The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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We decided to give Bella Kouzina another try, but unfortunately, this visit wasn’t any better than the last.  It started with the fried calamari.

We order calamari almost every place that has it on the menu, so I think I’m a pretty good judge of how it should taste.  This was just beyond chewy and had no flavor whatsoever.  When the waitress stopped by and asked how it was, I told her it was chewy.  She looked at me and said, “But, it’s calamari.”   I’m guessing she’s just never had calamari cooked the right way before.  She took it back to the kitchen and we heard someone say “drop another order of calamari”.  Since nothing else was said as to cooking it differently, we ended up sending the second batch back as well & they took it off our check.  The waitress said they must have just gotten a bad shipment.  Personally, we both thought they just didn’t have the oil at the right temperature, so it was getting overcooked.  But, on to the soups.

Loren got the clam chowder and I got the pasta fagioli.  His had a decent flavor, but it wasn’t thick and creamy.  My first bite tasted like baked beans and each subsequent bite had sort of a metallic taste when it hit my tongue.  Loren said he could taste what I was tasting as well.  The bread, however, was the highlight of the meal for me.

Loren ordered the salmon Cleopatra which had artichokes, celery and mushrooms in a white wine lemon sauce.

He said it was ok.  At first, he didn’t like the sauce on it. I tasted it and thought it  just tasted like olive oil with a little bit of lemon in it. His dish also came with pasta.  He said it was overcooked and the sauce wasn’t great.   I decided to try the pastitsio.

Again, this is a dish I order at most Greek restaurants, so I expect certain flavors.  This one didn’t deliver.  Instead of being cooked as one large dish and portioned out, it looks like an individual serving was made.  The pasta wasn’t drained properly, so there was water in the bottom of the bowl.  The meat filling had no flavor and the pasta sauce was tart.  It hadn’t cooked anywhere near long enough to develop any decent flavors.  This was a pretty disappointing meal for $29.

Bella Kouzina
3101 SR 580
Safety Harbor, FL
(727) 797–2667

Bella Kouzina on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value2/5
2.5/5

We drove over to Nana’s in Tarpon Springs for lunch today.   They’re only open until 2pm and the place was packed when we got there.  We split a bowl of seafood chowder.

Yum!  Thick and rich with some very nice flavors.  We both decided to get sandwiches, though we should have really just split one.  Loren got a BLT and I got the chicken salad melt.

Both were served on grilled sourdough bread, which I love.  Lots of bacon on his BLT to satisfy his craving.  My melt had grilled onions on it, but I found them not grilled quite enough for my taste.  I wanted them a lot softer and more carmelized.  Loren thought it was perfect just the way it was though.  I also got a side of Nana’s home fries with their hickory mayo to dip them in.  We were both stuffed and ended up bringing home half of each sandwich.  Everything is just so fresh and flavorful here.  It’s a great homestyle restaurant. Total bill was $22.

Nana’s Restaurant
857 E Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL
727-944-5788

Nana's on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value4/5
3.9/5

Sometimes the simplest dishes can be the tastiest.  We went to Nana’s Restaurant in Tarpon Springs for brunch and Loren was just as happy as could be with his BLT sandwich and soup.

The sandwich just made him happy.  Crispy bacon, lightly toasted bread, mayo, crunchy lettuce and tomato.  So simple, yet so tasty.  Plus he really likes their black bean soup too.  I went for a Country Scramble.

This was one heavy dish.  Eggs, potatoes, cheese, sausage gravy, biscuit and it also came with bacon that I got on the side.  There was way too much of it for me to finish.  It was good, but one note texture-wise.  Total bill with a drink was $21.

Nana’s Restaurant
857 E Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL
727-944-5788

Nana's on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value4/5
3.9/5

Messy Burger


Went up to Tarpon Springs back to Nana’s Restaurant for lunch today.  It was pretty crowded, but luckily we didn’t have to wait for a table.  We were there for lunch, but I wasn’t going to pass up the cup of danish they dropped off.

They were a sweet little snack while we waited for our food. Loren started off with a bowl of black bean soup & then we split a Danny Burger.

He really enjoyed the soup.  It had a lot of good flavors going on.  The Danny burger has onions, mushrooms, and a burgandy wine sauce on it & it was tasty.  Extremely messy to eat, but tasty nonetheless.  The homefries weren’t as good as I remembered from the last time, but they hit the spot with some honey mustard to dip them in.  Total bill with a drink was $15.

Nana’s Restaurant
857 E Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL
727-944-5788

Nana's on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value4/5
3.9/5

Unseasoned


Leo’s Italian Grill opened up 3 weeks ago in Palm Harbor so that was our destination for lunch today.  It’s a huge space with a patio, banquet room, and large bar area.  We were seated in a booth that seemed rather awkward to me.  The table was too long for us to sit opposite each other, so we sat in the middle & looked out at the other diners in the restaurant.   The experience didn’t get off to a good start when the waitress brought Loren sweet tea instead of unsweetened and just went downhill from there.

Both our entrees came with soup or salad.  Loren chose the wedding soup & I got the pasta fagioli.

 

Both were desperately underseasoned.  A little salt can go a long way.  This was the theme of the meal though, it was all very bland.  I certainly prefer non-chain restaurants, but I compared everything I ate to that at Olive Garden and the chain definitely wins out this time.  The bread sticks were really tough and thick.

Even the dipping oil was lackluster.  I also noticed a definite lack of consistency in how the waitresses handled their tables.  When another waitress brought out the bread & oil, she explained what was in it.  When another table said the bread was hard, she brought them out a different basket.  When ours went to clear some plates, she asked if she could take the bread basket & I said yes because it was hard.  Her answer was oh, well, sometimes they just come out that way.

We tried the calamari.

It had a very thick coating of batter on it, so they were very crunchy and also in need of some seasoning.  The marinara sauce had an undercooked taste to it.  It was almost a metallic taste from the tomatoes not being allowed to simmer long enough.

For his entree, Loren got the chicken piccata.

Now, this is a dish he gets at a lot of restaurants and the key flavor you expect to taste is lemon.  It was non-existent in this dish.  In fact, the sauce tasted like eggs & butter.  He did say the chicken was very tender though.  I went for the eggplant rollatini.

I’m not sure how to describe the taste on this.  It had a lot of mozzarella which I guess ended up being the predominate flavor.  The eggplant was very mushy and the ricotta also tasted like eggs.  There just weren’t any Italian spices or even salt & pepper to give it any flavor whatsoever.  I ate half of one.  Needless to say, this isn’t a restaurant we’ll be returning to.  I’d choose Olive Garden over this any day.  It was a very disappointing $29 lunch in both food and service.

Leo’s Italian Grill
33286 US Hwy 19 North
Palm Harbor, FL
727-786-9110

Leo's Pizza & Italian on Urbanspoon

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