The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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    The Restaurants at My End of the Universe Tampa Bay restaurants

Dinner with Friends


We went to dinner with friends tonight at Cuvee 103 in Safety Harbor.  It’s a wine bar and restaurant on the corner of Enterprise and McMullen Booth.  It had a pleasant interior, though I’ll never understand why restaurants feel the need to have a TV over the bar.  It really detracts from the atmosphere.  Our waitress brought over bread with a basil and an olive tampenade.

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I prefer warm bread, so this didn’t do much for me, but everyone else seemed to like the olive & basil spreads.  We started off with two of the appetizers, the fried goat cheese and the duck confit spring rolls.

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Both were good, but the general consensus was that the fried goat cheese was the better of the two.  They were crispy on the outside with a creamy pesto and goat cheese mix in the middle and served with a tasty red sauce.  The spring rolls weren’t rolled tight enough so the filling was rather loose.  It had a good flavor and the dipping sauce was a sweet plum ginger.  For our entrees, we all got something different.

The braised short ribs:

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The duck confit:

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The stuffed pork loin:

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The veal involtini:

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Three out out of the four were good.  The braised short ribs were definitely the best of the bunch.  They were very tender in flavorful sauce.  The duck was well cooked and Loren really enjoyed the stuffed pork loin.  It had a sausage stuffing and he licked his plate clean.  My dish, however, was less than stellar.  The veal was tough and the filling of spinach, mushrooms, and fontina did nothing to help the cause.  It just didn’t have any flavor.  And speaking of no flavor, the grilled polenta was pretty much inedible.  I think I managed to eat half of one.  It had absolutely no seasoning in it and was gritty and bland.  The white wine sauce was the best thing on the plate, but nothing was going to overcome the shortcomings of the dish.  For dessert, our friends got the creme brulee and we tried the chocolate cheesecake.

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The creme brulee had a beautiful, crispy sugar crust.  The cheesecake was very light and fluffy with almost a mousse like texture.  Both dessert dishes were empty in minutes.  The restaurant has live music that started toward the end of our meal thankfully.  The music was nice, but a little too loud for the space.  It would have been difficult to hold a casual conversation throughout.  Our waitress made us laugh, though, not on purpose most of the time.  She didn’t seem to fit the ambiance of the restaurant and appeared somewhat frazzled at times.  She was pleasant and kept our drinks filled, but really did seem like a duck out of water.  Total bill with two glasses of wine was $136 after a $25 Restaurant.com coupon.

Cuvee 103
2454 McMullen Booth Rd
Clearwater, FL
727-726-0350

Cuvee 103 on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.0/5

New Sushi Restaurant


San Sushi and Grill recently opened up where Bella Kouzina was on SR 580 in Safety Harbor.  We got there early and were the only ones in the restaurant, but by the time we were done, it was starting to fill up.  Loren started with a ginger salad and then we got a boatload of sushi.

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We tried the Mexican roll, the Kamikaze, the Rainbow, Snow Crab, and Lollipop, plus some salmon.  The fish was fresh and tasty.  I would have liked the shrimp in the Mexican roll to have been warmer.  It tasted like the shrimp was cooked and then had to sit while the rest of the sushi was prepared.  At other restaurants, the lollipop roll is served on a plate with a tangy vinegar sauce.  This one could have used that burst of flavor.  The snow crab roll was a little spicy, but not overwhelming.  Loren said the kamikaze roll had his tongue tingling.  They only had one sushi chef working while we were there, so it took a while a to get our food.  Overall, it was a good experience and we’ll likely be back.  It looked like they also had a Thai menu, so we may try that as well.

San Sushi and Grill
3101 State Road 580
Safety Harbor, FL
727-216-6178

San Sushi and Grill on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.4/5

I Wanted Dessert


Occasionally, our dinner destination is chosen based on a dessert craving, so tonight we were off to Cafe Alfresco in Dunedin.  We thought we were going to beat the dinner crowd, but it was packed when we got there right before 6pm.  Luckily, they still had a few tables remaining so we didn’t have to wait.  We started off with the potstickers.

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We’ve had these a few times and they’re very tasty.  They’re pork filled and have a sweet and spicy orange-ginger sauce on them.  Next up salad & rolls.

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The rolls were warm and delicious and the salad had a raspberry vinaigrette on it.  I was a little surprised that our waiter didn’t ask us what kind of salad dressing we wanted, but the house dressing was tasty.  For his entree, Loren ordered the steak Giovanni.

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He said the steak was cooked well, but under-seasoned.  However, since it was covered in prosciutto ham and provolone cheese, those both added the needed saltiness. I decided to try the lobster ravioli.

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This isn’t a dish I’d order again.  There was a garlic cream sauce with veggies under the ravioli, but not enough of it to make a difference.  It was thick and the whole dish was just dry.  The lobster in the ravioli, what little there was of it,  tasted like the leftover bits that you don’t know what else to do with.   But the whole reason we were here was for the chocolate mousse cake.

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Nom nom nom.  This is one of my favorite desserts in the area.  Layers of chocolate mousse and cake.  Absolutely delish.  Total bill with a drink was $53.

Cafe Alfresco
344 Main St
Dunedin, FL
813-736-4299

Cafe Alfresco on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.0/5

New Carmelita’s


Carmelita’s Mexican Grill recently opened up where Spoto’s was in Dunedin.  We didn’t have any issues with parking, but there was a 30 minute wait when we got there.  I’m not sure exactly when they opened, but everyone seemed a bit frazzled and overwhelmed.  At one point, our waitress ended up giving up another table because she just couldn’t handle it.  We started with some chips and salsa and then both ordered combos.

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Loren likes their salsa.  For his entree, he got the Del Rey combo.  It comes with a beef taco, cheese with shredded beef
enchilada, and a smaller version of the Del Rey burrito along with rice and beans.  I ordered the pick three combo and got a chimichanga, Del Rey burrito, and a flauta.  We both liked the food, but it’s fairly generic and not overly flavorful or spicy.  As I mentioned earlier, our waitress was overwhelmed and we waited a long time for both our food and then our check.  Drinks were never refilled either.  The other thing we both noticed is that both the waitress and the food runners were less than graceful when delivering things to the table.  They both slammed the food and glasses down with audible thumps.  I was afraid they were going to break either the glasses or the dishes.  Total bill with a drink was $33.

Carmelita’s Mexican Grill
1280 Main Street
Dunedin, FL
727-240-4946

Carmelita's Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
2.7/5

BBQ


On our way back from Brooksville, we stopped at Hungry Harry’s BBQ in Land O’Lakes.  The dining room was full and it took our waitress a while to even acknowledge we were there.  We both ordered ribs, Loren the country style and me, the baby backs.

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For sides, we got potato salad, greens, cornbread pudding and mac & cheese.  My ribs were more tender than the country style ones, but not quite as fall off the bone as I would have liked.  They both had a good smoke flavor and the bbq on mine was tangy and sweet.  The sides were all ok.  Total bill with a drink was $33.

Hungry Harry’s
3116 Land O Lakes Blvd
Land O Lakes , FL
813-949-2025

Hungry Harry's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.4/5