The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.


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Archive for July, 2011

Overly Salty

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.

Zeno’s Grille
1530 McMullen Booth Rd
Clearwater, FL
(727) 216-6752

Zeno's Grille on Urbanspoon


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 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

Zante Cafe Neo on Urbanspoon



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.

Cracker Barrel
13833 West Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL

Cracker Barrel on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Breakfast, Oldsmar
  • Finally Open

    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

    Vallartas Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon


    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
    Clearwater, FL
    Arigato Japanese Steak House on Urbanspoon