The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

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Two for $25


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.

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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.

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He thought it was pretty good.  The chicken was tender with a nice crunchy exterior.  I ordered the bucatini formaggio.

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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.

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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.

Olive Garden
29461 Us-19 N
Clearwater, FL
(727) 787-3988

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.0/5

Sweet!


After lunch, our friend took us over to Sweet Caroline’s and treated us to dessert.  Loren got a chocolate salted caramel cupcake.

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He made those nom nom noises that indicated that I wasn’t going to get more than one little taste of it.  The cupcake was moist and the the frosting was thick and creamy without being overly sweet.  He was in cupcake heaven.  I couldn’t resist the French eclair.

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Yeah, I made those same nom nom noises too.  It was decadent and delicious, filled with a custard and whipped cream.  Might have to make Sweet Caroline’s a more frequent stop on our travels through Palm Harbor.  Yum!

Sweet Caroline’s
3347 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
727-781-1888

Sweet Caroline's on Urbanspoon

Food5/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value3/5
4.3/5

Johnny Bread


Johnny’s Italian Restaurant on a Friday night is a very crowded place.  We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table.  Salads and bread started off the meal while we waited for our calamari.

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The Johnny bread is one of the best things about this restaurant.  The oil & garlic dipping sauce will have you warding off vampires for a week.  The bread is just perfect and we ended up getting a second loaf.  It’s hard to resist.   Next up, calamari.

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It was very tender and had a nice crunch.  The dipping sauce that came with it was rather spicy with lots of red pepper flakes.  I was feeling the heat for a while.  Loren ordered the Tuscan Steak with Portabella Sauce.

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The interesting thing was that he actually tried to order something else, but the waitress talked him out of it.  I can’t remember what the other item was, but she said it didn’t have a lot of flavor and that he’d enjoy this one more.  And he did.  I went for the chicken marsala with a side of fettucine alfredo.

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The chicken was tender and the marsala sauce had a really nice flavor to it.  When they get their alfredo sauce right, it’s really good here.  Tonight was one of those nights.  I could have eaten an entire bowl of just that.  I felt the need for chocolate tonight so we ordered the chocolate cake.

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This was an incredibly rich and chocolately cake.  It had thick ganache layers and just melted in your mouth.  Perfect ending to a very good meal.  Total bill with a drink was $45.75.

Johnny’s Italian Restaurant
2907 SR 590 #1
Clearwater, FL
727-797-2940

Johnny's Italian on Urbanspoon

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

Hot Tuna Sushi Bar & Grille just opened up in Oldsmar, so we headed over there for dinner tonight.  We went early and were the only ones there for a while.  It’s an elegant looking space, but the thumping music they had playing just didn’t do it for us.  I admit, I’m not a twenty-something looking for a party atmosphere.  I just wanted a nice, quiet, tasty dinner.  They did deliver on the tasty part.  We started off with a salad and some dumplings.

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Loren liked the dressing on the salad and we both enjoyed the dumplings.  They were a little crispier than I had expected, but the filling was flavorful.  For our sushi order we decided to try the fresh salmon nigiri, a California roll, a Mexican roll, a Gator roll, a Rainbow roll, and a Lollipop roll.

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Though I loved the way the Rainbow roll looked with it’s rainbow colored fish eggs, the crawfish salad inside of it was a bit too spicy for me.  I didn’t eat the Gator roll since it was also spicy, but Loren said it was good.  The other rolls were also fresh and tasty.  I did find the sushi rice to be a little colder in temperature than what I’m used to.  Loren didn’t notice it, but it was the first thing that hit me about my first bite.  We both enjoyed the freshness of the lollipop roll.  The crunch of cucumber instead of rice is just such a nice change of pace.  I also couldn’t pass up a dessert called the chocolate trilogy.

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It was beautiful to look at and tasted wonderful; however, it was frozen solid.  It absolutely needed to be thawed out for a while before serving so that it would have had more of a mousse like texture instead of ice cream like.  Besides the annoying music, I also found the use of brown butcher block paper on the tables to be less than appealing.  Every drink or cool dish left a mark on the paper.  It just seemed inconsistent with the vibe of the rest of the restaurant.  Total bill with a drink was $66.

Hot Tuna Sushi Bar & Grille
3689 Tampa Road #302B
Oldsmar, FL
813-818-8862

Hot Tuna Sushi Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value3/5
3.6/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Oldsmar, Sushi
  • After going to see SkyFall at the movies, we went over to Smokey Bones on Gulf to Bay for a late lunch.  From the moment, we walked in the door, the smell of BBQ surrounded us.  It smells so good in there.  We decided to start off with the Southwest spring rolls.

     

    They had some heat, but were pretty tasty.  The only issue was that our entrees came out almost immediately after the appetizer did.  They definitely lose some points for timing.  Loren ordered the 1/3 rack of ribs with a side salad and baked potato.

    He ordered the St Louis ribs, but the bill says he got baby back ribs.  He couldn’t seem to tell the difference, but he said they were very good.  He cleaned his plate and started eyeing mine.  I went for a combo of baby back ribs and pulled pork with onion rings and mac & cheese.

    The baby back ribs were delicious.  The sauce was sweet and the ribs were very tender.  Before I ordered, I had planned on taking the pulled pork home as leftovers, so I didn’t eat much of it.  I did find the pulled pork kind of dry though.  The onion rings were the big disappointment on the plate.  They just weren’t crunchy.  The mac & cheese was like lava when it came to the table and still steaming when I put part of it in the leftover box.  It had a good flavor and was really creamy.  Loren had talked about chocolate cake the night before, so we couldn’t resist ordering a slice.

    It was delicious.  Moist and chocolatety and perfect with the scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Yum!  Total bill with a drink was $56.

    Smokey Bones
    2693 Gulf to Bay Blvd
    Clearwater, FL
    727-712-1930

    Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value2/5
    3.3/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: BBQ, Clearwater, Dessert