The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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We’ve been enjoying the Indian restaurants we recently started dining at and found another one in Largo.  This was our first visit to Deeya Indian Cuisine and we both really enjoyed it.

Loren tried all of the sauces and liked them.  He didn’t think any of them were too spicy, but since his idea of spicy and mine are very different, I only tried the one sweet one in the middle.

We tried the Keema Samosa appetizer.  It was a deep fried pastry filled with mildly spiced lamb and peas.  Sort of like an Indian empanada.  It had some interesting flavors and I liked it with the sweet sauce.

Loren ordered the Chicken Kadai, which had chicken, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. 

He didn’t get it very spicy, but he did say the spice built up after a while.  He liked the flavors in it.  I ordered the butter shrimp.

I ordered it mild and it was really good.  It had a creamy tomato sauce with just a hint of spice.  And we had to get some Naan bread to help scoop up the remaining sauce.

This was nice and fluffy.  Really nice texture and flavor and great with the sauce from my entree.  Total bill was $38 and this is definitely a place we’d visit again.

Deeya Indian Cuisine
5166 East Bay Drive
Largo, FL

Deeya Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Indian, Largo
  • No, really!

    On our way home from the track today, Jeff and I stopped in Ocala for dinner.  Jeff popped up Urban Spoon and picked out a well-ranked place in the appropriate price range, and off we went.  I used to live very near Ocala when I was younger (in the early 80’s!), imagine my surprise to see that Ocala now has an “old town” district with a bunch of nice restaurants!  After a little circling and some odd right-turn-from-the-left-lane action from Jeff, we found a place to park and we walked across the street to this place called Harry’s Seafood.

    Just as we were crossing the street, at least 3 parties of 4-6 people walked in the door right ahead of us!  But, it was 5:30, so they weren’t packed yet, and we didn’t have to wait for our table for two.  A quick look at the menu revealed that Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill has the tagline of “A New Orleans Style Restaurant”.  Cool!

    We figured out why the crowd was rolling in at 5:30, too.  They have a 4-6pm “early bird” menu (they call it something else, but that’s what it is) with some very reasonable prices on it!

    So, we ordered some typical cajun fare with not a lot of great expectations, this being Ocala and all.  Our waiter was quick with our drinks and did a good job of keeping them topped up and taking care of us in general.  While we were waiting for our entrees, we got bread.  Now, I’m not a huge bread fan.  I often don’t even bother tasting it, but if it’s good and/or has something good to dip it in, I’ll enjoy it.  This bread was AWESOME!  Very fresh, just a little crispy on the outside, and oh-so-tasty with a spread of their delicious herbed butter.  We had to get a second loaf, it was so good!

    Our entrees arrived VERY quickly.  Jeff’s comment was “did I order yet?”  But, there it was.  His steaming plate of Crawfish Etouffe, which looked and smelled great!  He commented on it being a bit spicy… of course he dumped some of the Harry’s-branded hot sauce that was on the table on there, anyway.  I ordered the Jambalaya, which had ample portions of shrimp, smoked sausage and chicken and was pretty darned tasty, if I do say so myself!  Not “hot”, but definitely spicy.  We both ordered off of the “early” menu, which is smaller portions than what’s on the regular menu, and neither of us could imagine needing more food than we got.  I even boxed up about 1/3 of mine to take home. (could have eaten it… just wanted to enjoy it later)

    I guess Jeff picked up from Urban Spoon that this place is supposed to have an incredible mud pie, and he couldn’t live without trying it.  It’s like a coffee-flavored ice cream cake with a crisp layer of chocolate on top and who knows what else.  I was kinda turned off by the coffee (not a fan) and wasn’t going to try it.  But, it was HUGE, and Jeff didn’t get too far past half-way with it.  Being ice cream, he couldn’t take it home… so, I tried a bite.  To my pleasant surprise, the coffee flavor was very mild and with the giant mound of whipped cream on the side… well, let’s just say there wasn’t a lot left on the plate!

    We got out of there for about $35 with extremely happy tastebuds and full bellies.  Too bad it’s so far away, I’d go back here often!

    Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill
    24 SE 1st Ave
    Ocala, FL

    Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Cajun
  • On the bayou!

    Another Friday meeting at one of our favorite “conference rooms”, Cajun Cafe on the Bayou.

    I remembered to take a picture today, partly because my plate just looked pretty.  I wanted a light lunch, so I ordered the “Baby greens and a cup” for lunch with a cup of Gumbo.  The other guys ordered either a bowl of Jambalaya or Cajun burritos.  I’ve had both and they’re really good… the Jambalaya is notably spicier than the Gumbo, however.

    Great food and service, as usual.  Cajun Cafe rarely disappoints!

    Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
    8101 Park Blvd N
    Pinellas Park, FL
    (727) 546-6732

    Cajun Cafe on the Bayou on Urbanspoon


    Day 8 of our vacation we had reservations for lunch at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company.  On the way there, we stopped at the World Botanical Gardens to check out Umauma Falls.

    What a beautiful 3 tiered waterfall.  We’ve seen numerous waterfalls on our trip, but this one was simply gorgeous.  The actual gardens aren’t as nice or plentiful as the Hawaii Botanical Gardens, but the waterfall is definitely worth the admission price.

    The Hawaiian Vanilla Experience Lunch was pretty interesting.

    Their vanilla in infused in all of the lunch items.  The vanilla lemonade was really tasty.  Lunch was a chicken sandwich with salad and roasted potatoes and a vanilla bread pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  You also get to hear the story of the vanilla farm and get to visit the shade house where they grow the vanilla plants.  Trust me, after this visit you’ll completely understand why vanilla is so expensive.  Lunch and tour for two was $70, plus we ended up buying a few vanilla souvenirs as well. 

    After lunch, we went hiking through another cave and then walked around Kalopa State Park.  The park was beautiful and very serene.  We headed back to Hilo and stopped at the Hilo Bay Cafe for dinner. 

    Unfortunately, we hadn’t made reservations, but luckily there was plenty of room at the bar, so we ordered dinner there.  I think this was our best meal of the trip.

    I started out with a Thai curry coconut soup that was amazing.

    Loads of interesing flavors that were amazingly warm, but not too spicy.  Loren had a salad and really liked the dressing.

    I ordered the hamakua mushroom pot pie with chicken which came with a side salad.  This is the way pot pies should always be.

    The pastry crust was flaky and perfectly baked.  Chicken and fresh veggies in a creamy sauce inside.  This is comfort food at its best.

    Loren ordered their fish special of the night which was ono over a bed of mashed potatoes, spinach and tomatoes in a beurre blanc sauce.

    Perfectly cooked, with wonderful flavors.  There was nothing left on his plate when he was finished.  And since our entrees had been so good, I certainly couldn’t pass up their version of chocolate lava cake.

    Finally!  A restaurant that understands that lava cake should have a liquid center.  Loren was chatting with another customer at the bar and I had half of this eaten before he even turned around.  Wonderful deep chocolate flavors and the vanilla ice cream was a perfect complement.

    The entire experience was great.  This is definitely a restaurant that “gets it”.  The bartender was our waiter and he kept our drinks filled and plates cleared.  It was interesting watching him make bloody mary’s all night.  He must have made 8 of them while we were there.  Total bill was $61 and worth every penny.  If you’re in Hilo, make a reservation and eat here at least once on your trip.

    Hilo Bay Cafe on Urbanspoon

    Thursday was our last full day on the island.  We ate breakfast at the B&B and then headed down to the Volcano Park again to see the Jagger Museum and the end of the Chain of Craters road.  We also saw the Holei Sea Arch.

    We stopped at Thai Thai Restaurant for dinner in Volcano.  For an appetizer, we ordered the summer roll.

    I didn’t like it, but Loren did.  It had mint and cilantro in it that just completely ruined it for me.  Those just aren’t flavors I enjoy. 

    I ordered the chicken coconut yellow curry at the mildest setting available.

    I admit, I’m wimpy when it comes to spicy, but if this is mild, I’d hate to see what hot is like.  My mouth was on fire.  It had an interesting flavor, chicken and potatoes in the curry sauce, but my lips were tingling after just a few bites.

    Loren ordered the ginger chicken.

    His was even spicer than mine.  He enjoyed it, but still ordered some coconut ice cream for dessert just to cool off his tongue.

    The ice cream had bits of coconut in it.  Total bill was $50 and it took a while for both of us to regain sensation in our tongues and lips.  This is not a restaurant for the meek when it comes to spicy.

    Thai Thai on Urbanspoon

    Last day on the island and we got up at 3:00am in order to go on the sunrise Lava Ocean Boat Tour.  It was just so amazing during the sunset tour that we had to do it again before we left the island. 

    After the tour, we headed back to our B&B for breakfast then over to the Liliuokalani Gardens for awhile.

    We ate lunch at the Kuhio Grille in Hilo.  We actually ate breakfast here on our first day on the island.  Pancakes and a Belgium waffle that were huge and way more than one person could eat.

    Lunch on our last day also consisted of way too much food.  I ordered the chicken katsu with some corn chowder.  The chowder was really, really thick.  It had the consistency of mashed potatoes. 

    The chicken was a little overcooked.  Not the best I’d had on the island.  Loren ordered one of their specials, a Philipino combo which had spare ribs, adobo & pumpkin, long beans, wing beans and pork.

    He was a happy guy.  The meat just fell off the bones of the spare ribs.  Wonderful flavors all around.  He had no idea that he was eating pumpkin until he asked the waitress what it was.  Our final meal on the island ran us $28.

    Kuhio Grille on Urbanspoon

    All in all, we had an amazing vacation in Hawaii.  At every turn we were fascinated by the scenery.  From beautiful waterfalls, to lush green rainforests, to endless lava fields, to flowing glowing lava.  We kept saying “Wow”, only to have a bigger “Wow” uttered at the next stop.  The food was also wonderful.  So many of the restaurants used fresh, local ingredients and it was so apparent in the final dishes. 

    If you’re interested in seeing the rest of our photos, you can check them out on my Flickr page.  We’re slowly getting them edited and posted.  Aloha!







    We went to the 9am IMAX showing of Iron Man 2 this morning (good movie) and needed a place to go for lunch that we hoped wouldn’t be too crowded since it was Mother’s Day.  We hopped out on 19 and headed north.  I remembered seeing an Indian restaurant when we went to Aunt Chilada’s the other night and they had just opened up for lunch when we got there.

    We were the first customers of the day at Bawarchi and went for the lunch buffet.  This is only the 2nd time we’ve eaten Indian food, so the buffet gave us a chance to try a bunch of different dishes.

    Loren and I tried a little bit of everything including Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Tandoori, Goat Curry, Bombay Aloo, Chicken Madras, Channa Masala, Novrattan Korma, Daal Makhani,  Vegetable Samosa, Gulab Jamun, and Naan bread.

    The Naan bread was really good and buttery.  Everything else was fresh and had some interesting flavors.  Nothing was overly spicy, but for the rest of the day, I did feel a warmth in my throat.  There’s some spice in Indian food that just sticks with me. 

    For $25, the buffet was a great way for us to get more familiar with different Indian dishes. 

    34832 US Hwy 19
    Palm Harbor, FL

    Bawarchi Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Indian, Palm Harbor