Monday, December 27, 2010

Conch Republic Grill - North Redington Beach, FL

My family and I went over to the Conch Republic Grill for an afternoon of fun and seafood. The restaurant is casual and laid back and has a nice seafaring theme going on. We were seated at a booth in the corner, next to the window, and we rather felt like we were sitting in a boat. Our server here was very friendly and helpful throughout our meal.

We started off our meal with a couple of beers and two cups of the crab soup. I had heard the crab soup was good here and it was indeed! After a taste of the soup, we almost wished we had ordered bowls instead and just ate that because it was so good. Nevertheless, on to the seafood. We tried the salmon stuffed with crab, the coconut shrimp, and the shrimp fest with cajun shrimp and shrimp scampi. Along with your entrees, you get your choice of sides and we all ordered something different, so we could sample the different sides. We tried the mashed potatoes, black beans and rice, and linguine marinara. The salmon was good, but I think we all liked the shrimp entree's the best. As for the sides, the pasta was okay, but we liked the mashed potatoes and beans and rice more. Overall, it was a good experience with friendly service. Our entrees were good, but I would be willing to go back for the crab soup alone. As a final note, the servings are HUGE. After our cup of soup, my husband and I could have easily shared an entree and been satisfied.

Conch Republic Grill

16699 Gulf Blvd
North Redington Beach, FL 33708

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Caragiulos Italian Restaurant - Sarasota, FL

My family and I made the journey over to Sarasota, after a trip to Myakka River State Park, and enjoyed lunch at Caragiulos in Sarasota. The restaurant is on a lovely location on Palm Avenue. Inside and outside, the restaurant looks very cool. On the outside is a brick front, and inside are walls covered in old movie posters. My son was fascinated by the tables which had pictures and trivia on Marlon Brando. Overall, the way the restaurant was decorated created a comfy and relaxed atmosphere.

Our server quickly took our drink and food orders and along with our drinks, he brought a nice basket of focaccia bread. Soon, our food arrived. We decided to try the cheese pizza and an order of the four cheese ravioli with wilted spinach in a pomodoro sauce. The pizza is single serving size, but delicious and enough for two people, if you have a light appetite. I really loved the four cheese ravioli. Our server was good about coming back and checking if we needed anything or drink refills. At the end, your check comes with chocolate mints, which is a nice closing touch.


69 South Palm Avenue
Sarasota, FL

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Cafe Epicure - Sarasota, FL

Whenever we have been in downtown Sarasota, we always walk by Cafe Epicure, but we never had the chance to stop in and try the food. They serve Italian food here, which is one of our favorites because there always seems to be something for everyone. Finally, we made it in the door this last weekend. The inside is very eye appealing with its lovely tiled floor, red chairs, and ceiling that is painted like the sky. A chalkboard on the wall displays the specials of the day. We stopped in the middle of a quiet afternoon, so we got a nice table near the windows and overlooking the tables on the sidewalk.

We were not quite ready to eat a full meal yet, so we decided to try a couple of appetizers and some wine. With our wine, we tried the fried mozzarella with a dipping sauce and anchovies. Also, we tried the sauteed shrimp with tomatoes and arugula, which was delicious and more than adequate for three people to share. Both dishes were lovely and wonderful to enjoy with a nice glass of red wine. Along with the appetizers, we were served a basket of assorted breads, which was very nice. And I must add that the service here was excellent.

Cafe Epicure
1298 North Palm Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34236

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Vito and Michael's Pizzeria - St Pete Beach, FL

My family and I wanted to try a new pizza joint, so we headed over to St Pete Beach one evening to try Vito and Michael's Pizzeria. We almost missed it driving by, but soon we were inside, which felt nice and cozy on such cold evening. The first thing we noticed was the place was bustling, with plenty of customers at the take out counter and dining at the tables inside. The service was no-nonsense, but polite, because there were plenty of customers dining. Our server was quick to take our drink order of beer and wine, and while she was doing that, we looked over the menu and easily made our choices.

We very rarely have anything other than cheese pizza, and tonight was no exception. We like our pizza to be simple with a little sauce, cheese, and fresh basil on top, and perhaps a little olive oil drizzled on top when it is brought to the table. We did want to try one pasta dish, so we ordered the cheese stuffed shells, which came with a green salad and garlic bread. While we were waiting for our food, we were given a basket of bread. After a reasonable wait, our pizza and pasta dish arrived. The pizza was awesome and the fresh basil on top was perfect. The cheese stuffed pasta shells were pure comfort food and delicious. I would definitely recommend giving this a try.

Vito and Michael's Pizzeria
7704 Blind Pass Road
St Pete Beach, FL 33706

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Green Chili Indian Bistro - downtown St Petersburg, FL

I have been walking by the Green Chili Bistro, since it first opened, but I have never gotten around to trying it. Luckily, a friend recently invited my family and I to celebrate her birthday there with a few friends. Low lighting made for a nice ambiance inside and the nice aromas coming from the kitchen were very tantalizing. As we were a large party, the restaurant had put some tables together to accommodate all of us, and luckily they have plenty of space to do this without making anyone feel crowded.

To start off, the server brought our drinks and a complimentary papadum(a slightly spicy, cracker-like round). For our entrees, we ordered the Saag(spinach) chicken, the chicken Makhani, and the shrimp curry. Also, we ordered a tandoori naan(flatbread) for each person. You can order your level of spiciness for you food, so we chose medium spicy for all of our entrees, which turned out to be perfect. It was a pleasant kick of heat, without being overbearing. All of the dishes came in a nice rich sauce which was perfect for the rice that comes with your entree, or for dipping your naan. Overall, a very pleasant experience and a wonderful time with friends. Also, they do offer a buffet a lunch time, so next time I might have to try that out.

Green Chili Indian Bistro
310 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701

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Island Seafood Market and Bistro - St Petersburg, FL

There are so many reasons that I love the Grand Central District in St Petersburg, and the Island Seafood Market and Bistro just gave me one more reason to go over to the Grand Central District. Driving by them on Central Avenue, their yellow storefront draws one into a cozy bistro inside. Inside, you can order fresh seafood from the market to take home and cook yourself, or grab one of the tables and order something from the menu.

On our visit for lunch there, we started off with a couple of beers and the Island Quesadilla. The quesadilla was wonderful with its cheddar cheese and seafood spread filling. The quesadilla comes with a nice dipping sauce. After that, we had the Blackened Red Snapper sandwich, fish tacos, and grilled shrimp served over jasmine rice. Each entree comes with a bag of potato chips. We were all very happy with our choices and were impressed with how fresh the seafood tasted. When I am in the need for good seafood close to downtown, this is definitely the place for me.

Island Seafood Market and Bistro

2057 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33713

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Grand Central Perc - St Petersburg, FL

The Grand Central District has a great new addition in Central Perc, a coffee and tea place. Central Perc just opened and I have to say I am impressed already. Owner Bob Jeffries has some awesome art on the wall and they have cute little tables spread throughout the space. They have a small, but well thought out menu. For breakfast, one can order an egg and cheese croissant, or choose from a selection of baked goods. For lunch, there is a selection of sandwiches and a soup of the day. On the day we were there, we ordered the egg and cheese croissant and a mixed berry muffin to share while we were waiting for our sandwiches. For drinks, we ordered an americano coffee, a cappuccino, and a hot chocolate. The americano coffee was excellent and I even ordered a second one while enjoying our food because I thought it was so good and my husband and son were equally happy with their drinks. We really enjoyed the mixed berry muffin that was made with whole wheat and lightly sweetened with a streusel topping. The egg and cheese croissants were very good and we left very happy and this will become a neighborhood favorite for us.

Grand Central Perc
2444 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33712

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Cha Cha Coconuts at the Pier- St Petersburg, FL

Although my family and I often go past the pier on our runs, we don't actually go inside the pier too often. So, one afternoon, when we were out on a walk, we decided on the spur of the moment to take the elevator to the top of the pier. The pier is an excellent location to get a great view of downtown St Pete. My son is still young enough that he thinks it is fun to put a quarter in the viewing binoculars to see things up real close. While we were up there, my husband thought it would be cool to take photos of downtown when the sunset arrived. However, when we looked at our watch, we still had a bit of a wait for sunset, so we decided to go over to Cha Cha Coconuts, which is a restaurant located on the top level of the pier. So, we had some root beers, chicken wings, and popcorn shrimp and by time we were done, we saw a beautiful sunset...., what a wonderful moment.

@ the St Pete Pier
800 2nd Avenue NE
St Petersburg, FL 3370

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The Frog Pond - St Pete Beach, FL

Frogs, frogs, and more frogs is what my family and I saw when we walked in the door to the Frog Pond. It was really quite endearing to see the frog nicknacks and paintings that seemed to be everywhere on the walls and shelves in the restaurant. The restaurant is a casual sort of place and has a nice country kitchen sort of feel with very friendly and helpful servers.

After we chose a table, our server was quick to take our drink order and tell us the specials of the day. After my son heard chocolate chip pancakes were the special of the day, it was easy for him to decide what he would be having for breakfast. I was already in a pancake sort of mood, so I ordered the standard buttermilk pancakes. For my husband, the "Krab" Crepes sounded just like the perfect thing. After a reasonable wait, our food arrived. The portions were HUGE. Our pancakes plates each held big pancakes and the Krab crepes were hardy portions, also including large portions of fried potatoes and fruit. As an added bonus, the syrup brought to the table was warmed up, so no cold syrup to cool the pancakes down. The pancakes were absolutely delicious. The chocolate chip pancakes were so good by themselves that they didn't even need syrup and I loved my pancakes with the warm syrup. The Krab crepe was good and we especially loved the fried potatoes served with them. The nice thing about the large portions was that it was easy for us to share, but we still ended up leaving quite a bit of food just because the portions were so big. Also, I have to say the servers were very good about frequently circulating around the restaurant with the coffee pots, so I never had a empty cup. A good experience, with portions big enough for sharing.

The Frog Pond
7390 Gulf Blvd
St Pete Beach, FL 33706

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dome Grill - downtown St. Petersburg, FL

I heard the Dome restaurant is almost like an institution in downtown St. Pete, so I had to go check it out. We enjoyed waking up late on a Sunday, and then took a nice leisurely walk over to the Dome. It is located right on Central Avenue and is nothing remarkable to look at from the outside, but more interesting on the inside. Sports memorabilia was lined up on some portions of the walls, and green was definitely the accent color here. I especially like the boxing belt located up by the counter. When you come in, grab a menu and place your order at the counter and you pay for you food at the same time. The cashier will give you a receipt with your number and you can grab a table and wait for you number to be called. Before grabbing a table, take your cup and pour your coffee, soda, or whatever you ordered. There is seating inside or outside. We opted to dine inside.

It was about a ten minute wait for our food, which was reasonable. For breakfast, we ordered the veggie omelette, with toast and grits on the side. Also, we ordered pancakes and a burger and fries. (Yes, one of us likes breakfast for lunch.) Don't forget to pick up any of your condiments you need upfront, so that you don't need to be running back and forth, while eating. Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience and a nice place for all ages.

Dome Grill
561 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

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King & I - downtown St. Petersburg, FL

In the mood for Thai food on a lovely Saturday afternoon, my family and I took a walk over to the King & I restaurant located on Central Avenue. Being the middle of the afternoon, it was a bit quiet, but seemed to have a nice, steady trickle of customers, nonetheless. The restaurant is pleasing to the eyes, with its lovely bright colors. Our server put us in a nice booth with a good view of the restaurant and the sushi bar.

Our server was very efficient and quickly took our order. We ordered the spring rolls, the green curry, and the chicken pad thai. We weren't aware of it when we ordered, but apparently each entree comes with a small spring roll and soup, which was lovely because I really liked the soup. Next, our entrees. I really liked the chicken pad thai, but the green curry with chicken was my absolute favorite. It was refreshing with the taste of coconut and it had just the right amount of heat. There was more than enough food for the three of us to share and we enjoyed our dining experience.

King & I
445 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Madeleina Cottage - St. Pete Beach, FL

We noticed this cute little spot on a previous visit to St. Pete Beach, and we were very curious to come back and give it a try. We stopped in on a late Saturday morning, when everyone was just beginning to get out and about. Madeleina's is a British Style pub, but with a bit of everything on the menu. The color blue seems to be the theme, from the booths and walls, to the coasters and salt and pepper shakers on the tables. We grabbed a booth overlooking the huge bar that dominated the room and which was occupied by a number of patrons.

We started our brunch with coffee and mimosas, both of which were very good. Also, I feel I ought to mention that mimosas were a bargain at $3.00. (We noticed later on signs on the window advertising $3.00 mimosas and $2.50 Bloody Mary's - be sure to ask your server for details.) For food, we ordered the corned beef hash and eggs, Welsh Rarebit (melted cheese and beer fondue served over toast), and pancakes. The portions were huge and perfect for sharing with each other. Usually, I have my favorites when I dine out, but in this case, the food was all very good comfort food. The corned beef hash was excellent and the cheesy Welsh Rarebit went great with the mimosas and it was nice to eat something a little bit different for brunch. And the pancake was yummy, only I maybe would have liked it to be served with a different brand of syrup than the one served with it. Altogether, nice service and good food. Now, I just have to go back some evening and try the Shepard's pie.

Madeleina Cottage
357 Corey Avenue
St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

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