The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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We were heading up to Starkey Park and stopped for lunch at Steve’s Place in New Port Richey.  We could tell right away that the locals hang out here because the owner & waitresses were greeting people by name and chatting with them.  We both went for burgers, Loren the bacon cheeseburger and for me, the mushroom burger.

They were both cooked well and the fries were yummy.  I also couldn’t pass up one of their little desserts.

The strawberry mousse was tasty for a little bite of sweetness.  It didn’t have a very strong strawberry flavor, but it satisfied my sweet tooth before our walk in the park.  Total bill with a drink was $16.

Steve’s Place
5400 Little Road
New Port Richey, FL
727-375-0541

Steve's Place on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value4/5
3.2/5

Loren wanted a salad for dinner, so we stopped at Kostas Family Restaurant in Dillsboro.  They were pretty busy for a Monday evening.  Guess there are a lot of other tourists like us in town to see the fall colors.

Loren ordered a small Greek salad and one came with my meal.

It’s funny, I’m so used to Greek food around the Tarpon Springs, Florida area that it was odd not to see potato salad in the Greek salad.  The dressing was tasty though.  The yeast rolls were soft and yummy.

We ordered the spinach artichoke dip for an appetizer and Loren also got some hummus.

The spinach artichoke dip was really good.  The pita bread served with it was warm and soft.  This is one of those dishes you can’t stop eating.   Loren liked the hummus as well.  As usual, I had to try the pastitsio.

This one had all the right flavors.  The bechemel sauce was very creamy and yummy.  The only issue I had with it was that the edges & bottom were a bit overcooked.  Crunchy is not a texture I want in a pasta dish.  I don’t like green beans, but Loren tasted them and said they were good.  I think he said something to the effect of, “Mmmm… cooked in bacon”.  We also got some desserts to take back to the B&B for later.

I got the French Silk Pie, which tasted exactly like the ones you get at Village Inn and Loren got the baklava.  He said it was tasty.  Total bill with a drink was $35. 

Kosta Family Restaurant
489 Haywood Rd
Dillsboro, NC
828-631-0777

Kostas Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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

Ate dinner at Thirsty Marlin tonight.  There are so many things on their menu that sound good, it’s hard to choose sometimes.  We started off with a Rainbow Roll.

I’ve found sushi to be hit or miss here.  The fish is usually good, but the rice isn’t always quite right.  Tonight’s rice was a bit too dense, but otherwise the roll was good.  Loren & I split a bowl of lobster bisque, though I really didn’t want to share.

It had a wonderful creamy texture and amazing flavor.  I kept trying to pull the bowl closer to my end of the table.  Loren went for a lightly blackened mahi sandwich tonight.

He said the fish was tasty.  You never quite know what you’re going to get when you say lightly blackened, but they did it pretty well.  I went for a mushroom swiss burger.

I only managed to eat half of it.  It was cooked a nice medium and had good flavor to it, but between the soup and sushi, I was getting full… not to mention I had my eye on the fried cheesecake.

I’m always intrigued by how different restaurants interpret a dish. I’ve had different versions of fried cheesecake and this one was pretty good.  It sits on a layer of Oreo cookie crumbs and the cheesecake is wrapped and deep fried, so you get a crunchy outer layer and creamy interior.  Just add chocolate sauce and whipped cream and you’ve got yourself a yummy little dessert.  Total bill with a drink was $44.

Thirsty Marlin
1023 Florida Ave
Palm Harbor, FL
727-784-3469

Thirsty Marlin Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.7/5

We celebrated Loren’s birthday at Green Springs Bistro in Safety Harbor.  We’d eaten here once before and enjoyed the food, but this time around it just wasn’t up to par with the prices they charge.

We were seated in one of the front rooms and it was really loud.  For such a cozy little restaurant, you’d think they could figure out a way to dampen some of the noise in there.  Our waitress brought over a taste of their potato and scallion soup.

It was creamy, but the first thing Loren did was grab for the salt shaker.  That was the start of the relatively unseasoned food we had all night. Next up came our appetizer, Harold’s shrooms.

Roasted portobello mushroom caps with red peppers, olives and garlic goat cheese.  I found the olives to be overpowering in the dish, though I really liked the taste of the goat cheese.  The mushrooms were meaty, but a little tough to cut.  Salads also came with our meal.

For his entree, Loren ordered the filet mignon which came with mashed potatoes and roasted veggies.

The filet was very tender and cooked medium, but underseasoned.  The gorgonzola on top completely overwhelmed the taste of the meat though.  As you can see from the photo, some of the veggies were a bit charred while others were a bit underdone.

I ordered the blue crab and lobster stuffed mahi.

The mahi was overcooked and tough.  My first reaction was that the mahi I had recently at Cuban Breezes, for less than half the price mind you,  was cooked way better than this piece of fish.  The crab and lobster stuffing tasted like a crabcake.  There was absolutely nothing textural, visual, or taste wise that would have indicated to me that it had any lobster in it whatsoever. The Key Lime white wine sauce had very little lime flavor ( I actually thought it was a lemon sauce) and there wasn’t much of it on the plate.  My butter knife was also a bit inadequate to cut through some of the roasted carrots.

I’d heard good things about their black & blue cobbler so I got some to take home.

It was very sweet and there wasn’t enough of the crumb topping.  It came with a tasty vanilla bean ice cream though.  Our waitress was very friendly and kept plates cleared and drinks full.  Overall though, we were fairly disappointed in the whole $73 experience.  If I’m going to pay that much for dinner, I expect wonderful flavors and textures and to leave the restaurant wondering when I’ll be able to go back again.  After this meal, I don’t think we’ll be returning anytime soon.

Green Springs Bistro
156 Fourth Ave North
Safety Harbor, FL
727-669-6762

Green Springs Bistro on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value1/5
2.5/5

We’ve never had Ethiopian food before, so we headed over to Tampa to Queen of Sheba.  There was only one waitress working the dining room and she seemed to forget about us quite often during the meal.  It took a while to get our drinks and appetizer.  We ordered the beef sambussa.

It was very similar to an empanada.  The beef filling was flavorful and the pastry was nice and crisp.  I’m glad we ordered it since it was still quite a while before our entrees arrived.  Loren ordered the Queen’s Eight so he could try several dishes.

It had two chicken items, red lentils, cabbage and carrots, collard greens, potatoes and carrots, lamb and a beef item.  His chicken dish was a bit on the spicy side.  The rest of it had decent flavors, but nothing that was really remarkable.

I ordered the Doro Alecha which is a mild chicken and hard boiled egg dish.  Pretty much the same chicken item that was in the Queen’s Eight platter, just not spicy.

It also came with red lentils and potatoes and carrots.  The lentils were on the spicy side, so I didn’t like them very much.  The rest had very mellow flavors. 

The meal is served with injera which you use instead of forks to scoop up the items.

I didn’t like it at all.  From it’s color to its spongy texture to its taste, it just didn’t do it for me.  We had a Restaurant.com coupon, so we needed to spend $35.  When we asked about dessert, the waitress said they had honey chips. 

While we were waiting for them, she brought over our check, which didn’t have the dessert on it.  Then we watched her try to serve our dessert to another table.  She just wasn’t very attentive.  The chips, however, were pretty tasty.  The drizzled honey was warm and gooey on top of crisp chips.  I have to say, I think I enjoyed it most of all.  Total bill after the $25 coupon was $15. 

It was definitely a different dining experience, but nothing about it made us feel like we needed to go back anytime soon. 

Queen of Sheba
36356 Henderson Blvd
Tampa, FL
813-872-6000

Queen of Sheba on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value4/5
2.9/5
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  • Filed under: Dessert, Tampa