We ate dinner at Panos Kouzina tonight and found out the restaurant has been sold to the guy who used to own Alberto’s in Oldsmar. Tonight was the original owner Nick’s last night in the restaurant. He came over and chatted with us for a while when he noticed me taking photos and said he’d been reading my blog.
Tonight we tried the Mediterranean hand tossed pizza.
It was really good with a very fresh taste to it. It had chicken, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, feta, and garlic. I’m usually a fan of a deep dish crust pizza, but I enjoyed the hand tossed crust on this one. The last time we had pizza here we both got personal pizzas and the crust seemed a lot thinner on that one.
Since we’re not sure what’s going to change with the new owner, I figured I better get a piece of the chocolate cake while it’s still there.
It’s got the fudgey goodness. It’s such a thick, rich yummy chocolate cake. Total bill was $23. The name of the restaurant will likely change in the next few months so we’ll have to go back and check it out under the new owner.
3101 SR 580
Safety Harbor, FL
We finally rolled back into town around 8pm, so we stopped at Pacific Thai for a quick dinner. We started off with some spring rolls.
These were yummy. They have a pork and veggie filling and were deep fried just perfectly. Loren ordered the Nam Sod and I have to say it was one of the prettiest dishes I’ve seen in a while.
He liked it. It’s a rather light dish with spicy pork on top of a salad. I went for some shrimp fried rice.
It was good. Really hit the spot after a long day of driving. For $26, it was a fresh yummy meal and we were glad to be back home.
Pacific Thai Cuisine
4058 Tampa Road
On the drive back home from our vacation, we stopped in Macon, GA for lunch at Buffalo’s Cafe. Loren got an Apache wrap and I got a chicken chimichanga.
It was a lot of food for the price and it was pretty good for a chain restaurant. Mine was a bit spicier than I would have liked, but otherwise it was ok. Our waitress was very sweet. Total bill was $19.
5990 Zebulon Rd
We ate dinner at Lulu’s on Main in Sylva tonight. It’s a nice little restaurant and was pretty busy for a Friday night. They have a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes. We started off with The Frenchy, which is goat cheese, olives and French bread.
I’m a big fan of goat cheese, so I really liked this appetizer. Loren ate the olives and I scarfed most of the bread and cheese. The French bread was really good. Our entrees came with salads. Loren got the szechaun dressing and I tried the lemon dill.
I didn’t get a lot of lemon flavor in the dressing, just the dill. Loren liked his more than I did, which also went for our entrees. He ordered the portabello mushrooms.
They were served with a garlic mashed and broccoli. There was a lot of mushrooms on the plate, he couldn’t even finish them all. He liked the flavor of the sauce and was surprised to discover that he enjoyed almonds on his mashed potatoes too. I ordered one of the specials which was a sweet potato and black bean enchilada.
It was a little too spicy for me and I just didn’t enjoy the overall texture of the dish. It was all too soft and there wasn’t any contrast in flavors. We also ordered the white chocolate cheesecake for dessert.
This was a big disappointment to me. This was not the texture that I believe cheesecake should have. This had a gelatin rubbery texture that completely ruined it for me. Cheesecake should melt in your mouth; this did not. The cookie crust was good though. Total bill was $39.
Lulu’s On Main
612 W Main St
Our final day of vacation ended up being cold and rainy, so we took a drive into South Carolina and ate lunch at Sister’s Restaurant. It’s a small little restaurant and bakery and it looked like a lot of the locals ate there for lunch.
We started off with some chicken & rice soup.
It had a wonderful homemade flavor and perfect on such a dreary day. They have seven sandwiches on the menu named after the seven sisters who own the restaurant. I thought it was funny when another table was ordering and the guy told the waitress that he didn’t like the sandwich named after her, but really liked the one named after one of her sisters. I ordered the milder ham & cheese with a side of potato salad, but I don’t remember which sister it was named after.
The ham was really salty and there was lots of it in the sandwich. The potato salad had lots of flavor as well. Loren ordered a cheeseburger and we actually ended up trading half of our sandwiches with each other because he really liked the ham & I prefered the burger.
It was a tasty burger. Just the way I like it, not too thick with mayo, lettuce & tomato. This was the most inexpensive meal we ate on vacation at $16 and was also one of better ones.
281 Stamp Creek Rd
We stopped in Bryson City for dinner tonight at Pasqualinos Italian Restaurant. Unfortunately, out of all the places we ate on vacation, this one ended up being at the bottom of the list. From start to finish, service and flavor were lacking.
The restaurant was understaffed and the waiter we had was clueless. He was completely overwhelmed with the number of tables he had and other people working in the restaurant did more for our table and other tables of his, than he did.
Once we finally got our order placed, they brought some bread to the table.
The bread sticks were ok, but the dipping sauce had way too much balsamic vinegar in it for my taste. Our dinners came with soup or salad, so we got one of each.
The pasta fagioli was like mush with no flavor whatsoever. I never put salt on my food and this needed it desparately. It was so bland and a foreshadow of everything else to come.
Loren ordered the ribeye for his entree. They actually had another steak special tonight but we didn’t know about it until we heard our waiter tell another table.
The steak was cooked well, but again lacked any seasoning whatsoever. Same with the marinara sauce. It tasted like tart tomatoes with no spices at all. A sauce has to cook for a lot longer in order to mellow that tartness. I ordered the fettucine alfredo.
The sauce was creamy, but again lacked in flavor. The alfredo sauce at Olive Garden is much better. Despite my better judgment, I ordered a piece of French Silk pie to go.
It would have been much better without the Hershey’s syrup drenching it. I couldn’t even taste the pie. Total bill with a drink was $41. This is not a place we’d recommend.
25 Everett Street
Bryson City, NC
On our fourth day of vacation we headed over to Brevard to see some waterfalls and stopped for lunch at The Falls Landing. The downtown area of Brevard had lots of little shops and cafes and I’m glad we ended up where we did. The food, service and atmosphere were wonderful here. This is another one of those restaurants that “gets it”.
We started off with a bowl of clam chowder.
It had a wonderful creamy texture and flavor. One of those dishes where after the first bite, Loren kept trying to slide it closer and closer to his side of the table. For his entree, he ordered the salmon BLT with a side salad.
He immediately declared that bacon and salmon are a wonderful combination. The salmon was cooked perfectly and he was one happy guy. I ordered the French Dip with fries.
This was also very tasty and the au jus was perfect. So many places make it way too salty, but this was just right. The fries were addictive. Once I heard the list of desserts, there just wasn’t any way that I was passing up the molten chocolate lava cake.
Warm, moist chocolate cake oozing with chocolate sauce, plus some vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and I was one happy gal. I definitely needed to do more hiking to walk off this lunch. If you’re in Brevard, definitely give this place a try. Total bill with a drink was $35.
The Falls Landing
18 East Main St
After a day of hiking, we stopped in Franklin, NC for dinner at the Cajun Connection Cafe. This was the tastiest meal we had on our entire vacation. We started off with some calamari and Loren got a side salad.
The calamari was a little chewy, but had a nice crunch to it. It had a little bit of spice and the dipping sauce was tasty. Loren decided to get a mini sampler which included jambalaya, gumbo, and creole.
Though he enjoyed the other two, the jambalaya was definitely his favorite. It had all the right flavor components with just the right amount of spice. If we’re ever back this way again, he’d be getting a big ol’ bowl of the jambalaya. I ordered the crawfish etouffee.
Though it could have used a few more crawfish, the dish was delicious. Not too spicy, but with an amazing flavor and texture. After a long day hiking, it really hit the spot. We couldn’t pass up the bread pudding and I wanted some chocolate cake for later.
The bread pudding was yummy. We needed more sauce because it was very tasty too. The chocolate cake was moist and made a great late night snack. Overall, this was the most flavorful meal we had in North Carolina. Definitely a place to check out if you’re in the area. Total bill with a drink was $41.
Cajun Connection Cafe
549 Highlands Rd
We ate lunch in Cashiers, NC at the Cornucopia Restaurant. It’s got a big open dining area, but since the weather was so gorgeous, we decided to eat on the patio. The soup of the day was corn chowder and I had to have some.
It was yummy. Fresh sweet corn made the difference in this dish. It was creamy and delicious. I opted for the California BLT.
It was a pretty thick sandwich. The bacon was a little too crispy for my taste, but the avocado was fresh and delicious. This was a really tasty sandwich. Loren got the knockwurst and if I thought mine was too big to fit in my mouth, his was even bigger.
Knockwurst and bacon on the same sandwich along with a jamaican salsa that Loren really liked. We also got a side of cheese fries.
I’m not sure if they oversalted the fries or if it was the cheese that made them salty. The cheese had a wonderful flavor to them though. Total bill was $30 with a drink and definitely one of the better meals we’ve had on vacation. The food was fresh and tasty and the entire experience was a good one.
16 Cashiers School Road
We had planned on eating lunch at the Old Mill Restaurant until we discovered just how much of a tourist attraction it was. Traffic on the road in was backed up and the line into the restaurant was equally as bad. We ended up driving through Pigeon Forge and it was like driving through Orlando with all its obscure little tourist trap attractions and chain restaurants. We ended up turning around in Sevierville and stopped at La Carreta Mexican Restaurant.
They brought chips & salsa to the table and the chips were warm & Loren enjoyed the salsa.
I ordered some queso and thought it was odd that there were two tortillas floating in the middle of it.
It had a little zing of jalepeno in it, but it wasn’t overly spicy. Loren ordered the lunch fajitas and I got a chicken chimichanga.
Overall, the food was ok. The guacamole was really mild, but that’s the way I like it. The chimichange was crispy and the refired beans were good. It’s relatively inexpensive and worth the $19 if you’re just looking for a quick lunch.
241 Forks of the River Parkway
Loren wanted a salad for dinner, so we stopped at Kostas Family Restaurant in Dillsboro. They were pretty busy for a Monday evening. Guess there are a lot of other tourists like us in town to see the fall colors.
Loren ordered a small Greek salad and one came with my meal.
It’s funny, I’m so used to Greek food around the Tarpon Springs, Florida area that it was odd not to see potato salad in the Greek salad. The dressing was tasty though. The yeast rolls were soft and yummy.
We ordered the spinach artichoke dip for an appetizer and Loren also got some hummus.
The spinach artichoke dip was really good. The pita bread served with it was warm and soft. This is one of those dishes you can’t stop eating. Loren liked the hummus as well. As usual, I had to try the pastitsio.
This one had all the right flavors. The bechemel sauce was very creamy and yummy. The only issue I had with it was that the edges & bottom were a bit overcooked. Crunchy is not a texture I want in a pasta dish. I don’t like green beans, but Loren tasted them and said they were good. I think he said something to the effect of, “Mmmm… cooked in bacon”. We also got some desserts to take back to the B&B for later.
I got the French Silk Pie, which tasted exactly like the ones you get at Village Inn and Loren got the baklava. He said it was tasty. Total bill with a drink was $35.
Kosta Family Restaurant
489 Haywood Rd
We stopped for lunch at Highlands Smokehouse. We were on our way to Glen Falls and decided to eat lunch before hiking the trails. For an appetizer, we decided to split a bowl of Brunswick stew.
Best thing we ate here. It had just a hint of spice along with some meat and lots of veggies, including okra. It was really tasty. Normally I don’t like hushpuppies, but this one just tasted like cornbread to me. As for the rest of the meal, we weren’t as impressed.
Loren got a half rack of ribs with collard greens and baked beans.
He said the ribs were ok, but didn’t really have a lot of smokey goodness. He did like the beans, but the collard greens had a really odd flavoring to them. I thought they tasted like sweet dill pickles. He didn’t like them at all. I got a pork sandwich with corn pudding and mashed sweet potatoes.
I did not like the taste of the pork. It wasn’t smokey and it had an odd aftertaste. It’s hard to describe. It was really moist and almost had a beer like flavor to it. That’s probably not the right flavor, but whatever it was, it just didn’t do it for me. The corn pudding sort of tasted like scrambled eggs with lots of pepper. The mashed sweet potatoes were ok, but would have been so much better if they were served with a cinnamon butter. Overall, not the best BBQ we’ve had. Total bill was $35.
595 Franklin Road
On our way up to North Carolina to see the autumn leaves, we stopped for the night in Athens, Georgia and ate dinner at Rafferty’s. We missed the entrance to the restaurant twice as there’s only one way in and out.
For a chain restaurant, the food was pretty good. We started off with some batter fried mushrooms.
These were really tasty. The batter was very crunchy and Loren liked the horseradish sauce that came with it. I opted for some ranch dressing. For his entree, Loren got the West Texas BBQ chicken.
He said it was good and believe it or not, it actually had more bacon on it than he could eat. It was a little crispy around the edges, but otherwise tender. I got the rack of baby back ribs and a baked potato.
The ribs were tender, but I’m not sure how to describe the BBQ sauce. It wasn’t sweet, but it had a fruity finish. It was different, but I liked it. Our waitress was really nice, but she kept apologizing for putting in our entree order after the mushrooms. The wait really wasn’t all that long, but she seemed to think she had to constantly tell us how sorry she was about it. Total bill with a drink was $40.
15 Huntington Drive
We eat out a lot and tonight we realized there are just some types of restaurants that aren’t for us. Besa Grill in Clearwater is one of them. There’s something about it that tries too hard. For the prices, you have a certain expectation and for us, those expectations just weren’t met tonight.
I normally drink water & Loren got an iced tea. He was disappointed in the tea; again, it just comes down to expectations. In a place like this, you’d expect it to be fresh brewed. The only reason I mention the drinks is because they serve water in these small glasses and put a frosted water bottle on each table.
Honestly, I’d rather have had a large glass of water with ice rather than the waiter constantly stopping by the table to refill my glass. On to the food. We ordered the duck nachos as an appetizer.
The chips in these nachos were the best thing we ate all night. They were phenomenal. Fresh & crispy and oh so good. I could have just eaten a plate of those. The nachos were a mixed bag though. Loren found a few bones in the duck pieces and the cheese was just a little off. I don’t know how to describe it, the flavor and texture just weren’t what we expected. Don’t get me wrong, though, we ate the entire thing.
For his entree, Loren got the Ahi Tuna Tower.
It was served cold, which he didn’t like all that much. The carrot strings on top were a hoot to watch him try to eat. Whoever thought putting ridiculously long, thin strands of carrot on top of this dish has a warped sense of humor. The menu said they were crispy fried, but they seemed raw to us.
For my entree, I ordered the corn husked mahi.
There was nothing in the description of this dish that led me to believe it would be spicy. After a few bites, I couldn’t feel the roof of my mouth. Granted, I’m very wimpy when it comes to spices and whatever spice was in this dish did not agree with me at all. Unfortunately, I also found the mahi to be a bit dry. Loren ended up eating part of my dish too.
I wanted to try dessert, so we got the whoopie pies.
There was a red velvet with vanilla ice cream, a chocolate with mango cream, and a carrot cake with a ginger cream. Loren liked the carrot cake best. Of the three, it did have the best cake. I liked the red velvet because the ice cream was a good contrast to the thick, dry cake.
Our waiter was pretty good, although plates stayed on the table a little too long and at one point a busboy cleared plates and took my silverware without replacing it. One of the biggest gripes we had though was the noise level in the restaurant. Not only were the acoustics horrible, but the background music they played was too loud and had a pounding, repetitive beat to it. For a $70 meal, I expected much better from the experience. This isn’t a restaurant we’ll be going back to.
2542 McMullen Booth Rd
I’m not big on chain restaurants, but the food at TGI Friday’s is usually pretty good. They also have a killer vanilla bean cheesecake. For lunch today, though, I settled on a cup of broccoli cheese soup and half of a California Club sandwich.
Overall, it was a tasty lunch. The bread was very soft on the sandwich and anything that includes avocado is tops in my book. The soup was thick & cheesy. Total bill was $8.
11705 W. Hillborough Ave
We were heading to Tampa tonight to see The Addams Family musical and stopped at Guadalajara Mexican restaurant for dinner. Loren loves the chips & salsa here.
He even ended up getting refills. For his dinner, he got the combo steak & chicken fajitas.
He said they were tasty. They’re served with beans the he also really likes.
I went for the ground beef chimichanga tonight.
It was really good. Crispy on the outside and the inside flavors were really nice. Along with the refried beans and rice, I was pretty stuffed by the time we left. Total bill was $28.
Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant
4502 W Hillsborough Ave
Always wanting to try new restaurants, we headed over to Dunedin tonight to eat at Bistro Atlantis. It’s in the space where Walt’s Seasonal Cuisine used to be. The menu is mostly Greek with a flair all their own. Our waiter dropped off some bread and convinced us to try the Shrimp Atlantis appetizer.
The bread was good, slightly warmed and the oil had a hint of herbs and garlic. The appetizer was a great recommendation, their signature dish as it were. The shrimp was placed on toast points with a creamy, garlicy white wine sauce. We would have been happy just to have a bowl of the sauce to dip bread in. It was yummy. I could do without the shrimp tails as it made it difficult to eat, but overall, a win in the appetizer category.
My first visit to any Greek restaurant, it’s a gimme that I’m ordering the pastitsio.
It came with sauteed veggies, rice, and a potato wedge. It didn’t wow me, so I’d probably order something different next time, but it was ok. It was a fairly big piece and I ended up with leftovers.
Loren tried the chicken Atlantis.
The very tender chicken was in a creamy, garlicy sauce, similar to the appetizer, but with artichokes, capers, sun dried tomatoes, basil and served over angel hair pasta. He really liked it and ended up with some leftovers too.
Service was really good at the beginning, but sort of waned by the end of the meal. The space could really use something to dampen the noise level. It’s not a big room, has tile floors, and when there’s a couple of big groups, it gets difficult to have a conversation. Overall, though, this is one of those restaurants that, as Loren would say, “gets it”. The food was fresh, had delicious flavors, was well seasoned, and they served some unique dishes you don’t see everywhere else. Definitely a restaurant we’ll go back to. Total bill with a drink was $49.
1140 Main St
We went back to Ocean Blue Sushi tonight and there was much rejoicing to see Charlie behind the sushi counter. They closed the original Kaiko and moved a few doors down into the bigger Ocean Blue space. And the happiness continued as I bit into my super crunchy roll.
We also got a rainbow roll, a spicy tuna, Mexican roll, Scott roll and one other one that I can’t remember since it had smoked salmon in it, so I didn’t eat any of it. Loren liked it though. The thing we really like about the sushi here is that it’s not drenched in any kind of sauce. They let the flavor of the fish and rice shine. Total bill with a drink was $58.
Ocean Blue Sushi Bar & Japanese Restaurant
2475 McMullen Booth Road
We ate lunch at Andy’s By the Bay today and both ended up ordering the same thing, a small roasted pork, rice & beans.
I don’t know how anyone could eat a large bowl. The pork is always super tender and the rice and beans are yummy. Plus, the prices are really cheap. Two orders and a drink ran us about $14.
Andy’s on the Bay
472 East Douglas
We ate dinner at Fratelli Italian Restaurant in Oldsmar tonight because we had a Restaurant.com coupon. The restaurant was pretty busy. We hadn’t been back in a while and unfortunately this time, we didn’t find the food to be as good as it had been in the past.
Our waitress seemed a bit scattered. She came to get our drink order, but forgot to leave us menus and had to come back to the table after we ordered to verify some things.
We started off with the stuffed mushrooms.
They had a sausage stuffing and were covered in mozzarella cheese. They were rather dense and had no depth of flavor. We’ve had stuffed mushrooms at other places where we fight over the last one, but that wasn’t the case here.
Our entrees came with soup or salad, so Loren got the salad and I got a cup of the pasta fagioli.
The pasta is always overcooked in their pasta fagioli. It’s like mush. The soup itself has some good flavors, but the texture isn’t quite right. The garlic bread was ok.
Our entrees showed up before either of us had finished our soup and salad. I hate it when a restaurant doesn’t get timing right. Loren ordered the chicken francese for his entree. It came with pasta and had a lemon wine sauce.
This is where the lack of seasoning became very apparent. You could taste lemon, but that was about it. It desparately needed some salt and pepper. It was a fairly big portion though and we ended up with leftovers of both our entrees. I ordered the chicken marsala because I really liked it the last time I had it here.
This was not the same recipe I had last time. The sauce in this dish wasn’t thickened at all. It was watery and lacked seasoning. I was very disappointed as I remembered how tasty it was the last time. We also got a piece of cheesecake to go.
It was creamy, but really not anything to write home about. The whole experience was just a bit disappointing. Between lackluster service and under seasoned food, it just didn’t leave either of us with the desire to come back anytime soon. Total bill after the $25 coupon and included tip was $24.
Fratelli Italian Restaurant and Bar
120 Commerce Blvd, Ste 1