food than we anticipated. I think it was the first sushi roll that took me four bites to eat one piece.
After dinner, we headed down to Crystal Beach to watch the sunset. Perfect ending to a wonderful night.
Yama Taiyo Sushi Bar and Steak House
660 Alderman Road
Palm Harbor, FL
We decided to try out Soul Food Sunday at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe today. It has a big, wide open dining area. We were seated on the 2nd floor and I can imagine it gets very loud in there when they have a band. The artwork was pretty funky, from a mirror frame made out of old aluminum cans to a painted refrigerator door high up on the wall.
Loren was having a hard time deciding what to order so he asked the waitress what was good (she listed just about everything on the menu), but he decided on the homemade veggie burger with a side of collard greens.
The veggie burger had a lot of interesting flavors in it plus a little bit of spice. It was not your ordinary veggie burger, that’s for sure. He wasn’t impressed with the collard greens though. He said there was a sweetness to them that he didn’t like.
I went for the pick 2 bbq and got some brisket and ribs with a side of sweet potato fries.
Tender bbq with a sweet and smokey sauce. The brisket was sliced thin and had a bit of fat on it, but also a wonderful flavor. I was full after eating the ribs, so most of the brisket came home. The sweet potato fries were sliced thin and they were crunchy with just the right amount of salt on them.
And just to be able to say we did, we got an order of chocolate covered bacon to go.
It was kinda weird. It’s not a very thick slice of bacon. That first bite you get has the salty, bacon, chocolatey taste, then the chocolate melts in your mouth and you’re just left with cold bacon. The nuts on top sort of distracted from the bacon as well.
Total bill was $32. Everything was definitely homemade and there were a lot of good flavors going on. Definitely a place I’d like to try again to taste some of the other dishes.
Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe
5119 N Nebraska Ave
We didn’t feel like driving too far for dinner tonight, so we headed over to Panos Kouzina. On my quest to try new restaurants, we haven’t been back to our old favorites for a while.
The food here is consistently good, they give you plenty of it, and their prices aren’t bad at all. Both our entrees came with either soup or salad and some bread. We both opted for salad tonight.
My only complaint was that the salad had chopped onions on it. I’m not a fan of raw onions on anything and it took a while to pick all these off the salad. The ranch dressing was very thick, but tasty, and the bread was thick and warm. I’d forgotten how good it was.
Loren got the chicken souvlaki with a side of fries. He said the chicken was very tender. The tzatziki sauce here is really garlicy.
I ordered the chicken marsala with a side of fettucine alfredo.
The marsala sauce here is very sweet. Loren said it tasted like molasses, but I didn’t think it was that harsh of a flavor. I enjoyed it. The dish came with two good sized chicken breasts that were incredibly tender. This is how chicken should be cooked. The fettucine alfredo was thick and creamy with a nice flavor. I had plenty of leftovers and yet, I still ordered dessert.
How was I possibly going to pass up this chocolate lovin’ spoon cake? The waitress described it as a “prison dessert” because you eat it huddled over with your arms around it ready to poke anyone with a fork who tries to get too close to it. It was pretty darn good. It had a thick, rich mousse and tender chocolate cake. What’s not to like?
Total dinner was $33 and I’ve got leftover chicken and even a little cake for tomorrow.
3101 SR 580
Safety Harbor, FL
We decided to try out Koz Cafe tonight. It used to be Cafe 13, but the named changed recently. Based on our experience, we’ll be surprised if it lasts very long.
There were people at the bar, but no one else in the dining area. Perhaps that should have been our first clue. The waitress brought us some pita bread to start off with.
I thought it was ok, Loren didn’t like the flavor. It sort of tasted like buttered toast. We ordered the seared scallop appetizer.
This was really good. It had spinach, mushrooms, artichokes and scallops in a sherry cream sauce. We should have just stopped here and left happy.
For our entrees, I ordered the steak kabobs and Loren got the Moroccan Steak Churrasco.
The kabobs were overcooked and dry. The onions and peppers were burnt to a crisp. I ate the steak fries, they were ok. I didn’t realize the marinated mushrooms were a cold side dish. I just didn’t like them.
Loren’s dish wasn’t much better. The steak wasn’t very tender and he didn’t care for the mushrooms either.
And then to add insult to injury, there was something wrong with our drinks. We had a water and a coke and they both had a bad, funky taste. The service wasn’t great either. Dinner was $41 and we both left unsatisfied. We won’t be dining here again.
Koz Cafe & Lounge
2475 McMullen Booth Rd
The Green Market Cafe just opened up in Oldsmar in the same shopping center as the AMC movie theater. I’m always ready to try out a new place and this one did not disappoint. The menu consists of salads, wraps, and flatbreads with really fresh ingredients.
I ordered the Florida wrap which had chicken, avacado, lettuce, red peppers, and goat cheese with a lime dressing. It also came with kettle chips.
What a burst of fresh flavors. I love goat cheese and there was plenty on this wrap. The combination of flavors was wonderful. Looking around at what the other customers were eating, everything looked really good, from the salads to the flatbreads, which I’m definitely trying next time.
And the prices were great too. The wraps and flatbreads are mostly $5.99, with just a few items on the menu more than that. If you’re looking for a quick, fresh, tasty lunch, this is definitely a place to try out.
Green Market Cafe
3150 Tampa Road, Unit 1a
I admit, I watch Food Network a lot and inevitably it fuels my food cravings. Last night, we were watching “Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives” and the BBQ they were showing made both our mouths water. So, for dinner tonight, we searched other reviews to find some awesome BBQ and ended up at Cally’s Sticky Bones Barbecue in Tampa.
Cally’s is a small BBQ place off of Linebaugh. As soon as you walk in the door, you can smell the smokey goodness. Since we wanted to try a little bit of everything, we got the Ultimate Sampler Platter which had ribs, chicken, chopped pork, and brisket.
It came with one side, but we ordered a couple more, just because I can’t resist mac & cheese and cornbread pudding. I probably should have resisted. They were ok, but nothing special. I had to send the mac & cheese back to the kitchen because it was cold. The cornbread pudding was a little gritty and the beans were just ok. But let’s face it, you don’t go to a BBQ joint for the side dishes.
I’ve never been a big fan of brisket, but I gotta say, that was the best thing on the plate. It was awesome. It was so tender and juicy and had great smoke flavor. I think I may have been missing out all these years just ordering pulled pork. The ribs, chicken, and chopped pork were all really good too, but the brisket definitely stood out. I can understand why they’ve won some Florida BBQ awards.
We thought we were going to have leftovers, but no such luck. Once you started eating, there was just no way to stop. I’m glad we got the sampler platter so we could try it all, but next time, I’m just getting a big ol’ platter of brisket. Total meal with all the sides and a drink was $27.
Cally’s Sticky Bones Barbecue
2313 W Linebaugh Ave
Had lunch at Little Greek in Palm Harbor today. Normally I get a gyro, but decided to try something different so I ordered the moussaka which came with soup or salad. I opted for the lemon soup.
I’ve tried the Greek lemon soup at several places, and this one’s pretty good. It’s not so tart that you pucker when you eat it. It has just the right amount of lemon flavor and the rice was cooked to a good texture as well.
The moussaka had great flavor, but not a lot of curb appeal.
The bechamel sauce had a grey tinge to it. It just didn’t look good, but it tasted great. I liked that they served the sauce on the side, so the dish didn’t get buried in it. The rice wasn’t cooked enough for me.
Loren ordered the lite chicken souvlaki with Greek salad.
He really enjoyed it. The chicken was tender and had good flavors. We really got a lot of food for $20.
320 East Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL
We’ve been craving burgers for a while now, so we headed over to Pete & Shorty’s on Gulf to Bay. It’s been quite a while since we’ve eaten here. The parking lot was full, but the dining area didn’t have a lot of people in it. They were either in the bar area or out on the deck with the live music.
We both ordered the mushroom swiss burger with some onion straws and some tater tots. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, we watched the fireworks in Clearwater.
I was a happy camper. The burgers were tasty, cooked a nice medium, and the onion straws and tater tots were yummy too. I think this is one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. Total bill was $20 and our burger craving had been satisfied deliciously.
Pete & Shorty’s Tavern
2820 Gulf to Bay Blvd
The first time we tried to go to Georgia Boy’s BBQ in Oldsmar, they were closed, but we finally made it out there today for lunch. This is definitely one of those hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints. There’s no seating inside and one picnic table out front, so plan to get your BBQ to go.
The owner offered us a taste of the pulled pork when we walked in. It had a nice BBQ flavor and I ended up getting the pulled pork sandwich and some potato salad.
He definitely piled on the pork, but I should have told him to go lightly on the sauce. He drenched the sandwich. I ended up having to eat it with a fork because there was no way to pick it up without wearing the sauce. I really liked the potato salad too.
Loren got a half rack of ribs and a side of collard greens. He went for the spicy sauce, which wasn’t really spicy, but more tangy.
The ribs were really tender and flavorful. I would definitely order those again. He said the collards weren’t anything special, but let’s face it, it’s not about the sides, it’s about the meat. For $20, this is probably one of the best BBQ meals we’ve had in a while.
Georgia Boy’s BBQ
205 E St Petersburg Dr
The first thing we noticed when we sat down in a booth at Athenian Garden was that the table height was not quite right. Either Greek folks are way taller than we are or someone just wanted lots of room to be able to clean under the booths. It was funny because another customer came in after us and sat down at a booth and said she felt like a little kid getting to sit at the grown up table.
I started out with some shrimp bisque and bread.
The bread was fresh and had a great texture, the only thing that would have improved it is if it had been warm. The bisque was very tasty. Not a lot of shrimp in it, but it had a unique blend of flavors. We ended up dipping the bread in the soup and it was awesome. I did feel as though the soup needed to be served at a higher temperature. It was luke warm at best.
Greek salads came with both our entrees.
I would definitely recommend the salad. The dressing was tangy, but not overwhelming. I really liked the potato salad on it and it had lots of feta and veggies as well.
Then came the entrees. Loren ordered the stuffed tomato and pepper.
Unfortunately, the entrees didn’t live up to our expectations based on the salad and soup. It was pretty bland. He said the stuffed tomato was better than the pepper. The sauce didn’t have a lot of flavor and the mixture inside just wasn’t very flavorful.
I ordered the pastitsio and it also didn’t impress.
Again, the meat mixture inside was just very bland. Most pastitsio dishes I’ve had usually have a hint of nutmeg in them, something to differentiate it from just plain ol’ pasta and cheese. This had nothing. The sauce was fairly bland and the dish was just lacking. I think there was just so much flavor in the Greek Salad that we expected everything to have that burst of flavors.
For $27, we definitely got plenty of food. If we go back again, we’ll try some other dishes, but we’d definitely get the salad again.
12670 Starkey Rd
It was raining and I’d been stuck in all day meetings for the last two days, so all I wanted to eat was something warm and comforting. Today, that meant back to Amarit Thai.
I’ve been craving some Tom Kha soup and I hadn’t tried their crab rangoons before, so that’s what I got for take out.
These were some very interesting rangoons. They have curry in them which gave them a very unique and slightly spicy flavor. The little bundles were full of filling too. The soup was wonderful. I got it with chicken and it had big mushrooms and lots of onions in it as well. The depth of flavors were amazing.
At $14, it seemed a bit high for soup and an appetizer, but as happy as I was afterward, it was well worth it.
328 East Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL