Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Another 49th Street Gem

I continue to be amazed and delighted with the dining options along 49th Street in Pinellas Park. Just the other day my bride and I stumbled upon another 49th Street jewel, Tasty Phở, as we were leaving the MD Oriental Market. Both establishments are situated at the corner of 49th and Park Boulevard. We had perishables from the store that needed an ice box, so we didn't stop but I vowed to return.

The Belle of the Boulevard and I stopped in for lunch today at this charming Vietnamese restaurant. We were immediately greeted at the door, seated, and presented with menus. Even with a large lunch time crowd, service was prompt and efficient thanks to the lovely Serena.

The main menu at Tasty Phở features much more than the signature bowl of Vietnamese goodness, but phở is what I wanted, so phở is what the phở I ordered (I swore I wouldn't resort to a phở-pun, but I couldn't help myself). My bowl of Phở Tái – Sliced Rare Beef Noodle was a rich broth with al dente noodles and heavenly tender sliced beef.

The diner is presented with a side of bean sprouts, jalapeño slices, lime, basil, and mint to garnish as desired. A small ramekin of chili paste is also available for those who dare.

My lovely dining partner is usually a little hesitant to try foods of unknown provenance, but today she went all-in with the Bún Thịt Nướng – Grilled Pork Vermicelli.

The savory pork with veggies is piled on top of perfectly prepared rice vermicelli. Serena said this was one of her favorite dishes that she always orders with a deep fried egg role. The Belle said if that was good enough for Serena, then bring it on, and it was a have-again dish for my bride.

Tasty Phở has a limited selection of beer, but no wine. Both of us requested a bottle of Heinekin to go with our food choices. I was a little disappointed not seeing a Tiger or 33 on the menu, and that was the only disappointment to the Tasty Phở experience.

Our total bill for food and two beers came to a pleasant $25.36. We tacked on a 20% plus gratuity for Serena.

Tasty Pho on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Pearl On Treasure Island

Christmas Eve 2014 found us with family and friends at The Pearl Restaurant, 163 107th Avenue, Treasure Island, celebrating the traditions of Saturnalia and Yule with great food and drink. The celebrants of old would have been beside themselves with glee at the bevy of gustatory delights presented to our table along with the beverages of Bacchus.

The seven of us ordered a host of various dishes from the Pearl's holiday menu, and nary a discouraging word was heard from any in our group and the skies were not cloudy all day. My train may have jumped the tracks there for a moment, but the foods and service were commendable.

Duck and Country Pate Platter
Lobster Bisque
Escargot Provencal
Roast Duck Au Poivre
Rack of Lamb with Honey Rosemary Sauce
Veal Tournados
Lamb Tangine
Beef Short Ribs in a Cabernet Sauce
Missing from this photo gallery of delightful foods are two Filet Mignons, but imagine two tender juicy steaks and you will be good to go.

Finally ...

Several dessert photos also went AWOL save for this one
The dishes served were representative of those found on the regular menu, and we seven little piglets waddled out of the Pearl with full tummies and happy hearts. 

For the Belle and me, dinner came to a very reasonable $128 and we tacked on an additional 20% for good service. I do not know if there was a mandatory gratuity added for a large party. If so, then we over tipped, but what the hell! Isn't this the season of giving and good will towards hard working, usually, underpaid service workers?

Pearl on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Our Anniversary Celebration At Keegan's

Last night our dear friends Sweet Polly and her mighty Underdog helped my bride and me celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary at an unassuming, yet charming, Indian Rocks Beach treasure. Keegan's Seafood Grille is located at 1519 Gulf Boulevard, the boulevard of gastronomic delights.

Devon, our lovely server for the evening, got our party of four seated and the party started with a pitcher of draft beer for the table. Next came the comestibles and the sampling commenced:

The She Crab Soup was flavorful, but too thick for some. The Belle and I had never tried this soup before so we had nothing to compare it with.

These Shrimp Leones with a Parmesan crust and spicy aioli were crunchy and delicious. I would order those again.

Sweet Polly had an order of the Oysters Rockefeller that is listed as a house favorite. I tried one and it was flavorful, but a little undercooked for this dish. That comes from a person who swoons at the thought of oysters on the half shell.

My only disappointment of the evening, the Baked Octopus with feta cheese. The octopus was tender and this dish was not an unpleasant departure from previous octopus dishes I have enjoyed. It's just that my taste buds were salivating at the prospect of the Char-broiled Octopus. Unfortunately, Keegan's had run out and Devon wasn't in the mood to go out on a boat to replenish the octopus tank this late in the evening.

The Belle of the Boulevard was quite pleased with her Mahi and black bean salsa with a loaded tater on the side; so much so that she had this dish again on a subsequent visit.

My baked Cobia was an interesting presentation served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a crab salad topping.

Underdog seemed mightily pleased with his Snapper on top of a tasty Louisiana favorite, red beans and rice.

A couple of slices of Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie rounded out our dinner at Keegan's.

Sweet Polly and Underdog treated us to our anniversary dinner. Thank you guys so much. You are the greatest.

Editor's Update: The Belle of the Boulevard and I returned a few nights later after Devon had apparently been out on the boat and Keegan's again had the Char-broiled Octopus and it was unbelievably good. If you swoon over octopus like I swoon over octopus you must have this appetizer, although it was big enough to be a main dish if sides were added.

Also, on our return visit I tried the Tuscan Grilled Swordfish Special with a Mediterranean topping and piled on a heap of garlic mashed potatoes. This was a tasty and filling dish though the fish was just a tad over cooked to be perfect.

Keegan's Seafood Grille on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 22, 2014

Buon Appetito From Indian Rocks

My bride and I have been giving the restaurants on Gulf Boulevard a go lately since, until yesterday, we had not made it to a grocery to fill our ice box and larder. Moving has been a molto grande distraction.

Our latest dining adventure was at Villa Gallace, a dandy Italian restaurant overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway at 109 Gulf Boulevard. We had early reservations and were seated in a timely fashion. Our most professional server for the evening was the delightfully knowledgeable, Sasha.

That is not the proper spelling of his name, but that is how it is pronounced ... so there.

Sasha brought us two splits of Prosecco to enjoy while absorbing the menu. He also explained the specials of the evening. I only remember one because that special was so enticing: The Bone-in Veal Chop bathed in a mushroom and Marsala wine sauce. I had to have that chop, and I did have it con molto piacere. That chop was prepared a perfect medium rare and was so tender and juicy I pert near quivered in ecstasy while moaning with gastronomic abandon.

The Belle of the Boulevard was not quite as demonstrative while enjoying her superb Eggplant Parmigiana, but it was obvious that this dish did not disappoint her buds of taste.

I was really looking forward to trying the Villa's Spicy Puttanesca, but there was no way my taste receptors were going to pass up the veal chop, so a return trip is definitely in my future.

To accompany our dinner choices, my bride and I shared a bottle of Centine, a Super Tuscan with full body and soft and silky tannins.

Dinner for two with wine and gratuity came to a little under $150.

Villa Gallace Italian on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tasty Eats Just Down The Street

Actually, the tasty eats I am referring to are just down the boulevard from our piglet palace. We have been to Salt Rock Grill, 19325 Gulf Blvd at Indian Shores, several times in the past and since we have yet to do any serious grocery shopping we have dined at Salt Rock twice this past week. Let me just gush that both visits have been superb ... both food and service have been stellar.

Last night the Belle of the Boulevard and I began our dining adventure with a couple of serious adult beverages: a classic mojito for me and a divine Angel's Envy Manhattan. Angel's Envy is arguably one of the best Kentucky bourbons this side of heaven. Angel's Envy is finished in Port wine barrels and is so smooth and delicious it is almost a sin to mix it with anything.

Next on my agenda was a return to the oyster bar, so to speak. I had a half dozen Raspberry Point oysters a few nights ago and they were perfectly shucked, juicy, briny, and delicious. I had to do that again, so I requested a full dozen of these tasty delights from the sea, and again they were excellent. I swoon at the memory.


To accompany our main dinner choices Morgen, our charming server for the evening, recommended a bottle of Immortal Zin, an old vine wine from Lodi that wraps the palate "in a velvety layered mix of sweet red cherry, strawberry, cocoa and juicy red fruit followed by light toast and smooth, chiseled tannins, leading to a lengthy, almost breathless finish." In other words, that was a damn fine wine.

After a swirl or two and a sip of this grand Zin we decided to proceed with our entrees.

My bride rarely sees a meatloaf that she can refuse and the Salt Rock Mile High Meatloaf just tingled every one of her taste buds. This loaf was laced with roasted red pepper and mushroom, then topped with garlic mashed potatoes, a rich demi glace, and crispy onion straws. This truly was a delicious mountain of meat.

On a previous visit I enjoyed a juicy and delicious 1 1/4 pound bone-in rib eye. On this dining adventure I could not resist the 1 pound bone-in Filet Mignon. This is a rather pricey menu item, but it was worth every penny. It was prepared a perfect medium rare and the meat simply melted in my mouth. This was an excellent steak and there was no way I could resist picking up the bone and doing some serious cave man gnawing.

We little piglets were too stuffed to do much more than waddle home after that fantastic meal. I did notice that a big slice of Rum Banana Bread Pudding had somehow found its way home with us. Later that evening I heard squeals of delight coming from the kitchen.

Another pleasant surprise of the evening came when we received our bill: $148 for all of that food and drink. Back in our old home across the bay I would have expected a bill of $200 or more. Of course, we added a 20% gratuity for Morgen.

Salt Rock Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Our Neighborhood Beach Pub And Grill

We are in the final stages of moving into our palace on the beach. This arduous endeavor has allowed no time for grocery shopping or food preparation so we have had to make do on the local economy.

Thankfully for us Mickey Quinns Beach Pub and Grill is just up the road from us at 19703 Gulf Boulevard, Indian Shores. We have availed ourselves of their medicinal (for us) beer and grub on several occasions, and each time the food, beer, and especially the friendly service, have ensured a return trip for us.

I would have included photos of the pub's grub except the camera was hiding from me during our initial visits. If you want to see what their delicious delights look like I suggest a visit to Quinns and order up a bunch of goodies. We can heartily recommend the Fish and Chips, hand cut Atlantic cod, dipped in pub beer batter, and fried to a golden brown. This dish is served with pub or string fries. I had the pub fries and they were terrific.

We have also enjoyed the Captain Tuna, thinly sliced sesame crusted tuna served with soy sauce, ginger and wasabi. The Patty Melt was one of the best my bride said she could remember. This was a juicy half pound burger covered with sautéed onions and Swiss cheese, and served on pressed marble rye bread.

At Mickey Quinns, the beer is cold, the food good and filling, and the people are friendly. There is a game room and a full bar. It is three blocks away. I didn't have to cook. What's not to like about Mickey Quinns?

The Belle of the Boulevard and I went to Mickey Q's again last night and we discovered what is not to like about the place. Since alcohol sales is greater than food sales, then by law, smoking is allowed. On our first two visits no one was smoking. Last night the air was thick with smoke.

We are non-smokers so this was a real turnoff for us. What a shame!

Mickey Quinns Beach Pub and Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 1, 2014

Glad I Opened My Email Today

The first email came as a very pleasant surprise from Urbanspoon:

Hello Jon,

In recognition of your contributions to Urbanspoon, we've made you an Urbanspoon Prime. You now have a nifty icon next to your name on our website announcing your Prime status to the rest of the world!

Holy moly, Batman, I now have a golden spoon. I am practically orgasmic. Come on...I said practically.

The second came from J & D Foods announcing a new product that came at just the right time for my bride and me. Since we are moving to the beach with new furniture, including a king sized bed, we will be needing stuff. Stuff like new bed linens...pillowcases and such. Well, J & D have us covered:

Yes, Virginia, there is a bacon scented pillowcase. Says J & D:  

Our bacon-scented pillowcase uses advances in printing technology to allow the scent of bacon to permeate your dreams and expand your mind. That's right, the scent of bacon is embedded in the ink on these specially printed pillowcases! 

If cared for according to included instructions, this pleasing aroma should last for 6-12 months or more. It can even endure through multiple wash cycles - be sure to use an unscented detergent, wash separately in warm water, and air or tumble dry. 

Your sweet bacony sleep experience may or may not have the following effects:
  • Dreams of happy things - like bacon for breakfast, rolling around in a pile of bacon or placing the winning hog at the 4-H contest
  • Effortless, overnight weight loss by kicking your digestive system into high gear (try not to eat your pillowcase)
  • Dramatic increases in your intelligence and higher brain functioning
  • Easier wake-ups - your mornings will be like being shot out of a bacony cannon!
Note: Additional drooling while you sleep may happen for a small percentage of bacon pillowcase users.
The Oracle offers no warranty, implied or express, and we receive no remuneration from J & D.