Johnny Grit’s recently opened up where Nana’s was in Tarpon Springs. We were amazed at how different the interior looked. It went from kitschy to classy. It was like watching an episode of Restaurant Impossible. Remove the clutter, remove the carpet, repaint and all of a sudden the whole restaurant seems brighter. Loren went for the shrimp and grits with andouille sausage.
Johnny definitely knows his grits. I kept stealing bites off of Loren’s plate. The grits were creamy and cheesy and perfectly cooked and seasoned. Loren said he could have eaten just a bowl of grits with the sauce on top. The andouille was spicy and flavorful. The only thing he didn’t like was that the shrimp still had the tails on so that made them a little difficult to eat. I’d definitely order this dish again. I went for the Southern Chicken Hash which came with two sides.
The hash was delicious. The chicken was tender and the gravy was flavorful and rich. It also had potatoes, onions, and mushrooms. So good. I ate every last bite of this dish. The sweet potato fries were good. Loren actually liked the mac & cheese more than I did. I like a more mild, creamy cheddar and this one was a bit too sharp for me. The menu said that the chef is Italian and his mother made him put cannoli on the menu, so how could I pass that up?
It was a pretty tasty cannoli. Mom knows best. The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, but we’ll definitely be back. I wish I had a bowl of those grits right now. Mmmm.. Total bill with a drink was $29.
857 E. Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL
We were driving through St Pete tonight and ate dinner at India Grill on Central Ave. The thing we like most about Indian food is the depth of flavor that’s usually there from start to finish. The food here was just bland. We started off with the Veggie Samosa.
They were stuffed with potatoes and peas and probably had more flavor than anything else we ate tonight. Loren said even the green sauce that was served with them wasn’t spicy or flavorful. Loren tried the Chef’s Special Biryani and I got the Butter Chicken and some garlic naan.
The serving sizes were fine and we both had some leftovers. Loren’s Biryani had meat, chicken, and shrimp in it. He ordered his medium/mild and I ordered mine mild, but neither had any spice whatsoever in them. Even the naan tasted like it was missing something. This isn’t a restaurant we’ll be returning to. Total bill with a drink was $39.
409 Central Ave
St Petersburg, FL
We had never tried Korean food before, so today’s lunch adventure was out to One Family Korean Restaurant on Hillsborough. It’s a hidden little gem located in the back of a shopping center. From the moment we walked in the door, the aromas from the kitchen tempted our tastebuds. We started off with some fried dumplings.
We didn’t expect quite so many of them, but they were delicious. The dipping sauce was savory, but not overly spicy. The dumplings were crispy and had a pork and veggie filling. For his entree, Loren tried the spicy pork lunch box.
There was a ton of food in this box. He said the pork was spicy and tender and he really enjoyed all the different sides that came with it. He even asked for more of the bean sprouts to take home with his leftovers. And trust me, there were leftovers all around. I got the sweet & sour shrimp which was also served with a bunch of sides.
The waitress said the side dishes change every day so you never know what you’re going to get. I like the potato and apple salad the best. There was also spinach & the bean sprouts that Loren loved, plus two other veggie dishes. As for the sweet & sour shrimp, it was probably one of the best sweet & sour dishes I’ve ever eaten. There were plenty of shrimp and they were perfectly cooked and nice and crispy. The veggies included peppers, onions, mushrooms, cucumber pickles, and I think pears. It was yummy and I had plenty for a second meal as well. Total bill with a drink was $42 and we’ll definitely be back.
One Family Korean Restaurant
7030 W Hillsborough Ave
If you’re heading out for dinner at the German Bistro II, you better be hungry. The food is hearty, delicious, and there’s so much of it. They start you off with some bread and cole slaw.
The bread is thick and served with an herbed butter. Loren even asked for seconds. The cole slaw is fresh and crunchy with a bit of a peppery dressing on it. For his entree, Loren went for the pork Jaegerschnitzel with warm potato salad and a house salad.
The pork is super tender with a savory mushroom gravy on top. He really enjoyed the vinegary flavor of the potato salad too. I went for the chicken schnitzel with a side salad and spaetzle.
I’m amazed at how tender they can get such a thin piece of chicken. The breading had a nice lemon flavor to it and the spaetzle was delicious, especially with gravy on top. The sides are unlimited and I was tempted to get another order of the spaetzle, but I knew I had to leave room for dessert.
Black Forest cake is one of our favorites and this was an amazing one. The cake was tender, the cherries had a nice tartness and it was served up with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. As you can see from the photo, Loren’s got his fork ready & telling me to hurry up and take the photo. This was an incredibly tasty and filling dinner for $45.
German Bistro II
1300 E Bay Dr Ste L
The weather’s finally beginning to cool down here, so we went over to Southern Fresh and had a very pleasant dinner out on the porch. They had a guitar player on the patio which completed the lovely atmosphere. Loren had to start off with the BLT soup.
How a soup can taste like a sandwich is beyond me, but this one does it. The broth has a wonderful flavor from the tomato and bacon and you get the crisp crunch of lettuce in each bite. It’s a tasty little soup. For his entree, Loren got the roasted pork with mashed potatoes and greens.
The pork was cooked perfectly. It had a nice smokey flavor and was tender and juicy. I had to steal a couple of bites. I went for their famous fried chicken with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes.
Normally, it’s two pieces of chicken, but the waiter said because the pieces were small, they were serving two thighs and a leg for the dark meat portion tonight. The chicken is perfectly seasoned and cooked. It’s got a nice crunchy exterior and very juicy inside. Some of the best chicken in the area. The roasted veggies and potatoes were good too. We both cleaned our plates, so that meant we could have dessert, right?? Tonight, they had just finished making a peach crisp.
I had mixed feelings about this dessert. On one hand, it was quite delicious. The peaches and crumb base were excellent. The only part that didn’t work for me was the candied lemon peel on top. Some bites were ok, but others were way too bitter. Overall, though, this was a great meal for $39.
122 3rd Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL
We walked around Lowry Park Zoo this morning and ended up La Pequena Columbia for lunch. We really love the food at this restaurant. Loren ordered the Bandeja Montaner.
This dish had a little bit of everything in it, but his favorite was the sausage. He just loved the flavor of it. Along with that, there was steak, plantains, rice, beans, a corn cake, pork skin and salad. Needless to say, he had leftovers. I tried the chicken with mushroom sauce.
It also came with rice & beans. The chicken could have been more tender and the extra egg I ordered was overcooked, but my favorite thing about this place is the beans & rice. So yummy. I even ordered more beans to take home with us. Service was a bit lacking during our visit. Total bill with a drink was $40.
La Pequena Colombia
6312 N Armenia Ave
We decided to try The Moon Under Water in St Pete for lunch today. It’s an Indian/English type of pub with a mixed fare of entrees. I couldn’t resist the fried mac & cheese for an appetizer.
They could have been a little thicker, but otherwise they were kind of tasty. Crispy on the outside and gooey mac & cheese inside. The marinara sauce had an interesting flavor to it as well. For his entree, Loren got the mojo chicken sandwich.
The chicken had a really nice flavor to it, but it was so thick that there was no way he could eat it as a sandwich. The tomato slice was equally as thick. He said the chicken could have been a little more tender too. The fries were really good. I went for the English pasty.
The flavors were really good in this dish as well, but it was undercooked. The pastry was doughy on the inside and several of the veggies including the potatoes were just hard. It definitely needed to stay in the oven a while longer. The gravy and fries were really good though. Total bill with a drink was $33.
Moon Under Water
332 Beach Drive NE
St Pete, FL
We went over to Surfside Cafe for lunch today. The first two things I tried to order weren’t available today for various reasons, so I finally settled on the elk burger that was on special.
Elk is very lean so it was a bit on the dry side. It had some spices in it and the overall flavor seemed very familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it. I don’t think it’s something I’d order again. Loren got a blackened chicken sandwich with some mac & cheese.
The mac & cheese was dry, just like the first time we’d ordered it. He said the chicken was tender, but not overly spicy. Total bill with a drink was $20.
Harr’s Surfside Cafe
3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
We had a AAA coupon for Olive Garden, so that was our destination for lunch today. Luckily we just missed the Sunday lunch crowd. We started off with salad & breadsticks and one of their new appetizers, the Fried Cheese Risotto.
These were very cheesy, but the risotto inside was complete mush. Other than the outside crust, there was no texture whatsoever. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t like them, because I did, but they were more like fried cheese, than fried rice balls.
Olive Garden was having a two for $25 deal that included dessert, so Loren & I both ordered off of it. He got the Parmesan Potato Crusted chicken.
He thought it was pretty good. The chicken was tender with a nice crunchy exterior. I ordered the bucatini formaggio.
It didn’t do much for me. It was just a fairly plain bowl of pasta and I didn’t really care for the taste of the sauce. The special also came with dessert. Loren got the dark chocolate with caramel dolcini and I got the chocolate mousse cake.
These were both yummy. My mousse cake was thick and creamy and had little chocolate covered krispie balls on top that added an interesting texture. I think Loren scooped every last morsel out of his plate. Good stuff. Total bill was $27 after our coupon.
29461 Us-19 N
We went over to Taverna Skara for dinner tonight. It was really empty for a Saturday night and you could almost feel the disappointment in the staff as they continually looked out the windows to see if any customers were heading toward the door. We’ve been here a couple of times before and every time, they bring something different to the table. Today it was bread and an olive spread.
The bread was thick and dense. Loren liked the olive spread. I’m not a fan of olives and even the smell was too strong for me. For so few customers in the restaurant, it seemed to take a really long time for our entrees to come out of the kitchen. Loren ordered the salmon salad.
He said the salmon was cooked well, but needed seasoning and his salad wasn’t dressed properly. It lacked flavor. I ordered the chicken lemonati.
With a name like “lemonati”, I expected an amazing burst of lemon flavor and to be honest, I almost didn’t order the dish, thinking the lemon may be overwhelming. Boy, was I wrong. There wasn’t even an inkling of lemon flavor in the chicken or mushroom sauce. The only thing that had any lemon flavor were the potatoes. I liked the mushrooms, but the chicken could have been a bit more tender. My salad was heavily dressed with vinegar. Loren ended up mixing some of it into his salad to try to get an even balance of dressing. Service was also a bit on the hit or miss side. Our waitress would disappear and someone else ended up clearing plates, getting our check and doing a lot of the customer service. We keep trying to give this place the benefit of the doubt, but they tend to underwhelm each time we visit. The loud thumping background music was also a bit on the annoying side and did not fit the atmosphere either. Overall, it was just a very mediocre meal for $31.
2454 McMullen Booth Rd
We went over to Cafe Alfresco in Dunedin for lunch today. The restaurant was packed and we ended up with about a 20 minute wait. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that they don’t have any place inside to wait and it was so hot & humid outside. I was melting by the time our table was ready. Loren decided on the buttermilk chicken sandwich and I went for a cheeseburger.
Both were tasty and the fries were nice and crunchy. This is one of our go-to restaurants when we want simple, tasty food. Total bill with a drink was $23.
344 Main St
Salt Rock Tavern recently opened up in Oldsmar and from start to finish, this was not a pleasant experience. For some reason, they chose not to use the entrance in the front of the building, instead choosing to use an unmarked door on the side. We really weren’t sure we were in the right place when we walked in from the parking lot. It was 5:30pm when we got there and though the inside looked spacious and rather empty, we were told there was an hour wait unless we wanted to eat on the patio or at a communal table in the bar area. We went ahead & chose an outside table.
Our waiter brought over a lukewarm carafe of water and two small glasses. Since I drink water with my meals, I had to ask for a larger glass with ice. Loren ordered the crispy chicken sandwich which came with fries.
The Texas toast was quite a bit bigger than the piece of chicken and the name “salt rock” aptly applied to this sandwich. The chicken was coated in what tasted like large crunchy rocks of salt. Loren actually thought it was bacon at first, but since bacon wasn’t listed on the description and it had no bacon flavor, I have to assume it was just salt. Quite inedible in my opinion. My meatloaf sandwich wasn’t much better.
It was almost as salty as the chicken sandwich and had a strong fennel flavor to it. I’m guessing the meatloaf was made partly with sausage. There just came a point where I couldn’t ingest any more salt. The fries weren’t hot or crispy and tasted like they had been sitting in the kitchen for quite a while.
The layout of the patio was also poorly planned. While we were out there, a typical Florida thunderstorm came through drenching the one table of people that were at the edge of the seating area & sending everyone at the bar running inside. There wasn’t an overhang between the restaurant and the side of the patio we were on, so the waiter got wet every time he had to go back inside. Their satellite TV went out with the first raindrop. We won’t be back. Total bill with a drink was $18.
Salt Rock Tavern
3689 Tampa Road
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.
31988 US Hwy 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
We eat out a lot and one of the things I’ve noticed is that a lot of places have gone to a very minimal presentation of their food, but that’s not the case with Pacific Thai Cuisine. Their plating makes the food look that much more appetizing and it’s those little details that can take a meal to that next level. Loren decided to try the Yum Beef tonight.
He got it medium spicy and he was sniffling a little by the end, but really enjoyed the dish. He loves entrees with lots of veggies. I went for the Pad Se-ew tonight.
It’s a very simple dish, but they do it well here. It has that right mouth-feel, the veggies are crisp, the flavors subtle, and the noodles are cooked perfectly. It’s just a pleasant dining experience from start to finish. Must be why we eat here quite often. Total bill with a drink was $33.
Pacific Thai Cuisine
4058 Tampa Road
We went over to the Little Greek on Linebaugh for lunch today. It’s almost identical to the one over at Boot Ranch. We both got Greek salads and Loren also got some dolmades.
I always forget that the mini-Greek is plenty of food. Loren had ordered the mini with chicken and I got the regular with gyro meat. I think the main difference is that there’s two scoops of potato salad and some more lettuce in the regular one. The gyro meat was very fresh and tasty today. Total bill with a drink was $24.
12117 W Linebaugh Ave
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Loren was craving Chinese food tonight, so off to Big Bok Choy we went. The table we were sitting at was kinda dark, so my photos are a bit on the blurry side. But that didn’t change the tastiness of the food. I’m still on my fried dumpling kick, so we had to get some for an appetizer.
Yum, yum, yum. The filling was very flavorful and there were actually more than we could eat if we wanted to be able to finish our entrees. The leftovers made for a great snack the next day. We didn’t stray from our normal dinner order, there are just some things that are so good, it’s hard to pass up when we come back here. First some wonton soup, then the hunan chicken for Loren and the honey garlic chicken for me.
The hot peppers in Loren’s dish were bigger than usual, which was probably a good thing so he could pick them out of the dish. Even pulling them out, he was still sniffling a little from the heat. But, he loves how they enhance the flavor of the dish. My chicken was tender and the sauce is sweet, but not overly so. It has a tanginess that keeps me coming back for more. Total bill with a drink was $45.
Big Bok Choy Bistro
3730 Tampa Road #6
We decided on Indian food for dinner tonight and headed over to Desi Tadka in Oldsmar. Loren got some Mulligatawny soup and we split an order of keema samosas.
The soup had a nice flavor and wasn’t overly spicy. You could really taste the lentils in it. The samosa had a nice crunch and the filling was flavorful. We didn’t stray far from our comfort zone for our entrees. I get what I always get, the butter chicken and Loren got the Chicken do Pyaza.
And the meal wouldn’t be complete without some garlic naan. My dish was spiced perfectly, meaning very mild. Loren’s was a bit spicier than he had anticipated. The different Indian restaurants we go to are very different in their interpretation of medium spicy. We both had some leftovers tonight. It’s such a hard balance deciding whether or not to finish what’s in front of you because it’s so tasty or extend the tastiness and bring some home. The only issue we had was that the service was really slow. Total bill with a drink was $45.
Desi Tadka Indian Cuisine
3780 Tampa Road
Pacific Thai in Oldsmar has become one of our go-to places for a quiet, delicious meal. The food here is always fresh and quick and we both always leave with happy taste buds. I’m still on my dumpling kick, so we had to start off with some of them as well as some soup.
The dumplings are flavorful and just yummy. It was a chilly night tonight, so I went for some won ton soup and Loren got the chicken & rice soup. I did find the soup in need of salt, but otherwise it warmed me up very nicely. Loren decided on the nam sod tonight.
It’s a salad with pork, veggies, and nuts and he really likes it. I decided to try the broccoli with oyster sauce with chicken.
The veggies were cooked perfectly and the sauce had a nice flavor to it. It came with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms and Loren kept stealing mushrooms off my plate. I even had some leftovers. Total bill with a drink was $37.
Pacific Thai Cuisine
4058 Tampa Road