The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Taverna Skara
2454 McMullen Booth Rd
Clearwater, FL
727-726-9000

Taverna Skara on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.0/5

Disappointing


Always on the lookout for places we haven’t visited yet, we ended up at Pensare Italian Bistro in Dunedin for dinner tonight.  The place was packed and really loud.  We were seated in this little alcove and I felt like the sound just reverberated off the walls.  Our waiter came over and explained the specials and brought bread and oil to the table.

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The bread was warm and crusty and the dipping oil was very flavorful.  We were optimistic about the rest of the meal only to be quickly disappointed when our appetizer arrived.

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It was a fried platter of calamari, shrimp and zucchini.  The calamari was thin and like rubber.  The breading had no flavor whatsoever.  The shrimp were overcooked and the zucchini was burnt.  If our waiter had actually come back to the table in a reasonable amount of time, I would have sent it back.  Salads came with our meal and we both got the mixed greens.

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Loren likes mixed green salads, I’m not a fan.  They also brought oil & vinegar to the table & you can have the waiter dress the salad or you can do it yourself.  Eventually, our entrees came out.  At this point, I felt like we had been there for quite a while. Loren ordered the Salmone Asparagi which was salmon in a lemon buerre-blanc sauce and asparagus.

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He said it was pretty good.  I found the sauce to be a bit too tart and sour for my tastes. I went for the pappardelle bolognese.

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This was not a good dish.  The pasta was undercooked and the sauce was flavorless.  It was just very uninspiring.  Our waiter disappeared at this point, I think he had tables out on the patio, so we didn’t see much more of him.  My expectations were so low at this point that I didn’t even bother with dessert.  We won’t be back.  Total bill was $59 with a drink.

Pensare Italian Bistro
799 Highland Ave
Dunedin, FL
727-786-2222

Pensare Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.0/5
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  • Filed under: Dunedin, Italian
  • My dining experiences at Rumba Island in Oldsmar have been going downhill for a while and tonight was no exception.  They remodeled the interior since the last time we were there and now the entire restaurant is open to the bar area which made it a bit louder inside.  Not sure how that’s going feel once the summer heat sets in.  We started off with some grouper fritters and corn muffins.

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    The corn muffins were yummy as usual.  That’s about the only consistent thing I’ve found here.  The grouper fritters were ok, but a bit on the spicy side for me.  Loren ordered a bacon cheeseburger.

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    He liked it.  In fact, he usually has a pretty good experience with the food here.  I’m the one that ends up with the wonky entrees.  Tonight, I went for something I’ve had before with relative success, the BBQ salmon.

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    One bite was enough to tell me that the salmon was not fresh.  I eat enough salmon to know that it shouldn’t have a fishy taste to it.  And just to be certain that I wasn’t being overly critical, I had Loren taste it and he agreed.  When the waiter finally came back to our table, I told him the fish wasn’t good.  He said salmon is a very fishy tasting fish and I politely disagreed.  If that’s what he thinks, then he’s obviously never had fresh salmon.  They took it off the bill and the manager came out as well, but I sort of got the impression from him that he didn’t think there was anything wrong with the fish either.  Total bill with a drink was $19.

    Rumba Island Bar & Grill 
    3687 Tampa Road
    Oldsmar, FL
    (813) 475-5974

    Rumba Island Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

    Food2/5
    Service2/5
    Atmosphere2/5
    Value2/5
    2.0/5

    Very Crowded


    We went back to Woodstock on 5th tonight in Safety Harbor.  They were really busy and we ended up at one of the high top tables right next to the kitchen.  It was really uncomfortable sitting on bar stools, the table was small and we could see & hear everything going on in and around the kitchen.  I just felt cramped and crowded.  We started off with the white bean chili again and Loren got a salad.

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    They also served it with pita bread and apple butter this time, which they didn’t the last.  The chili was thinner this time, which was good.  It was really thick the first time we had it.  It seemed to have a lot more chicken in it as well.  For his entree, Loren got the Molly Hatchet, which was a grilled swordfish.

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    It was served with arugula and a spicy tomato puree, but Loren didn’t think it was spicy at all.  He wasn’t a big fan of the arugula, but said the swordfish was cooked perfectly.  I went for the Janis Joplin.

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    This was a seared salmon on top of spinach, zucchini, corn, & red peppers.  It also came with a potato pancake that was really dense and flavorless.  I didn’t care for the tomato vinaigrette on it either.  Too much vinegar and was way too sour for me.   The salmon was perfectly cooked though.

    Overall, I just found the experience to be very uncomfortable.  There seems to be a lot of people working there which made it feel even more crowded in such a small space.  Though we both enjoyed the fish, the items served alongside didn’t impress.  Total bill with a drink was $54.

    Woodstock on 5th
    155 5th Ave N
    Safety Harbor, FL
    727-797-4444

    Woodstock on 5th on Urbanspoon

     

    Food3/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere1/5
    Value3/5
    2.7/5

    Mmmm… Sushi


    It was a dark and stormy night and sushi seemed like a perfect way to chase away the gloom.  We headed over to Ocean Blue since it was close and I could hear the Super Crunchy calling to me.

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    Luckily Loren isn’t quite as enamored with it as I am, either that or he’s just afraid I’ll swat his hand away if he tries to eat too many pieces of it.  I just love that roll.  We also got a Mexican roll and a Rainbow roll.  Both were delicious.  Yeah, you didn’t think we stopped there, did you??

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    Loren had to have a spicy tuna and a Scott roll plus one more that I can’t remember.  I think it was tuna or maybe salmon, either way, it was good.  As always, everything was fresh and tasty.  Loren also got a salad.

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    Oh, and remember that dark & stormy night?  About the time we were finishing up, the sky opened up and a deluge of rain poured down.  That could only mean that we had to order dessert, right?

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    Fried cheesecake is one of the strangest and tastiest desserts around.  Soft and slightly frozen on the inside, crispy on the outside.  Very tasty throughout.  Finally the rain let up, our taste buds were happy, and our wallet was $62 lighter.

    Ocean Blue Sushi Bar & Kaiko Japanese Restaurant 
    2475 McMullen Booth Road
    Clearwater, FL
    727-953-9828

    Ocean Blue Sushi on Urbanspoon

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