Restaurants

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In the 16 days, since Susie and I drove over the 9th Street Bridge and left Ocean City on Friday, February 9th, we have eaten just about every day in at least one restaurant. This is a huge change for us, as we are folks who usually eat out maybe once or twice a week, at home. We’ve eaten in restaurants ranging from our first night in a Cracker Barrel in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, to an Italian Restaurant in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, to Susie’s self described, “Best Meal Ever” at One Duval at the Pier House in Key West, Florida.

Today, in fact, we had lunch at a recently reopened restaurant along the Indian River, that had been one of Jeanne and Walt’s favorites. They told us tales, of many wonderful evenings when they’d sit at the bar at Captain Butchers, have a couple of drinks on the side of the Indian River, and then enjoy a delightful light supper at the bar. They said that suddenly, without any warning, a couple of years ago, it just closed. Jeanne has been chasing their Onion Rings since then, and yesterday when we were driving back from the airboats, we drove by and they were pleasantly surprised to find that the restaurant was open again! This morning, Walt suggested that if we were willing to be co-guinea pigs, we should all go for lunch! Sounded like a good idea to us, so off we went!

We sat outside in the sun, on the patio, along the river, on a beautiful Saturday……and our judgement? Well, I’d describe it as “a work in progress”, with a staff that was more “earning while learning” than seasoned professionals. First off, no Onion Rings for Jeanne, and no Shrimp Cocktail for Walt. Our waitress was kind of unsure of herself and the menu, the bar wasn’t fully stocked, and they were rather unsure about how to make the drinks from their own specialty drink menu. The food however, was very good, and they seemed more than willing to take suggestions, which we all thought was a good thing. We will wait to hear future opinions from Jeanne and Walt, as time goes on, and be pulling for their success!

This brings up something that we’ve noticed in virtually every restaurant we’ve visited, that people working in restaurants hustle! . From the waiter we had at Villa Gallace in Indian River, who was a sous chef in addition to being our waiter, to our new friend bartender Lindsey at Jimmy Guana’s, who one night when we were there, bartended as well as waited tables because they were short staffed, to the single lady at the Yee Haw Junction restaurant yesterday, who ran the whole restaurant, waiting tables, bartending, and playing cashier, most who work in restaurants, work their asses off. Covering 4 or 5 tables, bringing drinks to one table, bread to another, meals to a third, and tempting a forth table with desert selections, is all part of a normal day for them!

With 2 exceptions, we have had excellent service all across our trip….at cheap fish houses, at 5 star dining locations, at Tiki Bars along the Intracoastal Waterway, and everywhere in between. The two waiters we had that were not up to snuff, both had the same issue…they couldn’t multi task! It seems to us that being able to multi task if you work in the restaurant is almost as big a requirement as being able to breathe!

Susie and I both like Service People. We respect what they do, how hard they work, and wonder how they have the patience to deal with some of the yahoo paying customers. When you dine with a good server, you know it, and you appreciate all they bring to your enjoyment! Bravo to all those that we have had the pleasure to dine with these past two plus weeks. Thank you for enhancing our experience, for your insight on menu selections, and for your friendship! You have made even great meals a little bit better, and we hope you know how much we appreciated that!

Do-Over

Hello! Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day…we did! First of all, we encountered the Zamboni Man, doing his daily clean of our hotel. Who would have thought???

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Yesterday, I bitched about our trip to Tarpon Springs, and how we did not enjoy the trip, or what we found when we got there. Well guess what…we did a “do-over” today, and had a great time. First of all, I realized that I was a little hungover yesterday morning (thanks Lindsey), and hated the road we used to get there. We can blame that on our wonderful GPS, which took us the “fastest” way. We loved the trip home, along the water, through Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, and Sand Key. So, what did we do this morning?? We headed back that way, driving along the barrier beaches, and almost never losing sight of the water! When we left Indian Rocks Beach, it was overcast, and temps were in the high 60s, but soon the sun and blue skies appeared, and the temp went up to around 80! Perfect weather to drive with the windows down, and the sunroof open!

F05EE9D8-23D2-45F6-952D-9E721F73FA18For some reason (probably because I was in a better mood), Tarpon Springs seemed a lot nicer today. We parked in a lot for $5, went across the street to Yianni’s, and had a perfect Greek lunch. Oh, did I mention we started lunch with 2 for 1 Bloody Marys? Then we shared a hummus appetizer, and we both had a great Gyro Platter. How the hell do your pronounce that word??? I want to say “year ro”, but after years of calling it a “Gi-Ro” platter, it’s really hard to change. So what usually happens, is that you do half the old way, (Gi-Ro) and half the correct way (“Year-Ro”), and sound like an ass. However you pronounce it, it was very good!

Then Susie did a little shopping, but the highlight of the trip for me, was this great hat that Susie bought me at one of the stores she went into (I stood outside watching the people!) in Tarpon Springs. I will continue to wear it proudly…well maybe not in Disney World….during the remainder of our Florida Trip!

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Then we headed back to our hotel in Indian Rocks Beach, and recuperated for a bit in our room, after which we decided to go down to Jimmy Guana’s, and there was our favorite bartender, Lindsey, at the inside bar. We sat with her for a couple of hours, till she went off duty, and she transferred us to Brian. The restaurant had a big Valentine’s Day Buffet Dinner tonight, but we were happy eating at the bar and having a fish sandwich and a burger. Great discussions first with Lindsey, and then with Brian. Then we entered into discussion with Patrick, a patron at the bar, who lives in New York City, and is a former FBI agent! We finally called it quits, and headed to our room.

We are looking at a relaxing day tomorrow. Breakfast at the hotel, a couple of hours sitting by the pool reading or sleeping, and then a night with our favorite bartender Lindsey! Life is really good, and we are contemplating coming back to this area next winter, and renting a place for 2-3 weeks, because we love this part of Florida, specifically Indian Rocks Beach! No big philosophical thoughts beyond the fact that it’s summer (which we love), and we are in a place we are really enjoying, and we are together!!! A perfect Valentine’s Day for us!

Hope you had a good Valentine’s Day, and are as lucky as we are!!

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Some Bad, and Some Good

If you are of a certain age, and ever vacationed in Florida as a child, you immediately will know the name, Weeki Wachee. Started in 1947, Weeki Wachee Springs was a tourist attraction featuring “mermaids” performing in an underwater setting, viewed by the audience in an aquarium like theater. I remember coming to it when I journeyed to Florida as a kid, (and Susie remembers coming with her grandmother in the early 70s), and know that when our three kids were small, we took them there, In fact, in 1959 the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) bought Weeki Wachee, and I think we got in for free when we came with our kids…just showed my ABC ID card!

Well, Susie and I stopped by today, and it’s nothing like we remember. First of all, it’s now a state park. Can’t find any information about how it stopped being a private attraction and became a ward of the state, but it was in 2008. I assume that like other Florida attractions, it couldn’t compete with Disney World, Busch Gardens, Sea World, Universal Studio and the like, and whoever owned it at the time, turned it over to the state. In fact, if you remember Weeki Wachee, you also may remember Cypress Gardens, which was known for women dressed as Southern Bells, the Botanical Gardens, and it’s water skiing shows. Well, it’s now LegoLand!

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7B1C4549-8F29-4AEA-9CD9-03D1A9CA5D8AWe were excited when we arrived, but soon discovered that the last time anyone spent any money on the upkeep of the place was probably when it was owned by ABC. Broken sidewalks, only 2 Mermaid shows a day, a lame Animal Show, and a limited schedule of boat trips on the river. We spent a little more than an hour there, and then decided that sometimes trying to go back in time isn’t the smartest thing to do. I wouldn’t recommend a visit to anyone who has been there before.

Then we journeyed to Pinellas Park, Florida, where Susie’s Grandparents lived. She remembered visiting them there, and had a pretty good idea where they lived, and in fact, remembered that we found it once, when we were in the area with the kids 20 years ago. Guess what? Things change, and she couldn’t find any trace of what she found 20 years ago. Progress!!

64B48CE6-BD80-4DC3-82B9-5DA0D5C292C5Then we traveled a short distance to our hotel. A very unusual Holiday Inn, on the Intercostal Waterway in Indian Rocks, Florida. It’s called the Clearwater Beach Harborside, in Indian Rocks Beach, and now we are in the good part of the day!! It’s a little more expensive, but oh so worth it! The hotel is built in a Key West Style, and even has a Key West type bar/restaurant called Jimmy Guana’s. Once we checked in, we decided to walk the place and explore, and we immediately gravitated to the Tiki Bar at Jimmy Guana’s, where we had two delightful Martinis! Then we unloaded the car, found our PJs,(so we could crawl into them later!), and headed back to the bar at Jimmy Guana’s, and the delightful bartender Lindsey!

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Our Original Drinks! (and no Michael…its not Windex)

We drank, we ate, we drank, we listened to music! We had a wonderful night. Our bill was just over a $100, and we’re considering seeing if we can stay here, and use this place as our base of operations for the next 4 days! Stay tuned, and see what we decide tomorrow.

886FE895-D7FE-4002-AED8-B3D783F8C6B4Our Room

 

08FC634A-0C5D-4AE6-AA31-A95D4C4B7346Our Rum Drinks

 

9C416012-42D0-4F3E-B651-834286AFEE75Our Dinner – The Guana Tower (and Lindsey in the background)

2611F59F-8AFF-4851-897D-3E35BB2AD490Great Entertainment