The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.


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Sushi Friday

We were actually heading to Fish Tail Willie’s since the power went out the last time we tried to eat there, but it looked mobbed this time, so we ended up at Jo-To Japanese Restaurant in the same shopping center.

We’d eaten at Jo-To before, but forgot that their entrance is around back by the lake.  It really is an odd set up.  Anyway, they weren’t busy when we got there, so it was a nice quiet dinner.

Loren started out with a salad and I ordered the fried oyster appetizer.

The oysters were really tasty.  The crispy batter on them was excellent.  The only downside was that I should have let them cool a bit before biting into the first one.  I burned my tongue pretty well on the hot juices that flowed out.  It came with a tasty BBQ sauce to dip them in. 

We decided to order sushi.

From the top, we got a Tekka tuna roll, a Rainbow roll, a California roll, a Mexican roll, a Spider roll, and some salmon.

They don’t have a wide variety of sushi, but their prices are very reasonable.  The Mexican roll was really good.  The avacado in the California roll wasn’t as fresh as it should have been, but overall, the roll had a nice flavor.  The Spider roll was good, but the claws sticking out of it were pretty funny looking.  Loren enjoyed the Rainbow roll, I’m just not a fan of smoked salmon.  He ate the salmon and Tekka as well. 

For $45 we got 5 rolls, two pieces of salmon, an appetizer, salad and drink.   Is it the best sushi we’ve ever eaten?  No, but the restaurant has a nice atmosphere and the waitstaff is extremely polite.  We were both quite full by the time we rolled ourselves out of there.

Jo-To Japanese Restaurant
2549 Countryside Blvd
Clearwater, FL

Joto Japanese on Urbanspoon


An Hour for Lunch

Call me crazy, but I think two people should be able to get in and out of a chain restaurant within an hour for lunch.  Such was not the case at Chili’s in Oldsmar today.

When my friend Cathy & I walked in, we even remarked how empty the restaurant was, so as much as they wanted to tell us they were busy, I find it difficult to believe.  Incorrectly staffed, perhaps, but definitely not busy.

We sat down and waited for about 10 minutes before our waitress even came to the table.  We watched two other tables of 4 get seated near us during this time too.  We ordered off of their specials menu, an appetizer and entree for just under $10.  Seemed like a good deal.  About 30 minutes later, our appetizers showed up.  

I got the cheese sticks and Cathy got the Southwest egg rolls.   About 15 minutes after that, the other tables who sat down after us got their food. 

At this point, we’re convinced that our order just got lost.  We flagged down the waitress who was a bit snotty and told us how busy they were.  We just said to put our food in to go boxes.  The manager came by with our to go boxes and also told us how busy they were.  That our order had only been in the kitchen for 14 minutes.   Ummm, yeah, then the waitress must have taken a very long stroll from when we ordered to when she put the order in.

Then we sat again waiting for our check.  The manager came by once more and gave us $5 coupons for next time and we asked him if we could perhaps have our check.  Honestly, at this point, wouldn’t you have just comp’ed the food?  The waitress finally brought the check and we just dropped $22 cash on the table because who knows how long we’d have to sit there if we had given her credit cards.

All in all, a rather uninspiring visit to Chili’s.  Though the cheese sticks were tasty, they were not what I had in mind for lunch.  But, I guess I have leftovers for later.

3701 Tampa Road
Oldsmar, FL
(813) 814-7769

Chili's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon


Happy President’s Day

I was off work today and Loren works from home,  so I sweet talked him into going to see “Valentine’s Day” with me at the movies (he hates to admit it, but he actually enjoyed the movie).  Then it was time for lunch and I wanted to try some place we’d never been before, so we drove to Palm Harbor and went to Tiffany’s Family Restaurant. 

They had chili on the menu and you could get it over macaroni and cheese, so I just had to try it.

Imagine my disappointment when it came to the table and it was chili over Kraft macaroni and cheese.  Yeah, the blue box, baby.  I have to admit, the chili was good and tasted fine over the mac and cheese, but totally not what I was expecting.  Unfortunately, after watching “Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives” too many times, I always expect these family owned restaurants to make everything from scratch to where you can taste love in every bite. 

Loren ordered the German pot roast which came with a potato pancake, sweet and sour cabbage and a side of spinach.  He thought it was ok.

I ordered the meatloaf dinner with mashed potatoes and a side of cole slaw.

This really didn’t do it for me.  The mashed potatoes tasted like they were out of a box or maybe a combination of actual potatoes and potato flakes.  The mushrooms in the gravy were out of a can and the meatloaf was nothing to write home about.  My best description is that it tasted like institutional food.  Something that might be served in a school or hospital.  Put it this way, I didn’t eat most of it and didn’t even bother to take it home. 

For $32, I left quite disappointed and unlikely to go back.  The items on the menu sounded really good, but the execution was less than tasty. 

Tiffany’s Family Restaurant
35000 US Hwy 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL

Tiffany's on Urbanspoon


Happy Valentine’s Day

We got up early this morning to go see “The Wolfman”.  Not your typical romantic Valentine movie, but it did have a few hearts in it… they were just no longer connected to their owners. 

Since we weren’t sure how crowded most places would be for lunch today, we opted for Jack Willie’s.  It usually doesn’t have an early crowd on Sundays and the food doesn’t disappoint.

We started with some calamari.

Jack Willies has a very light batter on their calamari.  It doesn’t offer a lot of flavor, but that’s where the marinara comes in.  The combination of the two is very yummy.

Loren ordered a very colorful cobb salad.  I swear this salad has everything you could ever want in it.  Quite a bit of seared tuna, lettuce, blue cheese, egg, tomato, onion, olives, spinach, bacon, and other greens. 

I’ve been craving a burger, so got the mushroom swiss with fries.  Jack Willie’s serves 1/2 pound burgers and I only managed to eat half of it.  Juicy and cooked just right, plus their fries are really good too.

We go to Jack Willie’s pretty regularly.  It’s close to our house and they have live music.  We usually sit out on the deck where you can see fish, birds and the occasion alligator.  It’s a very laid back kind of place. 

Two entrees, appetizer and a drink ran us $32.

Jack Willie’s Tiki Bar and Grill
1013 St Petersburg Dr
Oldsmar, FL

Jack Willie's Original Tiki Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


Power Outage

We had just ordered our drinks at Fish Tail Willy’s when the power went out in the entire shopping center.  We waited for a few minutes, but when the lights didn’t come back on, we decided to find another place to go for dinner.

Angellino’s in Palm Harbor changed hands and is now called Jonny Garlic’s.  Not the Johnny Garlic’s of Guy Fieri fame, just a local restaurant with a slighly different spelling on the name.

We both ordered soup to start off with.  I got the pasta fagiole and Loren got the New England clam chowder.

Both were really good.   I could have eaten a big ol’ bowl of soup with some bread and been quite happy.

The bread was tasty too, there just wasn’t enough of it.  Loren ordered the chicken marsala for dinner.

Two chicken breasts with onions, mushrooms and prosciutto plus a side of  smashed potatoes.  He said it was tasty, but there was so much of it that half of it came home for lunch tomorrow.  

I narrowed my choices down to the lobster ravioli or the fettucine alfredo.  Since I’m compelled to try the alfredo at every restaurant I go to, that’s what I ordered.

It was a huge plate of pasta.  The sauce was good and it had a hint of nutmeg I think.  By the time I was full, my plate didn’t look much different than when I started.  I brought the rest home as leftovers even though I know alfredo sauce does not reheat well.

The dessert menu was on the table and we both took one look at it and had to order the caramel lava cake.    

I’ve had chocolate lava cakes before and when you scoop into it all sorts of gooey chocolate oozes out of it.  The caramel didn’t quite behave that way though.  The caramel just seemed to sink into the cake, so it seemed more as though the cake wasn’t cooked quite enough.  Don’t get me wrong, it tasted pretty good, but I was expecting an oozing flow of caramel when we cut into it and it just didn’t happen.

The food didn’t seem any different than when it was Angellino’s.  The restaurant wasn’t all that busy for a Friday night, but the weather could have been a factor.  Total bill ran us about $37 and we both have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.

Jonny Garlic’s Italian Grill
33180 US 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL

Jonny Garlics on Urbanspoon