The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Went to Boston Cooker for dinner tonight.  Hmmm… guess what I was in the mood for?   Sure, the yeast rolls are awesome, but it’s the Ipswich clams that keep me coming back for more.

They’re just so yummy.  Crunchy on the outside, soft and flavorful on the inside.  The batter doesn’t detract from the taste of the whole belly clams.  It’s a taste of my childhood in New England. 

Loren got the cedar plank salmon special.

It was on a bed of spinach with a lemon sauce on top.  He enjoyed it.  The fish was cooked just right, light and flavorful. 

The only downside to the meal was where we were sitting.  We were in the path to the kitchen and everytime someone passed by Loren’s chair, they ended up hitting it. 

We tried their chocolate  silk pie for dessert.

It was ok.  Not the best I’ve had, but it finished off a yummy meal nicely.  Total bill was $46.

Boston Cooker
3705 Tampa Road Unit 6  
Oldsmar, FL
813-855-2311

Boston Cooker on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value3/5
3.9/5

I thought this was Cathy’s blog? Well, I went out to dinner with some of the guys this evening. We opted to go to Cheddar’s on East Bay. Hadn’t been there in a while, and couldn’t remember if I’d ever eaten inside. I know I’ve been outside there. The experience is slightly more formal inside, didn’t seem like the same restaurant. I think they’ve changed their menu, as well. They certainly have a lot of variety on the menu.

We started with a spinach dip appetizer, which I forgot to take a photo of before we scarfed half of it. Spinach dips can be hit or miss, this one was a definite hit. Very flavorful. The chips were freshly made and crispy, too.


Shortly thereafter, salads showed up. It was then that I decided to break out the camera. It was a pretty salad with the croissant on the side. Ask anybody, I’m not much of a bread person, and I’m particularly not crazy about croissants normally. This one was to die for. Crispy on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth on the inside, and drizzled with honey. I could have eaten a few more of them! The salad was pretty good. The plum tomatoes were a little under-ripe and didn’t do it for me, but the ranch dressing was pretty tasty and the lettuce was fresh.


All the food around the table looked good and I heard no complaints. I don’t remember what everyone else ordered. I think there was another burger and I know there was some sort of glazed salmon that looked perfectly grilled. I had a bacon cheeseburger. It looked a little lonely on the plate, but that’s because I ordered a side salad instead of fries. Not the best burger I’ve ever had, but it was well-cooked (a nice medium-well), super-juicy (a kind way of saying “really greasy”), and pretty tasty. I sliced it in half and took half of it home. That was my plan when I ordered it, as I really don’t need to eat a half-pound burger!

I thought the prices were very reasonable. I was looking at getting a salad at first, and most of their salads were $7-8. Then I looked at the other side of the menu, where most of the entrees were $8-10. But, then I saw burgers as cheap as $4.99 and settled on a $5.69 half-pound bacon cheeseburger. My total bill for the burger, salad and iced tea was $10.62. Probably one of the cheapest dinners I’ve had in a while, and I took half a burger home!

Cheddar’s Casual Cafe
2655 Roosevelt Blvd
Clearwater, FL 33760
(727) 536-7770

Cheddar's Casual Cafe on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value5/5
3.9/5

The last thing we expected on entering City Fish in Oldsmar tonight was to be accosted by the stench of cigarette smoke.  At first we thought we had just passed by someone who had been smoking, but sitting at our table the smell continued to permeate the air.  When we asked our waitress about it, she asked it we were smelling the oak wood they grill on.  Umm, no.  Then she turned toward the bar and said the door was open to the smoking area on the patio and she’d see if it could be closed.

Well, no such luck.  She returned and said people were going in and out of the door (which we hadn’t seen anyone go through the door), but would we like to move to another table?  If you’ve been to City Fish, you know it’s one big open room, it’s not like moving a few tables over would have resolved the issue.

We should have left at this point, but the food was good the last time we were here, so we decided to stay.  And aside from my entree, the rest of the food was actually pretty good.

The bread was hot, fresh and tasty.  You know it’s good when Loren digs in.

We ordered a bowl of the New England Crab Chowder and a side salad. 

The chowder was delish!  Creamy and thick with lots of crab in it.  Loren enjoyed the salad as well.  We also ordered a California Roll.

I wasn’t too impressed with it.  The rice wasn’t prepared very well.  It was too gooey.  Then came the entrees.  Loren ordered the swordfish with Thai mango salsa, mashed potatoes and house veggies.

He was a happy guy.  The swordfish was cooked perfectly and he ate every bite. 

The house veggies that came with both meals had squash and mushrooms in a tomato based sauce.  It was tasty.

I ordered the Chicken Portobello with mashed potatoes.

The chicken was topped with portobello mushrooms, spinach and fontina cheese.  Unfortunately, when I tried to cut into the chicken, my knife wasn’t making much of a dent.  The chicken was overcooked and tough.  By this point, I’d been breathing second hand smoke for over an hour and my patience was completely gone. 

At this point, the manager stopped by our table and we had the same conversation with him as we did with the waitress, “oh are you smelling the oak grill?”, “No, it’s the smoke from the patio”, “Would you like to move to another table?”.  He told us the door was broken between the restaurant and the patio so they couldn’t close it.  Then he asked about the food and when I told him about the chicken, he offered to replace it with something else, but I was just ready to get out of there.  He did, however, take the chicken off our bill. 

Though our waitress was good about refilling drinks and checking on us, her attitude about our complaints was a bit offputting.  She’d cock her head to the side and stick out her bottom lip and make a pouty face and spoke to me like I was a child while she was apologizing.  I know she was trying to be sincere, but it just didn’t work.

Our bill ended up at $40 after my entree was removed.  We came home and put our clothes in the laundry and took a shower to get the cigarette smoke smell off of us.  Though most of the food was good, we won’t be back again. 

City Fish Seafood Grill and Chop House
4022 Tampa Rd
Oldsmar, FL
813-814-5800

City Fish Seafood Grill and Chop House on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere1/5
Value2/5
2.6/5

We didn’t feel like driving too far for dinner tonight, so we headed over to Panos Kouzina.  On my quest to try new restaurants, we haven’t been back to our old favorites for a while.

The food here is consistently good, they give you plenty of it, and their prices aren’t bad at all.  Both our entrees came with either soup or salad and some bread.  We both opted for salad tonight.

My only complaint was that the salad had chopped onions on it.  I’m not a fan of raw onions on anything and it took a while to pick all these off the salad.  The ranch dressing was very thick, but tasty, and the bread was thick and warm.  I’d forgotten how good it was.

Loren got the chicken souvlaki with a side of fries.  He said the chicken was very tender.  The tzatziki sauce here is really garlicy. 

I ordered the chicken marsala with a side of fettucine alfredo.

The marsala sauce here is very sweet.  Loren said it tasted like molasses, but I didn’t think it was that harsh of a flavor.  I enjoyed it.   The dish came with two good sized chicken breasts that were incredibly tender.  This is how chicken should be cooked.  The fettucine alfredo was thick and creamy with a nice flavor.  I had plenty of leftovers and yet, I still ordered dessert.

How was I possibly going to pass up this chocolate lovin’ spoon cake?  The waitress described it as a “prison dessert” because you eat it huddled over with your arms around it ready to poke anyone with a fork who tries to get too close to it.  It was pretty darn good.  It had a thick, rich mousse and tender chocolate cake.  What’s not to like?

Total dinner was $33 and I’ve got leftover chicken and even a little cake for tomorrow.

Panos Kouzina
3101 SR 580
Safety Harbor, FL
(727) 797–2667

Panos Kouzina on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value4/5
4.0/5

We haven’t been to Vincenzo’s in a while, so that’s where we headed tonight.  The parking lot was full, but luckily we were able to get a table without a wait.  The restaurant doesn’t have a very large dining room, but the artwork and decor are both very pleasing to the eye.   Street lamps decorate a balcony railing to make you feel as though you’re on an outside veranda. 

First up, some homemade bread with pesto, olive oil, and butter.

I liked the bread, Loren thought it was too dense.  It was warm and had a nice texture and flavor to it.   We looked through all the appetizers on the menu, but let’s face it, we like calamari.

The calamari had a nice crunch and the marinara sauce was really good.  You could tell it had cooked for a long time because the flavors melded so well.  Salads also came with our meals.

Loren ordered the chicken gorgonzola which had asparagus and mushrooms in a gongonzola cream sauce.  Their side dish tonight was peas.

He enjoyed the dish.  The chicken was tender and the sauce was really tasty.  The asparagus was cooked well, he thought it had been cooked on the grill, so it still had a little crunch to it.  He said the dish could have used a starch, maybe some plain pasta to go with the sauce.

I ordered the lasagne.

It was a big dish of lasagne, but I have to say, I was really disappointed in it.  To me, lasagne is layers of pasta, meat and cheese and this dish was lacking in everything but pasta.  I took one bite and got all pasta and sauce so I started to peel back the layers and realized that was all that was there.  It was a meat sauce between the layers, but there wasn’t much meat to it either.  I’m a big fan of ricotta cheese and there was none in this dish.  Looking back at the menu, I now realize it didn’t list ricotta cheese in the ingredients, just pasta, mozzarella cheese, and meat sauce in a bechamel rue.  I guess I just assumed lasagne had ricotta cheese in it.  It actually tasted ok, but if I had wanted just pasta and sauce, I would have ordered spaghetti. 

The total bill was $43 and I left disappointed.  The homemade flavors were there, but the execution on my dish was lacking.

Vincenzo’s Ristorante
2454 McMullen Booth Rd, #207
Clearwater, FL
(727) 726-5558

Vincenzo's Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value3/5
3.1/5
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