The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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My only criteria for lunch today was somewhere that I could look out over the water.  We ended up at Whiskey Joe’s over the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa.

We chose a nice shaded table by the door so we got a little burst of air conditioning as people walked in and out.  We had a great view of the bay and the beach.  This is what living in Florida is all about.

Loren ordered the blackened grouper which came with a creole cognac sauce and shrimp, rice and broccoli.

The creole sauce wasn’t overly spicy, but had a lot of flavor.  The grouper was nicely blackened.  He could have used a knife to cut through the large broccoli pieces though.

I ordered the shrimp po’boy with fries.

Unfortunately, the menu didn’t mention the spicy remoulade sauce that was on the bread.  It was spicier than the creole sauce on Loren’s fish.  I ended up eating half the sandwich since the sauce was soaked into the bread and just ate the rest of the shrimp off the plate.  There were a lot of shrimp too.  Nice and crunchy and the fries were really good. 

I couldn’t pass up the mud pie for dessert.

Yes, it’s huge!  An Oreo cookie crust, topped with a layer of Haagen Dazs vanilla bean ice cream mixed with Butterfingers, then topped with Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and a fudge sauce.  I don’t think we could have finished it even if we hadn’t just eaten lunch. 

Total bill was $38.  The food was good and the view was awesome. 

Whiskey Joe’s
7720 Courtney Campbell
Tampa, FL

Whiskey Joe's on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: American, Seafood, Tampa
  • We had been to Walt’s Seasonal Cuisine in Dunedin a few years ago, and decided it was time to go back.  They were pretty busy tonight, but we were able to get a table without a wait.   Unfortunately, we sat next to a large party that was very loud, so we could barely hear each other. 

    Loren started with a house salad and I got the seafood chowder.

    The salad had nice fresh greens and a light dressing.  The chowder was tomato based with a lot of fish in it.  It had a really nice flavor.

    We had to wait on the bread as it was still in the oven and trust me, our patience was rewarded.

    Fresh, hot out of the oven, soft on the inside, crusty on the outside with sunflower seeds on top which added a unique flavor.

    For his entree, Loren ordered the salmon special with black bean sauce and mashed red potatoes.

    He really enjoyed the salmon.  The black bean sauce was tasty and the mashed potatoes were whipped just right. 

    I ordered the lump crab cakes with key lime dijonaise sauce and mashed potatoes.

    I’m really picky about crab cakes and these were great.  Not a lot of fillers, just a lot of crab.  They were seared nicely, so they had a nice crust, but tender in the middle.   The key lime sauce was awesome and I really liked the mashed potatoes.

    We really should have stopped here, but it was hard to pass up a Ghiradelli chocolate brownie with strawberries and whipped cream.

    It was really good.  The strawberries were fresh and sweet and the brownie had a nice texture and flavor.  A perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

    Total bill was $60 and worth every penny.  While we were there, Walt stepped out from behind the grill and came and talked to the customers at every table.  That’s when you know you have a chef/owner that really gets what a successful restaurant should be like.  Good food, personalized service, and attention to details. 

    Walts Seasonal Cuisine
    1140 Main St
    Dunedin, FL

    Walt's Seasonal Cuisine on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Dunedin, Seafood
  • We didn’t head out to eat until about 7pm, so we wanted to go somewhere close.  We hadn’t been to the Tuscano Grille in quite a while so we headed over there for dinner.

    We were able to get a table without a wait which is always nice on a Friday night.  They had live music on the patio tonight as well.

    I’m always happy when they bring warm bread to the table.

    Loren didn’t think it had much flavor, but I really enjoyed it.  It was warm, had a nice texture, and was tasty, especially dipped in the oil.

    We ordered the Balsamic Glazed Calamari.

    The balsamic aroma was really strong. I’m not sure what the white sauce on it was, sort of a mayo, I guess.  The calamari had a nice flavor, but you really did need to dip it in the marinara sauce to cut the balsamic a bit.  The presentation was a bit sloppy and this is where the service began to decline as well.

    We rarely saw our waitress.  The busboy stopped by our table more often than our waitress did.  The dirty dishes from the bread and calamari sat on our table for a very long time.   When our soup and salad came out, they were still on the table and the person who brought the food didn’t bother to clear any dishes away.  Finally one of the busboys took the calamari dishes and I had to ask him to refill our drinks.  It wasn’t until they finally came to take our soup and salad dishes that I was able to get rid of the dish of oil for the bread and I only managed that by putting it on the plate with the soup bowl.  Call me crazy, but I just don’t think dirty dishes should be left on the table as you start to eat your next course.

    Speaking of the salad and soup…

    Loren chose the house salad with his meal and I got the mushroom soup.  The soup wasn’t pretty to look at, but it had a nice deep, rich mushroom flavor.

    Loren ordered the swordfish and it came with mashed potatoes.

    It was a very sparse looking plate.  He thoroughly enjoyed the swordfish though.  It was thick and meaty, well grilled and had an awesome flavor. 

    I ordered the veal scallopini which came with mashed potatoes and I substituted broccoli for the spinach it came with.

    I had a very similar meal at Restaurant Hapa earlier this month and theirs was definitely better than this one.  The broccoli wasn’t cooked enough for me and the potatoes were a bit thick.  The veal was tender, but the knife they gave me wasn’t sharp.  I’m still on the fence about the marsala sauce.  There was something about it that just didn’t appeal to me.  The flavor was too strong and Loren thinks it was because of the mushrooms.  It’s not that it was a bad flavor, just very overwhelming.

    We were stuffed at this point, but when I see a chocolate dessert on the menu, I feel an obligation to take it home.  We ordered a chocolate mousse cake to go.

    The menu said it came with a vanilla bean sauce, but guess you don’t get it if you don’t eat it in the restaurant.  Just stuff it in a box too small for it.   It was really tasty, though it could have done without the chocolate sponge cake bottom.  It sort of ruined the overall texture of the dessert.

    Total bill was $53.  We definitely got plenty of food, in fact most of mine came home as leftovers, but we just weren’t impressed by the service or the overall presentation of the dishes. 

    Even when we had finished our meal, one of the busboys came and cleared the dishes and boxed up my leftovers.  We sat there talking for a while before our waitress ever came to see us again.

    Tuscano Grille
    2544 McMullen Booth Road
    Clearwater, FL

    Tuscano Grille on Urbanspoon


    “Who eats well, lives well”.  This was on the wall by our table at Dominic’s Italian Grille tonight.  We’ve eaten at Dominic’s a few times.  There are things I really like about it and other things that I don’t, such as the first aromas I smelled tonight were of bleach or cleaning solutions.  Though I appreciate that the place is clean, that’s not the overwhelming first smell I want when I sit down at a restaurant.

    But, now on to a few things I do like…. the bread basket.

    These light, airy, buttery delicious rolls are awesome.  There were 8 of them in the basket and not a one left by the time our entrees arrived.  Dip them in the olive oil and herbs and it boosts the flavor, or you can order up some pasta fagioli and dip them in that too.

    The soup had good flavors.  Lots of beans, celery, onions, and pasta.  I don’t think it left the kitchen quite as messy as the photo makes it out to be.  Our waiter all but spilled it on the floor when he was trying to put it on the table.  Speaking of our waiter, I wasn’t all that impressed.  He never filled our drinks and didn’t check up on us at all once we got our entrees. 

    Loren ordered the chicken piccata.

    He really enjoyed it.  Two chicken breasts with the piccata sauce, plus broccoli and their angel hair pasta souffle.  I stole half of the souffle.  It’s one of my favorite things here. He said the sauce had a really good lemon flavor, but wasn’t overpowering. 

    I normally don’t order spaghetti and meatballs in a restaurant because I never feel as though you get your monies worth.

    Face it, $11 just seems much for 3 meatballs and some spaghetti.  The meatballs were pretty good, not a lot of fillers in them.  The sauce was really bland and acidic.   It tasted like it hadn’t been cooked for very long.  I’m Italian so I  expect a lot more depth of flavor in my sauce.  I think it should be simmering on the stove all day.  This isn’t a dish I’d order again.

    Their dessert special of the day was an ultimate chocolate cake.  How could I pass that up?

    This was really good.  It had layers upon layers of different types of chocolate.  The crust was a chocolate cookie layer.  Then it had two layers of a chocolate mouse, one dark and one milk chocolate.  The middle was a dense chocolate cake, then a layer of ganache and frosting.  Plus the end was covered in frosting and chocolate chips.  A chocolate lovers dream.  And to boot, it was only $3.95. 

    I do have to mention one other thing that did not impress me tonight.  There was a flat screen TV on the wall across from us that was playing a slideshow of food photos from the restaurant.  A couple was then seated at the table directly below it. About halfway through their appetizers, one of the waiters tuned the TV to a basketball game.  The customers asked if the waiter wouldn’t mind just turning off the TV while they ate and the waiter complied.  Then about halfway through their meal, the owner came over and turned the TV back on.  I heard the customers ask again if he could just leave it off, but the owner continued to mess with it, until he got the slideshow of food photos back on.  I just thought it was rude for them not to just leave the TV off until the customers left.  There were only two other tables with customers besides us, so it wasn’t like anyone was missing anything by the TV being off.   

    Our total bill was $38.  Again, our waiter didn’t impress me when he brought the bill and there was only one credit card receipt in the folder.   Though I wasn’t impressed with the overall customer service, for the most part, our food was good.

    Dominic’s Italian Grille
    3163 Curlew Road
    Oldsmar, FL

    Dominic's Italian Grille on Urbanspoon

  • 1 Comment
  • Filed under: Italian, Oldsmar
  • We’ve eaten at so many loud restaurants lately, that it’s so refreshing to actually sit down to a nice quiet dinner.  We headed over to Kado Japanese Steakhouse in Tampa for dinner with our $25 coupon in hand.

    The restaurant was nearly empty.  There was just one table of 4 people when we came in.  Kado is so much less commercialized than the other Japanese steakhouses in town.  It’s like a small family owned restaurant.  As far as we could tell, the waitstaff seemed like generations of the same family.

    I have to say though, it did seem a little awkward to be the only two people at one of the Habachi tables.   The chef went through all the motions, but I’m sure it was a bit underwhelming for him too to not have a big tableful of guests to show off to.

    They start you off with a light, tasty broth.

    It had a nice mellow flavor and was served piping hot.  You can even see the steam.  Next up the salad.

    The ginger dressing was really good.  Since we needed to spend $50 for our coupon, we ordered some egg rolls.

    They were a lot bigger than I thought they’d be.  Good crunch, tasty filling.  I already knew at this point that I wasn’t going to be able to finish my dinner.

    Loren ordered the filet and shrimp and I got the Sumo which is filet, shrimp and scallops.  And of course, lots of goody-goody sauce. 

    The veggies, rice, and shrimp were cooked perfectly, the steak and scallops very tender.  It’s so nice to have a meal where everything is just incredibly well executed.  Believe it or not, we still hadn’t hit $50, so we just had to order dessert.

    I saw cheesecake on the menu, but when it came out, we were both surprised to realize it was deep fried cheesecake.  Wow!  I’ve never had cheesecake like this before.  It was slightly frozen in the center, but otherwise had a nice, crispy tempura shell all around it, plus drizzled in chocolate sauce.  It was an incredible ending to a very delicious meal. 

    After the coupon and with the tip added in, the total dinner was $44.  It was probably one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time for a very reasonable price.  Plus I have leftovers for tomorrow.

    Kado Japanese Steakhouse
    6821 W. Hillsborough Ave, Ste 9
    Tampa, FL

    Kado Japanese Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Japanese, Tampa