Not a lot stood out in the month of March. We ate out 18 times, plus another 5 that I forgot to blog about (mostly take out) and spent a total of $580.
So, here’s what made an impression:
Best Dessert: Black Forest Cake at The German Restaurant
Best BBQ: Ribs from Georgia Boys BBQ
Best Soup: Chicken Coconut from Tom Yum Thai and Sushi
Best New Restaurant: Lulu’s in Safety Harbor
Worst Overall Meal: Bollywood Cafe
Worst Service: Julian’s Little Italy
We were walking through downtown Safety Harbor tonight admiring the artwork from the Bloom and Chalk Festival when we saw a sign for LuLu’s Restaurant. It’s only been open for a month and just had its official grand opening this weekend. It’s located just off of Main Street in the space where Brady’s BBQ used to be. They added an additional patio which was perfect for the beautiful weather we’re having right now.
It’s a Portugese/Brazilian restaurant. They have a buffet plus they come to your table with skewers of different kinds of meats for $20/person.
The buffet had salad, soup, potatoes, rice, black beans, chicken and veggies. I didn’t care for the veggies, but the rest of it was pretty good. The chicken was very tender and flavorful.
As for the skewers of meat, they brought around ribeye, two types of sausage, lamb, tri-tip, and pork tenderloin.
All of the meats had good flavors. I thought the ribeye was a little oversalted though. The tri-tip was by far the most tender and tasty. Both sausages were good. The “spicy” one had a lot of flavor but wasn’t overly spicy. Be sure to go hungry when you dine here though because they keep coming back to the table to offer you more food. We were both stuffed and yet when they said they had chocolate mousse cake for dessert, I just couldn’t say no.
It was yummy. Loren kept trying to slide it to his end of the table. The mousse layers inside were a little too cold, so they weren’t fluffy, but rather it gave it an almost ice cream like texture that I really liked. Total bill with a drink was $51.
122 Third Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL
The thing that has impressed us the most about Indian cuisine is the amazing depth of flavors in the dishes. Unfortunately, our trip to the Bollywood Cafe in Westchase didn’t live up to our expectations.
They had a large menu plus a smaller portion lunch menu which we ordered from. Loren got the chicken 65 burger.
He said the bun was stale and though the chicken was spicy, it lacked any deep down flavors. I ordered the butter chicken which came with rice or naan, but I went ahead and ordered both.
The first thing I tasted was the rice and to me, it tasted like Minute Rice with butter on it. Not a good start. Then I tried to break off a piece of naan to find it hard as a rock and completely inedible. The chicken did not have a good texture and the gravy just lacked flavor. It was a complete disappointment. The waitress did bring me another order of softer naan, but given it’s temperature, I would have to guess it was placed in a microwave to soften it up.
The dining area wasn’t very big and they had the music up way too loud for a Sunday afternoon. When the waitress asked how we enjoyed our experience, we told her we won’t be back. If you want authentic Indian food, there are much better places in town to go. Good thing we got the lunch portions. Total bill was $14.
9648 W Linebaugh Ave
We’ve eaten at the Tia’s on Fowler Ave a few times and both times that we’ve sat in the bar area, the service has been terrible. If you go in and the hostess starts to seat you to the right in the bar area, ask to be seated in the main dining room instead.
Once we finally got some menus, drinks, chips and salsa, we ordered some queso supremo, which is really the only reason I ever come here to eat.
Mind you, we waited for a very long time before our waiter brought it out. I don’t know what it is about their queso, but I just love it. It’s the combination of cheese and taco meat that’s just so yummy.
Because it took him to long to bring it, our entrees came out soon after. Loren ordered the beef fajitas.
He said they were pretty good, but it was more than enough food for him. We should have just split them. Instead, I ordered a pick three and got a chicken and beef empanada and a chicken taco.
There really wasn’t anything on this plate that was very good. The rice didn’t taste good and the refried beans were dry. The beef empanda was extremely cheesy inside, but still better than the chicken one. The taco was pretty bland. Next time, we’ll just split something and I’ll stick with the queso. Total bill was $34.
Tia’s Tex Mex
2815 E Fowler Ave
Had lunch at MecaFresh today. Got a soup and sandwich combo with the lobster bisque and the eggplant panini.
Good stuff all the way around. The bisque is always yummy and the panini is crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and has good flavors. I actually got my lunch for free since I had finally completed one of their coupon cards. My friend Cathy & I decided to split a brownie because they looked so tempting on the counter. Unfortunately, the first one we got was stale. Be sure to check the brownies for softness before grabbing one. The second one was much better.
3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
Ocean Blue Sushi just opened up on McMullen Booth in the same space where several other restaurants have come and gone recently. At first we were surprised to see another sushi place in the same plaza as Keiko (one of our favorites), only to discover that both restaurants are owned by Charlie. We overhead a conversation where his son said if had any issues, he’d just walk next door and ask his dad.
The decor and atmosphere are very different between the two restaurants. Ocean Blue is a big space with a large bar, plus they also have outdoor seating. It seems to be catering to a younger, late night crowd. There are a lot of items on the menu and we settled on 5 rolls and some salmon. Loren also started off with a salad.
All of the sushi was tasty. We got a Mexican Roll, Ex-Wife Roll, Haha Special Roll, Rainbow Roll, and a Super Crunchy Roll. Now, I love the super crunchy roll at Keiko and hoped for the same love here, but unfortunately, this one was spicy. Loren liked the one here more, since it did have some spice to it, but I’ll be heading back to Keiko for my super crunchy fix from now on.
Loren commented that some of the rolls were rather loose. They weren’t as tightly wrapped as they should have been and some of the ingredients kept trying to escape. Overall, though, this is a great addition to our sushi choices close to home. Total bill was $58.
Ocean Blue Sushi Bar & Japanese Restaurant
2475 McMullen Booth Road
Had lunch at Chico’s in Westchase today. Loren and I both got one of the lunch combos plus some chips and salsa. He got the salad and taco combo and I got the salad and chimichanga combo.
I ordered ranch dressing but it was spicy. So not what I expected from ranch dressing. I ended up getting some honey mustard dressing instead which was much better.
The chimi was very crunchy and cheesy. For $6/each, the lunch combos offer plenty of food for a good price. Add in the chips and a drink and the total bill was $18.
Chico’s Wood Fired Grill
12217 W Linebaugh Ave
We ate dinner at Panos Kouzina tonight. They were fairly busy, with several tables coming in at one time, so service was a bit slower than usual. We ordered off their specials menu, which is a great deal. I got a Greek salad and Loren ordered a house salad.
The Greek salad had big chunks of feta on it. Unfortunately, I forgot that they put sliced onions on the salad, so I had to pick those off. The dressing was very tangy. One of my favorite things here is the bread.
Loren got the souvlaki and I ordered the eggplant parmesean.
He liked the souvlaki. He’s had it here a few times before. This was the first time I tried the eggplant and unfortunately the last. It was just too mushy. I expect a bit of crunch and texture to fried eggplant, but this just disolved in your mouth, no chewing necessary. Total bill for both dinners and a drink was $20.
3101 SR 580
Safety Harbor, FL
After taking photos of the perigee full moon tonight, we headed over to the Safety Harbor Grill for dinner. We had planned to go to the Whistlestop, but it was packed, so we just went next door instead. They had music on the patio and it wasn’t crowded at all.
We both decided on burgers. Loren got the bacon cheeseburger and I ordered the fried green tomato burger.
Both burgers were pretty good. They had a nice flavor. I didn’t think the fried green tomatoes did much for it though. I ended up having to take one of them off because it was a bit too tough for the sandwich. I wouldn’t order it again. We also got some cheesecake for dessert.
It was very creamy and had a nice flavor. Total dinner was $20. Here’s one of the moonrise photos I took.
Safety Harbor Grill
997 Main St
Safety Harbor, FL
We were in Lakeland today test driving a Miata and on the recommendation from the guy at the car dealership, we ate lunch at Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grill.
It’s a pretty big restaurant and was fairly crowded, but we were able to get a table without a wait. One waitress came and took our drink order and then another came to the table to take our order. What was impressive about this was that the original waitress came back to our table and apologized for having to give our table to another waitress because she had three other tables that just got seated and felt that she wouldn’t be able to give us the service we deserved. I really appreciated that, especially since we’ve been to several other restaurants lately where the server was obviously overwhelmed but unwilling or unable to ask for additional help. Kudos for Harry’s for being staffed appropriately and allowing the servers to judge their own workload.
As for the food, I ordered the shrimp etouffee and Loren got the Taste of Orleans platter which had jambalaya, etouffee, and gumbo, plus they started us off with some nice warm bread.
The herbed butter had a lot of garlic in it and melted wonderfully on the toasty bread.
The shrimp etouffee had good flavor, but didn’t have that simmered for hours taste about it. It was fairly generic. The rice had a few too many pieces in it that were crunchy, like the rice had too much time to dry out from when it was cooked.
The gumbo was the best thing on the Taste of Orleans platter. It had a deep, rich flavor to it. The jambalya was ok, but a little dry. Total bill with a drink was $28.
Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grill
101 N Kentucky Ave
We got a rack of ribs from Georgia Boys BBQ in Oldsmar tonight.
That’s a lotta ribs for $20. They were tender and flavorful and way more than the two of us could eat in one sitting. They have two different bbq sauces, but I thought the ribs tasted just fine without anything on them. The place looks like a hole in the wall, but they make some mighty fine ribs.
Georgia Boy’s BBQ
205 E St Petersburg Dr
Had lunch at Green Market Cafe today. The Florida Wrap is one of my favorites, chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and goat cheese. Yummy, yummy!
It also came with kettle chips and a free small frozen yogurt. I got the cookies and cream.
It was tasty, but the creamsicle one my friend Cathy got was even better. Lunch with a dessert was $7.50.
Green Market Cafe
3150 Tampa Road, Unit 1a
We were driving home from Port Richey and stopped for dinner at Estela’s. Since it was St Patrick’s Day, they started us out with some green chips and salsa.
Loren ordered the fajita dinner special.
There was a mound of food on the plate. He said it was pretty tasty and had lots of leftovers for tomorrow. I ordered the chimichangas.
The dish comes with one beef and one chicken chimi over some of their jalepeno cheese sauce. The cheese sauce was spicy! Both of the chimichangas had some good flavors going on.
Between the mariachi band, a couple of big groups, the high ceiling, and tile floors, the place was really loud. It was difficult trying to hold a conversation. The service wasn’t that great. Loren’s drink was empty for a while and we finally had to ask another waitress to see if she could find our waitress so we could get a box and our check. We definitely got a lot of food for $22 though.
7041 US Hwy 19
New Port Richey, FL
Joseph’s Little Italy in Dunedin has changed their name to Julian’s Little Italy. Looks like the exact same place and staff. We went in with our Restaurant.com coupon and needed to spend $40 to get the $25 off.
The restaurant was fairly busy for a Sunday night, but we should have known something was wrong when our waitress didn’t even come take our drink orders until we’d been sitting there for almost 15 minutes. The service only got worse from there.
This was a long night of waiting. Our waitress would disappear completely from the dining room and when she would come out, she’d either walk right by our table or would be completely inefficient in what she would bring out at any given time.
We started off with the meatball appetizer.
Flavor-wise, it was pretty good, but texture-wise, the outside was tough. They were definitely overcooked. Loren ordered a dinner which came with house salad, three bean appetizer and soup.
He really liked the dressing on the salad and even though he thought he didn’t want the three bean appetizer, he liked it so much that he scarfed the entire thing. The garlic bread brought to the table was pretty good, except for the burnt pieces hiding at the bottom.
After he finished his salad, we waited and waited for our soup to come out. His drink glass was empty at this point at well.
Our waitress brought my bowl of soup out, but not Loren’s. She also said she’d refill his drink, but then disappeared again.
The pasta fagioli was really good. I didn’t realize I had ordered a bowl instead of a cup of soup, so I ended up with some leftovers. It had good flavors and the veggies and pasta weren’t mushy, which was nice. There were also pieces of sausage in it.
Eventually, Loren’s soup and another drink came out.
His was a minestrone soup that had a lot of potatoes in it. Again, nice flavors overall.
As we waited for our entrees, several other parties came into the restaurant and to our amazement, the host kept seating them in our waitress’ area. I was stunned. There was another waiter working and he spent the majority of his time clearing the table of a big party of his that just left. I wanted to warn the new patrons to not expect much in the way of service, but I bit my tongue. Instead we watched them get ignored as much as we had been.
Our entrees finally arrived and they were both lukewarm. The mushrooms on mine were actually cold. They had obviously been sitting in the kitchen for sometime before our waitress brought them out. So disappointing. Again, the flavors were pretty good, but I took the majority of it home so I could at least microwave it to a normal temperature.
I ordered the chicken marsala and Loren ordered the chicken with artichokes. Both came with a side of spaghetti.
And then to top things off, when I asked for some boxes, our waitress walked off with my water glass. Who does that? I went to get a drink while we waited for her to bring our check and I realized it was gone.
When we went to pay, the host asked us how our dinner was and we told him how bad she was as a waitress. He was completely unaware. I told him the other patrons in her area were already deeply disappointed as one couple had been sitting there for a good 15 minutes and she had yet to stop by their table.
Total bill after the coupon was $27. Unfortunately, the Restaurant.com coupons include an automatic tip for the wait staff, because otherwise, we wouldn’t have left her a dime.
Julian’s Little Italy
916-A Patricia Ave
Our experience with Indian cuisine is less than a year old and given my aversion to very spicy food, I’m probably not the best judge of authenticity, but I do know what I like. We’ve been to a few places in the area, most recently, Laziz Indian Cuisine tonight and before that, the new place in Oldsmar, 5th Element Indian Cuisine.
I order pretty much the same thing no matter which restaurant we go to. I like the creamy, tomato based sauces. Tonight at Laziz, I ordered the butter chicken.
The dish here has a more earthy taste. I’m not sure how to explain it. The cilantro (at least I think it’s cilantro) permeates the dish more. Unfortunately, I find it detracts from the dish more than enhances it. I prefer the sauce at 5th Element. The chicken, however, was cooked better here. At 5th Element the pieces are thinly sliced and I’ve found more inedible pieces of chicken in their dish.
I like the garlic naan bread at Laziz, even though occasionally, some of the pieces are a little burnt. I found the naan bread at 5th Element to be a little more doughy and softer. It has good flavor, but I think the texture should be a little firmer.
Loren ordered the chicken saagwala at Laziz tonight. It had chicken and spinach with some spices.
He really liked it. He said you could definitely taste the spinach and even though he ordered it medium spicy, he said it wasn’t too spicy to eat. I don’t have anything to compare it to since this is a new dish for him.
Portion size is about the same. As for pricing, Laziz is more expensive. Tonight’s dinner was $34. Our last meal at 5th Element was $31, plus we had an appetizer. Where 5th Element really shines, though, is in the service. The owners are very friendly and seem happy to see you. Granted, it’s a brand new restaurant, so they’re trying to impress, but I prefer their smiles to the almost standoffish service at Laziz. 5th Element stikes me more as a family-type restaurant.
So, which would I choose? I’m leaning more toward 5th Element, mostly because I feel more comfortable there. The flavors are similar at both restaurants, but I find I enjoy the experience at 5th Element more.
Laziz Indian Cuisine
2475 N McMullen Booth Rd
When we just want a quick, inexpensive meal, we have a few restaurants on our short list. Poblano’s is one of them and that’s where we went tonight. They weren’t too busy, in fact they had half of the restaurant closed off for the evening.
Loren said the salsa was better this time. A bit fresher with more chunks of tomato. He ordered the burritos tipico with the cheese sauce on the side, so I ended up dipping some chips in it.
That’s a whole lot of refried beans on that plate. He said the burritos were ok, nothing special, but for $9, they satisfied his hunger. As for me, someday, I will learn to not order shrimp at a non-seafood restaurant.
In my defense though, the last time I ordered the shrimp chimichanga here, it was pretty good. This time, the shrimp had a definite frozen taste. There’s a right way and a wrong way to defrost shrimp. They failed miserably this time.
Our server wasn’t great either. He’d disappear for long periods of time and there was something about him that I just didn’t like. I can’t put my finger on it, but he just didn’t impress. Total bill was $24 with a drink.
Poblanos Mexican Grill
245 McMullen Booth Road
We ate lunch at the Chatterbox North Family Restaurant in Palm Harbor today. They were pretty busy, but we got there right at the end of the lunch rush, so we didn’t have to wait long for a table.
Loren ordered a corned beef sandwich with a bowl of their vegetable soup.
The soup had some wonderful flavors. It was the best part of the whole meal. Loren said the corned beef wasn’t remarkable at all. I ordered the country breakfast.
The problem was that I didn’t mean to order the country breakfast. I totally managed to read the menu incorrectly because I wanted pancakes, eggs and homefries and got biscuits and gravy, homefries, eggs and sausage. Our waitress was kind enough to fix my mistake and brought me out some pancakes. The eggs and pancakes were good, the homefries, not so much. They were a bit too crispy and lacked any seasoning whatsoever.
I was craving fruit pie, but when the waitress mentioned Boston Cream Pie, I had to get that instead.
It was ok, nothing special about it. The whole meal cost us $17 with a drink. The prices are definitely right here, but overall the food was pretty mediocre.
Chatterbox North Family Restaurant
2710 Alt 19
Palm Harbor, FL
We drove up to Holiday tonight to eat dinner at The German Restaurant. It’s a homey little restaurant, sort of like walking into grandma’s living room. They brought some bread to the table while we waited for our appetizer.
It was warm, which is always a plus in my book. I couldn’t really tell what kind of bread it was though. For our appetizer, we got the Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes).
They were nice and crispy and had a good flavor. You can get either 3 or 4 in an order and we should have just gotten the three because they were pretty big. We decided to split the sampler platter for our entree, so I got the soup that came with that and Loren ordered a side salad.
The soup was awesome. It had a hearty beef flavor to it like it’d been cooking for hours. The veggies were a bit mushy, but the meatball had a lot of flavor. I could have gone for just a plate of the meatballs.
We wanted to try a bit of everything so we got the sampler platter which included roasted pork, sauerbraten, pork schnitzel, grilled Nuernberger pork sausage, red cabbage, sauerkraut, potato salad, potato dumpling and their home made spaetzle.
It was a lot of food. My favorite was the pork schnitzel. It was crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and had a delicate lemon flavor. I would definitely order it again. Loren really enjoyed the roasted pork and sauerbraten, but honestly, everything on the plate was good.
The dessert case is in the lobby when you walk into the restaurant, so we knew from the moment we walked in that we were going to have a piece of the Black Forest cake.
It’s not often you get real homemade whipped cream with a dessert. This was a wonderfully delicious piece of cake. It was light, the cake was moist, and the filling was awesome. I was tempted to get another piece to take home.
Service was pretty good. One of the owners stopped by our table to check on us a few times during the meal. The total bill was $47. They charged a $3.95 splitting charge that I thought was a bit excessive, but overall, the entire dining experience was great. It’s definitely worth the drive to Holiday.
The German Restaurant
2616 US Hwy 19
We were craving sushi tonight and went back to Tom Yum Thai & Sushi in Dunedin. We both started off with some soup.
Loren got the chicken and rice and I just couldn’t pass up the chicken coconut soup. It’s one of the tastiest soups in the area. The flavors all meld together wonderfully.
We decided on 4 sushi rolls, the Sea Monster, the Hamachi Lover, the Dragon Roll and the Rainbow Roll, plus some salmon.
My favorite was the Dragon roll, shrimp tempura roll topped with avocado , mayo & eel sauce. The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the avocado was fresh and tasty. My next favorite was the Rainbow roll. The other two rolls had spicy sauces on them that were a bit overwhelming. Loren made a comment that all the flavor seemed to be in the sauces and that the rolls themselves were rather bland.
The rolls here are pretty big compared to other places. We had leftovers even though we only ordered 4 rolls and that never happens. At most other places, we know we’ve ordered too much when we get 6 rolls. Total bill was $56.
Tom Yum Thai & Sushi
104 Patricia Ave
We ate lunch at Moe’s in Oldsmar today. I’d never eaten at Moe’s before and I gotta say, I don’t anticipate eating there again anytime soon. I definitely prefer the food at Tijuana Flats over what we ate today.
Loren got two tacos and I got a burrito, plus some chips and queso.
The queso was pretty good. Just a little hint of jalapeno. All the ingredients in my burrito were lukewarm at best. For that matter, even our “Welcome to Moe’s” greeting when we walked in the door was rather lukewarm too. There just wasn’t a lot of freshness going on here. Total bill with a drink was $17.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
4011 Tampa Rd