The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Disappointing


Always on the lookout for places we haven’t visited yet, we ended up at Pensare Italian Bistro in Dunedin for dinner tonight.  The place was packed and really loud.  We were seated in this little alcove and I felt like the sound just reverberated off the walls.  Our waiter came over and explained the specials and brought bread and oil to the table.

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The bread was warm and crusty and the dipping oil was very flavorful.  We were optimistic about the rest of the meal only to be quickly disappointed when our appetizer arrived.

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It was a fried platter of calamari, shrimp and zucchini.  The calamari was thin and like rubber.  The breading had no flavor whatsoever.  The shrimp were overcooked and the zucchini was burnt.  If our waiter had actually come back to the table in a reasonable amount of time, I would have sent it back.  Salads came with our meal and we both got the mixed greens.

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Loren likes mixed green salads, I’m not a fan.  They also brought oil & vinegar to the table & you can have the waiter dress the salad or you can do it yourself.  Eventually, our entrees came out.  At this point, I felt like we had been there for quite a while. Loren ordered the Salmone Asparagi which was salmon in a lemon buerre-blanc sauce and asparagus.

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He said it was pretty good.  I found the sauce to be a bit too tart and sour for my tastes. I went for the pappardelle bolognese.

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This was not a good dish.  The pasta was undercooked and the sauce was flavorless.  It was just very uninspiring.  Our waiter disappeared at this point, I think he had tables out on the patio, so we didn’t see much more of him.  My expectations were so low at this point that I didn’t even bother with dessert.  We won’t be back.  Total bill was $59 with a drink.

Pensare Italian Bistro
799 Highland Ave
Dunedin, FL
727-786-2222

Pensare Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.0/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Dunedin, Italian
  • Yummy


    I’ve been wanting to try the new Yummy House out on Hillsborough for a while and we were finally out that way today so we stopped in for lunch.  It was really crowded.  The restaurant is a lot bigger than the other one, but the waiting area was very small and people just kept coming in the door.  We had to wait about 15-20 minutes, but the food was worth the wait.  We started off with the salt and pepper calamari.

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    This is one tasty appetizer.  Granted, I shake off most of the pepper and other stuff on it, but Loren enjoys every last bite.  The batter it’s dipped in is light and crunchy, the calamari is tender and the salt just adds an amazing little zing to it.  There are a lot of items on the menu and it’s all very reasonably priced.  Loren settled on the beef short ribs with black pepper sauce.

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    He said it was good, but he probably wouldn’t order it again because it was difficult to eat since the ribs were still on the bone.  It had a very intense black pepper flavor to it.  I ordered the orange chicken.

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    It was very tender with a sweet mandarin orange flavor.  You do have to order rice separately here, but with a drink the entire meal was $36.  Everything is just very fresh and flavorful.  They also walk around with dim sum and other items on carts that you can order, but we both had leftovers as it was, so we didn’t try anything else.

    Yummy House China Bistro
    2620 E Hillsborough Ave
    Tampa, FL
    813-237-3838

    Yummy House China Bistro on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service4/5
    Atmosphere4/5
    Value4/5
    4.0/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Chinese, Tampa
  • 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.

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    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.

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

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    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.

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    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
    813-901-5660

    Garden Grille Cafe on Urbanspoon

    Food2/5
    Service2/5
    Atmosphere2/5
    Value2/5
    2.0/5

    Pastamore


    We wandered around Universal Studios all morning and then decided to get lunch out on City Walk.  We didn’t realize so many of the restaurants didn’t open until late afternoon.  We finally ended up out on the patio at Pastamore.  The waitress brought bread & dipping oil to the table first.

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    The bread was wonderful.  Soft and warm and very tasty.  The dipping oil, on the other hand was served in a rather large bowl and didn’t have any herbs in it.  It was just odd.  We started off with the fried calamari.

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    I felt the portion size was small for a $9 appetizer, but I had to remember we were in a theme park.  Realistically, though, it was enough to share without totally spoiling our appetites for our entrees.  The calamari was cooked well and had a nice crunchy exterior without being too chewy on the inside.  The balsamic glaze and garlic aioli added a nice flavor, but the marinara sauce was pretty bland.  Loren got the salmon salad.

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    He said the salmon was cooked perfectly and he enjoyed the salad.  He likes olives and there were plenty in the salad.  I went for the chicken marsala.

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    This was the lunch half portion, though to be honest, I didn’t realize that’s what I was ordering.  Again, I had to remember theme park prices.  The chicken was very tender and the pasta was just the right tenderness. The dish could have used a bit more of the marsala sauce, but overall, it was pretty tasty.  I was also craving chocolate, so we settled on the chocolate sabayon for dessert.

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    It was a pretty little plate with a very tasty raspberry sauce.  It was a light and fluffy sort of dessert, just what I was craving.  Total bill with a drink was $47.

    Pastamore
    6000 Universal Blvd
    Orlando, FL
    407-224-2244

    Pastamoré Ristorante and Market on Urbanspoon

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

    We’d already eaten at two new places for us this weekend, so I decided to try for a third.  We ate dinner at La Bella Eva over in Clearwater.  It’s a small Italian pizza place in strip mall on Belcher.  It was nice and toasty inside which was perfect on this rather chilly evening.  We decided to try the potato soup.

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    My first bite was very flavorful, but cold.  We had to send it back to the kitchen to get heated up.  After that, though, things went much better.  The soup was really good.  Thick & rich with a wonderful flavor.  Loren kept trying to slide it closer to his side of the table.  The bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.  You know it’s good when Loren reaches for more before I get a chance to.  We also got some calamari.

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    The calamari was a little chewy and needed some salt, but otherwise pretty good.  You can get a medium or spicy sauce to go with it and we chose the medium.  It wasn’t really spicy, but definitely had some red pepper in it.  At this point, we both realized we had already ordered too much food, and then the entrees came.  Loren got the linguine with meatballs.

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    He liked it.  It was a rich sauce.  I though it tasted like there was wine in it that hadn’t been fully cooked off.  I got the eggplant rollatini.

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    It was like lava when it came to the table.  The eggplant was cooked very well.  It still had some texture to it and the cheese and sauce were tasty.  Too many places overcook the eggplant to mush, but this was a really good dish.  We both had leftovers and decided to split a Manhattan truffle for dessert.

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    Vanilla and chocolate ice cream covering a cherry & almond center and completely enrobed in dark chocolate.  It was delicious.  They had several different varieties of these truffles and I think we may have to go back just to try some of the other ones.  Total bill with a drink was $38.

    La Bella Eva
    1469 S. Belcher Rd
    Clearwater, FL
    727-400-6824

    La Bella Eva on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value3/5
    3.4/5