Loren hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, so he wanted something filling for dinner. That means Cracker Barrel. Chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, greens, biscuits, and fried apples filled him right up.
I went for breakfast instead of dinner and settled on French Toast.
I didn’t think I was going to eat all four pieces and yet I did. It was cooked perfectly. The only thing I would have changed would have been to add a little cinnamon to the custard that the bread is dipped in. It would have really put this dish over the top. The warmed syrup is a nice touch too. Total bill with a drink was $22.
13833 West Hillsborough Avenue
Tonight we tried Lebanese food for the first time at Cedar Paradise Lebanese on Memorial Hwy. It’s a really small restaurant and we were the only ones there. We asked the waiter what he suggested and he immediately said the stuffed grape leaves, so we had to try those.
They had a very interesting flavor. Lots of spices, similar to what we’ve found in Indian cuisine. The only other place we’ve tried stuffed grape leaves has been at Greek restaurants and these were very different. They had a lemony flavor as well, not sure if that was the grape leaves themselves or part of the filling.
Loren decided to try the beef pita which came with fries.
The ground beef was mixed with lots of spices and had a very unique flavor to it. The yogurt sauce wasn’t overly garlicy but definitely cooled the spiciness of the beef. He really enjoyed the dish. I got a combo plate which had lamb, chicken, and beef.
It also came with hummus and tabbouleh (which Loren ate) plus fries and pita bread. Out of the three meats, I really liked the chicken best. It was incredibly tender and had a wonderful flavor. The lamb was a little tough, but still pretty good. I wrapped the beef in the pita bread along with the yogurt sauce to try to minimize some of the spice. Even though I think fries don’t really fit in with the meal, I scarfed all of them in short order. They were good. Overall, we were both intrigued by the flavors. I think we’ll be adding Lebanese food to the list of flavorful cuisines that we’ll seek out. Total bill with two drinks was $31.
Cedar Paradise Lebanese
5831 Memorial Hwy
After going to see “Cowboys & Aliens” at the movies, we ate lunch at MecaFresh. We both went for a soup and panini combo. Loren got the roast beef with black bean soup and I got the eggplant parm panini and some lobster bisque.
It was all pretty tasty. I really like the way they do their eggplant. My only complaint was the panini was a little burnt on the bottom. The lobster bisque was smooth and creamy with a lovely delicate flavor. Total bill with a drink was $19.
3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
Wanted something quick for dinner, so we headed out to Poblanos. I felt the need for some chips and queso.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s darn tasty. I got the queso with taco meat in it instead of just plain cheese. I should know better than to order queso, it just means I’ll fill up on chips and not have room for my dinner. Though, tonight, that really wasn’t an issue since the chicken in my fajitas was a bit overcooked.
Some of the pieces were ok, but a good portion of it was tough. It’s a shame since I don’t order fajitas very often, it would have been nice to actually enjoy them. Loren got the carnitas.
It’s one of his favorite dishes. A bit on the spicy side and totally yummy. Total bill with a drink was $32.
Poblanos Mexican Grill
245 McMullen Booth Road
We ate lunch at Stone Chase on Linebaugh today. It wasn’t very busy when we got there, but filled up pretty quick. I always have mixed feelings about this restaurant. I can’t quite figure out what they’re trying to be. They started us off with some bread, which was very tasty.
Loren ordered one of the specials, a tropical chicken sandwich and salad.
He really liked the ranch dressing on the salad. I thought it was peppery. He said the chicken was tender and that it was tasty. The “tropical” part were the mangoes on it. I ordered a French dip sandwich with fries.
I was impressed with the fact that neither the sandwich nor the au jous was overly salted. That’s one of the things that normally ruins a French dip for me. The beef was very tender and flavorful. I did get it without the horseradish sauce though. I’ve eaten horseradish once and vowed to never make that mistake again. Total bill with a drink was $22.
12227 W Linebaugh Ave
Went for a quick lunch at the Cop Shop after an early movie. It wasn’t very crowded for a Sunday afternoon, must not be any major sporting events going on right now. I saw chili & cheese on the menu and decided to try it for an appetizer.
In my head, it was going to served as one dish with the chili & cheese mixed together instead of two separate dips. We ended up mixing them together anyway, but overall, it probably isn’t something I’d order again. It would have been nice if it had come out well before our entrees instead of minutes before. Loren got some garlic wings.
You could smell the garlic when they came to the table, but he said they weren’t overly spiced. The wings are a good size here, so 5 is plenty for a meal. I got a cheeseburger with sweet potato fries.
It was pretty good. The burger had a nice flavor to it, but with the fries and chips, I ended up taking half of it home. Service was a bit iffy today. Our waitress kept disappearing. Total bill with a drink was $25.
The Cop Shop
3780 Tampa Road
We wandered around Park Ave in Winter Park for a while and then decided to get some dessert at the Briarpatch. They were out of cheesecake and I wasn’t hungry enough to get one of their huge pieces of cake, so I went for a hot fudge brownie sundae and my sister settled on some key lime pie.
Mine looks yummier, doesn’t it? She said the key lime pie was very good though. Fresh and homemade, just like the brownie and ice cream in my sundae. They make some really good desserts here. Next time, I’m going to have to try some of that cake.
Total bill with a lemonade and some tea was $19. Our waitress was also great. Always had a smile on her face and she was very attentive.
252 N Park Ave
Winter Park, FL
Met my sister in Winter Park today for the annual birthday gift exchange. Our birthdays are 5 days apart, so since she lives on the east coast of Florida and me on the west, we usually meet in the middle. We ate lunch at Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen.
I was craving some crawfish etouffee.
It was ok, not spicy at all. I guess I like the version at the Cajun Cafe in Pinellas Park so much, that any etouffee that differs significantly from that just doesn’t satisfy the craving. It had a nice blend of flavors, but overall just seemed a bit too mellow.
My sister ordered the chicken gumbo and half a muffuletta sandwich.
She was a bit surprised at how big half a sandwich was. She enjoyed both items though. Said she preferred black olives instead of the green that were on this sandwich, but that it was still tasty. Needless to say, half of the half went home with her. Total bill with a drink was $30.
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen
2203 Aloma Ave
Winter Park, FL
The last time we were at the Dunedin Marina, we noticed the Old Bay Cafe had opened up. Since it’s owned by the guy who owned Walt’s Seasonal Cuisine, we had high hopes for a tasty meal, now with a beautiful view of the bay.
The biggest issue with opening an outdoor cafe by the marina is the fishy smell. More often than not, the wind blew an unpleasant smell to our table. The menu is very small; salads, soups, and sandwiches mostly. We both started off with some soup, the mushroom brie bisque and the shrimp & corn chowder.
Though both soups had a pretty good flavor, I didn’t feel that the temperature was right. Mine just wasn’t warm enough. I also thought the shrimp in the chowder were a little overcooked.
Loren ordered the Dunedin salad with salmon.
He said the salmon was good, but the dressing on the salad had no flavor whatsoever. I ordered the crab cake sandwich.
This was a little difficult to eat as the ciabatta bread was very thick and so was the crab cake. The crab cake had a nice flavor to it and it’s mostly crab. When the bill came, I just couldn’t reconcile $40 with what we had eaten. Yes, the food was fresh and for the most part pretty good, but the cost still just seemed high for two soups, a salad, sandwich and an iced tea. I felt like the pricing was upscale for a cafe that has a very casual feel about it. We’ve also had some other meals recently for half the price, a lot more food, and those experiences left our taste buds just as happy.
Olde Bay Cafe
51 Main St
We both like Johnny’s Italian Restaurant in Clearwater, but they’re usually so crowded that we don’t eat there very often. Today, we managed to get there after the lunch crowd, but before the dinner crowd, so the restaurant wasn’t very busy at all.
Bring on the Johnny bread.
I think this is one of the only restaurants where Loren eats almost as much bread as I do. It’s got that perfect crust, texture and flavor and their dipping oil is beyond garlicy. We ended up asking for a second loaf.
Loren got a salad and I got the New England Clam Chowder.
The soup was ok, but not the best chowder I’ve ever had. For his entree, Loren ordered the Special Calzone which had a little bit of everything inside.
He liked it and it was way bigger than he could eat in one sitting, so half came home for leftovers. I got the chicken marsala which came with a side of fettucine alfredo.
This was also too much food for me (ok, maybe we shouldn’t have gotten that second loaf of bread). I really like their fettucine alfredo. The chicken was tender and the marsala sauce had a decent flavor, though I would have liked more of it on the plate. Since we were able to order off the early bird menu, the total bill with a drink was only $24 and we both had leftovers. We’ll just have to remember Sunday afternoons around 3pm is the perfect time to come by.
Johnny’s Italian Restaurant
2907 SR 590 #1
We ate dinner at Zeno’s Grille in Clearwater today. It’s a small restaurant and it looked like only one guy, I’m assuming the owner, working in there today. Loren got the hot chicken gyro and I ordered a philly cheesesteak.
Loren said his was ok, but mine was incredibly salty. I guess when I think of philly cheesesteak, oozy, gooey cheesey goodness comes to mind. This wasn’t that at all. I’d almost call this more of an Italian beef sandwich. The cheese was just laid on the bun and then the beef, onions and tomatoes scooped on top of it. It was ok, flavorwise, but the over abundance of salt made it difficult to eat. With a drink and fries, the total bill was $14.
1530 McMullen Booth Rd
We headed into Tarpon Springs tonight for my birthday dinner. I wanted to go back to the Zante Cafe. We’ve just never been disappointed by the food here.
The fresh rolls are so buttery and garlicy and just melt in your mouth.
Next up is the gumbo which also has amazing flavors.
At this point, our taste buds are very happy, but my water glass is lacking ice and the restaurant is a bit warm. I don’t know if it was just our seat by the window or what, but it was uncomfortably warm in there tonight. The owner’s children wait the tables and tonight they just weren’t on the ball. I had to ask for ice several times before it showed up and my water glass got empty a few times as well. They would say they were going to bring things out, but then quickly forgot.
Our crab cake appetizer came next.
You gotta love crab cakes that are mostly crab. These are so flavorful and delicious and the sauce isn’t very spicy, which I like. For our entrees, Loren ordered the crawfish etouffee and I got one of the specials.
He ordered the etouffee with a spice level of 2.5 out of 5 and he was sniffling a bit by the end. Deep, rich flavors in this dish make it a winner. The special I ordered was called mo-fun-go or something like that. It was lamb shank pulled off the bone with pasta, eggplant, onions, mushrooms, carrots, tomato and a sprinkling of feta cheese.
It was very tasty. It had a good “mouth-feel” to it. There was way more on the plate than I could eat, plus I was just uncomfortably warm and my water glass was empty, but it’ll make good leftovers. Total bill after the $25 Restaurant.com coupon was $32. As much as I love the food in this restaurant, I just wish they were able to get an actual waitstaff.
Zante Cafe Neo
13 N Safford Ave
Tarpon Springs, FL
Yes, I’m one of those geeks that had to go see the final Harry Potter movie on opening day. Since we were going to the 1pm movie (and needed to be there an hour early), a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel seemed the way to go.
We both settled on pancakes, mine with scrambled eggs and hashbrown casserole and Loren got some bacon.
The pancakes were good. We both ended up having to get more syrup though. Loren really liked the bacon. He said it was crispy and yummy. The eggs were ok and the hashbrown casserole was pretty tasty. With an OJ, the total bill was $20.
13833 West Hillsborough Avenue
We’ve been driving by the space vacated by Aunt Chilada’s for months wondering when the new Vallarta’s Mexican Restaurant was going to open. When we drove by the other day there were a bunch of cars out front and the sign finally changed from “coming soon” to “we’re open”, so we headed over there for lunch.
Chips and salsa arrived quickly to the table.
Loren liked the salsa and I was impressed by the freshness of the chips. I couldn’t stop eating them. They were crispy and light. They have a lunch buffet, but we both decided to order off of the menu instead. Loren got the lunch #1 special which was a chile relleno, taco, and avocado salad.
He said it was good. First time in a new Mexican restaurant, is there any doubt what I’m ordering? I’m so predictable, chicken chimichanga for me.
It wasn’t crispy, but it had good flavors. I actually liked their guacamole because it wasn’t spicy at all. The cheese sauce was pretty mild too. For $13 with a drink, it was a pretty good lunch. We’d eat here again.
Vallartas Mexican Restaurant
34718 US Hwy 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a fan of dining in restaurants where there are a lot of young children around, but having a little kid at the hibachi table at Arigato makes the dining experience a little more entertaining. The chefs play up to the kids and really seem to get into the show more when there’s a wide eyed child watching their every move.
We like Arigato more than Kobe when we’re in the mood for hibachi dining. They started us off with soup and salad.
Pretty standard for one of these restaurants. Loren ordered the chicken, steak, and shrimp and I got the steak, shrimp and scallops. Rice and veggies come with it and I spend so much time eating the rice and veggies that by the time the rest of the meal comes I’m usually quite full.
Our chef was entertaining, the food was cooked well, and overall the meal was enjoyable. I think I’d like it better if they limited the tables to 8 people rather than 10 because it did feel a little crowded. Loren had to send back his iced tea and ended up not drinking the soda he got either because the fountain mix wasn’t quite right. Overall service was pretty good though. Total bill was $65.
26508 US 19 N
We planned to go to an Italian restaurant called Saimira European Grill in Palm Harbor tonight, but the “No Trespassing” sign out front led us to believe they weren’t open. I’m not sure if the restaurant is closed for good or if they’re on vacation, but either way, we still needed to find some dinner. We continued north on Hwy 19 and ended up back at The German Restaurant.
They weren’t very busy for a Friday night, but perhaps the crowd shows up for the early bird specials. I enjoy dinner in a quiet restaurant though. It’s always nice to be able to actually carry on a conversation without having to yell.
The bread came quick to the table. It’s a dense bread, but pretty tasty.
For an appetizer, we ordered the potato pancakes.
Loren didn’t like them that much, but I thought they were ok. It’s sort of like a hashbrown served with apple sauce. He was very happy with the meatball soup though.
This is a soup with lots of flavor. It’s obvious that it’s been simmering for long hours to get all the deep, richness that just warms you from the inside out. Loren ordered the goulash with spaetzle.
He enjoyed it. It had a vinegary, mustardy taste to the sauce and the beef was very tender. He said the spaetzle was good to cut the tartness of the sauce.
I ordered the chicken schnitzel. Ok, I admit, I didn’t read the menu all that closely and thought that schnitzel was always made with pork, so I was actually a little surprised when it was chicken.
I gotta say, though, this was some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. It was pounded thin, but it was so tender and juicy inside and the crisp coating on the outside was outstanding. There was way too much for me to eat in one sitting which is always a plus. The leftovers were yummy too. The spaetzle was good as well and the broccoli was a little overcooked and soft, which I’m sure a lot of people don’t like, but I prefer mine that way.
Even before we sat down, I already knew what we were ordering for dessert…. the Black Forest Cake.
Layers of chocolate cake and whipped cream. Yummy! The only issue with this dessert tonight is the homemade whipped cream on the plate didn’t have enough sugar in it. Normally, I would never leave whipped cream on the plate, but this just wasn’t sweet enough. Total bill was $50 and we both had leftovers.
The German Restaurant
2616 US Hwy 19
Drove into Dunedin tonight for some Mexican food at Casa Tina. I’m still amazed at how much this place has grown in the last 10 years. The first time we ate here, it was just a tiny little place. You almost always had to wait for a table and it was really cramped. Now, they have a much bigger space, it’s still crowded, and the prices have gone up, but it’s still one of our favorite places with fresh, tasty food.
I’m never very original on what I order here. I just love the chicken and cheese flautas.
The guac is too spicy for my taste, so Loren and I trade, my guac for his sour cream. The flautas are crispy and the filling is tender and flavorful. Loren went for the beef fajitas tonight.
He said the beef was tender and tasty. Total bill was $35 with a drink. Then we headed down to the pier and watched the sunset.
365 Main Street
Another new sushi restaurant opened up in Palm Harbor, so of course we had to check it out. Wasabi Japanese Restaurant is now in the space that used to be the Eagles Landing Restaurant in the Brooker Creek Shopping Center.
As soon as we opened the door, the chemical smell was overwhelming. It was like a combination of disinfectant, new paint, and other cleansers. Totally and completely unappetizing. Not a good first impression by any means.
We ordered the vegetable tempura as an appetizer and then the Love Boat sushi combo. Soup and salad came with the meal.
Loren liked it more than I did. Neither of us like miso soup, but he said it was better than others he’s tried. I wasn’t a fan of the salad dressing either. I prefer a sweeter ginger dressing and this one wasn’t very sweet.
The vegetable tempura was one of the most bland appetizers I’ve ever had.
It had the crunch, but not an ounce of seasoning. The veggies were broccoli, potato, sweet potato, mushroom, and zucchini. We left half of it because it just offered nothing to the palette. Not to mention, our sushi came out very soon after the appetizer.
There wasn’t much on the sushi menu that called out to us. The specialty sushi roll menu was small, so we just decided to try the Love Boat, thinking we’d get some interesting things that perhaps we wouldn’t have thought to order on our own. Sadly, there was no originality to what we got. Salmon, tuna, and snapper, plus a California and Dragon roll.
The California roll was ok, but the nori in the Dragon roll didn’t have the right texture. It was hard to eat.
The ahi tuna and the salmon were ok, but neither of us was too keen on the snapper and I’m not a big fan of yellow tail. Overall, the sushi was very bland. Total bill with a drink was $49. This entire experience was average at best. If I’m going to drop $50 on sushi, I want it to be memorable and there are definitely better places around.
Wasabi Japanese Restaurant
36221 E Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL
We ate dinner at the Olympia Greek Restaurant over by Fresh Market on US 19 in Clearwater tonight. There are so many of these little Greek places in the area and they all seem very generic. It’s pretty much Greek fast food.
I’m a sucker for pastitsio, so I had to try that. It came with a Greek salad.
The salad had a little bit of everything in it and the dressing was tangy and tasty. The pastitsio was ok, but both it and the sauce lacked in flavor.
The sauce really tasted like it had just come out of a can. It was tart and definitely needed to simmer a lot longer to give it any depth of flavor. The pastitsio had a decent texture, but just didn’t have enough spices in it. Unfortunately, the rice was a bit overcooked as well.
Loren ordered the gyro platter.
There’s a mound of rice under the gyro meat, but out of everything we had here, the gyro was the best. It had a nice flavor and texture and tasted very fresh. Both meals came with pita bread & tzatziki sauce and I also ordered a side of potato salad, forgetting that there’d be some on the salad.
I like the pita and tzatziki. It was creamy and had a good flavor without being overpowering with garlic. The side of potato salad was way more than we could eat. I was expecting one scoop, not four, so this is definitely a side to share. I also ordered a cannoli to go.
It was disappointing. The shell was too thick and not crunchy at all and the the filling was also too thick. It had the consistency of cookie dough. After the $5 coupon from their website, the total bill with a drink was $23. If I was in the area and wanted a quick gyro, I’d try it again, but otherwise, there wasn’t much that would draw me back in.
Olympia Greek Restaurant
25821 US 19 Hwy N