Went to Miami to run the “12 Hours of Miami” race at Homestead International Raceway this weekend. On the way there from Tampa, we had brunch at a Cracker Barrel. It was good, but it’s Cracker Barrel… you either like Cracker Barrel or you don’t, but I ain’t blogging about it! We also ate at the same Cracker Barrel again on the way home Sunday, it was good then, too. Saturday, we had an early breakfast at Denny’s (conveniently next door to our hotel, which was curiously not a “La Quinta”, which I was sure was Spanish for “next to Denny’s”), and it was pretty good… it’s about the only thing that Denny’s does well. Somebody made a Wendy’s run for chicken sandwiches during the race… any food is awesome after 2 hours behind the wheel of a race car, and that was no exception. And late, late after the race Saturday night, we ate dinner at Denny’s… which was marginal at best, but what else are you gonna do when you’re hungry at 11pm?
Ah, but there was one meal that stood out! Friday night, we had time to kill, it was early, and we were hungry. We made our way to a seafood joint down the street from the hotel after searching for some Puerto Rican place that apparently burned down and was nowhere to be found. The place was a tad fancier than we were dressed for, but it’s Florida, and we figured we probably wouldn’t be the only t-shirt wearing racers to stroll in there this evening. (and we weren’t)
The menu was loaded with awesome-sounding seafood dishes. Lots of fresh fish, some steaks, just all-around good stuff. But, it was all a little pricey. Not much under about $16-18. But, then the waitress reminded us of their $9.99 specials. While a nice bronzed Mahi sounded really good… for about half the price, steak and shrimp sounded better. Two of us went with that. Everyone else got seafood dishes.
Of course, the two of us who did the $9.99 steak special also bit on the conch chowder without realizing that it was a $7 bowl of soup! So, we ended up spending $17 on dinner, anyway. But, let’s back up a little. First, there was bread…
It was really good bread! A light crunchy crust on the outside, soft, warm and delicious on the inside. As you probably know from reading this blog, if *I* bother to comment on the bread, it’s GOOD bread. Then our conch chowder showed up in these neat little pewter pots that kept it piping hot. We both agreed that we could have just eaten the soup and some bread and been good for the night. It was a good-sized bowl of soup and very hearty.
The entrees came without too much of a wait. Seeing the $9.99 special next to the other entrees made it clear what the difference was. Our steak and shrimp came with fries rather than a choice of two fresh sides, and didn’t have that “gourmet” look about it. I should have passed the camera around the table to get photos of the other dishes, as they all looked very good. The specials weren’t bad, but to be fair, they’re not what I would judge this restaurant on.
The shrimp were well-cooked, good crunchy batter and with a decent sauce. The fries were fries. Absolutely nothing special about those fries. The steak was surprisingly good, even though they overshot “medium” and went right into “medium well”. The beef was tender and juicy, can’t complain for the price.
I just looked this place up on Urban Spoon to find some weak reviews and a low “like” percentage. All I can say is, if you go here, plan on spending $20-25 per entree. You can get cheap here, but you get what you pay for. Spend the money and you won’t be disappointed!
11 SE 1st Ave
A couple of guys at work have been raving about the Grandma’s pizza at Corteo’s in Palm Harbor so it was time for me to check it out and see what all the fuss was about.
We started out with some soup, salad and bread.
The pasta e fagioli was good, but needed a little salt. It had two kinds of pasta in it, a small tube pasta which I normally see in the dish as well as some noodles like you’d see in chicken noodle soup. The veggies and beans were a little mushy, but I kinda like it that way. The bread had a wonderful flavor to it, but would have been so much better fresh out of the oven instead of reheated.
We settled on a Grandma’s pizza with mushrooms and meatballs.
It only comes in one size, a 16″ x 16″ square. My hats off to the guys at work, this pizza was awesome. The crust was crispy and the chunky tomato sauce was amazing. You tasted basil and garlic and the meatballs had a wonderful flavor too. Everything had a homemade, fresh taste almost as if my Italian Grandma was back there in the kitchen with them.
We had plenty of leftovers which will make for an awesome lunch tomorrow. I also ordered a cannoli to go.
It was a little disappointing. The filling was good, but the shell wasn’t crispy enough. Overall though, a wonderful meal for $30. We’ll definitely be back to visit Grandma again. It’s going to be hard to not order a pizza every time we go, but I’d love to try to the pasta too.
Corteo’s Pizza and Pasta
32922 US Hwy 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
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
Saw a coupon on Restaurant.com for $25 off at Greektown Grille in Clearwater, so we decided to check it out. It’s a nice looking restaurant with lots of seating and a patio area.
The bread was fresh and warm, just the way I like it.
We had to spend $35, so we started off with a couple of half orders of appetizers. Some calamari and some dolmades.
The pepperoncini sauce that came with the calamari was a little spicy. The calamari itself was cooked very well. The dolmades were really good. At a lot of places, it’s more rice than meat, but these were mostly meat which was nice and they had a really good flavor.
Soup or salad came with our entrees, so we ordered one of each.
The Greek salad has very good dressing on it. The avgolemono soup was bursting with lemon flavor. It was a pretty thick soup and if I had any hope of eating my dinner, there was no way I was going to be able to finish it.
Loren ordered the Athenian Chicken.
He really enjoyed it. The chicken was cooked well and the spinach sauce and rice that came with it had wonderful flavors. I ordered the pastitsio with a side of roasted potatoes.
This was a wonderful dish. The pasta and bechamel sauce were both cooked perfectly. The sauce had a delicate taste of nutmeg. I’ve had the dish at other places where it was overwhelming. The potatoes were lemon roasted and tasty, but I was barely able to eat half my entree. But, I’m all for leftovers.
After the $25 coupon, the total bill was only $13. Talk about a lot of delicious food for an incredible price. This is definitely a place we’ll go back to again. Having an authentic Greek restaurant without having to drive into Tarpon Springs is a wonderful thing.
1230 Cleveland St
We called around to a few places to see who was open on Memorial Day and ended up at Georgie Boy Restaurant in Clearwater.
They have a big menu with lots of choices. We both ordered off of the specials menu with came with bread, soup or salad, and dessert.
Loren got a salad & and I got the cream of chicken soup.
The soup was very flavorful. Definitely homemade.
Bread baskets always make me happy. For our entrees, Loren ordered the roast beef dinner which came with mashed potatoes and corn.
Down home goodness on a plate. Nothing fancy, just good food and lots of it. I ordered the fettucine with meatballs.
Gotta love a place that actually gives you a bunch of meatballs. The sauce was really good, very similar to my grandmother’s recipe. The meatballs were also very tasty and had a nice consistency. I ended up taking half of it home for leftovers.
For dessert, we both decided to get cheesecake. There were some options that came with dinner or you could substitute cheesecake for half price.
This was a decandent NY style cheesecake. Very thick and rich with a delicate flavor. There were a few other desserts in the dessert case that looked amazing.
Total dinner was $25. Great value, and lots of tasty food. This is definitely a place we’ll try again.
Georgie Boy Restaurant
1101 S Missouri Ave