We went to a movie this morning and then ate lunch at BJ’s at Countryside Mall around 2pm. I’m convinced that this place is busy no matter what time you go in there, but at least the roar of the crowd wasn’t as bad in the middle of the afternoon. The key, we’ve learned, is to get a table by the front windows, otherwise, you can barely hear yourself think in there.
The avocado egg rolls are the main draw for me here.
Crunchy on the outside, creamy and delicious on the inside. And it’s avocado, so it’s healthy, right? Right?? Doesn’t matter, they are just too yummy to pass up. For his entree, Loren tried their mahi tacos.
He said they were pretty good. He also liked the salsa and guac that came with them. I went for the burger melt.
They make a pretty tasty burger here. It was juicy and the bread was toasted just right. I ended up bringing half of it home. The skinny fries were nice & crunchy and Loren couldn’t resist scarfing a few. For $36, it was a very satisfying meal.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
27001 US Highway 19N
We haven’t been eating out much lately, mostly because both Loren & I caught a nasty little cold. Chicken soup, the occasional take out, and the couch were about as far as either of us wanted to go. But, now we’re back among the living and had a quick lunch at Cuban Breezes.
Loren got the masitas with a side of ultimate rice and beans.
Tender and tasty as always. I went for a mahi Cuban with a side of rice & beans.
The mahi was pretty thick today which made the sandwich a little difficult to eat. It just kept wanting to fall out of the Cuban bread. Nonetheless, it was cooked perfectly and with a side of rice and beans filled me right up. Total bill with a drink was $21.
13980 W. Hillsborough Ave.
It was around 2pm when we got out of the movies and Loren suggested we give Ozona Pig another try. Unfortunately, we walked in and were told they closed at 2pm, so we walked across the street to Molly Goodheads instead.
We split a bowl of clam chowder.
This was so thick and rich and yummy. Definitely one of the better versions in the area. For his lunch, Loren went for a blackened mahi sandwich.
He said the mahi was cooked perfectly and the fries were nice & crunchy. I decided on an avocado burger and onion rings.
The burger was very thick & juicy, though not quite cooked to the medium I asked for. The onion rings were a bit on the salty side and needed to be a bit crunchier. The only thing I really dislike about Molly’s is that they allow smoking on the patio and even though we were inside, as people walked in & out the door, you could still smell the smoke. Total bill with a drink was $26.
400 Orange Street
Another quiet dinner tonight, this time at Bascetti’s in Dunedin. The restaurant was pretty empty when we got there around 5:45pm. We liked the calamari the last time we were here, so had to get it again.
The calamari was very tender and flavorful, though some of the pieces were stuck together and didn’t get quite as crispy on the outside as I would have liked. It’s a really tasty dish though, especially with the dipping sauce. Next up were the salads and bread.
The last time we were here, neither of us were too keen on the housemade salad dressing. It was better this time, but I’d still prefer a nice ranch dressing. The bread was warm and delicious. The dipping sauce is addictive. Loren decided to try the catch of the day which was mahi.
He said it was good, though he didn’t like all of the veggies that came with it. I ordered the bolognese pappardelle.
This dish was quite unexpected. Any other places where I’ve ordered the bolognese, it’s been a tomato based sauce. This was a very thin, white sauce. It almost reminded me of a stroganoff. The meat tasted like sausage and the pasta was homemade and cooked perfectly. I just have mixed feelings about the dish. It was ok, but I don’t think I’d order it again. It just lacked depth of flavor. Total bill with a drink was $49.
1568 Main Street
A new seafood restaurant recently opened up in Safety Harbor. The Nantucket Bucket is located on 2nd Street S, just off of Main Street. Their indoor seating was full when we got there, so we sat out on the back patio. As we walked back there we noticed the kitchen was in what looked like a trailer to the left of the building. There were plenty of long tables on the patio and we were seated on one end while another couple was at the other end. This wasn’t really an issue, but as the place filled up, there was a family of four seated between us and it felt a bit crowded to me. I’m just not a fan of community seating, I prefer having my own table.
We started off with some potato bites (tater tots) and lobster based corn chowder.
The key word here is lobster based, meaning there wasn’t actually any lobster pieces in the chowder. In fact, the only thing in the chowder was corn. It tasted like frozen corn to me which has a texture I’m not fond of. The chowder itself was ok; rather peppery, but the amount of corn in it was ridiculous. I can’t imagine anyone being able to consume that much corn in one sitting. It really needed some other vegetables to alleviate the monotony of the dish.
The tater tots were good; but in all fairness, it’s hard to mess up a tater tot. Loren said the cheese sauce was pretty bad. Basically canned cheese sauce with canned jalapenos on top. For his entrée, Loren ordered the house salad with blackened mahi on top.
The salad was huge, but he said the menu indicated it should have had bacon on it and it didn’t. He liked the mahi and said it was cooked well, but he didn’t finish the salad. He also had to wait for the salad dressing since the waiter didn’t ask him which kind he wanted when he took the order. I decided to try the lobster roll and lobster based mac & cheese.
Let me start off by saying I’m originally from a fishing family in New England and we had fresh lobster quite frequently right off the boat. There is very little that needs to be done with lobster in order to make it delicious. A lobster roll, in my opinion, needs just a little bit of mayo, some salt & pepper and you’re done. Maybe a little celery or lettuce for crunch. I don’t know what they did to this lobster roll but it was quite inedible. The only word I can use to describe the taste is briny. It just got more and more unpleasant to eat with every bite and after just a few bites, I gave up completely. Loren tasted a chunk of the lobster and didn’t think it was bad, but then took another bite and tasted exactly what I did. The mac & cheese suffered the same fate. It had that same briny flavor to it. It was also a rather waxy mac & cheese versus a creamy version. Even the coleslaw had way too much vinegar in it.
When our waiter came back to our table and saw my uneaten meal, he asked if I wanted a box. I said no because it wasn’t very good. He cleared our plates and an experienced server would have mentioned something to the manager. That didn’t happen in this case. He brought the check and that was it. Granted, this place has only been opened a few weeks, but there was absolutely nothing about the experience that would make me go back again. Total bill with a drink was $41.
519 2nd Street South
Safety Harbor, FL
It’s not often that emailed offers work on me, but when I got the limited time $16.90 offer for a pound of stone crabs from Bonefish Grill, I just couldn’t resist. I haven’t had stone crabs in quite a few years and we figured there probably wouldn’t be a wait on a Tuesday night, so off we went. We started off with bread and calamari.
Bonefish really does make some of the best calamari in the area. It’s tender and comes with an Asian dipping sauce that’s really tasty. It’s both sweet and spicy. The bread was fresh and warm and delicious as well. Loren got a salad and I got some of their crab corn chowder.
Their corn chowder is really thick and creamy with lots of crab in it. It’s almost a meal in itself. Loren got the mahi for his entrée.
He said it was perfectly cooked and tasty. He didn’t care for the carrots side dish though. He said they were too sweet and too hard. I, of course, got the stone crabs with some drawn butter.
I didn’t like the fact that they were served cold, so the waitress took them back to the kitchen to get heated up. Cold crab just doesn’t work for me. Otherwise, though, they were just how I remembered them. It cracks me up (no pun intended) that a pound of crab is only 5 claws, but I was so full from the calamari, chowder, and bread that it was fine. Our server was very attentive and friendly. Total bill with a drink was $55.
2519 McMullen Booth Rd
We ate lunch at Cuban Breezes today. I don’t blog every time we eat here because we eat here a few times a month, but Loren’s Mahi Salad was just too pretty not to take a photo.
They make a nice piece of mahi here and it’s reasonably priced no matter what form you get it in. He likes his blackened, but I always prefer mine grilled. I stole a few of the tomatoes on his salad and they were really fresh and tasty.
I went for the prime rib dip they had on special with a side of rice & beans.
The roast beef is so tender and matches so well with the cuban bread. My only gripe was that it was really salty. I noticed it with the first few bites and then didn’t think much about it, but I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking lots of water. Total bill with a drink was $21
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
We ate lunch at Rumba Bar & Grill in Oldsmar today. We had tried a couple of other restaurants, but they were closed for the Memorial Day holiday.
My favorite thing about this restaurant is the corn muffins.
I don’t know why I like them so much, but it’s a good thing I do since most of the entrees I’ve had haven’t given me a reason to come back here again. Today I went for a cheeseburger and a side of crab mac & cheese.
The burger was ok, but definitely didn’t have the right ratio of burger to bun. The bun was actually too small which made it rather difficult to pick up & eat. The mac & cheese was very disappointing. It absolutely didn’t need the bread crumbs on top since it was already too dry to begin with. Loren went for the herbed mahi and a salad.
He liked it along with the Jamaican greens. Total bill with a drink was $24.
Rumba Island Bar & Grill
3687 Tampa Road
Sure, we eat at Cuban Breezes a lot, but it’s not often that one of us tries something different. Well, it wasn’t me, I went for an empanada and a mahi cuban.
Still my favorite dish on the menu, though the mahi was a bit on the thick side today making it not want to stay in the sandwich very well. The chicken empanada is so yummy. We split it, but I could easily eat a couple of them by myself and not think twice.
They had jamabalaya on the specials menu today, so Loren decided to give it a try with a salad.
He said it was pretty good. It had chicken and sausage and a bit o’ spiciness. Somewhat different than what you get at the Cajun Cafe, but still something he’d consider ordering again here. With a drink, the total bill was $21.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
So many Sunday nights we just want a quick, tasty meal, so we head out to Cuban Breezes in Oldsmar. We just know we’re going to walk away with full tummies, happy taste buds, and not much strain on the wallet.
Tonight we went for a mahi cuban and some masitas de puerco.
Loren likes the masitas. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. This is my favorite mahi sandwich in the area. I don’t know what they do to make it so tasty, but I’ve spent twice as much for mahi at other restaurants and it wasn’t as good as it is here. Total bill with a drink was $22.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
Rumba Island Bar & Grill finally opened in Oldsmar. It was really busy for a Saturday night with a 40 minute wait when we called. We asked to get our name on the waiting list only to find out when we got there that they weren’t supposed to take call ahead seating. Luckily, they went ahead & seated us right away though.
Our waitress was very friendly and promptly took our order and brought drinks & corn muffins.
I found it odd that our drinks were served in cheap plastic cups. Definitely doesn’t match the vibe of the place. The corn muffins were addictively warm & tasty. Though they have some hot peppers in them, I hardly got any heat at all (which is a good thing for me). My dinner came with a salad which was really skimpy by most standards.
It was a sad looking salad plate, but the dressing was tasty. We also ordered calamari for an appetizer.
The calamari desparately lacked seasoning. My first bite was terribly bland. Once we salted it and started dipping it in the sauce, it was much better. It was actually cooked very well with just the right amount of crunch and texture.
Loren ordered the Salmon Rumba Salad.
He ordered the salmon slightly blackened and really enjoyed the dish. I ordered the Mahi Ochos Rios.
The mahi was cooked very well; however, the hollandaise sauce on top was too spicy for me. The menu only said hollandaise, so I was expecting a very mild sauce. The crabmeat stuffing underneath was pretty tasty. I also got coconut rice and sweet potatoes for sides. Both of which were tasty. Overall, we enjoyed the experience. Was it perfect? No, but they haven’t been open very long and there were enough good things to outweigh the bad. Our waitress was great about filling drinks and keeping track of things at the table. Total bill was $39.
Rumba Island Bar & Grill
3687 Tampa Road
We eat out a lot and tonight we realized there are just some types of restaurants that aren’t for us. Besa Grill in Clearwater is one of them. There’s something about it that tries too hard. For the prices, you have a certain expectation and for us, those expectations just weren’t met tonight.
I normally drink water & Loren got an iced tea. He was disappointed in the tea; again, it just comes down to expectations. In a place like this, you’d expect it to be fresh brewed. The only reason I mention the drinks is because they serve water in these small glasses and put a frosted water bottle on each table.
Honestly, I’d rather have had a large glass of water with ice rather than the waiter constantly stopping by the table to refill my glass. On to the food. We ordered the duck nachos as an appetizer.
The chips in these nachos were the best thing we ate all night. They were phenomenal. Fresh & crispy and oh so good. I could have just eaten a plate of those. The nachos were a mixed bag though. Loren found a few bones in the duck pieces and the cheese was just a little off. I don’t know how to describe it, the flavor and texture just weren’t what we expected. Don’t get me wrong, though, we ate the entire thing.
For his entree, Loren got the Ahi Tuna Tower.
It was served cold, which he didn’t like all that much. The carrot strings on top were a hoot to watch him try to eat. Whoever thought putting ridiculously long, thin strands of carrot on top of this dish has a warped sense of humor. The menu said they were crispy fried, but they seemed raw to us.
For my entree, I ordered the corn husked mahi.
There was nothing in the description of this dish that led me to believe it would be spicy. After a few bites, I couldn’t feel the roof of my mouth. Granted, I’m very wimpy when it comes to spices and whatever spice was in this dish did not agree with me at all. Unfortunately, I also found the mahi to be a bit dry. Loren ended up eating part of my dish too.
I wanted to try dessert, so we got the whoopie pies.
There was a red velvet with vanilla ice cream, a chocolate with mango cream, and a carrot cake with a ginger cream. Loren liked the carrot cake best. Of the three, it did have the best cake. I liked the red velvet because the ice cream was a good contrast to the thick, dry cake.
Our waiter was pretty good, although plates stayed on the table a little too long and at one point a busboy cleared plates and took my silverware without replacing it. One of the biggest gripes we had though was the noise level in the restaurant. Not only were the acoustics horrible, but the background music they played was too loud and had a pounding, repetitive beat to it. For a $70 meal, I expected much better from the experience. This isn’t a restaurant we’ll be going back to.
2542 McMullen Booth Rd
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.
1023 Florida Ave
Palm Harbor, FL
Another order of masitas and a mahi cuban and a tasty $20 lunch is had by all. Yeah, we eat here a lot. Believe it or not, I don’t even post all the times we eat here.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
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
We stopped by Cuban Breezes for lunch today around 1pm and it was packed. We luckily snagged the last available table. I had no idea Sunday afternoon was such a busy time for them. Loren ordered his usual lechon and I went for something light today, the grilled mahi with rice/beans and a side salad.
Both dishes were really good today. The pork was tender and flavorful and the mahi was some of the best I’ve eaten. It’s cooked perfectly, tender and flaky, with just a hint of seasoning. Definitely something I’d order again. With a drink, the total bill was $19.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
The plan tonight was to eat dinner & then go watch the sunset on Indian Rocks Beach, but dinner at Jimmy Guana’s took a bit longer than expected. It was busy and we had to wait about 15 minutes for a table, but we were very happy with the table we ended up with. Back of the restaurant, overlooking the water and secluded enough that we could actually hear each other and have a conversation over the live band that was playing.
We started out with some gumbo and grouper nuggets.
The gumbo had sausage, crawfish, and a nice spice blend which gave it a lot of flavor. It wasn’t very spicy at all. The grouper nuggets were pretty good. Loren liked the spicy sauce that came with them.
For dinner, he ordered the blacked mahi sandwich and I got the fried grouper sandwich.
Loren liked his a lot more than I liked mine. Actually, the grouper was ok, but after the nuggets, it was just too much of a one note taste in my mouth. Total bill was $40.
401 2nd St
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
I like the empanadas here. The chicken filling has some nice flavors and the whole thing is even better dipped in some Havana sauce.
Loren got the lechon with ultimate beans and rice.
This is one of his usual dishes here. I went for the mahi cuban.
I gotta say, this was some of the best mahi I’ve had in a while. It was cooked perfectly. I really enjoyed the sandwich, plus the whole meal with a drink was $20. This is why we come here so often. Even though it’s not the most authentic Cuban food you’ll ever eat, it is inexpensive and consistently good food.
13980 W Hillsborough Ave
We hadn’t been to Molly Goodheads in Palm Harbor for quite a while, so we headed out there tonight. They were busy, but we were able to get a table on the air conditioned patio without a wait.
We started out with some He Crab soup and a salad.
This was some tasty soup. Sadly one of our “spoons” was a small crab fork, but we played nice and shared. The soup had a lot of crab in it and a very nice texture and flavor. There was definitely some cheese in the soup as well. As for the salad, the ranch dressing was really good.
Loren ordered the mahi dinner with garlic mashed potatoes.
Two nice sized pieces of mahi mahi and some of the best mashed potatoes we’ve had in a long time. I say “we” because I ate quite a bit of them. I couldn’t help myself, they were that tasty.
I ordered the fish tacos which came with rice and beans.
The dish came with three tacos, but I ate one and just ate the fish out of the other two. Both the tacos and rice and beans were ok, but it’s probably not something I’d order again.
And when it comes to dessert, I have a hard time passing up anything called chocolate decadence.
This was one very fudgy cake. It could have used some whipped cream on the side, but otherwise it was rich, thick, and decadently chocolate.
Total dinner ran us $40 and was one of the better dining experiences we’ve had recently. The service and food were both good.
400 Orange Street
I’d heard some good things about Ozona Blue Oceanside, so since we were in Palm Harbor this afternoon, we decided to go check it out for dinner. We parked at the marina next door since we didn’t want to hand over our keys to the valet.
The hostess asked us if we wanted to sit outside or inside and since it was hot and humid, we figured inside with air conditioning was the way to go. Well, it would have been if there had been an adequate amount of air conditioning flowing inside. It was not comfortable in there at all. It was also loud, so I was winding myself up to really not like it here.
But, then came the food. We started with some she-crab soup.
It was really good. It had lots of crab meat in it and a nice delicate flavor. Then came the bread basket.
Sigh… soft, warm bread with a flavorful oil to dip it in. I couldn’t stop eating it; then our salads arrived.
We both got the avacado ranch dressing which had a good flavor to it. The salad had fresh greens, tomato, onions and artichokes in it.
They had several specials tonight and Loren ordered the Mahi Mediterrean.
This was a big piece of fish with feta, tomatos, and mushrooms in a light tomato sauce. He got the rice and beans for his side dish. He really enjoyed it and even had some leftovers for tomorrow.
I went for one of their other specials, the mixed grill with filet, shrimp and scallops with a side of slaw.
The filet was very tender. The shrimp and scallops were both cooked well, though I did find the scallops to be a little gritty. I kept tasting something a little spicy in the rice, but I have no idea what it was.
Overall, the food was very good, expensive, but good. Our waiter looked like a young Ben Affleck and he managed to keep drinks filled and plates cleared. If it hadn’t been for the lack of air conditioning and the noise level, this would have been a wonderful experience. Total bill was $59.
Ozona Blue Oceanside
125 Orange St
Palm Harbor, FL