Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Beachside Grille

The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I have been looking forward to trying the bill of fare at the Beachside Grille. The Grille is a little hard to find, but find it we did last night. A lot more obvious is the Friendly Tavern almost directly across Gulf Boulevard. We've never been to the Tavern, but it makes a great landmark for locating the Grille ... and, you are welcome.

We wandered in around 5:30 to an empty restaurant. Rick greeted us at the door and invited us to sit where we wished. The dinner crowds didn't start packing the place until after six. My bride and I decided on a Bud and a draft to compliment our food choices. Wine is also served by the glass and bottle.

To start our culinary adventure the Belle and I chose to split an appetizer of roasted goat cheese topped with deliriously delicious caramelized shallots. The accompanying toasts topped with the cheese and shallots, then a sprinkle of shredded lettuce was probably the highlight of our meal at the Grille.

Next came the included house salad. Those salads were notable for their super fresh and crisp greens topped with Gorgonzola and a creamy dressing. My choice was Green Goddess while my bride chose a Ranch dressing.

For her main course the Belle chose the coconut encrusted baked Mahi Mahi with a side of black beans and rice. She was less than thrilled with her food choices. The fish was dry and had little flavor and the same was said about the black beans ... again, no flavor and maybe a smidge under done.

My choice for dinner was the turf and surf special, roasted rib eye with a superb balsamic reduction topped with three bacon wrapped shrimp. The reduction was a perfect combination of slightly sweet and acidic with a syrupy texture. The shrimp were not over or under done and were enhanced by the crispy bacon wraps. Balsamic and bacon was a perfect match.

This wasn't the most spectacular dining experience we have had at the beach, but the service was good, as were the prices, and we didn't leave hungry.

Dinner with several adult beverages came to just $63.63 and we tacked on an additional 20% as a gratuity.

Beachside Grille on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Full Bellies And Tsifteteli

The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I have driven past the Greek Village Restaurant on numerous occasions. It never occurred to me to stop because I thought it was just a fast food joint. Yesterday I saw an ad in the Tampa Bay Times that illuminated the error of my thinking. Greek Village, located at 11125 Park Boulevard in Seminole, is a dandy sit-down restaurant serving a delightful variety of Greek inspired dishes. And, I do love me some Greek food!

I called ahead for six o'clock reservations, which upon arrival we discovered weren't necessary. After being seated we watched the place fill up rapidly over the next half hour or so. The reason being the first tsifteteli performance. Tsifteteli, you ask? Tsifteteli is the name for the Greek belly dance. This name comes from the Turkish word Chifteteli, which originally means “two strings”. I'll get to the food in a jiffy, but first let me grab a couple of drachmas ...

Photo by the Belle of the Boulevard
Now that I have reminisced, I'll switch my attention to food and wine. A couple of glasses of Retsina got us started as we shared an appetizer of Giant Lima Beans served with a light tomato sauce and a couple cubes of Saganaki cheese. Those beans were huge and tender and oh so tasty. Warm pita quarters were served on the side.

Our entrees came with a soup or a salad. My bride chose the soup special of the day, a Potato, Leek, and Bacon that was light and creamy. No one element was overpowering. You could taste each of the ingredients. I don't think the Belle licked the bowl, but there wasn't a drop left when she was done.

I have been cooking a lot of soups at home lately, so I went with the house salad. While house salads can be rather ho hum, this one wasn't. It was adorned with a dollop of potato salad, beets, olives, San Marzano tomatoes, and pepperoncini.

Next on the table for my bride was the Moussaka, a baked casserole with eggplant, ground sirloin, potato slices, enhanced with a creamy cheese bechamel, then topped with a light tomato sauce. Said she, "That moussaka was probably better than the one I had on Dodecanese in Tarpons Springs."

The Greek Village Roasted Lamb Shank with seasonal veggies and a delightful red sauce called out to me. This shank was flavorful and wonderfully tender.

Ian, our very efficient and personable server, was deserving of the 20% gratuity we added to our $65.86 bill. That total didn't include the bills I tucked in the dancer's shorts, but it did include more than a few glasses of retsina.

To sum up, the food was good, the wine worked its Grecian magic, and the entertainment was entertaining.

Greek Village on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 7, 2015

All You Care To Eat Grouper? Hell To The Yes!

As a general rule the Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I don't seek out hotel restaurants, but Jimmy Guana's Waterfront Restaurant at the Holiday Inn Harborside, 401 2nd Street at Indian Rocks, reeled me in with their All You Care To Eat Grouper special for a mere $14.95. Apparently this is a regular Friday event, and since yesterday was Friday we went.

My bride and I wandered in to Jimmy's around six and were invited to sit wherever we pleased. We chose a booth in this Key West inspired restaurant and Dakota, our gregarious server, presented us with menus. Since we are still on a serious health kick we decided to up our vitamin C intake with a couple of nutritious Rum Runners.

While we were imbibing, Dakota brought a basket of really tasty coconut bread squares. These breads looked kinda like corn bread but had a much lighter texture with a pleasant sweetness. What my bride didn't consume on the spot were brought home for breakfast this morning.

Included with her entree, the Belle was presented with a fresh and crisp house salad. It was pretty much standard issue but it was enhanced with Mandarin orange slices.

This was a fishy night for both of us and my gorgeous dining partner was truly pleased with her choice of the Grouper Marquesa with a side of veggies and a loaded baked potato. This grouper fillet was dipped in egg with Parmesan cheese and garlic, then topped with crab and baked to perfection. Said she, "The fish was moist and delicious, the Alfredo sauce was very good, but the crab had a bit of a strong taste."

There were several items on the menu that piqued my buds of taste, but I was still more intrigued by the All you Care To Eat Grouper for $14.95 that can be prepared any one of four ways: grilled, blackened, fried, or jerked. For my first go-round I had my grouper jerked. The grouper was cooked to perfection and the jerk rub was one of the best I have had away from Jamaica.

For round two I requested the grouper fried. It too was perfectly cooked, but I still think the jerk was the better of the two. I never got to the grilled or blackened. The portion size was very generous. I was also impressed that there was no hesitation in offering additional plates of grouper. I was very pleased with the all you can eat grouper night, and I certainly have no complaints about the price.

Our total for the evening came to $89.96 and probably would have been somewhat less had we not requested refills on our health drinks. We added a deserved 20% for Dakota.

Jimmy Guana's Waterfront Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Another Gastronomic Winner On Gulf Boulevard

After our yearly physicals, Doctor Kathie delivered her State of Our Bodies address yesterday. She said we aren't likely to drop dead anytime soon but we should up our intake of Omega 3 fatty acids and make sure we include a lot of fruit and fruit drinks in our diet. That is what my bride said Dr. Kathie said anyway. What I heard was, "... get thee hence to the Seabreeze Island Grill for some seafood and a few Rum Runners."

Not wishing to be non-compliant patients, the Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I took the good doctor's advice and entered the Seabreeze a little after the lunch time crowd had vanished. We were greeted immediately and invited to sit pretty much wherever we pleased. We chose a comfy booth and our server Diana presented us with menus and took our orders for medicinal Runners of Rum.

Those beverages were so good and so good for us what with all that fresh fruit, and as most everyone knows, not too many critters can survive in alcohol. I'm not a scientist (or a politician) but I do know that for a fact. Drop a worm in a glass of alcohol and just see how long it wiggles.

Once we got all those nasties floating around in our guts taken care of, my bride and I decided to address the Omega 3 issue. For her it just had to be the Hog Fish Sandwich. Ever since she first tried it, hog fish has become her all-time favorite seafood delight. That hog fish was panko crusted, fried to perfection, and topped with Swiss cheese and grilled onions, then piled on warm Cuban bread. Just what the doctor ordered. The fries were requested extra crispy and they were ... extra crispy and very good.

I was torn between the Royal Red shrimp and the mussels. Diana said the mussels were her favorites, so if they are good enough for her, then they are good enough for me. The Island Style Black Mussels were prepared with tomato, black olives, garlic, basil, and olive oil providing a nice, rich sauce that I sopped up with the accompanying slice of Cuban toast.

 Did I like the mussels? What's it look like?

After several Rum Runners, the hog fish, and the mussels our total came to a very pleasant $41.71. We tacked on an additional 20% for exceptional service.

Seabreeze Island Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Get Crabby At Bill's

Ever since taking up permanent residence on the beach last December we have frequented the IRB Crabby Bill's probably once a week. We were reminded of some of our favorite beach bars around the state, so we had to give Bill's a try and we discovered the only thing crabby at Bill's are the crabs

On each visit we were greeted by friendly wait staff who provided prompt and efficient service. We really like the open air feel of the place, and although there is outdoor seating we have decided to hold off on al fresco dining until the weather warms up ... maybe in May. Come on, get real! We are Floridians and anything below 70 degrees F is sweater weather.

My bride and I have enjoyed live music at Bill's on several occasions. One thing that has struck us as quaint and charming is a small cluster of senior citizens are allowed to bring folding chairs indoors during inclement weather to enjoy the music with front row seats. It's nice to see 20-somethings and 80-somethings jamming together at a laid back beach bar. Beats the hell out of the Duval and Bourbon Street pukesters.

Crabby Bill's serves more than just bar food, though that is what we generally order. The hamburgers are tasty and prepared our way, and the Royal Red Shrimp prepared several ways have been superb. The Royal Red's are probably the best shrimp ever. C.B.'s extra crispy French fries are some of the best on the beach.

Frog legs with a side of southern style green beans
I've had the Fried Frog Legs several times and they are truly wondermous. A lady stopped us on the way out the door today to ask about the food. My bride said her chicken tenders were real good, and that I really seemed to enjoy my frog legs. "Frog legs!" the lady squealed. I thought she was going to pass out at the mere mention of those tasty swamp critters. I don't know if those folks stayed or not, but if they left then they missed out on some good grub.

The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and tasty chicken tenders with fries
I'm glad we didn't mention another of my Crabby Bill's favorites, the Char-grilled Octopus. This is a light lunch time delight served over a bed of mixed greens ... kinda like a grilled chicken salad, but with tentacles.

Crabby Bill's is definitely not haute cuisine, but it is a damn fine beach hangout with decent food, cold beer, and live music.

Crabby Bill's Seafood on Urbanspoon

The Piglet Parade dines anonymously and we pay full price for all that we consume. We ain't no food ho's.