The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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We were sitting at home watching an episode of Chopped where the chefs had to make burgers for every round.  By the end of the show, we were trying to figure out where to go for burgers for dinner.  We ended up at TGI Friday’s in Westchase.



Loren got the bacon cheeseburger, and I just got a regular cheeseburger.  They were both cooked well and I really enjoyed the seasoned fries.  The best part of going to TGI Friday’s though is the vanilla bean cheesecake.



This has to be one of the all time favorite desserts.  The cheesecake part is good, but the vanilla mousse on top is awesome.  So yummy.  Total bill with a drink was $29.

TGI Friday’s
11705 W. Hillborough Ave
Tampa, FL

T.G.I. Friday's on Urbanspoon



We decided to give Bascetti’s in Dunedin another try for dinner tonight.  The restaurant was empty when we got there and after our experience tonight, I can understand why.  We started off with some calamari which was the best part of the meal.



The calamari was very tender with a nice crunchy coating on it.  The dish also came with artichokes, that I found to be too sour for my tastes.  The dipping sauce was a bit on the spicy side too.   Our dinners came with bread, soup or salad and we got one of each.





The noodles in my soup were mush and it desperately needed salt.  The bread was really good and the dipping sauce was tasty, but as I’ve mentioned on previous visits, I just think it would be better if it was warmed.  For his entree, Loren chose the stuffed pork chop.



They gave him a very large steak knife and I don’t think he would have been able to make a dent in this pork chop without it.  It was really tough.  It came with a red pepper mashed potato which we had to ask about since we couldn’t identify what it was.  I ordered the bolognese pappardelle.



I ordered this dish once before and had mixed feelings about, but thought I’d give it another try.  The first time I had it, it had a very thin white sauce to it.  The waitress said they had reformulated the recipe, but I could still get it with the white sauce.  After a bite or two, I kept tasting something very sour in the dish, which I assumed was olives.  It just had an odd taste to it, but Loren actually thought it was ok.  When the waitress came to clear our half eaten dishes, I asked her if there were olives in my dish and she said no, but I explained that there was a sour taste to it.  We also said how tough Loren’s pork chop was.  She took both dishes back to the kitchen & said she tried them.  She agreed that something was very wrong with both dishes & took them off the bill.  She kind of scolded us for not saying something earlier in the meal.   We ended up getting a slice of cheesecake to try to salvage something from the meal.



It was very creamy and had a nice raspberry filling.  Loren thought the raspberry was a little too tart, but otherwise it was ok. We appreciated the way our waitress handled things, but still question how food could come out of the kitchen like that.  Total bill without the entrees ended up being $18 and it’s doubtful we’ll be back.

1568 Main Street
Dunedin, FL

Bascetti's on Urbanspoon



I received a coupon in the mail for $8 off two entrees at Outback, so we headed out there for dinner tonight.  They were also doing a 4-course special, so we both opted for that.  The kitchen was backed up, so it took a while to get our bread and soup and salad.





We both chose the clam chowder which was quite a bit spicier than I had anticipated.  It was creamy and had good flavors though.  What we didn’t know, until the bill came out, was that there was an upcharge for the clam chowder.  I’m always a little miffed for things to show up on the bill that we weren’t told about ahead of time.  Our waitress said she didn’t know there was an upcharge.

There are a limited number of choices on the 4-course entree menu, but that wasn’t an issue for Loren.  He got the 6 oz sirloin with a baked potato.



Though the presentation left a bit to be desired, he said the steak was cooked a perfect medium.  He enjoyed it.  Normally, I order the Alice Springs Chicken, but it wasn’t one of the options, so I tried their new Honey Mustard Chicken.



That was a mistake.  There’s a distinct difference between lightly charred and burnt.  This fell into the burnt category.  I tried to eat around the crispy parts.  The main reason I didn’t send it back is that Loren would have been finished with his meal before something new could come out of the kitchen for me.  We’d already been waiting a long time so it wasn’t worth the effort.  The waitress asked if I wanted to bring the leftovers home and I told her no, couldn’t she see how burnt it was?  The manager came over and was very apologetic and took it off the bill.  Let’s face it, something that looks like this never should have made it out of the kitchen.  For our last course, we got one of each desserts offered, the cheesecake and carrot cake.




For me, the cheesecake was the best part of the meal.  It was creamy and the raspberry sauce was good.  Loren liked the carrot cake.  Since we no longer had two entrees on the menu, I didn’t use my coupon and the final bill ended up being $21 with a drink.

Outback Steakhouse
31988 US Hwy 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL

Outback Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


Loren took me out to my favorite little Italian restaurant tonight for our anniversary.  I don’t know why we don’t go to La Trattoria more often, I really do love the food.  If you’ve never been, it’s quite the experience.  There’s no menu and the owner is this jovial Italian man who just makes you feel like you’ve walked into his home for dinner.  He’ll be wandering around the restaurant singing and it’s just a hoot.  There’s nothing fancy about this place, but the food is excellent.  We started off with some bread, little pizza pieces, and salad.




The little pizza pieces are almost identical in flavor to what my Italian grandmother used to make.  The dipping oil for the bread has huge chunks of garlic in it and the salad is just lightly dressed with oil & vinegar.  First off, you get shown the appetizers of the day.  Tonight there were artichokes, stuffed mushrooms, and stuffed eggplant.  Loren went for a mushroom and I tried the eggplant.





Both were tasty.  I liked the tomato sauce on mine.  Once you’re done with the appetizers, the owner wheels out the cart o’ seafood and meats and tells you all the different ways he can prepare it for you.  I have a favorite dish here, the pasta with crab in a pink amaretto sauce.  I just can’t make myself order anything else.  You can get chicken, pork, veal, steaks, fish, pasta, ravioli and who knows what else in a variety of preparations.  Loren ordered the grouper in a piccata sauce with artichokes and sundried tomatoes.



He said it was very tasty.  My pasta with crab was just divine.



There are huge chunks of crab in this dish.  Loren says the sauce tastes like dessert because it’s so sweet.  I just love it.  And even though we were both stuffed, I couldn’t resist some ricotta cheesecake.



If you’ve never had ricotta cheesecake, it’s more cakelike in texture and not as creamy as a NY cheesecake.  It’s somewhat dense with a little lemon flavor to it.  Overall, it was an excellent meal.  Total bill with a drink was $60.

La Trattoria
2152 Main St
Dunedin, FL
(727) 733-5664

La Trattoria on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Dunedin, Italian
  • 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