The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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When we walked into Bascom’s Chophouse tonight, we noticed several waiters and waitresses standing near the entryway into the dining room.  It reminded me of a store where the employees are paid on commission; they just seemed to be hovering like vultures.   Loren thought this was a sign that the service would be exceptional, boy, was he wrong.

We were seated in a corner of the dining room and the temperature was not regulated very well.  The restaurant was really warm.  There was also a shelf next to our table where they stocked the steak knives and pepper grinder.  It was rather annoying every time they banged the pepper grinder back on the shelf. 

Loren ordered a coke and after one sip, exchanged it for iced tea because it was flat. Needless to say, we weren’t too impressed so far and we hadn’t even gotten any food yet.  Perhaps we should have taken a hint from the group of men that were seated behind us.  They sat down, took one look at the prices on the menu and then promptly left. 

Probably the best thing about the meal were the rolls.

They were warm and the butter was soft, so it made for a good combination.  There were several different kinds of rolls in the basket and they were all pretty good.

Loren ordered a garden salad with his meal, since his steak didn’t come with any sides.

He said the lettuce wasn’t very fresh.  He ate half of it and set it aside.  Our waiter never cleared the plate from the table.  For his entree, he ordered the Delmonico steak.

He said it was ok, but really didn’t have a lot of flavor.  I didn’t think it was very tender at all.  It also boggled my mind that for $24.50, all you got were some onion straws on top.   I ordered the veal marsala and a side dish of the au gratin potatoes.

Mine actually came with rice and a big hunk of broccoli.  The veal was dry and the marsala sauce was weak.  If I didn’t know it was supposed to be marsala sauce, I would have said it was just a mushroom gravy.  There was no flavor whatsoever.  The au gratin potatoes were ok, but had a sharp flavor in them.  I thought maybe it was sour cream or some sharp cheese.  I think we came to realize why they offered fresh ground black pepper on everything, lack of flavor in all of the dishes.

Our waiter never refilled our drinks (my water glass was empty) and when he went to package our leftovers, he was very awkward.  He crowded in between us and nearly knocked the containers over.  Overall, it wasn’t a good experience, especially for the prices.  Luckily, we had a $25 coupon, so the total bill before tip was $31.  We’ve definitely gotten better food and service for less money at other places in town.

Bascom’s Chophouse
3665 Ulmerton Rd
Clearwater, FL
(727) 573-3363

Bascom's Chop House on Urbanspoon


Blue Waves

When we first walked in to the Portofino Mediterranean Grill in Clearwater, we were mesmerized by the walls in the dining room.  They had a textured wave pattern and then sea blue lights shining on the waves.  It was a very pleasant and peaceful decor surrounding you.

We chose the Portofino tonight because we had a $25 coupon.  It was fairly early, around 5:30pm on a Sunday when we got there and there weren’t that many people in the restaurant. 

You can see a reflection of the walls in the bread photo:

The bread was warm and crispy and served with an herbed olive oil.  We ordered some calamari as an appetizer.

You can get it with a mild or spicy marinara sauce and I chose the mild.  The calamari was cooked well.  It had a nice crunchy coating and was tender inside. 

Our salads arrived before we were finished with our appetizer.  Since we were at a small table, it made things a bit crowded.

Loren liked the salad, but it didn’t do much for me.  It had a balsamic dressing on it that was rather tangy.  For his entree, Loren got the grouper d’capri. 

It had capers, shallots, and tomatoes in a white wine lemon butter sauce.  You could really taste the lemon in the sauce.  It was served with potato and veggies.  Our waiter didn’t mention that he could have had it with linguine (I just looked at the menu online)  when he placed the order, but that’s one of the first things Loren said when he got it is that it would have been better over pasta.

We had to laugh because both the butter and sour cream were solid as a rock. They must be stored in the back of the cooler.  I ordered the chicken marsala.

I found the marsala sauce to be really weak.   When it comes to marsala, I don’t want subtle.  Loren liked it and half of it came home as leftovers since there were two chicken breasts and I only ate one.

As more people came into the restaurant, we found the service at our table begin to dwindle.  We sat for quite a while after finishing our entrees before our waiter came back to the table to check on us. 

We decided to try the Palermitana for dessert.

It was strawberry gelato with tangerines, bananas, strawberries, a raspberry sauce and whipped cream plus some sprinkled nuts not mentioned in the description.  It was tasty.  The gelato had a wonderful rich strawberry flavor.   I liked the strawberries and bananas, but I didn’t think the tangerines went with the dish.  Loren seemed to like them though.

After our $25 coupon, the total bill was $28.  Overall, it was a pretty enjoyable meal.

Portofino Mediterranean Grill
18825 US 19 North
Clearwater, FL

Portofino Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon


After trying three different places for lunch today only to find none of them were open on New Year’s day, we decided to just drive up US 19 and stop wherever there were cars in the parking lot.  We ended up at Longhorn in Palm Harbor.

Our last experience here was very good, today’s experience was lacking something.  Sometimes, it is just the little things.  Loren opened up his silverware to find a rather nasty looking fork.  He laid it to the side of the table, but our waitress didn’t notice it when she took our drink order.  When she returned, he showed it to her and she apologized, but never brought him back another salad fork.  Like I said, sometimes it’s just the little things.

Loren ordered a salad and there was some yummy bread brought to the table.

It was a fairly big salad.  The bread was warm and fresh, just the way I like it.  He ordered an 8oz sirloin with a baked potato.

He said the steak was good, but the potato didn’t seem very fresh.  They definitely know how to cook steaks correctly here.  Order it medium and you actually get a medium cooked steak.

I was making an attempt at eating healthy for the new year (like that’s gonna last), so I ordered the grilled trout with a sweet potato.

It was pretty good.  Tender and flaky, with a fairly mellow flavor.  It had some big chunks of garlic on it.  The sweet potato came with cinnamon butter, which was actually butter with cinnamon and sugar just sprinkled on top.  I was expecting it to have already been whipped in with the butter.  Most of the potato was good, but one end was not.  Personally, I wouldn’t have put that potato on a plate. 

Overall, it was just an ok experience.  Total bill was $29 with a drink. 

Longhorn Steakhouse
35645 US Highway 19
Palm Harbor, FL
(727) 781-9300

Longhorn Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


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

Boston Cooker on Urbanspoon


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

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