The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.


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In Training

We went out to the Garden Grille Cafe for dinner tonight and had a waitress in training.  Luckily, she had another waitress working with her whispering in her ear everything she forgot to do.  We started off with some clam chowder and some calamari.




The clam chowder was a bit on the gritty side.  They definitely needed to rinse the clams more.  It needed some salt, but was ok otherwise.  The calamari also needed some seasoning.  Loren got a Greek salad with chicken.



He said the chicken was very tender and the salad was ok.  I ordered a mushroom burger.



It was cooked way past medium and was pretty dry.  They brought out the dessert tray and I was surprised at how many choices there were.  We settled on a raspberry cake with cheesecake filling.



Unfortunately, this cake must have come frozen and was not thawed out properly.  Parts of it were frozen solid, part of the cake was dry and the other part was wet.  Not moist, but wet.  The actually cheesecake filling was pretty tasty.  Service was lacking in some areas as there were dishes left on our table way longer than they should have been.  Total bill with a drink was $36.

Garden Grille Cafe
8425 Hillsborough Ave
Tampa, FL

Garden Grille Cafe on Urbanspoon


We decided to try Red Robin over at Countryside Mall for lunch today.  We thought we were going to miss the lunch crowd, but it was packed.  We ended up waiting 15 minutes or so for a table.  We decided to start off with some chips & queso.


It was pretty good.  The flavor and creaminess was just right and it had a little bit of heat.  There weren’t enough chips to start off with, but the waitress brought more.  By the time the new basket of chips arrived though, our burgers were out.  Loren got the Guac Burger and I got the mushroom burger.



We both agreed that these were some pretty tasty burgers.  They definitely don’t skimp on the toppings either.  There was a mound of mushrooms on mine.  They also come with an endless supply of steak fries, though neither of us even finished the ones already on our plate.  But, of course, you pay for all the freebies one way or another and the total bill with a drink was $31.  A bit much for some burgers, even though they were pretty tasty.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
27001 US Highway 19 North
Clearwater, FL

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers on Urbanspoon


We went to a movie this morning and then ate lunch at BJ’s at Countryside Mall around 2pm.  I’m convinced that this place is busy no matter what time you go in there, but at least the roar of the crowd wasn’t as bad in the middle of the afternoon.  The key, we’ve learned, is to get a table by the front windows, otherwise, you can barely hear yourself think in there.

The avocado egg rolls are the main draw for me here.


Crunchy on the outside, creamy and delicious on the inside.  And it’s avocado, so it’s healthy, right?  Right??  Doesn’t matter, they are just too yummy to pass up.  For his entree, Loren tried their mahi tacos.



He said they were pretty good.  He also liked the salsa and guac that came with them.  I went for the burger melt.



They make a pretty tasty burger here.  It was juicy and the bread was toasted just right.  I ended up bringing half of it home. The skinny fries were nice & crunchy and Loren couldn’t resist scarfing a few.   For $36, it was a very satisfying meal.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
27001 US Highway 19N
Clearwater, FL

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse on Urbanspoon


Big Burger

Surf Shack was our destination for lunch today.  The weather was gorgeous today so having the big door open out to the patio was great.   Loren likes the chips & salsa here.


I wasn’t able to stop eating the chips either.  They’re sort of like Doritos and somewhat addictive.  They had salmon tacos on their specials for today, so Loren decided to try them.


He said they were pretty good.  He also liked the Shangai cucumbers that came as a side dish.  He said it was amazing how something so simple could be so tasty.  Normally, I get tacos here, but I decided to try the mushroom burger instead.


It was one big burger!  It was juicy and cooked a perfect medium, but it desperately needed some additional seasoning.  A little salt & pepper would have gone a long way to take this from a good burger to a great one.  As is, I was more aware of the taste of the bun than I was the taste of the burger itself.  Overall though, it was a pretty good lunch for $20.

Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen 
12217 West Linebaugh Ave
Tampa, FL
(813) 475-5916

Surf Shack on Urbanspoon


It was around 2pm when we got out of the movies and Loren suggested we give Ozona Pig another try.  Unfortunately, we walked in and were told they closed at 2pm, so we walked across the street to Molly Goodheads instead.

We split a bowl of clam chowder.



This was so thick and rich and yummy.  Definitely one of the better versions in the area.  For his lunch, Loren went for a blackened mahi sandwich.



He said the mahi was cooked perfectly and the fries were nice & crunchy.  I decided on an avocado burger and onion rings.



The burger was very thick & juicy, though not quite cooked to the medium I asked for.  The onion rings were a bit on the salty side and needed to be a bit crunchier.  The only thing I really dislike about Molly’s is that they allow smoking on the patio and even though we were inside, as people walked in & out the door, you could still smell the smoke.  Total bill with a drink was $26.

Molly Goodheads 
400 Orange Street
Ozona, FL

Molly Goodheads Raw Bar on Urbanspoon